Alfonse D'Amato

It's time for some honesty about Social Security


Last week, Governor Cuomo gave his third State of the State address, and touched on many of the major issues facing our state — Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery, job creation and economic growth, and gun control.

Similarly, when President Obama gives his inaugural address next week, I expect that he will bring up many of the same issues. What he needs to do, however, is be realistic about the current state of Social Security and propose real reforms. His administration is doing this country an injustice by not addressing our entitlement programs.

Case in point: As fiscal-cliff negotiations were heating up in Washington, the Obama administration refused to discuss Social Security because, as press secretary Jay Carney said, “It is not currently a driver of the deficit.”

Let’s set the record straight. The Congressional Budget Office projects that “over the next decade, Social Security’s annual cash deficit will rise by nearly $100 billion, reaching $155 billion a year.” If this continues, Social Security will account for nearly $200 billion in annual deficits, or almost 20 percent of our $1 trillion-plus deficit.

Investor’s Business Daily recently analyzed the current Social Security law, which pays all benefits until the Social Security trust fund expires. According to the study, Social Security payments would raise the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio by 18 percentage points by 2032. According to IBD, “At that point, the yearly cost of paying benefits and interest tied to trust fund redemption would exceed Social Security revenue by 2.4% of GDP.”

So tell me, how is Social Security not a driver of the deficit?

Many of us were hoping that President Obama would take a page out of President Clinton’s playbook, becoming more fiscally conservative during his second term. In April 1998, Clinton made Social Security his top priority, saying, “It would be unconscionable if we failed to act, and act now.”

Fifteen years later, that sentiment cannot be heard any louder. The longer we wait, the more enormous and costly the crisis becomes.

The minimum age to start receiving Social Security benefits must be increased from 62, when, currently, you can receive 75 percent of the monthly benefit.

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