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How Is Social Security To Blame For U.S. Financial Apocalypse?

Over at 1787, a new independent political party that purports to be open to any new ideas from its members, and not promoting any particular ideology, has issued a very particularly ideological statement about the federal budget deal between the Obama White House and congressional leaders. The 1787 leadership, who are self-appointed and have given themselves the power to determine the rules of the political party without input from the rank and file, have issued a statement declaring that, “…our leaders have failed us. Instead of using this rare show of bipartisanship to bravely tackle the root causes of our financial Apocalypse – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid…”

1787 is claiming a few strange things here, including the idea that we’re in the middle of a “financial Apocalypse”, but I want to focus on just one matter for the moment and ask a simple question: In what sense is Social Security a root cause of federal budget difficulties? Social Security is fiscally independent from the federal budget, except to the extent that it has been used as a source of extra money to contribute to the integrity of the federal budget from time to time.

It’s a very odd assertion for 1787 to make, that Social Security is somehow dragging the federal budget into “Apocalypse”.

At about the same time that 1787 issued this statement, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which has bankrolled other faux independent political parties, such as Unity08 and Americans Elect, all dedicated to attacking the integrity of the Social Security system, issued its own declaration on the matter of the budget deal: “The fundamental structural problem is this entitlement growth coming in the future and we just have to decide as a nation what level of benefits we want, what ages we want those to kick in, what level of income we want people to receive benefits under, and how we want to pay for it.”

Is it a coincidence that 1787 and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation are making these arguments at the same time?

5 comments to How Is Social Security To Blame For U.S. Financial Apocalypse?

  • My name is Emily Mathews and I am the founder and Chairman of 1787. I appreciate the opportunity to address several points made in this post. First, the assertion that 1787 has no “particular ideology” and is a “faux independent political party” is incorrect. I invite you to visit our website at http://www.1787forAmerica.org where you will find our entire platform (which at present consists of 21 issues). Indeed, the whole idea behind 1787 is a type of modern-day Constitutional Convention, where committed citizens engage in pragmatic and thoughtful debate for the sole purpose of finding evidence-based, sustainable public policy. To that end, the following statement is written on the top of most every page of the platform section: “Although the initial platform has been created it’s meant to serve only as a starting point. Our policies will be fluid as our national conditions change or when we discover a better way – a perpetual work in progress. We want every American to work hard to prove us wrong because that’s the BEST way to find the BEST solutions.” Input, debate, and conversation from the growing “rank and file” is definitely beginning to happen, to my delight. But growing any grassroots organization is a process. When I started 1787 earlier this year there was no “rank and file” – there was just me (which I feel sure is the reason I got the vote to be Chairman!!) The 1787 Bylaws, which are also on the website, explain in detail how 1787 will operate moving forward, including how the leadership will be elected and held accountable.

    To my knowledge I don’t know one single person associated with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. There is absolutely no relationship between our two organizations. That said, we are certainly not the only groups concerned about the future of Social Security. Consider this excerpt from “The Moment of Truth”: “In 1950, there were 16 workers per beneficiary; in 1960, there were 5 workers per beneficiary. Today, the ratio is 3:1 – and by 2025, there will be just 2.3 workers “paying in ” per beneficiary. Unless we act, these immense demographic changes will bring the Social Security program to its knees. Without action, the benefits currently pledged under Social Security are a promise we cannot keep. Today, the program is spending more on beneficiaries than it is collecting in revenue. Although the system’s revenues and expenditures are expected to return to balance temporarily in 2012, it will begin running deficits again in 2015 if interest from the trust fund is excluded and in 2025 including interest payments. After that point, the system’s trust fund will be drawn down until it is fully exhausted in 2037.”

    • J Clifford

      Emily, you have failed to substantiate your claim that Social Security is a “root cause” of a “financial Apocalypse” that we are currently experiencing in relationship to the federal budget. You only claim that the system through which Social Security is funded, which is currently solvent, will begin to have problems in the future. These are completely separate issues, and your inability to understand the difference doesn’t speak well for the coherence with which you are organizing 1787.

  • […] December 17th, Irregular Times ran this article by J Clifford that was critical of 1787. In the article, J Clifford asserted that 1787 was “a […]

  • Bill

    Fun as it is to goggle over 1787′s wackiness, I’m a little leery about it getting too much coverage here, which might tend to legitimize what is otherwise an illegitimate organization. Basically, 1787 amounts to little more than Emily Mathews’ blog, with a pair of friends’ pictures tagged on. I realize that Emily is petitioning the FEC for recognition as a ‘minor party’…maybe ‘nano party’ or ‘femto party’ status might be more appropriate. It appears to be in violation of its own bylaws in so many ways that it just can’t be serious. Most of its talking points, as well as much of the actual text it has published, is just recycled from Emily’s previous effort to play “let’s pretend we’re a political party!”, 2012′s Revive America National Committee, which was just Emily and which managed to pull in a whopping $600 during its short and unsung life (for sources see my June 7 comment here).

    Emily’s playing dress-up again, this time as 1787. Give her a break, but for God’s sake don’t lend her legitimacy.

    • J Clifford

      Thanks for the background. My perspective is that it’s important to call out, and give a bit of skeptical questioning to, small groups that echo the Peter G. Petersons of the world, whether they have explicit ties to Unity O’Mericans The Up To Can.

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