If the staff at the Christian Century is any indication, most younger Americans don’t expect much from Social Security. When the subject came up at lunch, all of the 20- and 30-somethings said they assume that they will have to pay into the system, but that the benefits won’t be there for them when they retire.
That view is, of course, just what President Bush would like younger people to hold: that they’re getting burned twice—now by a payroll reduction, later by a bankrupt program—and are better off on their own.
Whether the system needs massaging is not the question. The standard assessment is that by 2018 the system will start paying out more than it takes in, and in 2042 the system will have depleted its reserves, after which the money coming in from payroll taxes will support only about 70 percent of projected benefits.