Trust Fund

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There are different figures out there about when the Social Security retirement Trust Fund loses money.

Basically, here's the deal: the Social Security Administration says the Trust Fund will run out of money in 2041. It will be empty. They say it will begin to go into deficit -- that is, it will take in less than it gives out -- in 2017. But because it has so much money in it (in the form of government bonds), it will still be solvent, while in a state of deficit, until 2041.

The Congressional Budget Office says that the years are not 2017 and 2041, but 2020 and 2052.

On Sunday's This Week, Nancy Pelosi had her facts right. Chris Dodd on Meet the Press, however, was completely wrong. He said 2042, which is the old SSA number, and since he is a member of Congress, he should use the CBO number, unless he is going to qualify it.

Worse, he said that the Trust Fund would have 80 percent of its funds in 2042. No, that date is when the Trust Fund is empty. It will have 0 percent of its funds in 2042 (or 2041, or 2052, or whatever the date is). Perhaps he meant only 80 percent (the SSA says 73 percent, close enough?) of benefits will be able to be paid at that time, and merely misspoke.

George Allen on Meet the Press was better, but not by much. He said that in some future date -- 2017, 2018, 2041 -- that SS revenues will be insufficient to pay for benefits. If he had only said 2017/2018, I'd think he meant that it won't be enough to pay benefits without dipping into the Trust Fund. But since he added 2041, it makes me think he meant ability to pay at all. But that's not right either, because the SSA predicts it will still be able to cover 73 percent of benefits in 2041.

Or maybe Allen was violating the Constitution by questioning the public debt of the United States. I'm sorry to say that's the most logical interpretation, because the only time the dates 2017 and 2041 would be similar in ability to pay benefits is if the public debt -- the money owed to the Trust Fund -- were not paid back.

OK, so maybe that's not better.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

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