Retirement advocate debunks Social Security panic

Reports that the Social Security trust fund is drying up is not what we should be worrying about. So says Edward F. Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Warnings about depleting Social Security benefits undermines the real daunting issues of a crippled health care system and lost retiree equity thanks to the collapse of the housing bubble, Coyle says. Speculations stem from those wanting to cut benefits and extend the retirement age.

"News that the recession is reducing the Social Security Trust Fund underscores the critical need for a long-term economic recovery plan that puts Americans back to work at good jobs with good benefits. If more Americans are working, then more money will flow into local, state, and federal coffers, including the Social Security Trust Fund," Coyle said in a press release Tuesday.

"Our nation's inter-related economic and health care crises are what should demand our lawmakers' immediate attention. Reforming health care would help the Medicare Trust Fund, which unlike Social Security, does face a critical shortfall," he continued.

The warnings mask an "ideological agenda" propagated by the same people who have been discredited after advocating for a privatized Social Security tied to a volatile stock market, Coyle said.

"According to noted economist Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution, the recent decrease in Trust Fund revenue will account for less than a few one-hundredths of one percent decrease in the 75 year projection for the Social Security Trust Fund," Coyle explained.

The same day as Coyle's release, the Washington Post reported on the "havoc" the recession is wreaking on the Social Security trust fund.

"With unemployment rising, the payroll tax revenue that finances Social Security benefits for nearly 51 million retirees and other recipients is falling, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office," writes Lori Montgomery for the Post. "As a result, the trust fund's annual surplus is forecast to all but vanish next year -- nearly a decade ahead of schedule -- and deprive the government of billions of dollars it had been counting on to help balance the nation's books."

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