Deficit hawks: Wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The general assumption is that reducing the deficit should be a top national objective, and that Social Security should be considered a major source of deficit relief. That much is simple enough. But little else about the campaign against deficits is so simple.
Two issues must be sharply separated. The first is the fiscal policy question of how long increased deficits can be prudently tolerated in the interests of stimulating the economy. The second issue, Social Security, is different – though one wouldn’t know it from listening to most deficit hawks.
Government budget deficits are a serious problem, but Social Security is not a serious part of it. To say otherwise is to engage in mythmaking, and the deficit hawks are doing a lot of that. Those who warn that Social Security’s revenues will fall short of outlays in the 2040s are really pointing to a need for small adjustments, not a problem with the program’s solvency.