Myth #1: Social Security didn't create the deficit and shouldn't be cut to fix it
This is a much loved progressive slogan. "Blaming Social Security for the deficit is like blaming Iraq for 9/11," writes Dave Johnson of OurFuture.org in one of the cleverer examples of the genre.
Technically, the first part of the myth is true -- or rather, used to be true. From 1983 until last year, Social Security revenues actually lowered the Treasury's need to borrow in the public markets, as excess payroll taxes collected under Social Security's flag helped fund other government programs.
The surplus years are over, however. The Social Security trustees' report estimates that last year payroll taxes fell short of the sums paid out to beneficiaries. Small surpluses will return for a few years; then the red ink will return for good in 2015. To make up the annual shortfall, Social Security will have to draw on revenues from the general budget. In other words, from here on out, year after year, Social Security only makes the deficit larger.