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Social Security Will Begin Running a Permanent Deficit This Year

John on January 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Previously the CBO said we had until 2016, now they’ve revised that estimate:

The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that Social Security will pay out $45 billion more in benefits this year than it will collect in payroll taxes, further straining the nation’s finances. The deficits will continue until the Social Security trust funds are eventually drained, in about 2037.

Of course the social security trust fund does not exist except on paper. The government owes beneficiaries money from the general fund that it does not have saved up in any lockbox. Business week adds a bit more detail:

The nonpartisan agency said today the program will run a $45 billion deficit this year and see a total shortfall of $547 billion over the subsequent 10 years.

So if we do nothing, we’re looking at a half-trillion dollar hole in the budget over the next decade.

Update: It was just under six months ago that Paul Krugman’s fans on the left were looking for a way to defend Social Security from cuts. I wonder if this latest announcement will cause any further reflection?

Scott Adds: I love this from Harry Reid’s appearance on MEET THE PRESS a couple weeks ago:

“Social Security is a program that works.¬† Stop picking on Social Security. … It is not in crisis. That is something that is perpetuated by people who don’t like government.”

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