I was very disappointed to read Bill Carlino's opinion article on Social Security reform ("Social Security reform: An oxymoron?" Accounting Today, Jan. 24-Feb. 6, 2005, p. 6). It seems he has been seriously misled. His article states, "I don't pretend to be an expert on the Social Security system, but you don't have to be an economist to discern that there are sinkhole-sized problems that need to be addressed rather quickly."
The Los Angeles Times reported recently that, "By 2042, according to the Bush administration - the Congressional Budget Office predicts 2052 - the system is projected to fall short of money to pay all of the promised benefits."
In fact, there may never be a problem if the economy continues to grow at its historical rate. The Bush assumptions are based on projected economic growth of only 1.9 percent, when, in fact, the economy has grown historically at a much higher rate that would never require changes. (Interestingly, the administration uses an economic growth rate much higher than 1.9 percent in its deficit reduction projections.) This information is not news. I have seen it reported on television news, the Internet and in newspapers.
Is Carlino saying that an event (that probably won't happen) 37 to 47 years from now needs "to be addressed rather quickly?"
What almost everyone seems to agree on is that Medicare is in far worse shape than Social Security, yet he doesn't mention that this program's problems will surface much sooner.
Our profession has experienced some serious credibility issues in the last several years, and, therefore, I urge him to listen to nonpartisan economists and not political rhetoric.
I must ask the obvious question - is he being paid to promote the Social Security reform package of the Bush administration? I ask this, of course, because there have been several instances of the Bush administration paying journalists to promote their agenda. If he is, I ask that he disclose this fact to his readers. If he is not, I ask that he research the facts from nonpartisan sources before writing his articles.
Larry Little, CPA
The A.C.T. Group Ltd.
Editor's note: The column was not meant to imply that the problems with the Medicare system aren't dire. As for the partisan charge, it has long been the editorial policy of Accounting Today to disclose to our readership when a staff member is on the take.
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