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The Honorable Kristi Noem
1323 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC, 20515

Dear Rep. Noem,

In answer to a recent question on Social Security and the national debt, you stated:

    “Social Security is running at a deficit today…We’re having to make up that deficit out of the national treasury. That’s why we have to shore it up.”

By law, however, Social Security can only spend money from its designated payroll tax or interest on the bonds in its trust fund. Therefore, it cannot contribute to budget deficits or the national debt. Currently it is spending interest from the government bonds it owns, in addition to its designated payroll tax receipts. It makes no more sense to say that this spending from interest contributes to the deficit than if you or I were to spend interest on government bonds that we owned.

Since by law, Social Security is financed by its own revenue stream, it seems peculiar that you would bring it up in the context of the national debt and deficits. Your constituents might be interested in knowing why you discuss Social Security in this fashion.

While Social Security is projected to face longer term-shortfalls, I assume you are aware that both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Social Security Trustees Report show that Social Security will be able to pay full benefits into the 2030s and over 75 percent of benefits thereafter if no changes at all are made to the program.

If you are interested in ways to tackle the long-term solvency of Social Security I would be happy to discuss this with you. I hope you are more careful in the future when discussing Social Security, deficits and the national debt.

Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

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Comment Preferences

  •  These people (Congress and President) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ohkwai, howd, NM Ray, OooSillyMe

    know better; I wish the main stream media would use their ability to inform the people of the US who believe that Social Security wont be there for them.  Instead, the media are carrying water for those who want to kill off Social Security.  After all, these people (the Very Important People) wont need Social Security when they retire; but most of the rest of us will need Social Security and Medicare to be able to retire with some semblance of dignity.

    •  Main Steam Media Just Doing Their Corporate Job (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NM Ray

      I too wish the main stream media would inform the public on a whole host of issues, however, I realize that they are at the core a corporate media with corporate interests.  We need to keep that in mind and seek out other sources for our information, like the CEPR, and then help spread the word ourselves to friends, family and acquaintances.  

      Poor man wants to be rich. Rich man wants to king. And the king ain't satisifed until he rules everything. B.Springsteen

      by howd on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 07:48:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    One step at a time.  It is incredible that we have to inform our elected representatives of facts that they should know.  That is basic!  But, with Fox New Misinformation Network, and all of the so-called commentators blathering their misinformation 24/7, common wisdom is usually wrong.

    It would be nice if Rep. Noem would stand in the well of the House and apologize to the House of Representatives for her error. Unfortunately, the House would be empty. None of her colleagues would be present.  And, the statement of correction and continued acceptance of misinformation will continue.

    Dick Cheney said, "Pi$$ on 'em!" And, Ronald Reagan replied, "That's a Great Idea. Let's Call it 'Trickle Down Economics!"

    by NM Ray on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 08:08:32 AM PST

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