Letter: No Social Security theft
In a recent letter, the writer seemed to think that President Obama spent a big chunk of the Social Security Trust Fund on Obamacare. This not only isn’t true, but it shows a serious lack of knowledge about Social Security. Here are a few facts:
1. The balance in the Social Security Old Age and Survivors Insurance fund was approximately $2.8 trillion on March 31, 2017. This money is invested entirely in special U.S. Treasury Bonds. The Social Security Act required that the money not required for immediate disbursal be invested in “interest bearing obligations of the United States or in obligations guaranteed as to both principal and interest by the United States.” In other words, this fund has always been invested in Treasury bonds. Obama did nothing to change that. Further, the OASI fund is projected to last until 2035, if nothing is done to fix projected contribution deficits starting in 2020.
2. Social Security benefits don’t come out of an account. You don’t have a balance that belongs to you. Social Security got an initial appropriation from Congress and since then it’s been funded by the tax on employers and employees. But it started paying out benefits immediately. The writer’s contributions paid for the benefits of her parent’s generation, and we are paying her benefits now.
The claim that Obama is responsible for increasing health care costs is equally specious. In 1996, U.S. per-capita health care spending was $3,944 per person. By 2008, it had risen to $7,786. In 2016, it was $10,345. This means that health care spending per person went up by 5.8 percent per year between 1996 and 2008. From 2008 to 2016, per capita spending went up by 3.7 percent — a slower rate than during the previous 12 years.
Our health care costs are significantly greater than those in other countries, including those with lower infant mortality and greater life expectancies both from birth and from later ages.
According to the Petersen Institute, in 2014 we spent roughly $9,000, three times the average amount per person for health care when compared with other developed countries.