Tag Archives: Entitlements

Young workers are paying Social Security taxes but will they ever collect benefits?

What if we had no money for anything except entitlement spending?
What if we had no money for anything except interest and entitlements?

The way Social Security taxes work is that you pay 12.4% of your salary, and another 2.9% for Medicare. That’s 15.3%, before any federal, state and local taxes. So, what are you getting for this 12.4% contribution to the Social Security welfare program? You’re supposed to be able to withdraw that money when you retire, but that money isn’t being stored in an account with your name on it. It’s being spent right now on people who are already retired. Will there be money available for you to withdraw when you retire?

If you’re a young person who retires in 2035 or later, the answer is absolutely not.

The Daily Signal has the numbers:

The American people need to know the state of finances of the Social Security program so they can better understand why reform is not only necessary, but absolutely essential. Here are five takeaways from the most recent financial report:

  • $66 Billion Cash-Flow Deficit in 2016

Social Security is still considered solvent and able to pay full benefits because it has accumulated a $2.8 trillion trust fund, but since the entirety of its trust fund consists of IOUs, cash-flow deficits must be financed by general revenue taxes or new public borrowing.

Since 2010, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance program has taken in less money from payroll tax revenues and the taxation of benefits than it pays out in benefits, generating cash-flow deficits.

  • $14.3 Trillion in Unfunded Obligations

However, this figure assumes that the $2.8 trillion in trust fund reserves are available to be spent. The problem is that these reserves represent liabilities for the U.S. taxpayer. The payroll revenues have been spent and the trust fund was credited with U.S. bonds, which represent claims on the American taxpayer. This is why the actual unfunded obligation is $14.3 trillion.

The trustees report that Social Security’s unfunded obligation has reached $11.5 trillion. That is the difference between what the program is expected to receive in income and what is expected to spend over the 75-year horizon the program’s actuaries consider for projections.

  • Insolvent by 2035

Based on current projections, the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund will be depleted by 2035, reducing Social Security’s expenditures automatically to what the program will receive in revenues, regardless of benefits due at that time.

Social Security is only legally permitted to spend funds in excess of its revenues until its trust fund is depleted.

  • 25 Percent Automatic Benefit Cut

What this means for beneficiaries is that in the absence of congressional action, benefits could be delayed or indiscriminately reduced across the board by 25 percent.

Once the Social Security trust fund is depleted, the program will only be able to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits, based on payroll and other Social Security tax revenues projected at that time.

  • High Costs to Delaying Reform

The trustees highlight that if Congress waits until the trust funds become exhausted, the cost of making the program solvent will be as much as 40 percent higher, meaning significantly greater benefit cuts and/or tax increases for workers and beneficiaries.

There are several key reforms Congress could pursue to preserve benefits for the most vulnerable beneficiaries without increasing the tax or debt burden on younger generations. However, the longer Congress waits the act, the larger the changes that will be necessary to address Social Security’s combined financing shortfall.

Young people working today who retire in 2035 or later will never see a dime of their Social Security contributions. What’s more likely is that the taxes on their income will go even higher. Take a good look at your paycheck, and you will see money being deducted for this entitlement program. This is money you will never see again. It is being used now, to buy the votes of elderly people who vote against reform when they vote Democrat.

The only person to try to do something about these Social Security problems was George W. Bush – a Republican. But his effort to set up private savings accounts was stopped by Democrats, who depend on the votes of the people who collect from Social Security.

These problems are even worse when you realize that Social Security is only one of the entitlement programs that is going bankrupt. There are others – as well as interest on the $20 trillion debt. ($10 trillion of which was added by Obama in his 8 years as Welfare President). Young people: you are paying taxes for programs that will not be there for you when you need them. Stop voting Democrat, because money matters!

Millennials who elected Obama will face high taxes, poverty and unemployment

We can't raise taxes enough to fix this overspending
We can’t raise taxes high enough to fix this much overspending

My regular readers have probably noticed that I have stopped blogging about day-to-day politics, ever since the Republican primary candidates with conservative records (Cruz, Jindal, Walker) were eliminated from the GOP primary. I have heard though that the mainstream media is going all in to elect Hillary Clinton. My concern is that many people rely on television news and will never think about two really important issues. First, Obama has been the worst President in the history of the country and has destroyed the economy for decades to come. Second, his disregard for national security and weak foreign policy has emboldened the enemies of Western democracies, e.g.  Russia, Iran, etc. We will see the consequences of this (wars and terrorism) for years to come. Those are the real challenges we face as a nation.

