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Monday, March 07, 2005

Visualizing the Greenscam:

We've put together a diagram that illustrates three phases of the Social Security and Federal Income Tax situation. First, the pre-1980 condition, where boomers were not part of the system. Second, how the program could be managed through higher Social Security taxes, reduction of the debt, and eventual repayment to the retiring boomers. Third, what's happened in the wake of Bush and Greenspan's policy choices (plus what they'd like to do). In the last instance we have tax cuts for the rich, a higher national debt, a problem redeeming Social Security bonds, reduction of benefits, and a possible consumption tax.



Full sized versions of the diagram can been seen here (1180x780 pixels) and here (944x624).


UPDATE: USA Today has an editorial that mentions a key point we've diagrammed above: (excerpts)
Crisis? Not in Social Security. Deficits drive the problem.

By 2018
— sooner, if private accounts are created — ... the government will need to begin paying off its [Social Security] IOUs. Absent large tax hikes or spending cuts, already astronomical deficits will skyrocket.

If the rest of the budget was in good shape — and particularly if the government had stayed on the path it was on five years ago of buying down the national debt — lawmakers could simply re-borrow the money to pay benefits. They could have a leisurely debate over what, if anything, else to do.

But that is not an option given the dire budgetary situation.


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