Social Security remains affordable, even in long run

Greg Hannsgen | August 18, 2010

In Paul Krugman’s blog, a bit of good news from the August 2010 Social Security Trustees’ Report on the finances of the Social Security entitlement programs (retirement, survivors, and disability):

Given the apocalyptic rhetoric we’re hearing, once again, about Social Security finances, it comes as something of a shock—even to me—to look at the actual projections in the latest Trustees’ Report. OASDI [ed.: in plain English, Social Security spending] is projected to rise from 4.8 percent of GDP now to about 6 percent of GDP in 2030, and level off. That’s not trivial—but it’s not huge either.

Hence, the intermediate forecast reported by Krugman seems to indicate that we can maintain current benefit levels, retirement ages, and other rules for the foreseeable future using existing payroll and benefit taxes plus only a modest increase in federal revenues dedicated to Social Security programs. Perhaps more Americans will be able to retire fairly comfortably and at a reasonable age than some have predicted.

Coincidentally, not long after the report was released, a new exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act opened here in the Hudson Valley, not far from the Levy Institute, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. (The famous Roosevelt home is on the same site.) I hope to see the Social Security exhibit soon and may report back to you on what I find there.

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