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During the first primary debate between Gov. Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio, the former House speaker said that Social Security needs to be reformed or it will go bankrupt.
"Social Security, whether we want it to or not, in its current form cannot survive and will not exist for us," he said during the March 28, 2010, showdown on FOX News Sunday. "In fact, just this week we received the news that for the first time Social Security is now paying out more in benefits than it's taking in. That was something that was supposed to happen in 2016. It's now happening in 2010."
Calls to reform Social Security are nothing new; many economic analysts say that the program is unsustainable. But privatizing the program has become a hallmark of the conservative agenda. Its latest proponent is Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is the top Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives' Budget Committee. His Roadmap for America's Future would reduce Social Security benefits for those who are 55 or younger in 2011 and supplement the reduction with private accounts.
On March 24, that argument was put in the spotlight again, when the Congressional Budget Office, the independent number-crunching arm of Congress, issued some sobering news: This year, the Social Security Administration will take in less than it pays out, resulting in an approximately $29 billion shortfall.
The projections are part of its yearly analysis of President Barack Obama's budget.
In an interview with the New York Times, Stephen C. Goss, chief actuary of the SSA, explained the problem. He said that the recession has put people out of jobs and more people have applied for benefits sooner than expected. Simultaneously, fewer jobs means fewer paychecks are going out and that translates to less collected by the government in taxes. In the same interview, Gross pointed out that the SSA has a $2.5 trillion balance that will carry benefits for a while.
So, Rubio's correct on the first part his claim.
He's right on his second point as well. In its May 2009 annual report to Congress, the SSA projected that "annual cost will exceed tax income starting in 2016."
As a result, we find Rubio's claim to be True.
Congressional Quarterly, transcript of the Crist-Rubio debate, March 28, 2010
Rep. Paul Ryan, Roadmap for America's Future, accessed Feb. 24, 2010
New York Times, Social Security to See Payout Exceed Pay-In This Year, March 24, 2010
Congressional Budget Office, Combined OASDI Trust Funds: March 2010 Baseline, accessed March 28, 2010
Social Security Administration, annual report to Congress, May 12, 2009
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