This Hoover Institute article by Victor Davis Hanson explains the big picture that the mainstream media doesn’t care about.

Excerpt:

Consider the $20-trillion national debt. Most Americans accept that current annual $500 billion budget deficits are not sustainable—but they also see them as less extreme than the recently more normal $1 trillion in annual red ink. Americans also accept that the Obama administration doubled the national debt on the expectation of permanent near-zero interest rates, which cannot continue. When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.

Count up current local, state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, property and sales taxes, and new health care taxes, and it will be hard to find the necessary additional revenue from a strapped and overtaxed middle class, much less from the forty-seven percent of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes. The Obama administration has tried to reduce the budget by issuing defense cuts and tax hikes—but it has refused to touch entitlement spending, where the real gains could be made. The result is more debt, even as, paradoxically, our military was weakened, taxes rose, revenue increased, and economic growth remained anemic at well below 2% per annum.

The national debt is one ticking time bomb, but there are others. Illegal immigration and Muslim refugees create additional financial problems for the next generation of entrepreneurs and workers:

Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard.

Likewise, there are few multiracial societies of the past that have avoided descending into destructive ethnic chauvinism and tribalism once assimilation and integration were replaced by salad-bowl identity politics. Common words and phrases such as “illegal alien” or “deportation” are now considered taboo, while “sanctuary city” is a euphemism for a neo-Confederate nullification of federal immigration laws by renegade states and municipalities.

Illegal immigration, like the deficits, must cease, but stopping it would be too politically incorrect and painful even to ponder. The mess in Europe—millions of indigent and illegal immigrants who have fled their own failed states to become dependent on the largess of their generous adopted countries, but without any desire to embrace their hosts’ culture—is apparently America’s future.

Progressive Christians and  left-leaning Republicans join Democrats in imposing costs on the next generation of taxpayers with open borders immigration policies. The bill for importing people who take more in welfare than they pay in taxes has to be paid by someone. Not only will taxes on individuals go up, but taxes on businesses will cause them to create fewer jobs, or move their production to countries that have lower taxes on business.

The rest of the article talks about more ticking time bombs created by young leftist voters. Obama’s anti-police rhetoric has created a crime crisis that will require more police, more incarceration and higher insurance premiums. Obama’s anti-school-choice policies have made it harder for the next generation to get the education they will need to offer value to employers. Without skills, you won’t have a job, and you will be poor – poorer than your parents’ generation.

Although most young leftists are ignorant about foreign policy, that did not stop them from voting to cause crises that will harm our economy, and may also draw us into war. Territorial disputes involving strong countries like Russia and China could easily lead to war. Sponsors of terrorism like North Korea and Iran have gained strength during Obama’s reign of stupidity. Wars that impact trading partners or allies will cost taxpayers money. And millennials are the ones who are going to get the bill for a failed foreign policy.

The article doesn’t mention other crises like the trillion dollar student loan bubble, or the next mortgage lending crisis, or the unfunded pension programs crisis, or Medicare going bankrupt, and then Social Security shortly after, etc. No one in the mainstream media mentions these things, and the millennials aren’t aware of these problems. It’s not in their culture to put financial concerns above having a good time. But closing your eyes doesn’t make a threat disappear. Millennials can’t study English in college, rack up student loans, spend all their money on alcohol, work minimum wage jobs, then travel to Europe in their 20s, and expect everything to work out when they get serious about career and savings at age 30. These crises – which millennials voted for – are going to make their lives harder than their parents’ lives ever were.

Why is college so expensive? Why does university tuition cost so much?

The correct answer appeared in the radically leftist New York Times, of all places.

This is by Paul F. Campos, law professor at the radically leftist UC Boulder.

He writes:

[P]ublic investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher.

In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.

