AARP held a “tele-townhall meeting” this morning, connecting some of its Iowa members via telephone to a discussion about Social Security’s future. David Certner — AARP’s Washington, D.C.-based national policy director — told the group there is nearly $3 trillion in the Social Security Trust Fund today.
“That trust fund is separate from the rest of the federal budget. The money can only be used for Social Security benefits,” Certner said. “But very often what happens is they use that money, in essence, to show that the budget deficit is a little less because they use the surplus there to offset some of the deficits elsewhere when they show it to the general public.”
According to Certner, AARP is willing to discuss longterm changes in Social Security to address the fact that Americans are living longer and therefore collecting more Social Security benefits. But Certner said it is “a mistake” for politicians to suggest Social Security benefit reductions are needed now as part of a package of changes to cut the federal government’s budget deficit.
“We want to make sure whatever changes we make for Social Security are used to strengthen Social Security and are not used to basically address spending and revenue problems in the rest of the federal budget,” he said.
Changes in Social Security will be part of the political conversation this fall and into next year, Certner said, as congress struggles to cut the federal budget deficit.