We often find that some of the best “op-ed” pieces in The Times are letters to the editor. These were published August 23 and make some excellent points. Our favorite senator, Bernie Sanders, says all we have to do is seriously raise the payroll cap and we can make Social Security safe for at least 75 years. Is anybody listening?
August 24, 2010
August 20, 2010
This video is almost two years old, and the time it was made makes it even more trenchant now. Where is Jack Cafferty now that we really need him?
August 18, 2010
By Tula Connell
August 17, 2010
When the report by the Social Security Board of Trustees came out last week, it found Social Security is strong for the long term. But that’s not what you’d hear from some corporate media outlets. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) points out that CNN coverage has been especially egregious, with Wolf Blitzer asserting that Social Security has reached “the financial tipping point.” <!– [more] –>
Other CNN talking heads painted a similar dire picture. We know they have cushy retirement pensions—why do they want to kill retirement funding for the more than 64 percent of America’s retirees who depend upon Social Security as their sole source of income? FAIR is urging people to contact CNN’s Situation Room and tell them what we think about their coverage: firstname.lastname@example.org.
No less than the grandson of President Franklin Roosevelt has weighed in on the future of Social Security. Writing today at Huffington Post, James Roosevelt tackles the fear-mongering about Social Security head on:
Understanding that the public will not succumb to a frontal assault on Social Security, Tea Party supporters, Libertarians and other critics advance their radical agenda by creating a “mythology of fear,” trotting out themes of a program that is “in crisis,” “bankrupt,” “broke,” and, in the wake of the Madoff scandal, even a “Ponzi scheme.” They then position themselves not as wanting to eliminate Social Security but as wanting to “save, “strengthen,” and “protect” Social Security by privatizing it.
Describing the trustee’s findings that Social Security is solvent, Roosevelt goes on to say that “Social Security does not need to be saved.”
The fact is, Social Security has been the most successful government program of the past 75 years. Today, 53 million Americans receive Social Security benefits each month. No other program in American history—has touched more lives and families and brought more financial stability to households—including those of its most ardent critics.
Published by AFL-CIO Blog
August 15, 2010
We especially like this page because the responses to the myths are footnoted. So if someone says “Sez who?” , the answer is right here. Some Republicans are putting out myths and lies about Social Security in an attempt to privatize it. We say: “If you liked credit default swaps, Lehman Brothers, and Bernie Madoff, you’re going to love privatized Social Security.”
Top 5 Social Security Myths
Myth #1: Social Security is going broke.
Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a ‘T’). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1 After 2037, it’ll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits—and again, that’s without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers’ retirement decades ago.2 Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.
Myth #2: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.
Reality: This is a red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than they did 70 years ago.3 What’s more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly—since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half.4 But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut.
Myth #3: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.
Reality: Social Security doesn’t need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here’s a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share. If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come.5 Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income.6 But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.
Myth #4: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs
Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn’t full of IOUs, it’s full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.7 The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market—which would have been disastrous—but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.
Myth #5: Social Security adds to the deficit
Reality: It’s not just wrong—it’s impossible! By law, Social Security’s funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can’t add one penny to the deficit.8
Defeating these myths is the first step to stopping Social Security cuts. Can you share this list now?
1.”To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security,” New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=89703&id=22141-17700787-cAEhIbx&t=4
2. “The Straight Facts on Social Security,” Economic Opportunity Institute, September 2009 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=89704&id=22141-17700787-cAEhIbx&t=5
3. “Social Security and the Age of Retirement,” Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2010 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=89705&id=22141-17700787-cAEhIbx&t=6
4. “More on raising the retirement age,” Washington Post, July 8, 2010 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=89706&id=22141-17700787-cAEhIbx&t=7
5. “Social Security is sustainable,” Economic and Policy Institute, May 27, 2010 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=89707&id=22141-17700787-cAEhIbx&t=8
6. “Maximum wage contribution and the amount for a credit in 2010,” Social Security Administration, April 23, 2010 http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/240
7. “Trust Fund FAQs,” Social Security Administration, February 18, 2010 http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/ProgData/fundFAQ.html
8.”To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security,” New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=89703&id=22141-17700787-cAEhIbx&t=9
Distributed by DelMont Progressive Democrats of America – http://www.delmontpda.wordpress.com
August 12, 2010
Our thanks to Beaver County PDA for sending along this article. Their Congressman, like most Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats, wants to cut the program. As always, to understand the thinking of those people, look for the money. Privatizing Social Security would be good for the retirement insurance industry and the Wall Street establishment that owns it. There is no other reason to privatize.
