The following was prepared by a reader and is the bulk of his recent comment. I thank him for his efforts in posting this. You should read it carefully.
On April 20, 1983, as he signed the Social Security Amendments Act of 1983 into law, President Ronald Reagan stated, in part: “We promised that we would protect the financial integrity of Social Security. We have. Time and again, benefits were increased far beyond the taxes … that were supposed to support them. The changes in this legislation will allow Social Security to age as gracefully as all of us hope to do ourselves, without becoming an overwhelming burden on generations still to come.“
Since then, not so much. However, the 1983 Social Security legislation had obvious shortcomings.
Less than 10 years later and continuing until today, a succession of presidents have confirmed that the promised benefits were not sustainable at current funding levels:
November 5, 1993: President Bill Clinton, by Executive Order #12878, created the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement Reform (the Danforth Commission) to evaluate entitlement programs, specifically Social Security and Medicare. The Commission never reached consensus and couldn’t get all members to agree on even an Interim Report. Subsets of the commission members made their own proposals. None gained any traction, nor action.
February 5, 2005: President George W. Bush made a reform recommendation to add personal accounts and change the COLA. These proposals triggered great criticism and no action was taken.
In 2010: President Barack Obama created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (often called Simpson-Bowles) to recommend fiscal reform including recommendations regarding Social Security. The Commission first met on April 27, 2010. Despite widespread popular support, the report failed to get enough support to send it to Congress for approval.
June 1, 2016: President Barack Obama reminded us that Social Security’s finances needed strengthening. “We should be strengthening Social Security. It’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned.” No proposal was ever made.
The Social Security/Medicare Trustees project that the OASDI (Old Age Survivors and Disability Income) trust funds will be depleted in 2032 – 2034 and that the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund will be depleted in 2025 – 2026.
As recently as October 17, 2018, President Donald Trump was quoted by the Associated Press as stating: “I’m not touching Social Security.”
So, it seems obvious that our presidents and congressional leadership have known about inadequate funding of Social Security and Medicare trusts for decades and have failed to take action to either reel in promised benefits or to increase funding via taxation.
Two Public Trustee positions on all three Boards were created in the 1983 Social Security Amendments, based on a recommendation of the Greenspan Commission aimed at increasing public “confidence in the integrity of the trust funds.” The two public trustees are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and may not be from the same political party. They serve for a term of 4 years, but may continue to serve after their term expires until the next annual report is issued or successors are confirmed, whichever occurs first. (Those positions remain infilled)
As I have mentioned before, the Social Security 2100 Act was introduced 1-30-19. While not perfect, it was a good starting point. The bill was referred to several committees in Congress on the same day and nothing has happened.
Keep that in mind as you recall what Congress has done and proposes to do with money we don’t have for citizens who don’t need it.