Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saving Social Security

Scissors wielding austerity addicts have been circling around the social safety net like vultures at a garbage dump for years now. They're salivating at the opportunity to use the deficit to shred the social contract made decades ago with the working people. They want that pot of money and they're more than willing to lie about earned benefits to get their grubby claws on it. But the truth is, Social Security is not a driver of debt. Indeed, "Social Security can be financially tweaked by changing its tax or benefit structure, or both," and deliver full benefits for many years to come.

Yet the austerity addicts drive the conversation. Even President Obama, who promised not to touch the program, offers up shady cuts in his futile search for a ill-advised grand bargain. Surprisingly, the very conservative Josh Barro comes forward to say don't cut SS:
Back in December, I wrote that applying chained CPI to Social Security is the wrong solution to our budget problems: It’s just a way of dressing up a cut to retirement benefits at a time when retirement insecurity is rising. Despite its problems, Social Security is the best-functioning component of the U.S.'s retirement-saving system. Instead of cutting, the federal government should be expanding its role in retirement saving.
Exactly right. GOP has solidified their "cuts only" position on government spending. That very much includes destroying Social Security as we know it. If Democrats were smart they would be pushing for expanding the program instead of adopting the austerity framing on earned benefits.

Sadly, so far few of our Congresscritters have realized how winning a position this is. Bernie Sanders leads the charge to protect the safety net with The Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act.
Under Sanders' legislation, Social Security benefits would be untouched. The system would be fully funded by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax already assessed on those with incomes up to $106,800 a year. The idea follows through on a proposal that President Obama made when he was running for office in 2008.

It's a damn shame Bernie doesn't get any attention, from anybody. Neither the establishment progressives nor the netroots left promote his work nearly enough.

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Blogger Eric said...

Here's the thing: the LA Times article you link dispels the myth that "millionaires and billionaires" are taking a huge chunk out of Social Security. They're not because SS is a universal system and everybody gets benefits proportional to the FICA taxes paid into the system. The reason Bill Gates doesn't get a million-dollar check every month is because the income subject to taxation - and thus the maximum benefit - is capped.

Now you support Bernie Sanders proposal to raise the income cap. Does that mean you also support Warren Buffett getting a huge monthly check? Or are you going to break the universal benefit of Social Security and make it (another) welfare program?

It's one or the other.

8:26:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

No it's not one or the other. You can't take one data point about distribution of benefits out of that very long article and use it to negate Bernie's proposal to fund the overall program.

11:54:00 PM  

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