The right wing in America, which now controls the Republican Party, has always wanted to destroy Social Security. They believe it is a waste of money and turns people into moochers.
No matter that it has been the most successful government program ever created in the United States. It has kept millions of elderly out of poverty. And it has grown to include assistance for the disabled and survivor benefits. Helping to support those who cannot support themselves.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a stark warning to supporters: Republicans are willing to create a crisis pitting “America’s seniors against America’s disabled” in order to gut Social Security.
“We’ve known for years that Social Security Disability Insurance is set to run low in 2016, and most people assumed that another bipartisan reallocation was coming,” Warren wrote in an email to supporters on Wednesday evening. “But now, thanks to the Republican ideological war on our most important national safety net, disabled Americans could suddenly face a 20% cut in their Social Security checks next year.”
House Republicans quietly passed a rule change last month that would block Congress from being able to make routine tax revenue transfers between the Social Security retirement and disability funds, commonly referred to as reallocation, unless the program’s overall solvency is improved.
The definitive Democratic counterproposal in the fledgling fight over Social Security is starting to emerge, and it has a familiar ring in the era of income inequality politics: tax the rich.
More specifically, Democrats are proposing to raise or eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes. Those taxes are currently collected up to $118,500 of a person’s income, and any income above that is Social Security tax-free. The liberal Center for American Progress said in a new report last week that the program had lost $1.1 trillion over the last 30 years because of it.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced last week that he would propose eliminating the cap for income above $250,000. His office estimated that that would keep Social Security solvent until 2060; the program is currently projected to start running out of money in 2033.
“If Republicans are serious about extending the solvency of Social Security beyond 2033,” Sanders said, “I hope they will join me in scrapping the cap that allows multi-millionaires to pay a much smaller percentage of their income into Social Security than the middle class.”
In essence Social Security hasn’t gotten a raise in 30 years. Think of your household budget. If you were making the same money today, as you did in 1983, your household would be heading toward insolvency too. It’s also extremely heartening to see the Democrats pushing hard on this.
When Ronald Reagan came to town back in 1981, he ran into an unexpected media buzzsaw named Spencer Rich, who was a colleague of mine at The Washington Post. A fellow Post editor dubbed Spencer Rich “the Ferret” because Spencer was a relentless digger of facts who repeatedly drove the Reagan White House nuts. His stories revealed insider details of what programs the new president intended to launch or old programs he planned to destroy. Spencer wasn’t really interested in the political horse race, but he understood the substance of government’s many parts and he did care about how government functioned. As it happens, so do ordinary citizens.
One of Spencer’s front-page exclusives revealed the Gipper’s plan to whack Social Security Disability Insurance. Republicans, he discovered, planned to denounce the liberal program as a scandal of fraud and waste. A fire storm of controversy erupted after his story appeared. The White House first denied it. Then the White House confirmed the story but said the facts were wrong. On the third or fourth day, the White House announced the program was snuffed.
This is what makes a free press so valuable to democracy—that is, if the reporters are truly free. I yearn to see a reporter with the courage to call out liars.
The GOP will always try to pull there budget gimmicks by making the poor and the voiceless pay, never will they ask those with more then they need to sacrifice anything.
The American People will take Socialism, but they won’t take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to “End Poverty in California” I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them. – Upton Sinclair, Letter to Norman Thomas (25 September 1951)
The new study, Strengthening Social Security: What Do Americans Want?, finds a sharp contrast between what Americans say they want and changes being discussed in Washington, such as cutting benefits by using a “chained” Consumer Price Index to determine Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
Large majorities of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, agree on ways to strengthen Social Security — without cutting benefits. Fully 74% of Republicans and 88% of Democrats agree that “it is critical to preserve Social Security even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans.”
When asked the same question about increasing Social Security taxes for better-off Americans, 71% of Republicans and 97% of Democrats agree. Social Security taxes are paid by workers and their employers on earnings up to a cap ($113,700 in 2013). About 5% of workers earn more than the cap.
