Friday, March 29, 2013 | 2:02 a.m.
In his letter, “Social Security, Medicare need help,” Tom Keller repeats the same old line that there is nothing in the Social Security trust funds but IOUs, trying to justify the GOP ambition of either eliminating Social Security and Medicare altogether or changing them into a stock market gamble and a voucher (worthless) program.
The reason these programs have withstood elimination attempts by the GOP is that typically the American people — by a huge majority — have said, “Leave them alone.” The most recent expression was in the last presidential election.
These so-called worthless IOUs are the same government bonds being sold to China and other investors, none of which consider them worthless. In the case of the government, these bonds are what Social Security taxes are invested in until needed to pay benefits.
Over the years, a huge trust fund has been built up in the form of this debt owed to Social Security by the general budget and, like any debt, it must be paid back. This process of payback has already begun with the disappearance of the surplus due to payroll tax holidays and Baby Boomers coming into the system.
The fact that this money has been, in effect, borrowed from Social Security to help fund budgetary expenses in lieu of tax increases does not dissolve the responsibility of Congress to pay it back by either borrowing the money or raising taxes. The cowards have refused to raise taxes, hence the increase in the debt.
Borrowing from Social Security is just a scheme to defer taxes, and the time has come to stop this practice.