MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Get ready for the pro-Paul Ryan austerity headlines that will predict an imminent demise of Social Security. On April 23, the Social Security Trustees Report for 2012 is expected to be released - and you can expect that the shills for the one percent will be blaring that seniors may need to live on cat food if the US is going to be saved from financial ruin.
But an advance analysis of the report on the financial status of the program, posted on NiemanWatchdog, argues that "last year's report projected that at the end of 2011, Social Security would have an accumulated surplus of around $2.7 trillion, which it now has. This year's report will show that it will be even higher at the end of 2012."
That's right, the current $2.7 trillion surplus of Social Security funds is expected to rise by the end of this year.
According to the commentary by Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, "without any Congressional action, Social Security will continue to pay benefits to America's eligible working families for decades; and that with modest legislated increases in revenue, it will continue to pay those benefits for the next century and beyond."
The authors warn the media not to jump on the Social Security fund is about to implode band wagon when the Trustees Report is issued, as has happened in years past. The facts of the report should trump the memes from the Koch brothers public relations machine touting a deficit reduction crisis.
"Discussing Social Security in the context of the deficit debate risks reinforcing the widespread misperception that the government is stealing the contributions of hardworking Americans," Altman and Kingson contend.
Instead of carrying the water for a manufactured political agenda, journalists should attend to reporting on the real crisis: older Americans are facing the increasing likelihood of falling into a much lower standard of living.
As Altman and Kingson warn,
The Retirement Research Center at Boston College estimates that nearly one half of Americans will not be able to maintain their standard of living in old age; 6 out of 10 when health and long-term care costs are included in the estimate. The finances and retirement savings of many persons nearing retirement have been hit hard by the Great Recession, the collapse of the housing market and loss of pension protections. Decades-long shifts in the economy and pension coverage have diminished the upward mobility and income prospects of many young and middle-aged persons.
That is the real dilemma facing the nation: the survival of the majority of our elderly on such limited budgets.
The one percent who want to cut Social Security to enhance their own lined pockets of greed should be shouted down when the Trustees Report is released.