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Economic Commentary

Fixing Social Security: Is the Surplus the Solution?

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.

The views authors express in Economic Commentary are theirs and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The series editor is Tasia Hane. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This paper and its data are subject to revision; please visit for updates.

Suggested Citation

Altig, David, and Jagadeesh Gokhale. 1999. “Fixing Social Security: Is the Surplus the Solution?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary 4/1/1999.