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View Diary: Failing To Respect The Third Rail (290 comments)

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  •  In balance sheet terms it's an even swap (11+ / 0-)

    but the cashflows will be going to SS beneficiaries instead of defense contractors, corporate welfare, or tax cuts for the wealthy.

    And the SS bonds are debt Congress didn't have to sell - the proceeds were collected from all of us. To swap in new debt, they'll have to sell bonds to other people in addition to "normal" government debt, or raise taxes.

    I'm not sure about the Trust Fund balances now - one poster upthread says collections are exceeding outlays and you're saying it's interest covering outlays. Collections don't affect the budget, but paying interest does.

    At any rate, if the government honors its obligations to beneficiaries (moral, not legal) and doesn't cut benefits, then who benefits from the Federal budget is going to change in coming years. I think in addition to wanting to get access to SS funds, those changes in the budget - expenditure shifts or increased taxes - are what Wall Street, Peterson, Simpson, Bowles, et al are concerned about.

    There's money out there they want to get their hands on, and cash flows they don't want to lose. Either way, they want to screw the American people if they can get away with it.

    Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

    by badger on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 05:09:35 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  but the interest is paid whether SS is in surplus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Robobagpiper

      or not.

      As you said, when SS draws down the trust fund by selling bonds (in about 10 years), other people are happy to buy those bonds. The rest of the budget isn't affected.

      In other words, SS doesn't affect the budget. (Other than being a convenient buyer of bonds.)

      •  But again, in terms of cashflow (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mike101

        if collections exceed outlays, the government is paying interest to itself - it's an accounting entry, more or less.

        If the interest is instead paying benefits, it's paid to beneficiaries, and that's a real outflow.

        It's the difference between an accounts payable entry and actually writing a check. Either has the same effect on the value of the enterprise, but in reality their effects are a lot different.

        Viewing the budget as a financial document, the distinction maybe isn't significant, but in one case the Treasury is cutting checks and in the other case it isn't.

        Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

        by badger on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 08:28:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The interest is being paid with more securities (0+ / 0-)
        In addition, interest on debt held by the public is paid in cash and represents a burden on current taxpayers. It reflects the amount the federal government pays to its outside creditors. In contrast, intragovernmental debt holdings perform an accounting function but typically do not require cash payments from the current budget or represent a burden on the current economy.
        http://www.treasurydirect.gov/...

        They have been doing it going back at least to 2003. From 2003 to 2007 Bush spent nearly a trillion dollars in interest that should have gone into SS. There reasoning is that we don't need to pay it since we owe it to ourselves.

        Some people have short memories

        by lenzy1000 on Thu Apr 11, 2013 at 01:41:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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