Myths From D.C. Part 3: ‘Social Security Doesn’t Add to the Deficit’

Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (AP photo)

At the end of November, Senator Dick Durbin (D – IL) made the claim that “Social Security does not add one penny to our debt, not a penny.”  Many politicians and pundits agree with Sen. Durbin on this point as well.  White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, is on record saying, “Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit — that’s an economic fact.”

If there’s anything that the policy debate surrounding Social Security can teach us, it’s that politicians prefer to repeat things that just aren’t so in order to avoid understanding what’s really going on.

Here at Americans for Prosperity, we’ve already pointed out the fact that Social Security is in huge trouble over the long term. One of the reasons is because the CBO came out with a report in October that pointed out that in 2012, Social Security was headed for a third straight year in which payments exceeded revenues.  In fact, CBO predicts this trend to continue in the coming years, which is why Social Security ultimately faces insolvency by the early 2030s.

What’s even more relevant is that even the Obama administration predicts that Social Security will add to the deficit in his 2013 budget proposal.  On page 208, the document shows that, over the next ten years, Social Security would accumulate a $100 billion deficit.  And keep in mind, that’s with a much rosier outlook for Social Security under a budget proposal that will never come to fruition.

Therefore, no matter how many different ways politicians want to distort and twist the issue, the fundamental problem is that Social Security spending exceeds its revenue.  No matter which way you try to slice it, that’s what we call a deficit.  And it’s contributing to our national budget woes.

Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) has been pointing out how Social Security faces serious problems in the coming years.  Last month, he wrote in an op-ed that stated, “The only solution is to cut spending. It’s no secret to anyone, except perhaps Washington leaders, that our current levels of spending are not only unsustainable, but the main culprit in our fiscal crisis.”

Sen. Paul is right. Social Security makes up over 1/5th of the federal budget and it’s currently running at a deficit.  Consequently, it’s clear that Social Security is a contributing factor to the deficit, and it will continue to be a factor in the coming years.  Politicians who refuse to accept that Social Security adds to the deficit continue to propagate just the kind of myth we’d expect to see coming out of D.C. elites.