Congressional looters


Beware — laissez-faire ideological loonies are loose in Washington! They’re waving machetes, toting sledgehammers, and going right for your Social Security.

The system is broke, they shout, so we must reform it. By “reform,” they mean destroy — either by privatizing it or gutting it by slashing benefits and raising our retirement age. Also, when they say that Social Security is broke, there’s one little question they don’t want you to ask: Where did all that money we’ve been paying into the system go? They don’t want you asking that because … well, because they stole it.

Social Security is remarkably effective and has been very efficiently run. However, a change came in 1984 when the payroll tax was increased a bit to create a surplus to cover the future retirement of the large baby boom population. The extra tax that we’ve been paying into this trust fund for the past 27 years has added up to $2.6 trillion, including interest. Good planning!

But no one locked the trust fund! So lawmakers of both parties have routinely been looting our retirement money for nearly three decades to pay for everything from more military spending to tax giveaways for the rich.

Every dime of the $2.6 trillion in extra taxes that we paid into the fund is gone. So, instead of money to pay Social Security benefits, the system holds a mess of IOUs left by presidents and congress critters as they hauled out the actual cash. Many of the politicos presently decrying Social Security’s fiscal problem are the very ones who caused it. And to “fix” it, they now want to tax you again by reducing your benefits.

For a real fix, lawmakers must admit their fraud, apologize to us, and restore the system’s soundness by locking the trust fund, fully applying the payroll tax to the rich, and fully paying what is owed to America’s workers.


For more information on Jim Hightower’s work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown — visit