By Addison Wiggin
03/29/10 Baltimore, Maryland – Wanted: Accountants to oversee government fund. Employer seeks relative accuracy, margin of error +/-30%. GED preferred. Optimism required. Candidates to be compensated at market value plus $50,000. No calls please.
The Congressional Budget Office now predicts the Social Security fund will pay out more than it earns starting this year – as in it’s happening right now.
That’s just a shade off of last year’s forecast, which expected the fund to run a deficit starting in late 2016. And a far cry from the CBO data we used while making I.O.U.S.A. in 2007 and 2008.
And as you can see, the fund is not just dipping its toes in deficit waters. The current forecast reveals a torrential drop from $20 billion surplus to $29 billion shortfall since we premiered the film on Aug., 22, 2008 – before we knew who the current president would be… and, more importantly, before Lehman Bros. crumbled.
Surely, some sort of unpredictable catastrophe precedes such a revision… something that wasn’t even on the national radar in 2009:
“The problem,” The New York Times helpfully suggests, “is that payments have risen more than expected during the downturn, because jobs disappeared and people applied for benefits sooner than they had planned. At the same time, the program’s revenue has fallen sharply, because there are fewer paychecks to tax.”
Really. Who could have seen that coming?