Nothing speaks to rabid self-interest like the bad policy decisions made by those in possession of the public trust. Americans are increasingly being asked to deny our own self-interest and to pay for the self-interest of others, a sign that U.S. socialism has come a long way in the past few years.
We tolerate many forms of income redistribution. They didn’t come in with Obama, though he certainly has done his all to up the ante. We are used to having our money given away to others, but now we have a brand new reminder as to just how badly our public trust can be violated and our money stolen. We should never allow ourselves to get used to what Obama has done. After all, the public trust is something we lend to the government. It doesn’t own our trust and just proved again that it doesn’t deserve it.
Government steals the public trust and redistributes your money
Planning on retiring soon, or ever? Unless you are a government employee with a pension or had the income and foresight to throw your money into a retirement nest egg that isn’t owned by the government, you are pinning your hopes on Social Security and Medicare. So are a lot of other people. Some are Americans. Some are not.
41% of federal expenditures last year went to Social Security and Medicare.1 A 2014 trustees report on these entitlements spells out our problem very simply:
Neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run program costs in full under currently scheduled financing, and legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.2
It’s not exactly a secret that Social Security and Medicare are in trouble. Alarm sirens have been going off on Capitol Hill for years to little effect. Solutions have included reducing benefits and raising the retirement age, not something Americans depending on their mandatory government retirement programs want to hear or something lawmakers have the courage to face. No one has seriously considered eliminating Social Security disability benefits or payments to children, or relegating Medicare beneficiaries to Obamacare, not that these fixes would solve the funding problems. Does that mean that putting more pressure on entitlements is a good idea?
A theft of the public trust no American should tolerate
Under Barack Obama we have given up more than control of who comes to our country. His administration has forced an order that will do more than allow illegal immigrants to stay and work here. They will also qualify for Social Security and Medicare, though you would not make that assumption listening to the president announce his executive action:
It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.3
Press Secretary Josh Earnest was more forthcoming:
My understanding is that they would be eligible for those programs that they pay into. So essentially, when it comes to Social Security benefits, if you qualify — I believe if you pay into it for 40 quarters, you can begin to collect benefits based on what you paid into the program.4
Not good news for Americans who are paying into Social Security and should plan on diminishing benefits as the trust runs low.
The Social Security Administration reported in a 2014 bulletin that immigrants who qualify for Social Security may make out better than citizens who are born here:
However, the redistributive nature of Social Security may mean that many immigrants realize a higher rate of return on payroll tax contributions than US natives because immigrants have fewer years of covered earnings (Gustman and Steinmeier 2000). This is confirmed by Favreault and Nichols (2011), who find that immigrants who receive benefits are likely to receive higher replacement rates.5
Fortunately, we have representatives on Capitol Hill who understand that Obama’s order is an overwhelming violation of the public trust. Texas Republican Sam Johnson countered Obama’s order with H.R. 5774, the “No Social Security Numbers and Benefits for Illegal Aliens Act of 2014.”6 We can only hope there will be more bills to come as the GOP asserts its dominance over Congress. More disturbing than handing out Social Security numbers in anticipation of future benefits, though, is Press Secretary Earnest’s suggestion that those who worked under false numbers might be able to collect credit against those contributions for the 40 quarters they must pay in to receive benefits:
It does seem to me that it would be difficult to verify if you’ve actually paid into the program if you’re using a fake Social Security number. Now, if there is a way through the implementation of that program that you could do it, then maybe there is a way to do it. But that’s why I’d encourage you to check with DHS. They’ll know.7
We shouldn’t have to ask Homeland Security. We shouldn’t even be having this discussion, but since Obama didn’t give us a choice he should have told us the truth instead of giving the impression that his order won’t confer anything but temporary status. There was no mention in his speech of redistributing our income to illegal aliens with two programs Americans depend on.
The public trust dictates that we should unequivocally reject even the hint that anyone but Americans can lay claim to Social Security and Medicare benefits, but we can’t safeguard these programs when representative government is denied us. That’s what happened with Obama’s order and why his abuse of the public trust can’t go unpunished.
Author’s note: updated to repair broken link January 15, 2021.