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Home Publications Op-Eds & Columns Putting 'Secure' Back in Social Security

Putting 'Secure' Back in Social Security

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Dean Baker
Washington Post, May 3, 2000

Dan Crippen, director of the Congressional Budget Office, has a great deal of time to worry about relatively small and distant problems ["Social Security Mirage," op-ed, May 18].  The latest Social Security trustees report shows that the program will have sufficient revenue to pay all scheduled benefits until 2037, with no changes whatever. At that point, the oldest baby boomers will be 91 and the youngest will be 73, 11 years older than the minimum Social Security retirement age. 

Contrary to what Mr. Crippen suggests, the real long-term problem facing Social Security is not the baby boomers but simply the fact that people live longer. The program's costs are projected to increase, not decrease, after the baby boomers have passed on.

In the trustees' projections, even after 2037 Social Security could continue to pay, indefinitely, benefits that are higher in today's dollars than those received by current retirees. Again, these projections assume that no changes are made to the program.

Social Security trustees' projections assume slow wage and productivity growth. If the United States can achieve the same real wage growth as most of Western Europe, the program will be solvent for more than 60 years.


Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. He also has a blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues.

 

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