In making the pitch for Social Security personal accounts in his 2005 State of the Union speech, former President George W. Bush declared that absent action, “Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in … By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt.”
In response, Democrats portrayed his warnings as alarmist and successfully deployed the argument that there was no Social Security crisis.
Now that we’re in 2018, we know that the projections cited by Bush were off — but only in the sense that they proved overly optimistic. In reality, the Social Security system has been paying out more than it takes in every year since 2010 and these annual deficits have totaled over $600 billion. This means that benefits are currently being subsidized by taxpayers through the payment of IOUs that the rest of the U.S. government built up by raiding the Social Security trust fund to pay for decades of extravagant federal spending. As to that date Bush referred to way out in the future, when the trust fund becomes completely depleted, leading to automatic benefit cuts. It has since moved up eight years to 2034.