Monday, May 09, 2005


Actuarial silence

Anyone who has spent sufficient time in the company of actuaries knows that, generally, silence is bliss. Right now, however, there is an unfortunate absence of actuarial commentary on President Bush's proposed reforms. Jason Furman, an NYU Economist has used what tools are at his available (from the sounds of it, 3 recent actuarial analyses performed by the Social Security Administration) and come up with some fairly negative opinions of the plan.

Without having read any of these studies (the actuarial analyses, nor Dr. Furman's) it seems that the country would be better served by having the SS actuaries release analysis on Bush's proposals. Of course, that would involve Bush's proposals having sufficiently clear details.

While I generally try to avoid sounding partisan in these posts, I am hoping that my mythical readers will indulge me for this post. When Bush proposed the Medicare perscription drug plan that was later signed into law, there was some hulabaloo about Medicare's actuary being instructed not to release his cost estimates to some Republican congressmen. Although the details of the entire incident were never fully clear to me, it does seem as this was an example of the administration preventing numbers from influencing policy.

I fear that the current SS proposal smacks of something similar. Without seeing what the actuaries think of these plans, it is difficult to evaluate their merits. That being said, my best guess has to be that these analyses have been performed (what could be higher priority for the actuaries?) and reflect negatively on the administration (otherwise why wouldn't they have been released?)

At the very least, to dispel such rumors as those I am spreading, I would ask the administration to release these analyses.

As always, thanks for reading.

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