August 11, 2010
Our Social Security System vs. “Privatization”
Social Security is a successful intergenerational program that has served this country well. Yet some groups want to “privatize” Social Security by taking payroll tax money that now goes into the Social Security trust funds and investing it instead in private investment accounts.
Under Social Security, people earn the right to participate by working and contributing. The program was never intended to be an investment program. With broader policy goals than private retirement plans, its intent is to provide guaranteed income to seniors, disabled citizens, survivors, and their families. Privatization would severely undermine this system.
The arguments for privatization can seem persuasive at first, but they are all hollow and easily disproved. Following are five simple rebuttals to many common and misleading claims being spread by the privatization movement. When you hear any of the pro-privatization claims, refer to the facts provided here.
When They Say , “Privatization Will Fix Social Security for Future Generations,” The TRUTH is…
Privatization is not a plan to save Social Security; it is a plan to dismantle Social Security. Privatization means increased retirement risks, severe cuts in Social Security benefits, and a multi-trillion dollar increase in the federal debt.
Privatization diverts money out of Social Security into individual accounts leaving an even larger solvency problem. Privatizers fill this funding gap by dramatically cutting Social Security benefits. They cover the rest by borrowing money, thereby increasing the debt burden on all taxpayers by trillions of dollars over the next half century. With market-based accounts, the risk of an adequate retirement is placed entirely on the individual.
When They Say, “Social Security will soon go bankrupt,” The TRUTH is…
If Congress does nothing – makes no changes or “reforms” – Social Security is projected to deliver full guaranteed benefits until at least 2037. Even after 2037, again without any changes, the trust funds will continue to pay 76 percent of benefits for years after that.
It’s true, the aging baby boom generation will strain Social Security in the future. However, if Congress enacts modest changes, Social Security should be able to meet 100% of its benefit obligations for many decades to come.
When They Say, “Workers could get a better return by investing in the Stock Market,” The TRUTH is…
Right now, Social Security provides a guaranteed income, paying benefits every month for life, with increases for inflation. After adjusting for risk, Social Security has a rate of return equal to that of any mix of financial assets in private accounts.
And risk must be taken into account, because stock market returns are never guaranteed! As we’ve seen in recent years, returns can fluctuate wildly. One need only be reminded that between 2001 and 2003, the NASDAQ lost 75% of its value. And the market took a major downturn again in 2008. Nest eggs can disappear in an instant – and take months, if not years, to rebuild.
With privatization, some might do well, many might lose – but our society would lose the benefit of the sound, basic income security provided by Social Security retirement, disability and survivor benefits.
When They Say, “Social Security is unfair because tomorrow’s workers will have to support the Baby Boomers’ retirement,” The TRUTH is…
In fact, the Boomers have helped pre-fund part of their benefits by building a huge surplus that should keep Social Security alive and well for many years. With privatization, however, workers would end up in a double bind – paying taxes to support the Boomers’ retirement plus investing money in their own individual accounts, in hopes of building retirement funds for themselves.
To make matters even worse, today’s workers would have to bear the transition costs of switching to privatization, estimated at nearly $5 trillion over just the first twenty years- a cost that would fall on today’s young people.
When They Say, “Privatization gets rid of the inefficiency of big government,” The TRUTH is…
Administrative costs for Social Security are very low – less than 1% of the program’s budget. Diverting money to the stock market would incur the very high costs of brokers’ commissions, mutual fund management fees, and other expenses inherent in buying and selling stocks and bonds.
Small investment accounts are very expensive to administer. Commissions and fees could easily burn up as much as 15 cents out of every dollar of a worker’s annual investment as they do in some countries with privatized systems.
Wall Street brokers and fund managers would stand to make billions of dollars a year thanks to privatization, so it’s no surprise that they strongly support the privatization movement!
Conclusion: Privatization is NOT the Answer!
Unfortunately, exaggerated media coverage regarding Social Security’s finances has contributed to the illusion that Social Security is in immediate trouble. And the pro-privatization movement has spent millions of dollars promoting that illusion.
That’s why the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is spreading the truth, through education material like the booklet you’re reading right now. And that’s why NCPSSM remains committed to blocking any effort to privatize Social Security.
By using these facts, you can help the truth – and Social Security – win! Thank you for supporting Social Security for the benefit of every generation of Americans!
This information was compiled by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare