Dean Baker Writes to Senator Carper On Social Security

Filed in National by on April 26, 2011

Ed. Note: I had planned to post this almost two weeks ago and when it was scheduled, jason330 posted up his own critique of Carper, so I took this one down. However, since Congress is on recess, perhaps any of you who may get to talk to Tom Carper at a Town Hall or other venue will be able to ask him if he plans to take Dean Baker up on his offer here.

Posted (with permission from CEPR) from dKos:

The Honorable Tom Carper
513 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Carper:

In recent comments on reforming Social Security, you said, “ My sons are 21 and 22; neither of them thinks Social Security will be around for them. I want to make sure that it is.”

In fact, Social Security will be around for them. The Social Security trustees’ projections show that Social Security will maintain full solvency through the year 2037. Even if you and your colleagues in Congress never make any changes to the program, Social Security will always be able to pay close to 80 percent of scheduled benefits from then on. Assuming that they have several successful years in the workforce just as you have, when your sons retire in 2056 and 2057, they will each receive $37,044 a year (in 2010 dollars) for the rest of their lives.

As the discussion over Social Security continues, I hope you and your staff will have the opportunity to further review the design and finances of Social Security. If you would like any additional background on the program, I would be happy to assist you.

Dean Baker

Dean Baker
Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research


So those of you who insist that Democrats have plenty of fight in them now have an opportunity to show your stuff close to home.

Senator Tom Carper is clearly trying to throw Social Security under the bus. Again. Enough to have the estimable Dean Baker write him the letter above — running down the basic facts and offering his own expertise in explaining it all to Carper and his staff. Carper and his people need to hear Dean Baker on this, which is why I’m asking everyone who cares about Social Security to call, write or visit Carper to ask him to take Dean Baker up on his offer. Seriously.

But then, we can be pretty sure that Carper knows that Social Security isn’t exactly a big problem:

That chart is from the last actuarial report from the Social Security Trustees. As most of us already know — the costs go up through 2030 or so and then level out if there are no new funds added to the system. Which means that the worst case scenario for Social Security is that retirees will live with a smaller benefit — all without Congress pretending it needs to cut benefits or raise the retirement age. Social Security does not add to the deficit — while Medicare is certain to add to the deficit shortly. And Medicare’s costs go up every year — there is no leveling off if you do nothing.

There are other Senators and Congresspeople who push this bullshit line and have been doing it for years. But they should be reminded that this bullshit doesn’t fix the problem they created. Because their first problem is in paying back the trust fund, and this is the thing they are dancing away from. So that if Senator Carper’s sons don’t get their Social Security, it will be because their father couldn’t muster the leadership or the honesty to make sure that the system stayed strong for them. It will be because Senator Carper retreated to the kind of bamboozlement we expect from the GOP in order to avoid the tough work.

The place to fight for Social Security is right in your own backyard — starting with Senator Carper. I haven’t heard or seen anything from either Coons or Carney yet, but would not be surprised to hear either of them repeating this discredited line too. But Carper is the target here, and if you are interested in pushing back on this, here is how to contact him:

Senator Tom Carper

DC Office: (202) 224-2441
Wilmington Office: (302) 573-6291
Dover Office: (302) 674-3308
Georgetown Office: (302) 856-7690

Email: (it’s a form, sorry)

Senator Carper is on Facebook too, if you want to post a comment on his wall about this.

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"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas." -Shirley Chisholm

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