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What the Heck, Huck?

Gov. Mike Huckabee has seized the no-changes-to-entitlements mantle from among the Republican wannabes and he’s set to run on it, aligning himself with people like Elizabeth Warren.

Politically, this is not such a dumb idea. There are a lot of seniors, including conservatives, who are understandably worried about their potential lack of gold to fund their Golden Years and fear changes to Medicare and Social Security. A barnstorming populist like Huckabee is particularly well suited to take the issue to his more buttoned-down rivals in the GOP.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 12.58.10 PM“Let them end their own congressional pensions, not your Social Security!” Huckabee thundered Tuesday as he announced his candidacy. Washington, he said in a video, “has done enough lying and stealing. I’ll never rob seniors of what our government promised them and even forced them to pay for.”

Huckabee, as a matter of principle, is right. Government has promised these benefits and now can’t pay them. But that’s also the problem. The government can’t pay its obligations. It made promises it couldn’t keep. Because that’s what government does.

The latest estimate of the 75-year unfunded obligation for Medicare and Social Security is about $50 trillion

Now, let’s make this clear. That’s not the the government’s total obligation. That’s its unfunded obligation. It’s money it is supposed to pay out, but for which it hasn’t even assessed taxes or found spending cuts to get the cash.


People talk about when Social Security and Medicare will be bankrupt. I have some news. THEY ARE BANKRUPT RIGHT NOW. What else would you call a business running a $352 billion shortfall every year?

Those projected “bankruptcy” dates you hear about are accounting illusions. They presuppose that there are actually “Trust Funds” now being “tapped” to pay beneficiaries. But the Trust Funds, as you may know, don’t exist. The government collected your Social Security and Medicare taxes and spent it on other stuff. And now the Social Security and Medicare taxes it brings in aren’t enough, so it must plunder the General Fund that’s supposed to be for regular government spending.

According to the Medicare and Social Security Trustees:

The total General Fund requirements for Social Security and Medicare in 2014 are $352 billion, or 2.0 percent of GDP. Redemption of trust fund bonds, interest paid on those bonds, and transfers from the General Fund provide no new net income to the Treasury, which must finance these payments through some combination of increased taxation, reductions in other government spending, or additional borrowing from the public.

The annual deficit for Social Security alone, at $77 billion, is less than Medicare, but will rise quickly:

The Trustees project that this annual cash-flow deficit will average about $77 billion between 2014 and 2018 before rising steeply as income growth slows to its sustainable trend rate after the economic recovery is complete while the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers.

Nobody is realistically proposing taking benefits from current or even near retirees. But if the programs are to be saved, cuts to benefits for future wealthier retirees and an eventual increase in the retirement age, among other reforms, must occur. Otherwise, benefits for all will have to be cut, for rich and poor alike. That’s where Huckabee’s rhetoric is leading.

Because the money isn’t there. And every year we wait, as we have done under President Obama, the long-term shortfall gets worse.

Yes, it is breaking a promise to those who have contributed even a dime. It is not, however, as is sometimes suggested, taking people’s actual money away, since Social Security and Medicare are not savings programs. Your contributions fund current retirees, not yourself, and that’s the way it’s always been. If you are retired, current workers are funding you. So call your kids and thank them.

What entitlement reform does is try to set up a plan where those who can most afford the cuts get them. Because benefit cuts will have to happen. Unless retirees want payments as fictitious as the Trust Funds.

57 Responses to What the Heck, Huck?

  1. Any politician of any party that refuses to address entitlement is nothing but a pure, unadulterated panderer and unworthy of the Presidency.
    Huckabee should have just kept his weekly gig at Fox and left the rest of us alone.

    • Mikey is a big government progressive.
      SS is a Ponzi scheme as we all know.

      I want someone that is going to eliminate the IRS lock stock and barrel.
      It has become far too political and easily manipulated by corrupt politicians and lobbyists.

      A fair tax or a flat tax or a combination of each is the most logical way IMO.
      You could keep your gross salary before the government rapes your paycheck.

      Anyway,..sounds like a better deal to me.

      • So you don’t collect SS, AfVet? the Ponzi scheme? I don’t feel in the LEAST guilty for taking myself. I remember crying sometimes writing that check for FICA (was self-emp most of my career). Show me more places Huckabee wants to expand govt programs, making him so progressive…I am curious.

          • I would like them to get on a stage and show America how they are teaching a grammer school math problem.
            I would like the kids who were doing just fine with their grades, and are now having to go to a tutoring class to re-learn the math problems.
            This should have been tested over a number of years before it was shoved into the school system.

