Outgoing Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue criticized Congress, the White House and advocates for seniors, saying, “They have all really walked away from Social Security," He says, the program is "fraying because of inattention to its problems." Instead of making the hard choices to fix Social Security's financial problems, policymakers "use it as a tool of political rhetoric," Astrue said.
A presidential appointment, the term for commissioner of the Social Security Administration is 6 years. Many times commissioners have been reappointed, but this Republican appointee will be replaced with a President Obama choice.
A quick search of the history of the Social Security program is illuminating. On the Social Security website is a detailed history of Social programs dating from the middle ages.
A more modern history shows that it was first signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt after the Great Depression left seniors hurting for stability. It was intended to be a retirement program for workers, who theoretically would pay into an insurance fund to guarantee income in retirement. It has since burgeoned into a welfare monster that includes people with disabilities, children and even grandchildren.
The Social Security Trust Fund was designed to pay for the benefits. Under President Johnson, the federal government began “borrowing” from the trust fund for pay for other government programs. He and subsequent presidents have continued to borrow, putting in T-bills to represent the money owed to the trust fund. This does not mean the money is “gone”, but that T-bills have to be sold to replace it. Proponents say, “The money was just invested into vehicles that are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.”
The Huffington Post reported an interview with The Associated Press, which included:
“My general perspective is that Washington broadly, and I include the Congress, both parties, the executive branch, the major interest groups, have really walked away from Social Security. ... I think that Social Security is a gem. I think it is the most successful domestic program in the history of the United States government and it is fraying because of inattention to its problems. And I think it's a shame that Washington cannot get its act together to look at Social Security in detail in isolation and say, What do we need to do?”
Will the next commissioner have the courage to do what it takes??