Social Security

MEMORANDUM ON CONFERENCE WITH FDR CONCERNING SOCIAL SECURITY TAXATION, SUMMER, 1941 (excerpt) In the course of this discussion I raised the question of the ultimate abandonment the pay roll taxes in connection with old age security and unemployment relief in the event of another period of depression. I suggested that it had been a mistake to levy these taxes in the 1930’s when the social security program was originally adopted. FDR said, “I guess you’re right on the economics. They are politics all the way through. We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program. Those taxes aren’t a matter of economics, they’re straight politics.” FDR also mentioned the psychological effect of contributions in destroying the “relief attitude.”
Social Security Admin – Research Notes & Special Studies by the Historian’s Office
— Also posted at National Archives Press Release Aug 11, 2010

“What is true of government as a whole is also true of particular programs. Social Security and Medicare are government programs; they cannot go bankrupt, and they cannot fail to meet their obligations unless Congress decides–say on the recommendation of the Simpson-Bowles Commission–to cut the benefits they provide.

The exercise of linking future benefits and projected payroll tax revenues is an accounting farce, done for political reasons. That farce was started by FDR as a way of protecting Social Security from cuts. But it has become a way of creating needless anxiety about these programs and of precluding sensible reforms, like expanding Medicare to those 55 and older, or even to the whole population.”
— James K. Galbraith In Defense of Deficits March 4, 2010 PDF Available.

Research & Commentary
Save Social Security From its ‘Saviors’
— Stephanie Kelton (@StephanieKelton) July 2, 2022 – Substack: The Lens

Why FDR’s Fed Chair Opposed His Plan to Expand Social Security
— Stephanie Kelton (@StephanieKelton) July 1, 2022 – Substack: The Lens

What FDR and Two Former Fed Chairs Understood About Social Security • It Ain’t About the Money
— Stephanie Kelton (@StephanieKelton) June 30, 2022 – Substack: The Lens

Can We Still Afford Social Security and Medicare? • Breaking it down with MMT economist Scott Fullwiler
— Stephanie Kelton (@StephanieKelton) April 21, 2022 – Substack: The Lens

As Social Security and Medicare are tightly linked wrt legal authorization, financial ability to pay and productive capacity to provide, see also Medicare here.

From Scott Fullwiler via a now closed Twitter account
• 1/20 There are 3 separate issues regarding ability to provide SS/Medicare in future years–financial ability to pay, legal authority to pay, & productive capacity to provide increasing standard of living to future workers & non-workers.
Complete thread here on provisioning Social Security and Medicare in future years, with a rec to CBO & SS/Medicare trustees.

Historical Background And Development Of Social Security
Social Security Administration

Social Security: Truth or Useful Fiction?
— L.Randall Wray Center for Full Employment and Price Stability 2004

Financial Aspects of the Social Security “Problem”
— Stephanie Bell Kelton (@StephanieKelton), L. Randall Wray, Center for Full Employment and Price Stability June 2000

Does Social Security Need Saving? Providing for Retirees throughout the Twenty-first Century
— Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, L. Randall Wray The Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College 1999

Proposals & Commentary
Let’s talk about Social Security, Medicare, and payroll taxes.
— Stephanie Kelton, A Twitter Thread, Dec 13, 2018

On the Security of Social Security
— Max Mastellone (@MaxMastellone), Medium, Aug 24, 2018

Taxes Do Not Fund Social Security. Investment Does (with Spanish translation)

Randall Wray, Deficit Owls Sep 25, 2016

The 1983 Strategy Behind Today’s Social Security Attacks
— Dave Johnson (@DCJohnson) April 8, 2013

— Robert Eisner, The Century Foundation Press, 1998 • DOWNLOAD PDF •