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A Bold Plan to Strengthen and Improve Social Security Is What America Needs

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/08/bold-plan-strengthen-and-improve-social-security-what-america-needs

“The average benefit this year is just over $17,600, certainly not enough to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.”
The average, or mean, can be a misleading statistic. A more telling stat is the median which is the amount at which half the population receives more and half less. I believe the median SS benefit to be significantly lower that the mean.

true. It would be interesting to know that number.
Please let us know when you have it.

Agreed that a bold plan is needed. Unfortunately, this is not that bold plan. As Mr. Baker noted, the necessity of a shift in the COLA formula has been proposed for decades. Nothing bold about doing that. Essential but not bold. Hiking incomes as a percentage of current incomes is appallingly not bold. Far better to increase all benefits by a specific dollar amount, thereby giving the highest percentage increase to those at the bottom. Increasing the FICA rate on workers, workers who have had their wages suppressed for over 45 years is also far from bold.

Solutions?

By all means change to CPI-E for annual inflation adjustments. You want bold? Reexamine the way all CPIs measure inflation. Substitution must be eliminated from calculations. In many cases product enhancements must be eliminated from calculations, especially if the product without the enhancements is not available – try buying a car without AC.

125% of poverty line as the base for one who worked 30 years is an improvement, to be sure. But worked where? If someone spent part of her or his career abroad, she/he likely will not qualify. Not only that but a very large part of any potential benefit from another country’s version of Soc. Sec. is taken out of a retiree’s US retirement benefit, leaving the retiree to deal with exchange rate fluctuations and bank premiums on that exchange rate.

The poverty line for a single person is about $12, 500 and for two is just under $17,000. Adding $3100 to the guideline for a single senior and $4200 for a couple to that as a base is a good thing. But that just changes guidelines, not most incomes. But even if it did change their income, how many can live on that in this place in this time? And an awful lot of people are not going to get that. In addition to changing the guideline, how about actually increasing the benefit level? $400 per year, on average, is definitely not at all bold and largely useless. How about doing that monthly?

Paying for benefit increases – make employers compensate in at least a tiny way for 45+ years of wage suppression. Employers will have contributed less into Soc. Sec. over those years as well as gouging their employees. Why not raise the FICA rate on all employers, especially those that have paid average or below average wages for decades? Why not reduce the FICA tax on employees whose wages have been suppressed, especially those below something like 150 - 200% of the individual median for males?

Of course, raise the cap. That has been proposed for decades, now. Nothing bold there, either.

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Don’t just Raise the Cap — Eliminate it Entirely!!

. . . And don’t forget that ‘Korporations are people, too’, and they should also be paying Social Security (and Medicare) taxes!

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Bold plans make Nancy Pelosi mad.
They make Mayo Pete Bog weep.
They make Amy Slobuchar confused. She doesn’t know what bold means.

So far every time a COLA occurs so does an increase of the premium for Part B Medicare that is taken out of your SS monthly. In the past 7 years that number has gone up from around $90 per month to $135 per month now. It’s a wash for many, the government giveth and the government taketh.