Social Security Finances: Getting Worse and Worse

The just-released 2013 Trustees Report on Social Security’s long-run finances shows an infinite horizon unfunded liability of $23.1 trillion. This massive shortfall is 50 percent larger than U.S. gross domestic product and almost twice the federal debt held by the public. Social Security began reporting its infinite horizon fiscal gap in 2003. Back then it was $10.5 trillion. On an inflation-adjusted basis, the gap’s risen 74 percent leaving the system in far worse shape than when the 1983 Greenspan Commission “fixed” it.

Larry Kotlikoff, Daily Policy Digest/Yahoo Finance.

Comments (14)

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  1. Buster says:

    I sure hope those young progressives — who voted for Obama and favor a Welfare State — are still enthusiastic about high taxes and lavish elderly entitlements a decade from now when I begin to draw Social Security and want my free Medicare!

    • Tommy says:

      Can’t we have intelligent conversations without categorizing and chastising people according to their beliefs? … which is only polarizing our society and doing nothing to make it smarter and more transparent.

      • Jeff says:

        What is wrong with categorizing people for their beliefs? If they believe that they have the right to the money in my wallet, to pay their bills, so that they don’t have to work, or if you vote for something like, that or if you even align yourself politically with someone who advocates that…you advocate legalized theft and I have the right to categorize you.

        • Nigel says:

          It is never okay to categorized in a discriminatory way, because that requires generalizing which is logically inaccurate and a fallacy.

    • diogenes says:

      Actually Buster, if the deal that the tea bag god Reagan was still in effect Social Security would be solvent to infinity. That deal set the income cap so 90% of aggregate income would be subject to FICA. Since then, the income distribution has become much more top-heavy than it was then. Just raise the income cap to the Reagan deal and the problem is fixed.

      • Bubba says:

        I’ve heard this argument before but I don’t see any need for entertainers, professional athletes, doctors and lawyers, engineers, actuaries, CPAs and CEOs to pay more into a system so politicians have more largess to divvy up to buy votes.

        I’d probably favor the reverse, where the income cap was set much, much lower. Social Security would become a safety net rather than a way for politicians to pander to the elderly voters.

        If you worry about people failing to plan for the future, the difference between Today’s income cap and a greatly reduced income cap could be mandatorily withheld in a private account for individuals.

        I’m not in favor of mandates (I.e. either health insurance or retirement) but if the mandate required HSAs/IRAs it would be less objectionable.

  2. Taylor says:

    As with social security and many other state programs, we need to come up with ingenuity because non of it is sustainable. I am afraid ingenuity in this sense isn’t all that easy, but I do think technology can play a role in these social dilemmas we face.

    • Nigel says:

      I think we should cut off social security for a certain age limit and then have be people be able to plan for their retirement without government support.

      • Tommy says:

        Government will always provide some level of support because the people will want it to. The key is providing guidelines and responsible support for people who really need and weren’t irresponsible along the road.

  3. Nigel says:

    Social Security would have been better if they would have partitioned the funds and taken money from payroll taxes of multimillionaire oil czars, it would have possibly worked.

    • Miguel says:

      I whole-heartedly disagree. it was a short term fix for a short term problem, but we let it continue to create this disgusting welfare state that is corrupting the minds of our children.

      • Jeff says:

        I think it is a bit much to contend that it is “corrupting” the minds of our children…but it certainly was the first step towards a welfare state, no doubt about that.

  4. Craeten says:

    Interesting post. Very insightful

  5. Politics Debunked says:

    Actually it is probably far worse than that. This page:

    critique the methodology they use, they make glowing assumptions about many things. The problems haven’t been fixed, so it is still relevant even though it hasn’t been updated for this years report (it is based on last years). It was done by an entrepreneur critiquing their “business plan”,not a policy analyst with media attention or a beltway insider so unfortunately it hasn’t received any attention. (too many work tasks prevented time to spread the word effectively, perhaps after an update for this years report).