If Sen. Tuberville believes ‘most people’ won’t get Social Security, where is effort to address it?: Op-ed

By Brenton Smith 

FILE – The U.S. Social Security Administration office is seen in Mount Prospect, Ill., Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)AP

This is a guest opinion column

It has been more than 40 years since Congress has mustered the courage to tackle the uncertain future of Social Security.

As the decades drifted by, the program racked-up more than $22.5 trillion in promises to current voters that it does not expect to keep. Given the importance of the program in the lives of constituents back home, these statistics should be a top concern lawmakers in Washington. Yet, our politicians barely seem to notice.

The driver of the gap between Social Security’s ability to promise and its ability to pay has been Congressional inaction. Since 1983, more than two-thirds of the problem in the finances of the venerated program stems from the passage of time. This is the cost of twiddling thumbs and pointing fingers.

If Congress continues to follow the path of legislative neglect, about half of those turning 80 today will be turning 89 in 2033 as the program slides into insolvency.

In a recent interview with NewsMax for example, Senator Tuberville (R-AL) said “Most people won’t get Social Security. It’s just unfortunate. It was a tax that was levied on the American people years ago, sold a bill of goods.” Separately, he attributed this gloomy prospect to the mismanagement of the money contributed by taxpayers.

While that language suggests the rickety finances of this program have his undivided attention, there is virtually no record of the Senator’s efforts to effect change in the trajectory of program’s finances since he arrived in Washington.

If Senator Tuberville truly believes that “most people” will not get Social Security, where is his legislation to address the financial imbalances? If he honestly believed that the money had been siphoned away from the program by Washington insiders, he would have, at a minimum, requested the Congressional Research Service produce a report to determine who took the money and how much was lost.

The sad fact is when politicians want to duck and weave around the issue of Social Security, they blame the nameless forces of malfeasance. In this case, someone broke into the vault and spent the money set aside for hard working Americans.

For its part, the Social Security Administration produces clear documentation debunking the notion that the money was used to pay for other government priorities. The agency’s reports show that every penny of the FICA tax ever collected from Americans has been distributed to eligible retirees.Any member of Congress who doubts that information has a duty to step-up and call for an investigation.

Of course, no one would make such a request because everyone understands that the allegations are an intellectual snipe hunt.There is no research that suggests most people, or even a majority of people, will not get Social Security benefits when they retire. There is no research that suggests that any of the money under the Social Security Administration’s management has been siphoned off to pay for other things. In fact, the program hasn’t produced a penny of excess cash to spend on other priorities in nearly 15 years.

Ironically enough, the emotionally charged rhetoric of politicians like Senator Tuberville only makes the possibility of reform more difficult. Washington has been playing this game for 40 years, and the voters have lost year in and year out as a result.

While Senator Tuberville is not the problem, his comments serve as a clear warning to voters that lawmakers have grown exceedingly comfortable with the politics of the status quo. In a better world, every member of Congress, regardless of party, would honor the moral obligation to research the long-term stability of a program on which millions depend, and put those efforts to work in a give and take discussion that is grounded in fact.

Sufficient unto insolvency is the misery thereof. There is no need to make-up concerns.