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My Next Book — You Can Pre-order


My next book, Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis, will be released June 7.  It is a look at our growing $18 trillion national debt and the skyrocketing growth of entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare that underlies it.

Former CBO Director, Doulglas Holtz-Eakin says about the book:

“Michael Tanner has produced a must-read book on America’s fiscal future: clear, compelling, and … terrifying. At the same time, he charts the path toward a real solution: a social safety net we can both be proud of and afford.”

You can pre-order it now on Amazon:


The GOP candidates on Debt, Spending, and Entitlement Reform

Throughout the coming months, I will be looking at where the various would-be presidential candidates stand on the vital issues of the day. Today, in my weekly column for National Review Online, I look at how they would cut spending, reduce the debt, and reform entitlements. As I point out, it is very early in the campaign, and most candidates have now yet laid out detailed proposals. So, mostly this is an exercise in tea leaf reading, based on congressional votes or state budget performance, plus a statement here or there. Still, at this point, it seems reasonable to say that it looks like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are the biggest fiscal hawks, trailed to some degree by Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker, with other candidates bringing up the rear.


Unhappy Anniversary, Social Security

For the historians among you, this week marks the 75th anniversary of the delivery of the first Social Security check. The program became law in 1935, began collecting taxes in 1937, and started delivering benefits in 1940. The recipient of that first Social Security check was Ida Mae Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont. Social Security turned out to be a very good deal for Ida Mae. Social security taxes were very low (a maximum of $60 per year) and she only worked for 3 years after the payroll tax began. She ended up paying just $24.75 in taxes. Even better, she lived to be 100, ultimately collecting $22,888 in benefits. That’s a heck of a return!
Unfortunately, the program will not be such a good deal for today’s young workers, who will be lucky to get back what they pay in, let alone a big return. Certainly, they will get back far less than they could earn from investing that money privately.
Moreover, Social Security, and its $24.9 trillion in unfunded liabilities, is, along with Medicare, one of the biggest drivers of our future debt. Young people will be paying that off too. Let’s put it bluntly, unless Congress does something to fix Social Security (and Medicare), young people are screwed.
To celebrate this unhappy anniversary, I published two columns this week. The first for Vice News:
and the other for Reason.com