They’re claiming Ryan has a diabolical plan to gut Medicare, while President Barack Obama is committed to saving it. Soon, they’ll say the same about Social Security.
Romney and Ryan will need to be similarly armed when Social Security is the issue of the day.
“Representative Paul Ryan has long wanted to let Americans invest part of their Social Security taxes in private investment accounts,” CNN is warning already. “After legislation he co-sponsored in 2005 went nowhere, Ryan included a detailed plan to privatize Social Security in his budget proposal in 2010.”
Again, that’s not quite true. Privatization is only a part of Ryan’s plan; and he would only allow workers to channel 40 percent of their retirement funds into investment accounts.
The real point is that under Ryan’s vision, both Medicare and Social Security will be reformed — before they go broke, and take the nation’s finances along with them.
And everyone in Washington agrees that’s necessary. Reports of Social Security’s solvency continue to get worse and worse.
“Social Security is rushing even faster toward insolvency, driven by retiring baby boomers, a weak economy and politicians’ reluctance to take painful action to fix the huge retirement and disability program,” the Associated Press reported in April. “The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 — three years earlier than previously projected.”
No one can claim to be shocked at this. The fundamental flaw in the system was evident from the start.
The first recipient of a Social Security check was Ida May Fuller. During the portion of her working life under Social Security, she paid a total of $24.75 into the system. She began collecting benefits upon retirement at 65; she lived to be 100 and received a total of $22,888.92.
Economists say when Social Security began, 42 workers were paying into the system for every person drawing from it.
As Walter Williams notes, in 1940, there were 42 workers per retiree; in 1950 there were 16; today there are three, and in 20 or 30 years there will be two or fewer workers per retiree.
Something must be done, obviously. And Paul Ryan’s not afraid to say so. He also has the political courage to say the retirement age must be raised, and eventually, entitlement programs must be means-tested.
That’s how you “save” Medicare and Social Security. Any other course will take us hurtling toward the cliff.