Congress should expand earned benefits by having wealthy pay their fair share
The New York Times recently ran a headline sure to scare seniors:
Unfortunately, the author spoke mainly to sources who buy into a false right-wing narrative that benefit cuts are the only possible solution to Social Security’s long-term financing — a solution that depends on the fear that articles like this generate.
Here’s the truth: Social Security has a $2.9 trillion trust fund, which is required by law to be invested in interest-bearing U.S. Treasuries
$2.9 trillion is a lot of money, and you don’t collect it by accident. The trust fund — which, again, is worth around $2,900,000,000,000 — was built up over decades precisely because we knew that the baby boomers would retire.
What wasn’t expected, though, was the way income inequality would grow. Because the wealthiest Americans don’t pay into Social Security on income above $132,900/year — or at all on unearned investment income — Social Security will face a modest shortfall around 2035. But it’s no reason to start panicking now — and it’s definitely not a reason to cut benefits now so we don’t “have to” cut them later.
What’s the worst that could happen? Even if Congress does nothing between now and 2035, Social Security will still pay out about 80 percent of promised benefits afterwards — not 0%, as scary headlines often make people believe. As long as there are working people, there will be money going into Social Security.
Of course, a 20 percent benefit cut is completely unacceptable. And that’s why, together, we’re demanding that Congress expand our earned benefits by having the wealthy pay their fair share.
In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, there’s no reason to cut Social Security’s already-modest benefits at all!
Social Security Works has endorsed several bills — all proposed by Democrats — which would keep Social Security strong and increase benefits for everyone.
One of these bills, the Social Security 2100 Act, is co-sponsored by nearly 90 percent of House Democrats, including all seven of Washington state’s Democratic U.S. Representatives.
These bills all recognize that the solution to the retirement security crisis isn’t cutting benefits. It’s requiring the wealthy to pay in at the same rate as the rest of us.
Generations of Americans built our Social Security system because they were sick and tired of seniors living in poverty. Nearly 50% of senior citizens lived below the poverty line when Social Security was enacted. Today that number is less than 10%.
Future retirees can least afford cuts. As real pensions have all but disappeared, while 401(k)s and real estate investments have proved risky, Social Security has been a rock, not missing a payment in its 83 years. That’s why we’ve been fighting to EXPAND Social Security. Not cut it.
This isn’t a fight between generations. Baby boomers aren’t the reason for the shortfall — after all, there are nearly as many millennials as there were boomers. Unfortunately, the economy that those millennials have inherited is far less equal than in previous generations. The fight now is to restore economic justice by raising standards for everyone — not fighting over scraps.
In poll after poll, the American people overwhelmingly support expanding, not cutting, Social Security benefits — even when they need to pay more into the system.
Yet in article after article, the Times and other media outlets promote the false narrative that cuts are inevitable. This plays into the hands of the decades-long right-wing strategy to undermine confidence in our Social Security system.
Social Security Works was founded to provide a counterbalance to the right-wing narrative. Those who want to slash Social Security love to spread needless panic about the program, in order to wrongly convince people that cuts are “necessary.”
It’s clear that we’ve got our work cut out for us — but we’re not giving up. Together, let’s counter the right-wing narrative. (Learn more about how you can support Social Security Works.)