Sunday, March 13, 2016

The conservative case against expanding Social Security? It was based on a math erro

By Michael Hiltzik

The conservative argument that the retirement crisis is a myth has been based on the notion that Americans actually will have far more in retirement resources than they recognize — particularly that Social Security benefits will amount to a much larger percentage of workers' lifetime income than has been assumed. Ergo, there's no need to expand Social Security to give retirees more.

Now it turns out that this assumption is based on an arithmetic error. On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office, whose extremely generous estimates of the so-called replacement rate from Social Security fueled the conservative position, fessed up. The CBO says it miscalculated the replacement rates in its long-term projection for the program issued in mid-December. It has now reissued the report with corrected figures, showing a "substantially lower" replacement rate for retirees.

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