Monday, February 28, 2005

The Social Security trust fund is real.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. Feb 26, 2005 — The Social Security trust fund really does exist -- nestled in the bottom drawer of an unremarkable government file cabinet.

It's in a pair of white loose-leaf notebooks holding plastic page covers.

Each caresses a piece of paper representing a bond worth a staggering amount of money. Say, $8,577,396,000.00 ($8.577 billion), due on June 30, 2013, with 6.5 percent interest.

Sort of.


"The paper is symbolic," says Pete Hollenbach, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Public Debt, the creation of a 1994 law that anticipated the current debate about Social Security's solvency and whether the trust funds held anything more than IOUs.

As the computer era flowered, Congress passed legislation requiring the Treasury to create a "physical document in form of bond, note or certificate of indebtedness, rather than accounting entry."

"I viewed it as somewhat Biblical ... like doubting Thomas," says Andy Jacobs, the former Indiana congressman behind the law.

In an interview, Jacobs said he wanted to rebut the "disingenuous assertions" that there was no trust fund, even though there was, in fact, no vault stuffed with cash to pay benefits...

Satisfied now, Thomas?