Brett Arends’s ROI: The propaganda campaign to wreck Social Security is right on track

Some 70% of adults now worry about Social Security running out of funding during their lifetimes, including not just 78% of Generation X but even 64% of baby boomers, who are already 57 or older.

And a third of adults fear they will not see “a dime” of the Social Security benefits they have earned, including 15% of non-retired boomers, 30% of Generation X, and 47% of millennials.

So reports the Nationwide Retirement Institute’s 2022 Social Security Survey, a poll of nearly 2,000 adults conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics.

And the defeatism about America’s retirement plan is getting worse (or, if you consider Social Security akin to communism and want to destroy it, better). The survey shows a big bump compared with last year in the number of people who expect to have to keep working in retirement because Social Security won’t be able to support them, and a big bump in the numbers planning to start claiming benefits early even while working. Some 42% now plan to file for benefits early, up from 36% just a year ago.

If you figure the system is about to go broke, you’d want to start claiming as soon as possible so you at least get something, right? Especially if you are genuinely worried you won’t see “a dime” of the benefits you’ve earned.

The propaganda scam against Social Security is proving to be a master class. It is and has always been a massively popular government program, right from when it was started. Politicians used to call Social Security the third rail of American politics: “Touch it and die.” So how do you persuade people to kill off a popular program? Simple: You persuade them it’s already dead!


This is how people like senators Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney can hold out the prospect of cutting back on Social Security benefits if their party wins the midterm elections and apparently nobody cares.

After all, it’s already dead, right?

(There is something especially ironic about being told that Social Security can’t be saved by a multi, multimillionaire senator who pays 14% tax, while people busing tables pay 15.3% FICA, plus whatever in income tax.)

Actually, this isn’t reality at all. Social Security is still on track to pay about 80% of expected benefits. And even this anticipated funding shortfall is purely political. It could be avoided by ending the cap on incomes subject to payroll taxes, taxing the gigantic sums of untaxed capital gains, or just investing Social Security in stocks like any normal pension plan.

Saving the program would interfere with the campaign to persuade people it’s already dead. And we can’t have that.

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