President Obama’s budget director, Jacob Lew, said as much last week during his briefing on the president’s budget. Obama wants to find ways to “work together to find a solution to the long-term issues in Social Security,” Lew told reporters, but the program “does not contribute to the deficit in the short term.”
That would be nice if it were true. It’s not.
Social Security is a cash-in/cash-out program. It went into the red last year, when payroll tax revenue came up about $37 billion short of the benefits paid to retirees. Initially, that shortfall seemed a temporary consequence of the recession. But new projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that factors such as the payroll tax cut Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last year mean that Social Security will instead come up short every year from now on ”” at least $45 billion this year, and a staggering half a trillion dollars over the next decade.