Some of this increased spending in education has been driven by a sharp rise in the percentage of Americans who go to college. While the college-age population has not increased since the tail end of the baby boom, the percentage of the population enrolled in college has risen significantly, especially in the last 20 years. Enrollment in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs has increased by almost 50 percent since 1995. As a consequence, while state legislative appropriations for higher education have risen much faster than inflation, total state appropriations per student are somewhat lower than they were at their peak in 1990. (Appropriations per student are much higher now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s, when tuition was a small fraction of what it is today.)

As the baby boomers reached college age, state appropriations to higher education skyrocketed, increasing more than fourfold in today’s dollars, from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975. By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years. This tsunami of public money did not reduce tuition: quite the contrary.

[…]State appropriations reached a record inflation-adjusted high of $86.6 billion in 2009. They declined as a consequence of the Great Recession, but have since risen to $81 billion. And these totals do not include the enormous expansion of the federal Pell Grant program, which has grown, in today’s dollars, to $34.3 billion per year from $10.3 billion in 2000.

The more money that is attached to students, the more money universities charge – simple.

But where is the money going? Is it mostly going to research? To the classroom? To hire more and better professors?

No:

Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

If you’re going to college or trade school, go to a low-cost school. Do a STEM degree or do a trade that pays well. Try to get tuition assistance even if it means going to a less prestigious school. And work at every opportunity you get in the most serious job you can find. Don’t spend your money – save it. Especially don’t spend your money on fun, vacations and alcohol. As soon as you grow up, you’re going to wish you could have it all back.

Will the Social Security and Medicare programs be there for young Americans?

Of course not, and the voting in Democrats that they seem to like to do is making it worse.

Here’s an article from the Daily Signal to tell about it.

Chart first:

Social Security insolvent in 2024
Social Security insolvent in 2024

And now the story:

Social Security’s trustees projected in 1983 that the recently enacted Social Security reforms would keep the program active for at least the next 75 years, through 2058. However, according to research by Rachel Greszler, a senior policy analyst, and James M. Roberts, research fellow for economic freedom and growth at The Heritage Foundation, that approach date has accelerated.

“If the trend since 1983 continues, the program will become insolvent in 2024—34 years earlier than originally projected,” Roberts writes.

Now you might think that the way Democrats appeal to younger voters, that they are taking care of this problem for them.

Well, here’s an article from Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

The White House recently conceded that President Obama’s executive order effectively legalizing an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants means that newly legalized workers will contribute to Social Security and Medicare and be eligible for benefits.

Does the president have any idea how much money his action could cost the country — i.e., taxpayers?

[…]The Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund trustees estimate the two program’s combined long-term unfunded liabilities — the estimated amount the government will have to pay in benefits above what it expects to receive — at about $49 trillion. Obama’s amnesty action greatly exacerbates the problem, because retirees get back far more than they pay in.

[…]Because the U.S. pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits, on average, for each new retiree, whether part of Obama’s amnesty program or not, the president has just vastly worsened the long-term financial condition of the country’s two primary retirement safety nets.

But Obama’s newly legalized workers will impose even heavier losses than Steuerle’s examples.

Most workers pay into the programs for their working careers, between 40 and 50 years. But millions of Obama’s newly legalized are working-age adults with children, so many could be in their 40s or older.

Thus they could pay FICA taxes for the next, say, 15 or 20 years — less than half the average American worker — and be eligible for the full array of Social Security and Medicare benefits.

In addition, most will be lower-income workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that foreign-born, full-time workers earn about 80% of native-born Americans ($33,500 vs. $41,900).

Social Security is a social insurance program and is structured to provide disproportionately more benefits for lower-income workers. Medicare pays the same regardless of how much a worker pays in.

To be sure, these new workers’ entry will likely help the trust funds initially, because most will be paying in rather than taking out.

Under current rules, workers must pay FICA taxes for 40 quarters (10 years total) before being fully eligible for the programs. But within a few decades the oldest will start retiring.

Given the demographic unknowns, estimating the amnesty’s financial cost to our retirement programs — and so to U.S. taxpayers — can only be approximate.

But using a basic simulation model, we believe the government will receive about $500 billion in payroll tax revenue (including Part B and drug premiums), and expect it to pay out some $2 trillion in benefits over several decades.

