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Home Publications Blogs Social Security Monitor Letter to Sen. Rubio on Social Security Projections

Letter to Sen. Rubio on Social Security Projections

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Written by Dean Baker   
Thursday, 25 August 2011 14:40
The Honorable Marco Rubio
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Rubio:

During a recent speech at the Reagan Library, you took issue with several aspects of the Social Security program. With all due respect, many of your assumptions about the program are incorrect and fortunately there is little cause for concern.

For instance, you mentioned the fact that your mother has paid into the Social Security system and it would be difficult to tell her that she was being kicked off the program. However, you then say of your generation

"...that if we want there to be a Social Security and a Medicare when we retire, and if we want America as we know it to continue when we retire, then we must accept and begin to make changes to those programs now, for us."

Protecting the benefits of people currently receiving Social Security benefits is commendable. However, the assertion that Social Security will not be there by the time you are eligible for it is simply wrong.

The Congressional Budget Office's projections show that the program will be able to pay full benefits through the year 2038. If the projections prove accurate, and Congress never makes any changes to the program, then Social Security is projected to be able to pay slightly more than 80 percent of scheduled benefits in subsequent years. This means that you would be able to anticipate a benefit of $40,645 in 2038 and at least $32,516 in subsequent years (both in today's dollars). In other words, the projections show that you can expect to get a substantial benefit from Social Security as long as you live.

You also implied that the ratio of workers to beneficiaries has drastically shifted from a 16-to-1 ratio when the program began to a 2-to-1 ratio in the near future. In actuality, 50 years ago, there were just five workers for every retiree. In this same 50-year span, the tax rate for Social Security has more than doubled, from 3.0 percent for the employer and employee in 1960 to 6.2 for each at present. As well, the tax base has risen considerably from $4,800 in 1961 ($30,0,000 in today's dollars) to $106,800 in 2011.

As discussion of the budget and the future of Social Security continues, I hope that you will be able 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.

The Honorable Marco Rubio

317 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 2051

 

Dear Senator Rubio;

 

During a recent speech at the Reagan Library, you took issue wither several aspects of the Social Security program. Fortunately, many of your assumptions about the program are incorrect and there is little cause for concern.

 

For instance, you mentioned the fact that your mother has paid into the Social Security system and it would be difficult to tell her that she was being kicked off the program. However, you then say of your generation

 

“…that if we want there to be a Social Security and a Medicare when we retire, and if we want America as we know it to continue when we retire, then we must accept and begin to make changes to those programs now, for us.”

 

Protecting the benefits of people currently in these programs is commendable. However, the assertion that Social Security will not be there by the time you are eligible for it is simply wrong.

 

The Congressional Budget Office’s projections show that the program would face a shortfall beginning in 2039. If the projections prove accurate, and Congress never makes any changes to the program, then Social Security is projected to be able to pay almost 80 percent of scheduled benefits in subsequent years. This means that you would be able to anticipate a benefit of $40,645 in 2038 and at least $30,484 in subsequent years (both in today’s dollars). In other words, the projections show that you can expect to get a substantial benefit from Social Security as long as you live.

 

You also implied that the ratio of workers to beneficiaries has drastically shifted from a 16 to 1 ratio when the program began to a 2 to 1 ratio in the near future. In actuality, fifty years ago, there were actually just 5 workers for every retiree. In this same 50-year span, the tax rate for social security has more than doubled, from 3.0 percent for the employer and employee in 1960 to 6.2 for each at present. As well, the tax base has risen considerably from $4,800 in 1961 (`$30,000 in today’s dollars?) to $106,800 in 2010.

 

As discussion of the budget and the future of Social Security continues, 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.
Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Walt, August 25, 2011 11:15
Dear Mr. Baker - I know you have on a number of occasions found it necessary to correct various elected officials concerning their misunderstandings regarding Social Security. I'm not sure if they are misinformed or deceitful, although in either case it is a pretty sad comment regarding their credibility as leaders. Perhaps you should post a list of those that you have had to correct and not remove their names until they acknowledge their "misconceptions" or seek your assistance. It might be helpful for voters come next November. Best wishes.

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