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Alarmist Stories Misportray Social Security Disability Insurance

August 23, 2011

Social Security’s disability-insurance program is forecast to run short of money in 2018, more than six years from now, and policymakers can plug the hole for several decades by reallocating some taxes from the related old-age program as they have done in the past. But that’s not the impression you’d get from some alarmist reports. “Social Security disability on verge of insolvency” blares a Fox News story, a theme echoed by other outlets (see here and here).

Debt Limit and Long-Term Deficits Are Separate Issues

July 21, 2011

Policymakers are playing with fire as they risk a default on U.S. federal obligations because of a dispute over how to reduce budget deficits. The nation’s long-term fiscal path is unsustainable, and policymakers should address it in a timely and responsible way. But as we explain in a new report, legislators should not hold the debt limit hostage to approval of deficit reduction measures that satisfy various ideological or political concerns. Policymakers cannot let the government default.

Spending Money to Save Money

June 29, 2011

An Administration proposal to strengthen tax compliance efforts would pay for itself several times over, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). It’s just one of several “program integrity” initiatives in the President’s 2012 budget to fight waste, fraud, and abuse, and they deserve Congress’s support.

CBO Says Mind the Gap, But Mind the Recovery Too

June 22, 2011

The Congressional Budget Office’s new long-term budget outlook contains few surprises. It reiterates the argument that it and others (including us) have made previously — that policymakers should get down to the business of gradual deficit reduction, but without jeopardizing the economic recovery.

Confusion and Hypocrisy on the Debt

June 8, 2011

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee pounced on a new Treasury Department report purportedly showing that federal debt will top 100 percent of the economy this year. The problem is, they’re using the wrong debt measure.

What to Look for in the Social Security Trustees’ Report

May 13, 2011

This afternoon, the trustees of the Social Security system — the Secretaries of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor; the Commissioner of Social Security; and two public trustees — will release their annual review of the program’s finances. Here’s something to keep in mind when you look at the report later today: we know that year-to-year fluctuations in the trustees’ long-term estimates are normal. Social Security is subject to a variety of economic and demographic uncertainties, and the actuaries are constantly improving their methods.

Social Security: We’re Number…30!

May 11, 2011

We’ve long emphasized that Social Security benefits are modest — averaging only about $1,100 a month for retirees, disabled workers, and widows. And they’re also low in relation to earnings. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, they replace just 42 percent of a median worker’s earnings. That puts us in 30th place among the 34 OECD member countries.

Corker-McCaskill Spending Cap Would Put Veterans’ Programs on Chopping Block

May 5, 2011

The federal spending cap that Senators Corker and McCaskill have proposed wouldn’t just force massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It also could devastate programs that serve the nation’s veterans.

House Budget Committee: Mistakes Were Made

April 13, 2011

The House Budget Committee on Saturday quietly announced a manager’s amendment to correct some bloopers in Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget resolution, which the committee approved last week in a party-line vote. Notably, the committee acknowledged that it had overstated the plan’s interest savings substantially: by $48 billion in 2021, according to its press release, and by about $200 billion over ten years. But the committee stated that the savings from a federal pay freeze and civilian workforce reduction — two policies that it said it had planned to include in the budget all along but then accidentally omitted— completely offset the drop in interest savings.

Means-Testing No Answer for Social Security

March 10, 2011

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows surprising support for “means-testing” Social Security — in other words, reducing or denying benefits to retirees with incomes above a certain level — to help close the program’s long-term funding gap. But a new analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) confirms that means-testing would yield very little in savings … unless we took benefits away not only from rich retirees, but also from many who are solidly middle-class.