If you live in Georgia, you have less than 6 weeks. That is the amount of time that voters must get candidates running for office to take a stand on the future of Social Security.
Once parties have settled on their candidates in the primaries, campaigns will transition from talking about ideas to destroying the competition. In the process, the future of Social Security will return to the backburner, where it has languished for the better part of four decades.
As a libertarian, I tend to warn people about the dangers of big government and the emptiness of the ensuing promises. I have no problem with freedom if voters watch the programs that they create and take responsibility for the consequences.
Social Security is the poster child of Libertarian-ism. Since inception, the program has for every dollar ever collected, generated more than $3 of promises that no one expects it to keep. What could be a better advertisement for Libertarian-ism?
There will be consequences for the voters who have an obligation to watch the programs that they support.
By the time that the election is held, the average 80-year-old will expect on average to outlive the system’s ability to pay scheduled benefits. In terms of Georgia, the AARP reports roughly 1 in 5 residents collect benefits, which injects more than $30 billion into the state’s economy annually.
As voters head to the polls, no one knows how these people would be affected by system-wide reductions. No one knows or has bothered to ask their elected officials to consider how the program would allocate the benefits cuts caused by insolvency to the individual.
Politicians are not going to volunteer answers to questions that voters do not ask.
That is bad news because nothing is more destructive to Social Security than the passage of time. Over the course of 2022, the program generated another $800 billion in promises that no one expects it to keep. Whatever portion of the empty promises handed to you over the next decade will be higher because Congress did nothing in 2023.
Right now, every candidate from every party is comfortable with doing nothing. At this point, Democrats are $10 trillion apart on the problem that they are trying to solve.
Every candidate should be familiar with how Social Security performed during the Trump years. Back in 2016, then-President Donald Trump promised that a growing economy would protect Americans who depend upon Social Security. While Trump’s White House took credit for an “unprecedented economic boom,” the fact is that the promises for which the program doesn’t expect to generate money grew at more than double the rate of the economy between 2017 and 2020.
In other words, the size of the hole in the program’s finances grew as fast as our ability to fill it.
People in Georgia will not appreciate this message: you have less than 6 weeks to get your politicians on record with specific ideas about how the impending crisis will play out. If you vote for candidates who do nothing, you can’t be surprised by the benefit cuts that come with the empty promises of big government.
No one has stolen your money. It hasn’t been spent on tax breaks for the rich. It is not your kid’s fault. Benefit cuts are the result of you as a voter paying little to no attention to a well-advertised crisis over a period of decades.
Politicians need to earn your vote. Before any politician will provide an answer, he needs to understand that doing nothing is not an answer.
The author, an Atlanta resident, is policy advisor on Social Security to the Heartland Institute.