WashPost's Michael Gerson Social Security Piece Loaded With Inaccuracies Says Bob Weiner, Former House Aging Committee Director

Dec 28, 2010, 12:30 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

Social Security Trust Fund Not “Filled With Debt” But Funded By Deposits Owed To Seniors

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Robert Weiner, former House Aging Committee Chief of Staff and later White House staff, issued the following statement after today's Washington Post Michael Gerson column, "Face Social Security":

Michael Gerson's column was loaded with inaccuracies. The Social Security Trust Fund is NOT "filled with debt issued by the government itself." It is 100% filled with the "match" payroll tax payments by employers and employees as a fully funded insurance program—as designed by Franklin Roosevelt 76 years ago, and strengthened by Claude Pepper, Tip O'Neill, and Ronald Reagan in 1983.

What has happened is that the government has borrowed from the solvent Social Security fund for many other purposes from Iraq and Afghanistan to tax breaks.

When a bank uses a customer's money for other reasons, does that usage count against the customer who deposited the money? Of course not. The bank still owes the customer the money. In this case, the Bank is the U.S. Government.

Only this year—for the first time, by the tax "compromise" just enacted -- will the government, for one year, reduce the payroll tax which funds Social Security and supply the difference to the Trust Fund. Breaking the "wall" down is a dangerous trend that should be stopped next year as scheduled, regardless of the difficulty of ending a tax "cut."

There is no bio note identifying Gerson as George W Bush's chief speechwriter from 2001-2006 while Bush pushed to privatize and cut Social Security, a move which helped cost Republicans the Congress. In 2005 Speaker Newt Gingrich said he'd "never seen an issue handled worse by the White House" and Republicans "could lose the Congress" over it. Given that he was right, I'm not quite sure President Obama should take Gerson's advice as an action plan.

Gerson says cutting Social Security's looming (in 2037) shortfall is "a relatively small contributor to future deficits" but would be a "large symbol" and "logical place to begin." What he means is it would be a symbol of success for launching what the Post's David Broder explained years ago: conservative Republicans actually want to dismantle the entire social safety net begun by Roosevelt's New Deal.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was right when he said on December 13, "Social Security ought not to be looked at as a way to reduce the deficit."

Then-and-again House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi proudly said in 2005, "We stopped them and won" when Democrats blocked the Republicans' Social Security privatization and cuts. She'll have to lead an even stronger effort this round, because some Democrats have defected.

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

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates