Should She Worry About Social Security?
by Melinda Tuhus | Aug 12, 2010 11:09 am
Posted to: Social Services
Social security just turned 75. Maureen O’Sullivan told her Congresswoman that she’s worried it won’t be there when she turns 75.
O’Sullivan (pictured), an east side alderwoman in New Haven who’s in her 40s, showed up at a social security “birthday” party that U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro hosted Wednesday at the People’s Center on Howe Street.
The marked the diamond jubilee of America’s bedrock social safety net credited for keeping millions of seniors out of poverty.
DeLauro got an ovation as she took the podium and declared social security solvent. She said it should stay that way into the future, as long as adjustments are made to it. She noted that President George W. Bush tried unsuccessfully to privatize as he began his second term in early 2005.
“If we had moved in that direction [privatization], given what has happened on Wall Street today, what would have happened?” she asked.
“Wiped out,” a woman murmured.
“Wiped out!” DeLauro (pictureded) exclaimed.
She called social security a bond between generations, one that promises that no American will have to go it alone in their later years.
Some worry that with the aging of the baby boomers, social security won’t have enough money to pay future retirees’ benefits. Some lawmakers have called for raising the retirement age or means-testing in order to protect the fund.
“I am not as confident as the Congresswoman,” said Alderwoman O’Sullivan, who was born in 1965. “I’m glad she’s confident that it will continue, but a lot of people in their mid-to late-40s wonder if it’s still going to be around.”
Another attendee, 88-year-old retired city schoolteacher Mary Johnson, suggested that social security should revert to protected status as a trust fund.
Mary Elia (pictured), Connecticut staffer with the Alliance for Retired Americans, explained that when Congress passed social security passed in 1935, most Americans didn’t even live to be 65 and therefore claim the benefits. But she said several “myths” have developed about approaching insolvency: “We don’t need to cut it. We don’t need to raise the retirement age—that’s a cut in benefits” that would disproportionally negatively impact working class people who have more physically demanding jobs and often more health problems as they age. She also disagreed with the idea of a means test, which would disqualify those above a certain income. Everyone who gets Social Security has paid into it and deserves the money back, she argued.
She suggested other tweaks: “They may need to adjust by going back to getting the Social Security contribution on 90 percent of the income, instead of the current 83 percent. We can maybe pay a little bit more up front.”
DeLauro did the honors at Wednesday’s Party of blowing out the candles on a huge birthday cake—or trying. They were the kind that keep relighting. Supporters hope that, like those flames, social security can’t be extinguished.
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One of the biggest problems with Social Sercurity is that when it was invented, in the 1930s, the average lifespan was significantly shorter than it is now. The other problem is the amount of myth surrounding it.
I have heard from many an elderly person that they are getting ripped off, that their checks are not enough, that they were born “in a bad year”. There are scam organizations that prey on them, asking them to send $15 a month, to “help the cause”, like there’s a PAC fighting Congress over the amount a woman born in 1926 is paid.
The other big problem with Social Security is that our society now is obsessed with spending, not saving. And people should have money stashed in 5-10 different types of accounts, so that they do not have to solely rely on Social Security payments to keep them afloat.
Before we point the finger at the SSA and the US government, we should be honest, and ask ourselves if we are saving enough. We aren’t.
“Wiped out!” DeLauro (picturdeed) (sic) exclaimed.”
She displays her ignorance again. Privatization was voluntary and would allowed intelligent people to manage their own retirement plans. I manage my 401k and it’s doing just fine. I guess Rosa is too dumb to do the same.
Social Security is not just the problem.Wait until President Obama health care program kick’s in 2014.Also you notice last year,Those on Social Security did not get a cost of living
increase.You think you will get it this year.Again keep voting for the crooked two party system and this is what you will get.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on August 12, 2010 8:17pm
In 2009, there was a $122 billion surplus for Social Security, which brought the total surplus of the entire fund to $2.5 trillion overall.