  2. How about cleaning up the fraud and abuse in ALL entitlement programs? Many of today’s seniors and retiring baby boomers are depending on Medicare and Social Security to survive. We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water, but we sure can eliminate trillions in fraud across the board.

    Stop robbing Peter to pay for the privilege of supporting half the population of Mexico and Central America. Never mind – the horses have already left the barn.

    • I typed a whole thing agreeing–but it said I was posting too fast, tho I have not posted in hrs. My pt was–shorter is prob better anyhow–this sounded like a “logical” 40-something writing the article, not someone who spent 40-something paying in. We know it does not cover it all–we also paid for those before us. These smartypants pols need to figure this out–we are not all Bill & Hill–some of us need to accumulate on instruments that make half a percent.

      • I got the same error message. Did the refresh thing on the browser and it went through.
        You hit on the double whammy of bad fiscal policy: the free money at the Fed window keeping interest rates on CD’s and savings at worthless rates. It’s one of the biggest wealth destroyers for the middle class out there. Forces people with anything into riskier stock market or other ventures rather than stable CD’s like we used to.
        This bubble gonna pop and it’s gonna make 2008 look like a cake walk.

    • The President DID clean up the waste and fraud in Social Security and Medicare, remember? That’s what made it possible to provide health care to 30 million people without costing one dime.

  3. How bout we take the money we waste on those who refuse to do their part and put it into trust for those who’ve given their lives paying or leaches.

  4. Huck is 59…..59. Does anyone else think he looks, er, more mature? I admire his Southern style, even his tendency to preach a conservative sermon. He simply cannot carry the ticket, even promising the AARPs to protect their kitty, because that kitty’s already been robbed.


  5. OT: Just heard on Fox that FBI Directer had a closed door meeting with newspeople, including Fox.
    FBI Knew G**man could be targeting the contest in Texas.
    They did not know if the local police knew of this.
    There are hundreds if not thousands who may be trying to connect with I***. Once they connect the link goes Dark… Blind to indivuauls using encypted means of communication.

    • There are many levels of encryption that an be employed.
      If you see an address that says https, it it encrypted at some degree.
      Banks use it, uses it.
      The key is to rotate the code before the bad guys figure it out.

      • I would think that the FBI know that. Whatever they are doing/using seems to be giving FBI a very hard time. I would think that o would take a trip there and discuss this matter with them in person.

        • That’s what I did in the Air Force Lee.
          What the FBI publishes is not what they are doing.
          It’s like going fishing.

          • You were in computers in the AF? I have a question then. My health blog is what–eight, nine yrs old, it gets 10K hits a month…nothing world class. The other day, a post got 200 hits–way way above the usual. Could someone be piggybacking something on my stuff? I try to check for comments and erase all from time to time–but there are 2500 posts on it.

          • There were no computers when I was in Star.
            Vietnam years.
            I maintained cryptographic communications gear.
            The theory behind encryption remains the same only now it is computerized.

  6. Senate has passed bipartisan bill to give Congress a chance to review — and possibly reject — any final nuclear deal with Iran.

  7. […] What the Heck, Huck? WHD supplies 24/S White House accountability. … And now the Social Security and Medicare taxes it brings in aren't sufficient, so it should plunder the General Fund that's presupposed to be for normal authorities spending. … Redemption of belief fund bonds …. Read full article on White House Dossier […]

  8. There are ways to protect the benefits to to the worker himself and still reform the SS program.

    It is ridiculous that children an individual is not required by law to support (step children and grandchildren)can receive benefits on a worker’s account.

    The fact an individual can draw benefits off of a deceased workers account at a younger age that a worker can draw on his own is grossly unfair.

    The fact that elderly parents who have never worked a day in their lives in the US can draw for the remainder of their lifetime on a deceased child’s account is absurd.

    The fact that multiple spouses can draw on the account of one worker is also absurd.

    Simply read all of the schemes of “file and suspend” and others.

    Why are we supporting spouses of a deceased work until their youngest child reaches the age of 16 when parents of infants are int he workplace? Support for the surviving parent should be limited to getting back into the workforce.

    Simplify the rules. Every individual should be able to draw only on his/her own record. Allow a non worker to contribute or receive a contribution based on the spouses FICA taxes. Limit dependents to born or adopted children only (no steps, grands or parents!!!).

    These proposals cut costs without affecting the WORKER.

    • Interesting post. Thanks. SS is not a walk in the old park, either. You may get yours the last Wed of the month, but if you die in that month–you have to give back the whole month. Rather, they claw it back. Also you pay taxes on it. On pensions, I never got why say, state cops, can work 20 yrs, get a full pension, collect immediately, say at 45, and have another career added on. They don’t wait until retirement age.