December 21, 2012

Pat Thompson [“The Social Security myth,” letters, Dec. 16] took George F. Will to task for failing to note that the $165 billion shortfall between Social Security payouts and revenue “is drawn from a trust fund of $3 trillion (and change) that built up over several decades.”

Mr. Thompson failed to note, however, that there is not $3 trillion (and change) sitting in a vault waiting to be withdrawn. The Social Security trust fund consists of $3 trillion (and change) in U.S. Treasury bonds that need to be redeemed to cover the shortfall. When those bonds are redeemed, the U.S. government must generate $165 billion more to cover the shortfall in the general fund that has been used to cover the Social Security shortfall, which would then increase the deficit by the same amount as the shortfall in Social Security revenue.

Therefore, Social Security does add more than one penny to the deficit. It adds $165 billion worth of pennies.

Richard W. Souther, Alexandria