The survey used a new approach to measuring public opinion about Social Security. In addition to asking participants whether they would favor a particular change, they were asked to choose a preferred package of changes, much as lawmakers might do. Participants considered various combinations of 12 possible changes, including raising taxes; lowering benefits by raising the full retirement age, changing the COLA, or means-testing benefits; and increasing benefits.
The most favored package of changes — preferred to the status quo by seven in 10 participants across generations and income levels — would:
Gradually, over 10 years, eliminate the cap on earnings taxed for Social Security. This would mean that the 5% of workers who earn more than the cap would pay into Social Security all year, as other workers do.
Gradually, over 20 years, raise the Social Security tax that workers and employers each pay from 6.2% of earnings to 7.2%. The increase would be so gradual that someone earning $50,000 a year would pay about 50 cents a week more each year, with the employer’s share increasing by the same amount.
Increase the COLA to more accurately reflect the inflation actually experienced by seniors, who typically pay more out-of-pocket for medical care than other Americans.
Raise Social Security’s minimum benefit so that a worker who pays into Social Security for 30 years can retire at 62 or later with benefits above the federal poverty line ($10,788 in 2011). Currently, lifetime low-wage workers are at risk of falling into poverty in their old age, even after paying Social Security taxes throughout their working lives.
Social Security currently faces a projected long-term funding shortfall, and in the absence of action by Congress the program would be able to pay only about 75% of scheduled benefits after 2033. The above package of four changes would turn the projected financing gap into a small surplus, providing a margin of safety.
“This report deserves close attention from policymakers,” said James Roosevelt, Jr., President and CEO of Tufts Health Plan and grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created Social Security in 1935. “It drills deeper into public opinion than standard surveys and shows how Americans are willing to make hard choices and address challenges for the common good.”
Social Security is one of the most popular and well run government programs in US history. That’s why the American public loves it so much and wants to strengthen it for generations to come. It’s also true that the right wing in America has always hated it, and wants to destroy it.
It is outrageous that Republicans are demanding cuts in Social Security to do this deal, but if the President who ran his entire campaign on fighting for the middle class agrees to it, it would be wrong. It would be bad policy, forcing middle class folks for generations in the future to pay for the tax cuts and wars and bad economic decisions of the Bush years. And it would be politically stupid, beyond the pale stupid- dividing the president from his base and from working class swing voters dependent on Social Security. And this is in a situation where he had all the leverage coming off a strong election victory and taxes scheduled to go up automatically at the end of the year.
Say it ain’t so, Mr. President. And if it is, those of you Democrats who, unlike this President, have to actually run again, I’d strongly recommend a no vote, or you will have lots of seniors and progressives making things tough back home. A deal that hurts seniors, hurts the middle class, and doesn’t even get what you want on taxes is a terrible deal.
This would such a disappointment.
Cory Robin adds his thoughts, “So that’s the deal: We raise taxes. And what do we get in return? Lower benefits. Genius!”
In a brand new video, American Bridge 21st Century blasts Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry over his dangerous views on Social Security and retirement security for America’s seniors.
In thinking Social Security is an “abuse of the constitution,” a “lie” and a “ponzi scheme” that should be dismantled and forced on the states, Perry’s views are more extreme than we’ve seen in half a century. He doesn’t just think the program should be tweaked, but that it never should have existed in the first place.
Miles outside the mainstream, Perry’s extreme views will continue to dog him throughout his campaign — no matter whether it’s in the primary or the general. Just this morning, Karl Rove warned that Perry’s views on Social Security were “toxic in a general election environment and they are also toxic in a Republican primary.”[Emphasis added]
As anybody who has paid into it their entire working life, who is now enjoying the benefits of Social Security if it’s a Ponzi Scheme and they’ll tell you, “Hell No!!”, Gov. Goodhair.