Liberals claim that the conservative hysteria over social security is misplaced. They are half-right, social security is certainly a small bore problem in comparison to medicare. However, I think other oft repeated claim with regards to social security, namely, that it is fine shape for a couple of decades is deeply misleading. Social Security does have valid claims in the Trust Fund, the problem is what those claims mean for the rest of the budget. Megan McArdle puts the issue quite well:
"And though the long term projections have gotten somewhat better as a result of improving fertility, the short-term projections have gotten slightly worse. Ten years ago we thought that program income would fall below program outlays in 2019; now the projected date is 2017. Meanwhile, the estimated year in which the social security surplus will peak has also moved steadily backwards, to 2010. In 2011, a small hole will appear in the general fund budget as OASDI revenues start to decline, a hole that will become a gaping wound by 2020. From the Social Security Administration's perspective this is fine, but from the taxpayers perspective, this is a huge problem that needs to be, well, fixed--and from which economic growth is unlikely to rescue us."