Dean Baker | Seven Key Facts About Social Security and the Federal Budget

Washington, DC – Heading into the midterm elections, Social Security has proven to be one of the hot button issues of this cycle. Despite the fact that the program has just begun its 75th year contributing to the retirement security of millions, the relationship between Social Security and the federal budget is unclear to many Americans. A new issue brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) addresses seven issues about this relationship and in the process demonstrates that Social Security can continue to be a cornerstone of retirement without posing an undue burden to the budget well into the future.

Seven Key Facts About Social Security and the Federal Budget,” functions as a primer on some of the most important topics in the Social Security debate, topics that are essential for any policymakers, reporters or anyone else concerned about the future of Social Security.

The issue brief asks and answers:

  • What will real annual wages be in 2040 versus today?
  • How does the 2010 Social Security Trustees Report compare to the 2009 report and what does this mean for workers?
  • What percentage of real wages would have to be used to pay for the projected shortfall in Social Security?
  • What percent of real wage gains over the last 30 years was absorbed by the increase in Social Security payroll taxes?
  • What percent of the projected long-term budget shortfall is due to the inefficiencies of the U.S. health care system?
  • How much wealth should we expect near retirees to have to support themselves in retirement?
  • What percent of older workers have jobs in which they can reasonably be expected to work at into their late 60s?

The questions and answers in the issue brief are basics for anyone interested in Social Security and the well – being of workers and retirees. For anyone actively engaged in this policy debate, knowledge of these issues is a basic pre-requisite.