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Opinion: Out-of-touch Harry Reid calls Social Security insolvency a “myth”



During the Nevada Democratic Party Convention that was held over weekend, Sen. Harry Reid called the idea of Social Security insolvency a “myth”
while claiming that the fund should remain solvent for at least another 40 years. Reid went on to say that this “myth” was perpetuated in order to scare senior citizens, as noted by reporter Jon Ralston.

This isn’t the first time that Reid has made out-of-touch statements about the solvency of Social Security. Reid said in 2005 that he believed the “Social Security crisis exists in only one place: the minds of Republicans.” And in 1999, Reid claimed that Social Security is not in trouble and stated “and until the year 2032, people are going to draw 100 percent of the benefits.” Contrary to Reid’s claims, the New York Times reported that “This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle said of Reid’s statements: “When Harry Reid calls this problem a ‘myth,’ he’s either being dishonest, or he just doesn’t get it. Social Security is teetering on the brink of insolvency, and voters in this state deserve more than an out-of-touch politician who has spent nearly three decades in Washington who won’t be straight with them. It is time to cut spending and protect taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, and as Senator, that is exactly what I will work to do.”

Background information

In The Past, Reid Has Argued That There Is No Social Security Crisis:

In 2005, Reid Believed The “Social Security Crisis Exists In Only One Place: The Minds Of Republicans,” Despite A Report Showing That Social Security Will Begin Paying Out More In Benefits Than It Receives In Payroll Taxes In 2017. “A new report on the financial health of Social Security changed the numbers only slightly and the terms of the political debate even less so. The trustees who oversee the government retirement program said Wednesday that Social Security will begin paying out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2017. That means the government at that point will have to increase its borrowing on financial markets, raise taxes or divert money from other government programs to sustain Social Security at current levels. . . .  Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the report ‘confirms that the so-called Social Security crisis exists in only one place: the minds of Republicans.’” (Glen Johnson, “Social Security Report Changes Numbers Slightly, But Not The Political Debate,” The Associated Press, 3/24/05)

In 2005, Reid Said “There Is No Emergency On Social Security.” “But not today. Although the dismal projections of the system’s inevitable fiscal shortfalls have changed little since 1998 and Congress has taken no action to shore up the system, Reid now says, ‘There is no emergency on Social Security,’ and his ‘just say it ain’t so’ strategy has been adopted by most Capitol Hill Democrats.” (David Winston, Op-Ed, “Viewers Back Bush, Not ‘Irresponsible’ Democratic Policy,” Roll Call, 2/8/05)

In 2005, Reid Said “There’s No Crisis In Social Security.” “‘We want to make sure that the American people understand that we’re not for benefit cuts and we’re not for privatization,’ Reid said. ‘There’s no crisis in Social Security.’” (Alex Wayne, “Reid Says No Senate Democrat Will Back Bush’s Social Security Plan,” Congressional Quarterly Today, 2/1/05)

In 2005, Reid Argued “We Have No Crisis . . . For The Next 50 Years, People On Social Security, If We Do Nothing, Will Draw 100 Percent Of Their Benefits.” “Wearing blue jeans and a blue work shirt, Reid also charged the president is creating a crisis to reform Social Security. ‘We have no crisis,’ Reid said. ‘For the next 50 years, people on Social Security, if we do nothing, will draw 100 percent of their benefits.’” (Tony Batt, “Reid Backs Off His Criticism Of Thomas,” Las Vegas Review Journal, 1/17/05)

In 1999, Reid Claimed That Social Security Is Not In Trouble And “And Until The Year 2032, People Are Going To Draw 100 Percent Of The Benefits.” SENATOR REID: “Tony, but Social Security isn’t in trouble. We’re — if we do nothing, which we certainly have to do something . . .” FOX NEWS’ TONY SNOW: “So why are we talking about something that’s not two- thirds of the surplus?” SENATOR REID: “And until the year 2032, people are going to draw 100 percent of the benefits. What we’re trying to do is to make sure that after the year 2032, that people can still draw 100 percent of the benefits. That’s something that we need to do.” (“Fox News Sunday,” 2/14/99)

In March 2010, It Was Reported That Social Security Will Pay Out More Than It Takes In During 2010:

“The Bursting Of The Real Estate Bubble And The Ensuing Recession Have Hurt Jobs, Home Prices And Now Social Security. This Year, The System Will Pay Out More In Benefits Than It Receives In Payroll Taxes, An Important Threshold It Was Not Expected To Cross Until At Least 2016, According To The Congressional Budget Office.” (Mary Williams Walsh, “Social Security To See Payout Exceed Pay In,” The New York Times, 3/25/10)

Analysts View This As A Tipping Point, And “The First Step Of A Long, Slow March To Insolvency . . .” “Analysts have long tried to predict the year when Social Security would pay out more than it took in because they view it as a tipping point–the first step of a long, slow march to insolvency, unless Congress strengthens the program’s finances.  ‘When the level of the trust fund gets to zero, you have to cut benefits,’ Alan Greenspan, architect of the plan to rescue the Social Security program the last time it got into trouble, in the early 1980s, said on Wednesday.” (Mary Williams Walsh, “Social Security To See Payout Exceed Pay In,” The New York Times, 3/25/10)

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