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July 15, 2008: Our readers write

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Letter to the editor

By The Staff

Action necessary to save Social Security

Each year, nearly every member of Congress claims they want to save Social Security.

However, each year, they siphon-off every dollar of our surplus FICA dollars ear-marked for the “reserve account” of the Social Security Trust Fund. Please keep in mind that the reserve account was established to ensure availability of funds to pay pensions earned by future senior retirees. Further, Congress places non-marketable IOUs in the Trust Fund rather than marketable assets. To date, Congress has no plan or budget in place to redeem the interest-bearing IOUs.

Since  1960, the Social Security Trust Fund has accumulated surplus (reserve) funds of almost $5 trillion. As previously stated, every surplus dollar went to government general fund, rather than the trust fund. Government economists predict the annual FICA surplus will start shrinking in 2011 and will turn into rapidly growing deficits as the baby boomer generation retires.

The moment of truth for Congress is not only at hand but is long past due.

Increasing FICA payroll taxes is not the solution. Doing so would give Congress more FICA dollars to borrow and to fund parochial pork projects and other “Great Society” social programs unrelated to the Social Security pension program.

Further, the number of IOUs and the national debt would continue to grow.

 Congress can put Social Security on a sustainable course if it devotes more time to positive oversight and less time to pursuing parochial politics.

Examples of positive Congressional actions are:

  • Enact the Social Security Preservation Act (H.R. 219) which requires 100 percent of our surplus FICA dollars to be retained in the trust fund “lock box.”
  • Develop and implement a priority government budget pay back plan for the $5 trillion owed to the trust fund.

  • Reduce/eliminate SSI, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, estimated at $140 billion annually.

  • Reduce the annual $2.3 billion in costs, to administer the $32.4 billion paid to the 7.3 million SSI recipients.

  • Reduce/eliminate the congressional parochial pork projects.

  • Approve bill H.R. 191 which amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by eliminating inclusion of Social Security pensions in the gross income on income tax returns of seniors.

Congress can put Social Security on a sustainable course  if it adopts a “hands-off” policy for the trust fund  annual surplus dollars and provides positive oversight as suggested above. If you agree, please advise your elected members of Congress accordingly. Together, we can save Social Security for our children and grandchildren.

Edward A. Sparrow Sr.

Elizabethtown