Posts Tagged ‘Social Security’
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The Social Security program, which is entirely solvent through 2033, can be made viable for at least another few generations with one simple change: eliminate the cap on earnings (currently $113,700) that are subject to Social Security taxes.
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The vast majority of American workers are forced to have the freedom to rely on Social Security payments to finance their retirement, because the other two legs of the stool—defined-benefits pensions and home prices—have collapsed.
Therefore, Michael Lind, Joshua Freedman, and Steven Hill argue, the United States should be expanding, not cutting, the Social Security program.
Tags: austerity, elite, entitlements, Medicare, Social Security, United States
Thomas Edsall’s essay, “The War On Entitlements,” should be required reading for everyone interested in challenging the elite view that has come to govern the present debate about programs like Social Security and Medicare.
In particular, Edsall pushes back against the two favorite elite strategies for reforming current entitlement programs: means-testing of benefits and raising the age of eligibility.
The idea of subjecting earned income over $113,700 to the Social Security payroll tax and making the Medicare tax more progressive – steps that would affect only the relatively affluent — is largely missing from the policy conversation. . .
Means-testing and raising the age of eligibility as methods of cutting spending appeal to ideological conservatives for a number of reasons.
First, insofar as benefits for the affluent are reduced or eliminated under means-testing, social insurance programs are no longer universal and are seen, instead, as a form of welfare. Public support would almost certainly decline, encouraging further cuts in the future.
Second, the focus on means-testing and raising the age of eligibility diverts attention from a much simpler and more equitable approach: raising the payroll tax to apply to the earnings of the well-to-do, a step strongly opposed by the ideological right.
Third, and most important in terms of the policy debate, while both means-testing and eliminating the $113,700 cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax hurt the affluent, the latter would inflict twice as much pain.
Is it any wonder that elite austerity nuts have been trying so hard to push their preferred reforms to existing entitlement programs?
Tags: class, debt, deficits, economists, generations, Medicare, politics, Social Security, surplus, Tea Party, United States, youth
How did the Tea Party meme of “generational theft” go mainstream?
Last August, Robert Samuelson used the notion in his critique of government entitlement programs.
More recently, Geoffrey Canada, Stanley Druckenmiller, and Kevin Warsh joined forces to announce what they consider to be “several hard truths”:
Government spending levels are unsustainable. Higher taxes, however advisable or not, fail to come close to solving the problem. Discretionary spending must be reduced but without harming the safety net for our most vulnerable, or sacrificing future growth (e.g., research and education). Defense and homeland security spending should not be immune to reductions. Most consequentially, the growth in spending on entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare—must be curbed.
And, if politicians don’t listen to them, “the greatest casualties will be young Americans of all stripes who want—and need—an opportunity to succeed.”
No, government spending levels are not unsustainable. And there’s no need to reduce discretionary spending or to cut entitlement programs. Not if we decide to get serious about taxing some of the enormous surplus captured by wealthy individuals and large corporations.
But that would mean recognizing the existence of class theft. So, to deflect attention from the hard truth of class injustice, the Samuelsons, Canadas, Druckenmillers, and Warshes of the world have decided to borrow the Tea Party slogan and attempt to focus our attention instead on the supposed struggle between generations.