Letter to Sen. Coburn on Comments in Washington Post Op-Ed

Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 11:00

The Honorable Tom Coburn
172 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Coburn,

In your April 4, 2011, Op-Ed in the Washington Post, you referred to "… money we've raided from Social Security..." in reference to the money that the Social Security Trust Fund used to buy government bonds. This is inaccurate. This money has not been raided. No money was stolen, and the law has been followed to the letter.

The government sold U.S. government bonds to the Trust Fund, just as it sells bonds to individuals and private corporations every day of the week. Just as with any funds used to purchase bonds, the money is borrowed by the government, but repaid at the end of the term of the bond. Saying that the government has raided money from Social Security is like saying the government raided the bank account of a grandparent who bought a $100 savings bond for their newborn grand-daughter. Few people would use such terminology. As long as the law is followed and the bonds are repaid on schedule, there will have been no raiding of the Social Security Trust Fund.

I hope that you will be careful to present the situation more accurately in future public statements. If you would like any additional background on the program, I would be happy to assist you.