BY DEB ESCOBAR 25 APRIL 2019
If you are like me, you felt a bit of alarm when you saw the recent screaming headlines in the corporate media that proclaimed, "Social Security is Going Broke!" The headlines came as a result of the annual report that was released by the Social Security Trustees. Contrary to the gloomy headlines, the report actually found that Social Security is fully funded until 2035, one year longer than the previously reported projection. Indeed, Social Security has a large surplus which is projected to be roughly $2.9 trillion next year. Social Security Works reports that for decades, billionaires and some politicians have been campaigning to undermine confidence in Social Security. Instead of acknowledging our benefits to be retirement pensions that are earned by payroll taxes, they would like us to believe that they are "entitlements." Many politicians would like to do away with the programs that sustain the middle class and improve poverty. Hence the constant call to raise retirement age, decrease benefits, and eliminate Medicare.
It is true that if some changes are not made, Social Security will have to reduce benefits after 2034 because there would be a modest shortfall. There is no question that Congress can act to raise enough to not only eliminate the projected deficit, but they could also find a way to expand the system. This is critical because there are many retirees that do not have employer provided pensions or significant retirement savings. Larger numbers of seniors are completely dependent on their Social Security paycheck. The situation will only get worse. The Census Bureau found that over two-thirds of today's workers do not contribute to a retirement account.
The media is not telling us the full truth. Congressional Democrats have specific concrete plans for ensuring that our Social Security System is healthy for the long run. The Social Security 2100 Act, introduced by Representative John Larson of CT, has 203 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, including over 85% of all Democratic representatives. The Expand Social Security Caucus has 19 members in the Senate and 150 in the House. A number of possibilities exist to guarantee Social Security solvency. The cap on what our wealthy pay could be lifted or eliminated. The Alliance for Retired Americans states that "The annual payroll tax is capped at $132,900, and not a dime of the income above that level is paid into Social Security. That means that the highest earners will pay zero percent of most of their income in Social Security taxes. This isn't right." Benefits for those individuals with a high retirement income could also be reduced. Or, if legislators raised the payroll tax rate for employers and employees a mere 2%, this could raise enough money to completely eliminate the projected shortfall.
The media does not tell us the truth about the fact that the majority of Americans are fully supportive of Social Security. Nor do they explain that Social Security is extremely affordable, with less than one penny of every dollar going to administrative costs. Other industrialized countries pay much more for similar retirement pensions for their citizens.
Remember this indisputable fact: What some politicians and their corporate donors want, is privatization of our government benefits. They want to privatize public education, they want to privatize Medicare, they want to privatize health care for veterans, and they want to privatize Social Security. In other words, they want to take a system that is working, and scavenge it to enable investors to make a profit.
For more information and to join the fight to protect our earned benefits, visit https://retiredamericans.org/.