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Social Security Is Running Out of Money

May 21, 2024

I recall first hearing concerns about the financial viability of Social Security when I was in my 20s. The prospect of that program affecting me personally seemed pretty remote then. Today, now that I am receiving benefits 45 years later, this prospect doesn't seem so remote to me. The loss of those benefits would pose a very real threat to the quality of life my wife and I have in retirement.

I worked for one of the great defenders of Social Security, U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. He was a champion of a reform package that in 1983, extended the financial life of the program by as many as 50 years into the 2030s. Another champion of that bill was Representative Jake Pickle of Austin, Texas. He introduced me at my Senate confirmation hearing for the job as Mint Director.

I also served as majority staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security. That bipartisan bill, passed 41 years ago, was the last time Congress enacted legislation to extend the life of Social Security. And now, today, we face the greatest threat to the program ever. It's not like we haven't seen this coming. The actuarial tables have been warning us for 40 years.

There's been talk about doing something. I recall from my days as chief of staff of U.S. Treasury that Lloyd Bentsen, then Treasury Secretary, climbed out on a limb to support new measures to reduce costs and raise revenue to protect the program. That was 30 years ago. Ten years ago, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner reached a bipartisan grand bargain to set the program on solid ground for decades to come.

But Speaker Boehner's conference didn't support the agreement. It died on the vine. So here we are today. How did we get to this place? One reason is that the broad, bipartisan support the program enjoyed for decades no longer exists. Younger people have no confidence the program will survive until their retirement. So their only financial reason to support it is to avoid the burden of helping their aging parents, whose benefits are cut as the program withers.

Others want to cut Social Security to reduce the federal deficit. No doubt, deficits must be addressed. But ending or crippling this vital program would be a tragedy for millions of Americans, and an unnecessary one at that. Solving the financial riddle of Social Security is not rocket science. It's a matter of combining some mix of raising the retirement age, increasing contributions to the program, or increasing the taxes on high wealth or mega income individuals.

But since we have failed to confront this challenge for decades, the solution will be harder to swallow for everyone who's affected. We've known that would be the case for decades, too. And the difficulty compounds as we kick the can down the road. What can you do? Contact your representative and senators. Tell them it's time to act now and take matters into your own hands.

Make gold an essential part of your portfolio strategy. We are in the midst of one of the greatest rallies in gold prices. Without standing prospects, it will continue. The time to protect and grow your wealth with gold is now. Call us here at U.S. Money Reserve to learn more. Thank you.

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