Fueling a misconception
EDITOR: Tuesday's editorial ("A tax increase that should be no surprise") said that "Social Security is projected to run out of money in 2035." This misconception unduly scares people.
The Social Security trust fund has a surplus of $2.5 trillion, invested in U.S. Treasury bonds. The surplus resulted from the hike in the payroll tax and increase in retirement age made in 1983 in anticipation of aging baby boomers.
Beginning in 2010, payroll taxes collected were less than the amount paid out. To deal with the shortfall, Social Security turned to the interest earned by its trust fund; in 2020, it will begin to redeem trust fund assets.
It is this invested surplus that will be gone by 2035. Then, Social Security will only be able to pay 75 percent of its obligations. While this is a real concern, there are many possible fixes. Increasing payroll taxes or the retirement age would hurt most workers. Most obvious is lifting the cap on payroll taxes; currently, income above $110,000 is not taxed.
Overstating the Social Security shortfall pits generations against one another, making younger people unnecessarily resent paying into a system that is incorrectly projected not to be there for them.
Guns vs. government
EDITOR: In trying to separate gun owners from gun nuts, I realize the latter are worried about the government trying to take over the country. I wish. Expecting Congress to accomplish anything is awfully optimistic.