Tom Bethell

Dear Mr. Broder,

If Bob Ball were still with us, I’m confident that he would be phoning or writing to you this morning re your Washington Post column of 2/5/09 in which you speak of “the looming bankruptcy” of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He would be pointing out that all of these programs face challenges but none faces actual bankruptcy unless the full faith and credit of the United States is a meaningless phrase. In the case of Social Security in particular he would be dismayed to see you contributing to totally unjustified fears about the program’s future. He would be pointing out that an estimated 2-percent-of-payroll shortfall over 75 years is hardly synonymous with bankruptcy and is in fact eminently manageable, and he would also be warning against casual assumptions that bipartisan commissions are panaceas (as he well knew from his experiences on many of them, particularly the Greenspan Commission). Bob is, of course, no longer with us, alas, but having worked with him off and on for 20 years I know he would want me to send you his plan for Social Security (as I know he did himself many times). He was in the process of updating his plan just weeks before his death, a year ago, and I’ve updated it to 2009 after checking with SSA’s chief actuary to be sure that the plan’s assumptions and data are valid. The Ball plan is available from the NASI website by clicking here.

Posted on: March 9, 2009

Keywords: Social Security

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