NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Debate On A Social Security "Lockbox"

July 16, 1999

The Senate is scheduled today to debate legislation that supporters claim would prevent the federal government from spending the Social Security surplus on anything but the retirement program.

The Senate will decide between a Social Security "lockbox" adopted by the House of Representatives in May and a bill backed by Senate Republican leaders.

  • Supporters say the lockbox would preserve the $2 trillion in surplus payroll tax revenues over benefit payments the government is projected to receive over the next 10 years.
  • The extra payroll taxes would be used to reduce the $3.6 trillion national debt, reducing interest payments that currently total $229 billion annually.
  • Supporters say that lowering the debt would also pump more money into the private sector for investment, drive down interest rates, and sustain the economic expansion.

The Senate measure would automatically lower the national debt ceiling every year, and under both bills a recorded majority vote in the House and a three-fifths vote in the Senate would be required to divert money from the lockbox.

Source: Owen Ullman, "Senate to Debate Social Security 'Lockbox,'" USA Today, July 16, 1999.

 

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