Letter to Sen. Chambliss on Social Security Reform Comments

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Written by Dean Baker   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 13:10

The Honorable Saxby Chambliss
416 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Chambliss,

While discussing Social Security at a recent town hall in Carroll County, Georgia, you told the audience:

“It needs to be reformed so it’ll be there for the next generation.”

In actuality, it will be there for your children and grandchildren. The recommendations of the National Commission on Social Security Reform in 1983 led to the growth of a large surplus in Social Security. This surplus was used to buy bonds, and now Social Security holds more than $2.6 trillion in government bonds. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office’s projections show that the program will maintain full solvency through the year 2038.

Even without any changes whatsoever to the program, Social Security will be able to pay slightly more than 80 percent of scheduled benefits from 2039 on. Put another way, if your children — currently in their 30s — were to retire at the age of 67, even after Social Security faces projected partial shortfalls beginning in 2039, they would still receive benefits of $32,911 and $34,904 (both in 2011 dollars) respectively, every year, for the rest of their lives. Clearly Social Security will be there for them and millions of other Americans.

As a member of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, tasked in part with oversight of Social Security, I hope you and your staff will take the opportunity to further review the design and finances of the program. If you would like any additional background on Social Security, I would be happy to assist you.