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Social Security at 80: Defending a Program Which Has Defended All of Us


#1

Social Security at 80: Defending a Program Which Has Defended All of Us

Nancy Altman

Social Security was signed into law eighty years ago, on August 14, 1935. In those eight decades, it has taught us a number of important lessons.

Social Security has demonstrated that there are some undertakings that government does better than the private sector. Social Security is more efficient, universal, secure, and fair than any counterpart private sector arrangement is or could be.

"Social Security works so extraordinarily well that it is a shining example of government at its best."


#2

Those graphs are very interesting and not something I had considered before. I am not sure of exactly how Social security payments determined in each Country but it would seem to me that while I think here in Canada we need to revisit the program and increase the amounts paid out , the fact that replacement earnings favor the poor over the wealthy is something they got right.

I just can not understand how the very lowest wage earnings would end up with the lowest amount of income from Social Security. It makes no sense .


#3

There is so much just plain dumb about the present SS situation. First of all, Social Security is not an entitlement program. It is not funded by Congress. It is an INSURANCE program, called an old age income insurance. Congress should absolutely no part in the management of the Social Security Income Insurance plan. Like any other insurance plan, say Fire Insurance or Life insurance, there are two numbers of interest: Premiums and Payouts. Any insurance plan is managed to control that ratio. Second this insurance plan has winners and losers. In High School my good friend and I both contributed to Social Security. We paid in so that we would have an income in old age. Bob died of a heart attack at age 46. I am 77. I am living, in part, on what my good friend, Bob, stuck into the fund. That is how insurance works. There are some people who don't understand Social Security that suggest "means testing" and that rich seniors would not collect. It is not about rich people. It is about all people who live in the United States. Everybody gets, if they live long enough, a minimum payout. (If you don't do that, the "rich" will persist in moaning and claiming they want to opt out.) What is wrong with Social Security is simple. The "bank" crooks want to get the Social Security investments to scam them and make a fortune. That is what the game is. Any insurance plan always needs to adjust premiums now and then. In Colorado we had a horrid fire two years ago and hundreds of houses burned down. My house did not burn down, nor was it touched by fire. However, my home owner policy had sharp increases as the insurance companies adjusted the money coming in to help pay with the money being paid out. This is how ALL INSURANCE COMPANIES operate. Social Security is an insurance company. So, here is what is needed. First of all, the Social Security Administration is given complete control over fiscals aspects of the plan, including setting up an investment team that invests funds in other things than the losers called Treasury Bonds. Investment should include investment in a basket of currencies from those five countries with the highest GDP growth rates. The premium need to cover all incomes with a constant percentage, and have no cutoff for those with high incomes. Should income exceed outflow, adjustment needs to be made now for current events. There should never be a large fund of excess contributions, that SS Trust Fund, stolen by Congress. The MSM = banks and we know the hungry bankers are looming in front of the elegant bakery window planning to break in and steal the cakes as soon as possible. We need to celebrate the wisdom of President FDR and protect our seniors. Read and understand what the life for retired people was in the US prior to Social Security. And ask this question: will I be able to take care of my parents when they retire? Think about it.


#4

Nancy Altman:
You should really check your wording what you said here:
"Eisenhower's small splinter group has effectively convinced too many Americans that Social Security is in danger of disappearing."

This sounds like the splinter group he told his brother about was Ike's' splinter group. He had nothing to do with that group, EVER.
Snopes has debunked this rumor.
http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/ikesocial.asp
I am sure you will fix this.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
“We want to improve and expand our social security program.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
“Government, through social security and by fostering applicable insurance plans, must help protect the i individual against hardship and help free his mind from anxiety.


#5

There's nothing to correct. When she writes "Eisenhower's small splinter group" she means the small splinter group that Eisenhower referred to in his letter to his brother.


#6

webwalk,

"Eisenhower's small splinter group has effectively convinced too many Americans that Social Security is in danger of disappearing."

Read this it is in plain english 'S shows he owns this group or connected to it some way.

Now read this when I mentioned Ike's brother and the letter.
"This sounds like the splinter group he told his brother about was Ike's' splinter group. He had nothing to do with that group, EVER."

and it does need fixing.


#7

Its definitely hard for me to fall for the bogus "entitlement program" rhetoric when I calculate that if I were to stop working and start collecting Social Security checks today, for the first 7 to 8 years I would just be getting back the money I contributed to the program over a nearly 50 year timeframe.
That calculation is based solely on my contributions and not any interest that would have accrued. That 7 to 8 year timeframe would be much longer if those contributions had been invested in federally insured certificates of deposit that were paying double digit annual interest during the seventies and eighties,


#8

raydelcamino.
Why didn't you invest in CDs then you would have had two retirement accounts?


#9

OK, you don't understand English.


#10

webwalk. OK I don't understand English and you don't know how to read it.
But I am certain Nancy Altman will understand what I am talking about.


#11

I read an article recently that referred to the Social Security Trustee's Report for 2014. Apparently the Social Security Trust Fund had a surplus of several billion dollars during 2014 and that surplus is expected to increase over the next several decades.

The report stated that the surplus was large enough to expand the current Social Security program to include paid sick leave as well as paid maternity leave plus increase benefit payments without even changing the funding coming in. They also mentioned however that if we were to eliminate the wage cap or even raise it to $250,000 (it is currently around I believe $115,000 meaning that any wages earned in excess of $115,000 are not subject to Social Security or F.I.C.A. Taxes) that we could expand the program to the point of allowing retirees and those who are disabled a reasonable living income rather than the skimpy, almost poverty level benefits now paid out.

Another issue that is going to be rearing it's ugly head after 2016 is the 20% disability benefit CUT planned by the House. The Social Security Trust Fund consists of two separate trusts currently, one for retirement and one for disability benefits. Supposedly the disability trust is about to go broke and will run out of funds by the end of next year (2016) meaning that the benefits will be paid out of whatever current funds that are coming in from current taxes. Because of this shortage congress says that they will be "forced" to cut disability benefits by approximately 20%, which will mean a big financial hit for disabled persons. This is an artificial crisis however created by the repukes and teabaggers to make it appear that Social Security is going broke when according to the Trustee's Report the exact opposite situation exists. This has happened before with both trust funds. Occasionally expenses will temporarily increase for one of the two funds so all they have to do is to borrow from one to boost the funds in the other or in this case borrow from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund then when payments from the disability fund decrease or taxes coming in increase they simply pay back the funds borrowed from the retirement fund. However the republicans in the House are refusing to do this and thus forcing a large and painful benefit cut to the people who must rely on SSDI to survive.

Social Security is indeed a life saver for a lot of folks. I happen to be one of those who must rely on the disability income to live on. I paid into the system for forty years and took a huge pay cut when I was forced to file for disability insurance. I am grateful that Social Security exists but compared to other countries it is quite miserly. I am getting the maximum benefit allowed and still live very close to the poverty level. There isn't even enough income to live in my own apartment alone anywhere in the U.S. much less pay for utilities, insurance, a vehicle, food, and medicine. It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic that billionaires such as Pete Peterson (his apparent goal in life is to kill Social Security) who have more money than they could use living in the lap of luxury for a thousand lifetimes much less come close to even making a dent in during one lifetime, work so hard to avoid paying Social Security taxes on their first $115,000 of income every year. I simply cannot comprehend how someone who has so much could try to cheat those who can barely afford to eat out of their safety net, but unfortunately they do. Frankly I believe it is way past time to eliminate the tax cap on Social Security and replace it with a progressive tax similar to what the progressive income tax was under President Eisenhower. That could serve two purposes...the first being to provide ample funds so that those who have either worked themselves to death all of their lives to make the rich even richer or become disabled doing so can live a decent life as well as contribute to the well being of the economy and second being to act as a punishment for the extreme greed and selfishness displayed by these rich assholes. Of course we need to do the same with a progressive income tax as well so we can repair our depleted infrastructure, pay off all of our stupid wars used by the rich to steal resources and topple unfavorable nation's governments as well as trying to repair the environmental damage caused by the plundering of the planet's natural resources by these very same greed pigs in their endless quest for ever more money and power...but that's another arguement.


#12

Can someone tell me the origin of the rightwing "talking point" that tries to focus public attention on the supposed funding of Social Security only by young workers paying in for the benefits paid out. Thus obfuscating, denying, and ignoring the role of The Social Security Trust Fund.

Whenever I hear mention that an increase or decrease in the number of young workers is what matters to the existence of Social Security I shift into high danger alert mode. Who's saying that, and wtf is he really up to?! He's certainly not acknowledging the good that Social Security does, and the economical way it's done. (No outrageously compensated CEOs needed!) He's most likely out to kill and dismantle the program.