19 August 2010

How To Fix Social Security

For 75 years now, Social Security has provided benefits to individuals of all ages; retirees, disabled workers, widows & widowers, and surviving dependent children of deceased workers.  Despite its success as a preeminent anti-poverty program it is once again under attack from the rabidly radical right wing of the American political spectrum.  These attacks are taking form, from the vilification of seniors as "greedy geezers" to the false claims that Social security has contributed to the current deficit and that somehow Social Security will be a "burden" on coming generations of working Americans, of scare tactics similar to the "death panel" lies of the health car reform debate..

The facts are these:  Social Security is sound, solvent, and secure with a surplus of  $2.5-trillion which puts the program on schedule to pay full, guaranteed benefits until at least 2037.  Even if no changes were made, Social Security could, after 2037, continue to pay benefits at 75% until around 2084.  These figures and projections are readily verifiable through the Congressional Budget Office and Social Security websites.

However, we do need to act in order that we protect, preserve and pass along to future generations a cost effective, strong, and fully funded program as is now benefiting more than 53-million Americans.  The ways to do this are really quiet simple and could be easily implemented were it not for the recalcitrance and pigheadedness of Republicans, Conservatives and Blue-Dog Democrats.

1.  Congress should allow the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans--those with annual incomes of $350,000 or more--which would generate revenues that would keep Social Security fully funded for a full 75 years.

2.  Raise the payroll tax cap on Social Security for the wealthiest Americans.  The cap, which right now is at $106,800 means that millionaires and billionaires such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pay no more into the Social Security trust fund than do their middle level managers.

3.  Freeze the estate tax at 2009 levels and apply those revenues to the Social Security trust fund.

4.  Establish a real and meaningful jobs program putting Americans back to work in good-paying, American jobs.

All it would take is for people to make their voices heard that they want a real fix to Social Security that does not penalize contributors and future recipients with outrageous means testing, or increases in the retirement age, or cuts in benefits or elimination of cost-of-living-adjustments.

COMING TOMORROW: How You Can Make A Difference.

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