For Immediate Release


Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Social Security Facts: Doesn’t Add to the Debt; Is a Bigger Creditor than China

WASHINGTON - As many continue to call for cuts to Social Security around the so-called “fiscal cliff” talks, a leading analyst on Social Security is available for comment.

Co-director of Social Security Works, Altman said today: “There is much confusion about Social Security’s relationship to the federal debt of the United States. The issue is not one of opinion or point of view, but fact. The debt of the United States is subject to a statutory limit, which must be raised from time to time in order for the government to issue additional bonds, which in turn is necessary to ensure that the government can continue to function and does not come to a grinding halt. The fact is that cutting Social Security’s benefits does not create any additional room under the debt limit; it does not change by a single day how soon the nation hits that limit. This is counterintuitive and different from cuts to military, agriculture or other federal spending. But it is hard, cold fact. Social Security has no borrowing authority. It is a creditor, not a debtor. The United States has a total debt of around $16 trillion, $2.7 trillion of which is owed to Social Security, that is, to the workers of this nation and their families.”

Background: China is commonly referred to as “the largest lender to the United States” as in this layout by the New York Times “Who Is Owed by the United States.” But China holds about $1.2 trillion of U.S. debt — less than half that of Social Security.


This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.

Share This Article

More in: