On the eve of a once-in-a-decade White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA)—and in the face of what they describe as the "impending retirement savings crisis facing this nation"—a group of 70 Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) on Sunday called on President Barack Obama to expand Social Security benefits.
“Citing widespread and bipartisan support among the American public”: Note the operative word “public”. As far as the two wings of the reactionary, austerity-loving party goes, including the Prez, this is most certainly NOT true.
Note to Hillary: Pump up your populist rhetoric about Social Security.
The thing is that Bernie is already out there and in our corner fighting for positive things like expanding Soc Sec. Politicians love to talk the talk but Bernie has walked many miles in his day for all of us. He really does walk the walk and always has.
We could use a president who wasn’t all talk but no walk. We could use Bernie… that’d shake things up where some shaken needs to get shook!
Bernie! You are THE MOVEMENT! lol YES, we citizens from Main Street America like you. YET! We have to figure out how to keep the phony “voting machines” (that have no verifiable printed ticket) from being used to flip our rigged election system against you - and the “system” is different in each of the 50 states.
There are zealot corporate ideologues who operate the so-called “proprietary” software cards, who must be ferrated-out in key districts,. Arguably, some have already flipped the vote count in previous, too close to call elections. Greg Palast has written extensively on this with: ““Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps””
We working people need to vigilantly watch the primaries’ counting processes (and then the general election in 2016.) The only possible way to keep Bernie from the Whitehouse, now, is by some under-handed chicanery. The banksters are all out of their plausible deniability tactics to keep from being called out on their flagrant attempt to buy our next president. BUT, they will never give in with a fair fight! What will they do? How can we rally the media?
So, we have to OUT LOVE THEM. I mean, show in amusing clever ways, who they really are and what they really want. Lets start being clever and loving!
First, is Social Security a problem to be concerned about now? No. The Social Security Trust Fund has a current surplus of $2.5 trillion which will grow to $4.5 trillion (yes, that’s TRILLION with a T) before payouts to baby boomers exceeds the annual intake from Social Security taxes collected. According to the apolitical Congressional Budget Office, the fund is not expected to go into the red for the first time until 2037. This actuarial estimate is based upon no changes in Social Security eligibility or tax collection rates or changes in the income cap for the next 24 years. In addition, Social Security has absolutely NOTHING to do with deficits. Social Security has never borrowed a dime from the Federal treasury and is not likely to need a first dime for 27 years. In fact, according to current law, it is illegal for Social Security to borrow from the Federal treasury. The only reason this is a big issue now has nothing to do with deficits and all to do with ideology.
I got a fix! Tinker with Social Security. Increase it!
Among the developed world economies, our Social Security pension is among the lowest. To anyone who tries to live on it without additional outside work or income, it is barely enough for survival after a lifetime of working. For example, Germany’s public pension is nearly 70% of prior earnings compared to the USA’s 33% of prior earnings on Social Security …and Germans can retire at 58 years of age, though many retire later. Has this bankrupted Germany? Not hardly. Their unemployment rate, in the middle of this current economic recession/depression is currently about 5%. In the US, that’s considered full employment. My solution:
- REDUCE retirement age to 60 with a flat benefit no matter whether you retire at 60 or later. Create a financial incentive to retire at 60.
- INCREASE benefits to 60% of pre-retirement earnings.
Is this nuts or what? Stay with me here. Will this blow out the deficit? Where will the money come from?
Here’s why this is a good idea and ways to fund it.
- Reducing retirement age and increasing benefits will cost about $600 billion a year. Another way to look at it is it will pump $600 billion into a stagnant economy. Most retirees will spend almost all of
their increase creating a GIANT jump-start to the economy. More cars will be bought, more meals eaten in restaurants, more trips taken, more shopping, more condo buying and home renovations …and lots more tax revenue to all levels of government because of this added commerce. Adding $600 billion into the economy, especially now, will see greater demand and more hiring to just fill this increased demand.
- People will have a secure and dignified retirement and will be willing to retire earlier, knowing that buying cat food will be for the cat now and in the future.
- As people retire earlier, jobs they leave will need to refilled and usually at a lower wage. Younger workers tend to earn less than someone who has been on the same job for many years and reached the job’s top earning level. This is a double incentive for employers who will now need to fill job vacancies and can do it at less than the costs of the person (a retiree) being replaced. Employers may even start hiring more than just replacements. We now have a catastrophic level of unemployment among the young; this would save this generation from the ravages of long-term unemployment and underemployment. We now have an economy that sees college graduates filling minimum-wage jobs …when they can find one.
