Now that social security has finally hit bottom, it seems to convey no surprise to the old geezers of America. Terror, maybe. But no surprise.
According to various data, the social security fund had to borrow up to $11 billion to meet the November paycheck. It will need an additional $15 billion for 1983. Choosing people to make bad-news announcements for the administration has become a Washington art form. Especially when the bad news is for the elderly, seashell-collecting set, who have paid taxes into the system all their lives.
The person who is chosen for this kind of assignment has to be someone not overly well-known, and of course someone with no obvious political future. This time the spokesman turned out to be a Marlin Fitzwater from the Treasury Department, who did his job bravely. He said, ''There is no danger of anyone not receiving a check.''
Such a profound statement doesn't completely mollify those who await that cherubic mailman of TV fame, carrying those brown envelopes from the Treasury. After all, it is not whether anyone will receive a future check - but how much it will be made out for - that keeps retirees teetering on the edge of their benches.
Not all the old geezers are nervous. We asked one what he thought about social security having to borrow so much money. He said: ''So what else is new? I've been living on borrowed money all my life.''
But someone ought to explain to people who don't live in Washington how one part of the government can borrow billions from another part of the government, when the whole kit and caboodle is in hock for around $200 billion.
In spite of assurances from the administration it seems obvious to the old geezers who sit outside of the Arcade Quick Lunch, where they get the marvelous aroma of pizza mixed with oleander, that the solution will be to cut social security benefits and eliminate cost-of-living increases. In other words, the problem will be solved eventually in the respected and time-honored way - by inflation.