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Get Out Your Asbestos Umbrellas


Welcome to 2017

You know how the sky is supposed to open up and rain fire on us in 2017, when Social Security payroll tax receipts are less than what it costs to provide Social Security? Well get out your asbestos umbrellas folks, because according to the Obama budget (page 123), its happening this year.

According to the "outlays" section, Social Security will cost 662 billion in FY 2009 (which started October 1, 2008...we're five months into it.) And under "receipts", we see that "Social Security Payroll Taxes" come to only 654 billion.

Now, of course, Social Security still runs a surplus -- we can still expect over $120 billion in interest this year, but another 20 billion or so from income taxes paid on social security benefits (which under law, are turned over to the Trust.)

But that moment in time by which we had to "fix" Social Security? Its yesterday. And nothing bad has happened as a result of the "shortfall".

Oh, and BTW, to get some idea of just how bad the economy is (and is expected to be) the most recent social security trustees report projected estimated revenue for payroll taxes in FY 2009 would be 723.3 billion, and in FY 2010 would be 761.2 billion. The Obama budget projects payroll taxes of 654 billion for 2009 (9.5% less than projected), and 682 billion in 2010 (10.5% than projected).

Those are the "intermediate" scenario numbers from the Trust Fund, however. The "worst case scenario" (ie "high cost") projections for receipts (699.3 billion for FY 2009, 743.7 billion for 2010) are still below what Obama is projecting.

So maybe you better get those umbrellas out anyway, because it looks like an economic shitstorm is hitting us...

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Submitted by hipparchia on

[i flipped through to the dept of defense section and skimmed a bit]. thanks for those links, i'm hoping to get time to read this weekend.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Think of it this way. The trust was probably assuming at least 5% unemployment rates when projecting for 2010. In order for the shortfall to be 10% less than projections, if unemployment is spread equally among all income sectors, you'd need to have 10% fewer people employed than projected.
And while there is some wiggle room there (if unemployment falls mostly on those in the higher income brackets, relative social security receipts would go down faster than employment number.
the stress test scenario assumes unemployment will be about 10.3% for 2010, which is well outside any kind of normal distribution rate for unemployment that allows social security payroll taxes to be 10% less than projected assuming a 5% unemployment rate.