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Serious discussion needed regarding Social Security

I beg to differ with the Jan. 12 letter regarding Chris Collins’ claim that Social Security benefits must be cut to reduce the federal deficit. Things are not as clear as they seem.

Employee and employer SSI contributions are used to pay benefits. Any surplus goes into the Social Security Trust Fund to provide for the future, when the incoming taxes become less than benefits paid. Keep in mind that as soon as any surplus goes into the Trust Fund, it is used to buy U.S. Treasury securities. The money the government earns from this sale goes into the general fund, where it gets spent on all kinds of things. This could lead to the belief that payments into Social Security were really a tax and benefits are really an entitlement. The problem is, when money from the Trust Fund is needed to pay benefits, there are three possible courses of action. These only apply to the period before the Trust Fund is exhausted.

1.) Sell more Treasury bills to generate the revenue needed to buy back enough of the Treasury securities that are held by the Trust Fund. 2.) Raise taxes to make up the deficit. This could either be Social Security taxes or other taxes such as income tax or a national sales tax. 3.) Reduce benefits.

Alternatives 1 and 2 seem to be unacceptable to the political right. Alternative 3 is not acceptable to retirees and other eligible recipients. As a retiree, I do not feel like being thrown under the bus, but I respect the ideology of others. We need a national dialogue involving all stakeholders in this issue. This cannot be resolved by eight-second sound bites.

Robert R. Blickwedehl

Orchard Park