Reason Podcast

How Secure is Social Security? A Debate

Gene Epstein and Teresa Ghilarducci debate whether the social security trust fund exists or is merely an accounting fiction.


Given Social Security's nearly $3 trillion trust fund, the system cannot add to the federal deficit.

Today's podcast features a public debate hosted by the Soho Forum in New York City on June 17, 2019. It featured Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School for Social Research, and Gene Epstein, the director of the Soho Forum. Reason's Nick Gillespie moderated.

It was an Oxford-style debate, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event, and the side that gains the most ground is victorious. Epstein prevailed in the debate by convincing 35 percent of audience members to change their minds.

Arguing for the affirmative was Ghilarducci, whose 2018 book, Rescuing Retirement, advocates individual guaranteed retirement accounts for workers. Ghilarducci's 2015 book, How to Retire With Enough Money, is a practical guide to financial security in retirement. Ghilarducci is the director of The Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, a think tank that studies the government's role in the economy.

Epstein argued for the negative. Epstein is the Soho Forum's director and the former economics and books editor of Barron's. His last published book was Econospinning: How to Read between the Lines when the Media Manipulate the Numbers. He has taught economics at the City University of New York and St. John's University, and worked as a senior economist for the New York Stock Exchange.

The Soho Forum, which is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village.

Music: "Modum" by Kai Engle is licensed under a CC-BY creative commons license.