And he then goes on to give a non-standard explanation of trust fund accounting." The thing that the Director and Barry and I probably
disagree about the most is what you can do with trust fund
If you want to see what the SSA itself says, here you go:
Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.
Trust Fund FAQs
As to your statement that actual bonds being purchased doesn't change the fact that it's largely an accounting a trick is simply false. They are legal debt obligations backed by the full faith and credit of the US Gov't. There is simply no economist or credit agency anywhere that believes that the US Gov't will default on its bonds.
Here is a Paul Krugman post taking apart the SS Privatization fear-mongerers who want the public to think the SSTF is a fiction:
(snip ... )
But the privatizers won’t take yes for an answer when it comes to the sustainability of Social Security. Their answer to the pretty good numbers is to say that the trust fund is meaningless, because it’s invested in U.S. government bonds. They aren’t really saying that government bonds are worthless; their point is that the whole notion of a separate budget for Social Security is a fiction. And if that’s true, the idea that one part of the government can have a positive trust fund while the government as a whole is in debt does become strange.
But there are two problems with their position.
About the Social Security trust fund - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com