Yeah, so they are actually making it worse. But hey, at least we have redefined marriage, right?

As if that were not enough, there’s this lovely story from CNS News.

Excerpt:

The Daily Treasury Statement that was released Wednesday afternoon as Americans were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving revealed that the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue $1,040,965,000,000 in new debt since fiscal 2015 started just eight weeks ago in order to raise the money to pay off Treasury securities that were maturing and to cover new deficit spending by the government.

The only way the Treasury could handle the $942,103,000,000 in old debt that matured during the period plus finance the new deficit spending the government engaged in was to roll over the old debt into new debt and issue enough additional new debt to cover the new deficit spending.

This mode of financing the federal government resembles what the Securities and Exchange Commission calls a Ponzi scheme. “A Ponzi scheme,” says the Securities and Exchange Commission, “is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors,” says the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“With little or no legitimate earnings, the schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue,” explains the SEC. “Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.”

Now you might ask yourself – are young people aware of these things? Of course not. What they learn in university is how to escape their repressive religious backgrounds by experimenting with risky, irresponsible sexual behavior. They are not aware of the situation, and when they vote, they vote like they were picking candidates on American Idol. I guess I can understand why young people act stupidly. They are concerned with what the culture tells them to be concerned about, and that’s legal baby-killing, redefining marriage to separate kids from their mom or dad, police shooting people who commit crimes, a nonexistent gender pay gap and global warming. What is appalling to me is when their parents vote Democrat… which is basically voting to have a higher standard of living for themselves, then passing the bill onto to their kids. It’s especially amazing when married women do this to their own kids. What are they thinking?

CBO report: Social Security to be bankrupt by 2030

From Investors Business Daily.

Full text, because this matters:

The $2.8 trillion Social Security Trust Fund is on track to be totally spent by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

That’s one year earlier than projected in 2013 and a decade earlier than the CBO estimated as recently as 2011.

The CBO delivered the warning in a gloomy long-term budget outlook that shows federal debt reaching 106% of GDP in 25 years, up from 74% now.

The rising debt would come despite revenue rising by 1.8 percent as share of GDP (from 17.6% to 19.4%)from 2014 to 2039 and despite spending other than health entitlements, Social Security and debt service shrinking by 2.5% of GDP (9.3% to 6.8%).

The challenge: Health care spending will rise by 3.1 percent of GDP (4.9% to 8%) and Social Security 1.4 points of GDP (4.9% to 6.3%), which will in turn push interest on the debt up to 4.7% of GDP from 1.3%.

Social Security’s cliff, now just 16 years away, is one that Washington would be crazy to approach. At that point, incoming revenue would be enough to pay less than 75% of scheduled benefits for all beneficiaries, whether just reaching retirement or 100 years old.

Up until the point of exhaustion, the trust fund provides legal authority — though no resources — for the government to pay all benefits despite Social Security’s burgeoning cash-flow deficit, which the CBO expects to reach $320 billion in 2024 alone.

The rapid deterioration in Social Security’s finances has a number of contributing factors. The drawn-out recovery from the deep recession and the extended period of low interest rates have sapped revenue and lowered the interest that Treasury pays to the trust fund based on program surpluses from 1984 to 2009.

On top of that, the CBO expects the underinvestment and long-term unemployment associated with the less-than-stellar recovery to have a lasting impact, boosting the natural rate of unemployment.

In February, the CBO significantly reined in its economic optimism, slashing its projection of the total amount of wages and salaries over the 2015-2023 period by about $3.2 trillion, or 3.6%.

Among the factors that the budget scorekeeper cited was ObamaCare’s work-diminishing effect, which the CBO now estimates to be three times as large as it supposed in 2010.

The CBO said that ObamaCare would reduce employment by 2 million full-time-equivalent workers in 2017, rising to 2.5 million in 2014.

This reduction would result in a decline in aggregate employee compensation averaging 1% from 2017 through 2024, or $1.05 trillion.

An IBD analysis pegged the revenue hit to Social Security from ObamaCare work disincentives at about $120 billion through 2024.

The reduced payroll-tax contributions into Social Security would, over time, result in modestly lower benefits for those who choose less work, but the cost savings from reduced benefits would offset only a portion of the lost revenue.

The nature of Affordable Care Act subsidies — they rise as income falls and decline as income rises — will make work “less attractive” by “creating an implicit tax on additional earnings,” the CBO said.

The work disincentive will lead some people to choose to work less, in part because subsidized health care will enable them to get by with less work.

In addition, the CBO expects ObamaCare to depress wages for lower earners when employers, over time, pass along the cost of the law’s employer-insurance mandate by holding back on wage increases. Lower wages, in turn, will provide another reason for some people to opt for less work, the CBO says.

While the CBO expects compensation to be lower “almost entirely” because people will choose to supply less work, the CBO also expects that some employers “will respond to the penalty by hiring fewer people at or just above the minimum wage.”

Another important factor clouding Social Security’s future: A greater share of earnings goes to those with income above the maximum subject to payroll taxes ($117,000 in 2014).

As a result, while rising longevity and the retirement of baby boomers will make benefits grow faster than the economy, Social Security’s tax revenue is expected only to keep pace with economic growth.

Look. I think there’s practical wisdom in this CBO report for Christians. We have to take into account data like this when making our life plans. And it’s not only Social Security we need to be scared of, Medicare is even MORE insolvent than Social Security. If you are under 40, these programs are not going to be there for you. You have to make other plans. You can’t be running your life plan as if these threats do not exist, because they do. Now I want to talk about how a defensive plan can be better than an offensive plan.

The neutral zone trap

Think of ice hockey and the neutral zone trap defense:

The defending team sets up so four players-usually both wings and both defense-remain in the neutral zone, while the center forechecks into the offensive zone. The center’s job is to block the passing lanes from the puck carrier, forcing him to carry the puck forward into the neutral zone. Once the puck carrier reaches the neutral zone, the center stays toward the center of the ice, forcing the puck carrier along the boards. Two of the other defending team’s players collapse in on the puck carrier, forcing him to dump the puck into their zone, forcing a turnover.

This plan allowed the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup against the high-powered Detroit Red Wings in 1995:

The following season, shortened by 34 games because of a lockout ordered by NHL owners, the Devils entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the conference, with only a 22-18-8 record. In the West, the Detroit Red Wings looked invincible, cruising to the Stanley Cup Finals behind a galaxy of offensive stars.

But that’s when Lemaire went to work, putting his Devils through daily lessons in the trap, preaching constantly about being in the right defensive position at all times. It was hard, but it worked. The Devils upset three higher seeded Eastern teams to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, but remained prohibitive underdogs against the Red Wings.

Many predicted a sweep – and that’s what happened. What nobody predicted was that it would be the Devils who did the sweeping, thanks to a stifling trap that limited Detroit to seven goals in four games.

“They frustrated the heck out of us,” former Red Wings defenseman Mike Ramsey told the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. “You weren’t trying to beat one guy. You were trying to beat four. They had enough talent and size where they didn’t have to play that way. But they knew what they were doing. Every player was on the same page.”

When coaches across the NHL saw how Lemaire was able to totally shut down such a great offensive team, the trap began to be copied by almost everyone. Roger Neilson had implemented a form of the trap with the expansion Florida Panthers from 1993-95, and his successor, Doug MacLean, took it even further. The neutral zone became almost impossible to navigate against the Panthers in the 1996 playoffs, and Florida suddenly found itself in the Stanley Cup Finals against the offensive-minded Avalanche. Criticized by the media about the trap, MacLean responded, “I like boring”.

Yes, and he likes winning,too. Sometimes people who appear to be risk-averse seem “scared” to others… but what matters is the scoreboard.

I hate to see young people making life plans while ignoring real life obstacles. The national debt, the demographic crisis, fertility (for women), etc. are real problems. Let’s take these threats into account when we are planning our lives. It’s just unwise to think that we can do whatever we want and then count on God to bail us out. We need to be practical. We live in challenging times, and we need to have prosperity and stability in order to protect our faith from external threats which are so often the root of despair and apostasy. The score on the scoreboard is not related to who took the biggest chances and felt the most excitement, it’s related to who actually scored. I feel excited when I win.