OPINION | Social Security’s impending bankruptcy doesn’t resonate with voters, yet | Op-Ed


I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I see almost no chance that Social Security financing from the General Fund would be allowed for any considerable time. It is a foolish message at best to harbor hopes that Congress will be able to drive the program’s imbalances out of general funds.

This thought comes to my mind because of the 2022 midterm elections and the inherent contradiction between the importance of Social Security and the weight that voters placed on the agenda on Election Day despite two decades of continuous financial decline.

No group should be more interested in the prospects of the program than women over the age of 50. Yet an AARP poll found that Social Security came in a distant fifth in voting priority among people in this segment of the population in the 2022 midterm elections.

At this point, a woman who turns 77 today expects to live, on average, longer than the system pays scheduled benefits. If that voter doesn’t care, no one will.

The only explanation I can imagine for the indifference to the program’s ability to deliver on its promises is that voters have come to the conclusion that Congress will simply never allow Social Security to go into crisis .

Apparently Americans have faith in politicians who would covet the Pope.

To give an example, one of my readers wrote to me, “And, as I said, the General Fund will somehow already be on the hook for the SS deficit.” The reader reasons that whatever happens, he will get paid. Therefore, he has almost no interest in the prospects of the system.

It’s a misplaced belief. The common fund is not on the hook and probably never will be. Funding Social Security from the general fund would likely be considered unconstitutional in court.

Yes, Social Security was established as constitutional in Helvering v. Davis in 1935. This does not mean that a change in the law in the way the program is financed is exempt from judicial review.

Just because the law is called the Social Security Act, the pieces and parts of the law are not given any special status.

The Supreme Court is not interested in how power is exercised. Rather, what matters is deciding whether that power is conferred on Congress by the Constitution. In the Helvering case, the Supreme Court ruled that “Congress may spend money for the ‘public good'”. Further, the Court held that the “concept of welfare is shaped by Congress, not the states.”

The Court added a caveat that deserves your attention: “The (definition of well-being) belongs to Congress. Unless the choice is manifestly wrong, the display of arbitrary power is not an exercise of judgment.”

Here’s the problem. Social Security is not universal or equal. The highest compensation goes to the man or woman who has had the best job for the longest period of time. It’s very hard to explain that we take money from the working poor to give the rich retiree an allowance, especially when many of our poorest seniors don’t even qualify for benefits.

If the money for benefits comes from the general fund, someone will ask if giving money to the idle rich is a good way to promote the general welfare of the nation. The benefits formula works when the money comes from employees who contribute to a plan that pays them a future benefit. It is very different if we take money that can be spent on other priorities.

As early as 1935, the Court of Auditors indicated that it was not very interested in the wisdom of the benefit scheme. According to the Court, the law was a well-founded solution to a long-standing problem. In its decision, the Court cited congressional studies, presidential commissions, advisory boards and extensive public hearings.

The Court ruled: “A large body of evidence has been accumulated in support of the policy reflected in the law. “

Imagine if this standard were applied to an annual grant from the general fund. Funding would require a similar assessment showing that Congress carefully valued this expense against any other expense that money could have served. That’s every year where the reasoning is that we’re spending the money today because the politicians of the past weren’t doing their job. In the coming years, voters of all ages should take this issue more seriously.

In 1935, the Supreme Court empowered Congress to provide a legislative solution to a well-documented problem that threatened a growing number of Americans. Today, the Court should consider whether to give Congress the power to deal with an entirely different issue: Voters haven’t been paying attention.

Brenton Smith ([email protected]) is a policy advisor at The Heartland Institute.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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