Letter to Representative Lou Barletta on Social Security

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Written by Dean Baker   
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 11:51

The Honorable Lou Barletta
510 Cannon House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Barletta:

In response to your constituents, you recently explained your position on the budgeting process. In the course of your explanation, you make the commendable and seldom heard point that the strength of Social Security depends on a strong economy and the amount of money paid into it.

However, when describing your beliefs about the national deficit, you mention Social Security as a “driver of the debt.” I would like to point out that under the law, Social Security can only spend money that came from its designated tax or the interest on the bonds held by its trust fund. It has no legal authority to spend one dime beyond this sum. In that sense it cannot contribute to budget deficits or the national debt.

As a freshman member of the House of Representatives who has made budgetary concerns a top priority, I hope you and your staff will have the opportunity to further review the design and finances of Social Security. If you would like any additional background on the program in the future, I would be happy to assist you.

Sincerely,
Dean Baker