An article by Associated Press writer Jennifer Talhelm repeated the false claim -- which she attributed to Republican 7th Congressional District candidate Rick O'Donnell -- that Social Security “must be shored up to avoid going bankrupt as early as 2018.” In fact, Social Security will not “go[ ] bankrupt” in or around 2018; beginning in 2017, the Social Security trust will pay out more in benefits than it receives in revenue but will be able to continue full payments until 2040.
In an August 11 article, Associated Press writer Jennifer Talhelm repeated the false claim -- which she attributed to Republican 7th Congressional District candidate Rick O'Donnell -- that Social Security “must be shored up to avoid going bankrupt as early as 2018.” In fact, Social Security will not “go bankrupt” in or around 2018. Rather, according to the board of trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds' (commonly known as the Social Security trustees) annual report from 2006, beginning in 2017, the Social Security trust will pay out more in benefits than it receives in revenue. The report stated that Social Security would be able to pay out 100 percent of scheduled benefits until the trust fund is depleted in 2040, after which it would pay out 74 percent of scheduled benefits.
According to the trustees' report: “Despite ... cash-flow deficits, beginning in 2017, redemption of trust fund assets will allow continuation of full benefit payments on a timely basis until 2040, when the trust funds will become exhausted.” The report goes on to state, “Even if a trust fund's assets are exhausted, however, tax income will continue to flow into the fund. Present tax rates would be sufficient to pay 74 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2040 and 70 percent of scheduled benefits in 2080.”
The false claim that Talhelm attributed to O'Donnell differs somewhat from another misleading claim posted on O'Donnell's campaign website in July. In his plan to "fix Social Security," O'Donnell claims, “In just 12 years Social Security will pay out more than it collects. When the system begins paying out more in benefits than it receives in pay-roll taxes, the government will have to raise taxes or reduce benefits in order to continue cutting Social Security checks.” In fact, as noted by the trustees, Social Security will be able to pay out 100 percent of scheduled benefits until 2040 without raising taxes.
As Talhelm noted in her article, in 1995, “O'Donnell wrote a paper calling on government to 'slay' Social Security.” In a July 11 article about O'Donnell's past call to abolish Social Security, the Rocky Mountain News reported that O'Donnell “said he has since changed his position and wants voters to know, before Democrats slam him, that he now favors fixing Social Security, not abandoning it.”
From Talhelm's August 11 AP article, as posted on The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction's website:
Some candidates smoked pot when they were 24, giving political opponents campaign ammunition later on.
Colorado Republican U.S. House hopeful Rick O'Donnell wrote a paper calling on government to “slay” Social Security. And Democrats hope it will be his undoing.
O'Donnell, now 36 and running for an open suburban Denver House seat, says he made the argument in a moment of youthful indiscretion.
O'Donnell published his essay in 1995 while working as communications director at a think tank run by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. In it, he argued that the government should not be the chief provider for senior citizens.
“It sends the un-American message that it is not your responsibility to take care of yourself,” O'Donnell wrote, proposing the government kill the program.
O'Donnell has since enrolled his mother in Social Security. He says he believes the program must be shored up to avoid going bankrupt as early as 2018, and proposes that experts start from scratch to identify a permanent fix.
He says Democrats don't have a solution at all and are just trying to scare seniors.
But Democrats say the paper is evidence of O'Donnell's extreme position on the issues.