Scott Tibbs

Social security reform is a necessity

By Scott Tibbs, March 17, 2023

When I was bagging groceries for $4.00 an hour in 1990, the tax that I resented the most was the withholding for Social Security. I knew then that it was a Ponzi scheme: The bottom pays for the top. There is no "trust fund" set aside of the money you paid into the system. It was always a "pay-as-you-go" system. This is what, more than social issues, set me on the path to becoming a Republican instead of a conservative Democrat.

There was a time when the Republican Party stood for entitlement reform. The 1994 election gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, and with it came a batch of Republicans who were looking at innovative ways to shrink government. One of the ideas in 1995 was to let younger people opt out of Social Security while protecting the benefits of people who were in the system. George W. Bush wanted reform a decade later. Democrats shamelessly demagogued the issue and Republicans retreated.

Now, the most recent Republican President and prohibitive favorite to be the 2024 Republican nominee sounds exactly like Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama on this issue. Republicans in Congress loudly booed Biden when he accused Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security, and Donald Trump thinks that attacking entitlement reform is a winning issue in a Republican primary. Of course, Trump is not a fiscal conservative, and never has been. That is why the deficit exploded during his time in the White House.

Here is the reality: It is completely irresponsible to keep Social Security going as is without making some reforms. The politicians know it is going to be insolvent but pretend everything will be OK - up to the very moment it becomes insolvent. Then we will need deeper benefit cuts and sharper tax increases that will be significantly more painful than if we had passed reform much earlier. Social Security should have been reformed 30 years ago, but politicians put their political fortunes over the country. Now, Trump is doing the same thing. So much for "America First." Now it is Trump First.

Trump bragged in his CPAC speech that the old Republican Party is dead and will never come back. Leftists and some anti-Trump Republicans see this as an embrace of nativism and nationalism, but the most direct policy change from the old GOP is a total abandonment of budgetary discipline and the nation's long-term fiscal health. The Republican Party has always surrendered when faced with backlash over entitlement reform, but at least they tried and failed. Donald Trump, exhibiting his New York City Values, had taken his stand against even attempting to control spending.

Opinion Archives

E-mail Scott

Scott's Links

About the Author