To Tell the Truth

What if I told you there was no Social Security trust fund?

No box to lock? No kitty to shield? That it didn't exist. That it wasn't there. Ever.

What if I told you the "truth" about Social Security?

The fact is, my friends, there is no separate trust fund for Social Security, just a big pile of IOUs? Yet we keep perpetuating this myth, this lie, really, that Social Security dough is in some grand account, piling up interest. Not so.

So when we "raid" it, what are we doing? I'll tell you what we're doing, we're tapping a credit line. It is sort of like paying your Visa bill with your Mastercard. The fact is you're still paying that Visa bill. And when the Mastercard payment comes due, just tap your Visa line. And on and on.

It's kooky. But it works.

It's a shell game and Washington is very good at it. The problem with this shell game is there are no shells. Just a bunch of cash that comes in and goes out into a huge pot we call Washington.

It doesn't matter how that dough gets there — whether through corporate taxes, payroll taxes, individual income taxes, whatever taxes. It goes to one guy — Uncle Sam. Who spends it. A lot of it.

And along came some knucklehead some years back to say those Social Security payroll taxes are sacred and shouldn't be touched. They should be put away. Trouble is, they're still going to the same pot. To Washington, money is money. Neither the color nor purpose matters.

Social Security, by definition, is an IOU: a promised payout for the future. We often pay its obligations and our general obligations with the same IOUs, the same pot of cash. We don't distinguish. Because there's no way "to" distinguish.

So let's quit playing games. The problem isn't with Social Security money, which isn't really there. It's with Washington hypocrisy, which is.

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