- Increasing Social Security pensions and seeing an influx of new retirees is the fastest way to pump up the economy and create jobs. Let the market figure out how to create new jobs best without needing make-work projects filtered through several levels of governmental bureaucracies. Think earmarks here …and avoid it like the plague.
- AND NOW FOR THE BIGGIE! How to pay for it all. EASY. Let the Bush Tax cuts expire (as originally intended; it’s not a tax increase but just the expiration of a decade-long bonus) and end the cap on Social Security now pegged at $118,500. Why should most workers pay Social Security taxes on 100% of their earnings and rich people be exempted from all income above $118,500? Someone with wages of $100,000 annually pays a SS tax of 6.2% of that income; another person with $1 million in annual income only pays .62%. Forget unfair, this is just nuts. Removing the cap and letting the Bush tax cuts expire as intended will generate almost $600 billion annually.
- As an added benefit, the deficit will start to go down more naturally (as it is already beginning to do) as government revenues at every level go up from increased sales and income taxes and other currently depressed revenue streams, and reduced safety net payments because more people will now be working.
When I get my first bigger check (which I promise to spend), I’m gonna have a tea party! No …not that one!
Agreed, Social Security isn’t a problem to be concerned about now.
However, the Dimcrats and GOP ARE CONCERNED that they will be able to fund the next round of too-big-to-fail bankster bailouts that will exceed the $16 trillion 2008 bailouts (not to mention insurance and pharma industry consolidation that has created more too-big-to-fail outfits).
Both parties are in hock to their corporate paymasters and will need to contrive a shock doctrine scheme where voters are begging their congresscritters to cut a grand deal that drains Social Security and Medicare in order to fund the bail outs allegedly to save the US economy.
I am not sure what you mean by saying we should start by being clever and loving but I can go with it I think. I definitely agree about the voting machines and worry just how much democracy will survive this intro to oligarchy 101 that has been handed to us by the supreme court.
Democracy has always been for the little guy and gives him a chance to have his say.
Democracy has ever been an inconvenience to oligarchy because if you have all the money and all the power you could want… you want to do what you want and not have democracy make you have to do what everybody else wants.
The rightwing turned out to be rightwing capitalists not political conservatives. They have subverted our democracy to make themselves robber barons.
Okay you’ve convinced me…I’m voting for you. I hope you win.
Eliminating or at least modifying the cap would seem a logical thing to do in a rational universe.
Seniors spending more if they had more to spend is logical too. We are talking the can’t take it with them crowd here you know.
All very logical… but looking at the state of our world … logic seems illogical or at least very unlikely!
But you got my vote!
Yes, it would be wonderful if we could all you ask for. Fat chance–especially the roll back of the Bush tax cuts. Also I want a good fight against catastrophic climate change to give the next generation a decent shot at life even more than I want a bigger Social Security check.
To help with the increase in Social Security benefits, #1 Cut the Department of War and Department of Homeland Insecurity budgets. Cut the War Departments budget by 60 % and totally eradicate the the Department of Homeland Insecurity! #2 Cut the pay of the Congress and the Senate! As far as Jeb Bush’s idea of making people work longer hours, that’s a perfect idea for the House of Representatives who normally work three days a week for a full time pay check! Seeing that the President is going to become a very wealthy man when he leaves office in a year and a half, we the people should do what he has spent the last six and one half years threatening to do to our seniors, and cut his pay back to $200K from $400K per year for the remainder of his time in office!
Thank you for taking the time to write a very informative comment.
Seems a narrow perspective. Many seniors like me do NOT spend their money at Walmart; they frequent local restaurants, home repair companies, take vacations, visit family on US airlines and trains. Most of what seniors spend is spent locally, including the local dealer where I just got a new car. Most Japanese, German and Korean cars are manufactured inside the USA by American workers. In fact, Ford cars, many assembled in Mexico, have less USA content in the cars than so-called foreign cars. There are many problems with our economy that need to be addressed; I was just commenting on the need to raise Social Security benefits, including earlier retirement to free up jobs for younger workers. Outsourcing jobs to low-paid foreign workers is another issue not being discussed in the run-up to the next presidential election …except by Bernie Sanders. He’s worth paying attention to.