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Five budget realities no politician will talk about (not even Ron Paul)

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Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in Mesa, Ariz., Feb. 13, 2012. He proposes to have future Social Security benefits grow more slwoly for the wealthy, but the proposal wouldn't save much money.

Joshua Lott/Reuters

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2. Social Security is fixable, but ignored

The gap between promised benefits and expected revenue of Social Security is $9 trillion. In principal, the program could be made solvent with a combination of raising the retirement age, changing the formula for raising benefits over time, and raising payroll taxes. Candidates for president, however, prefer to avoid the issue. Paul promises to “preserve Social Security for those elderly retirees who have come to depend on it.” Mr. Romney also emphasizes that if he is elected there will be “no change for retirees or those near retirement.” 

Last summer, the president reportedly proposed linking future Social Security benefits to a slower-growing index than the one currently in use, which would have resulted in major savings. The idea went nowhere. Romney now proposes the same thing, but only for wealthy recipients. But since the wealthy receive roughly the same benefits as the middle class from entitlement programs, changing their benefits will save very small amounts of money.

In short, no candidate currently offers a specific plan that would significantly reform Social Security.

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