Most Get Social Security Solvency Wrong: National Press Club Exchange by Bob Weiner and Steny Hoyer Corrects Myths

Dec 14, 2010, 16:21 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Question from Robert Weiner, former Chief of Staff, House Aging Committee, and response by Rep. Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader, National Press Club Newsmaker, December 13, 2010:

Alan Bjerga, moderator: For the first question we will assume the prerogative of the organizer of the event, Mr. Robert Weiner.

Weiner:  Steny, you mentioned the Fiscal Commission's provocative report. But they and many [others] don't acknowledge that Social Security is solvent. You remember I was the Chief of Staff of the House Aging Committee. Social Security is solvent and paid for through 2037, and 25% short at the most even after that. It doesn't contribute a dime to the deficit, even on paper. So it isn't anything that the Deficit Commission can take advantage of, other than taking money from it. How did Social Security become the symbol of saving the deficit and doing something, instead of the real costs of Iraq, Afghanistan, and tax breaks for the rich? And will the Democrats, and Congress as a whole, resist the sound bite to save the budget by cutting Social Security?

Hoyer: First of all, Social Security ought not to be looked at as a way to reduce the deficit and your point is well taken. However, at the same time we need to make sure that Social Security is not only solvent through 2037, but for future generations. Therefore, we must address its solvency within its own construct. There are many ways to do that. Frankly Social Security is much easier to deal with than Medicare and Medicaid, which are a very much greater challenge in terms of cost.

Now you mention as well the expenditures we have made without paying for them. We have fought two wars that have incurred about a trillion dollars in expenses -- none paid for, all borrowed money. We need to make sure we pay for what we buy. Therefore, we included in our budget a statutory pay-go. That is a return to what we did in the 90s, where we disciplined ourselves in expenditures.  We need to continue to do that. In the short term in an economic downturn you cannot do that because you need to give stimulus to the economy, and you can't depress it at the same time. Therefore, you need to incur debt at times of economic stress. However, we incurred great deficits at the time of economic well-being.  That has been the problem we confront today.

But to your point -- Social Security is clearly something the Democrats are going to make sure is in place, is solvent, is there for future generations, will not be privatized, and will be as generations have had it to rely on in their retirement.

Contact: Bob Weiner/Gavriel Swerling, 301-283-0821/202-306-1200

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates