Letter to Sen. Coburn on Comments on Meet The Press

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Written by Dean Baker   
Monday, 25 April 2011 13:52

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

Dear Senator Coburn,

In your April 24, 2011 interview on "Meet the Press," you are quoted as saying "… the 2.6 trillion we’ve stolen from Social Security..." in reference to the funds that the Social Security Trust Fund used to buy government bonds. As I have written to you in the past, this is inaccurate. This money has not been stolen. 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. 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 stolen money from Social Security is a distortion of the facts. No serious discussion of Social Security would use such terminology. As long as the law is followed and the bonds are repaid on schedule, nothing will have been stolen from the Social Security Trust Fund.

As one of the Senators in the Gang of Six working on a bipartisan budget agreement, I hope that you will be careful to present the situation more accurately, both in your budget proposal and in future public statements. If you would like any additional background on Social Security, I would be happy to assist you.