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Fixing Social Security: Is the Surplus the Solution?

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On certain topics, confusion perpetually reigns. Everyone has a personal list, of course, but somewhere near the top of most is what to make of any debate that includes the words “Social Security.” As the seeds of Social Security reform, planted in President Clinton’s January 1999 State of the Union address, begin to flower in the early heat of the political spring, we can expect the surrounding discussion to yield its fair harvest of muddled thinking, mixed messages, and mistaken claims.

On certain topics, confusion perpetually reigns. Everyone has a personal list, of course, but somewhere near the top of most is what to make of any debate that includes the words “Social Security.” As the seeds of Social Security reform, planted in President Clinton’s January 1999 State of the Union address, begin to flower in the early heat of the political spring, we can expect the surrounding discussion to yield its fair harvest of muddled thinking, mixed messages, and mistaken claims.


Suggested citation: Altig, David E., and Jagadeesh Gokhale, 1999. "Fixing Social Security: Is the Surplus the Solution?" Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary, 04.01.1999.

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