Social Security as Family PolicynAlmost two years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan did thennation a great service by making Social Security safelyncontroversial. Acknowledging the approaching problem ofnthe huge baby boom retirement that will have to bensupported by the smaller baby bust generation, Moynihan’snplan would have eliminated the trust fund created by then1983 Social Security Reform Act and put the system backnon a pay-as-you-go basis. His primary reason for this movenseemed to be to force Congress and the Bush administrationninto raising taxes to reduce the federal deficit instead ofnrelying on surplus moneys from the Social Security TrustnFund.nThe 1983 reform seemed to change the way SocialnSecurity was funded, from a pay-as-you-go system to onenthat allowed workers to contribute to their own retirementnvia the trust system. In point of fact, the system nevernchanged at all. Since there is no obvious way for thengovernment to “save” money, the system remains on anpay-as-you-go basis. Even Robert Myers, former deputyncommissioner of the Social Security Administration andnexecutive director of the National Commission on SocialnSecurity Reform, which in 1982-83 proposed the changes innSocial Security financing, now endorses the MoynihannPlan. Myers says that the plan is “fiscally and economicallynsound, as well as intellectually honest in giving the public anclear view of the cost of the program and of the generalnbudget situation.”nToday’s retirees did not “save” for their retirement byncontributing to the Social Security system. The notion,nChristina F. Jeffrey is an associate professor of politicalnscience and public administration at Kennesaw StatenCollege in Marietta, Georgia. A longer, footnoted versionnof this piece will appear in The Rock ford Institute’s ThenFamily in America.nby Christina F. Jeffreynwidely held, is pure myth. Their contributions paid for theirnparents and grandparents. Looked at from a strictly actuarialnpoint of view, they supported a small retirement populationnand paid very little in taxes. Today there is a large workingnpopulation to support them and they are receiving backnmany more times what they paid in. Social Security hasnbeen a financial windfall for today’s elderly.nBut as David P. Fauri, a professor of social policy atnVirginia Commonwealth University, puts it, actuarial equalitynwas never the goal -of Social Security; instead, it wasnintended to be a “social insurance” program that combinednsome of the features of a private pension with the government’snability to redistribute wealth. Given that absolutenfinancial equity is not the goal of Social Security, today’snelderly could be considered to have paid their dues innanother way. They contributed to Social Security in thenonly way that truly insures future benefits (besides maintainingna strong economy) — they had children.nBut it should also be pointed out that they had thengovernment’s cooperation in this — in the form of lowninterest rates for housing, the GI Bill for education, and annincome tax exemption that allowed many to exempt allnfederal income taxes. Furthermore, other taxes — such asnSocial Security, state, and local — were low as well. Youngnpeople today are either not able (or maybe not willing) tonraise large families. Where once a family, even a largenfamily, could be middle class on one income, today it takesntwo. And with many more women now working, SocialnSecurity benefits have risen dramatically as even morenmoney has been absorbed into the system. What was oncensupposed to be only a floor to prevent absolute poverty hasnbecome a major pension system.nWhat the Social Security system of the future is going tonneed, more than any other kind of contribution, is morenworkers to support today’s workers when they retire. ThesennnFEBRUARY 1992/21n