If republicans regain control of the congress, they will most likely push the retirement age up to 70, which at best will slightly delay the problem, and at worst will simply push the burden over to the health care system as a result of forcing elderly people to continue working well after they should.
Unfortunately, the largest demographic in American history, the baby boomers, are just beginning to leave the work force and enter retirement and this transition will only intensify in the years to come, regardless of a retirement age adjustment. At some point a nation built on entitlements will collapse. The continually left behind impoverished urban and poor rural classes, the car dependent middle class supported by credit intravenous, and the most productive, capital-generating work force in history about to retire spells a combination for disaster and a situation that cannot be held up any longer by further financializing the economy, especially when that is dependent upon speculating and investing in productive activity, which happens to becoming increasingly scarce domestically. We will never pay off our astronomical debt-that is promises of future wealth generating productive activity-if we do not intend to make tangible things of actual value here in the US that people all over the world want and need, especially when we keep piling on entitlements to the debt with no plan on how to actually repay any of it.
One thing is certain; we’re going to have to pay for all these old people somehow, and it’d be a lot easier to do so if the underclasses weren’t reliant on government programs to sustain themselves and if the middle class wasn’t hemorrhaging money on health care, housing, transportation and daycare just to promote an image of ‘living the American Dream’ and having a lifestyle entirely built on public infrastructure, environmental degradation, and oil dependency.
The most logical way to address this would be to employ the rural and urban underclasses through government contracts to rebuild and improve our national rail system as a way of jump starting a process of retrofitting the suburban middle class living arrangement to be more efficient, less costly, better served by local commerce, agriculturally-based, nicer looking, safer, walkable, transit-connected, mixed use, mixed income, and better integrated into the natural environment as well as their urban counterpart. With the underemployed, poor and impoverished groups of today employed building railroads and trains; deconstructing, salvaging and reassembling buildings; and reworking other parts of suburbia that results in a living arrangement for a sustainable middle class we may begin to pull ourselves out of this ungodly predicament we’ve put ourselves in.
“total surplus of the entire fund to $2.5 trillion overall.”
Mr. Hopkins, you must be joking, otherwise you have been duped by the “trust fund” which is a shell game. That money has been spent in the general fund and an IOU is given to Social Security. THERE ISN’T A TRUST FUND!
Where will the money come from to pay off the IOUs? Tax increases of course and your solution to this problem is spend more money on government contracts….
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on August 13, 2010 4:27pm
The point is that we have some time before Social Security implodes to address the coming problems that are easily foreseeable. I think if republicans regain congress, they will try to cut the benefits received through social security (raise the retirement age) and use this as a way to disguise a simultaneous hijacking of the fund for other purposes like extending the bush tax cuts, which represent roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the overall debt. It’s true that the fund is pillaged from frequently; I was not trying to say that the $2.5 trillion surplus is somehow free for the grabbing, I was merely pointing out that it is not as fragile as would appear.
The largest period of growth in the history of the country was enacted by government contracts following the second World War. The factories producing goods for the war shut down, and the federal government stepped in because they feared we would slip into another depression. They employed millions to build new homes, lay new roads, pave driveways, lay sewer lines, extend electrical lines, etc. Unfortunately, the pattern of growth that appeared after WW2 has left us with a living arrangement that is unsustainable, costly, ugly, inefficient, socially degrading, and unworthy of our capabilities.
The private section cannot get us out of this mess, only a massive government intervention lead by thousands of local civic groups can provide us with the overall vision and jobs that are needed to get us out of this trench. After the smoke clears, the private sector should be able to replace much of the bureaucratic programs and initiatives that would be needed to reorganize this country.
As an example, companies that pollute and degrade the environment need to pay for the problems they create and then pass that cost on to consumers through the price of goods and services. This way, companies will be encouraged to be as efficient as possible in dealing with the processes that cause environmental problems and enormous amounts of tax dollars would no longer need to go to large, inefficient government agencies that now deal with the negative effects of polluting private companies and instead could be massively shrunk into a simple regulatory body. This would also apply to the restructuring of private home owner’s associations and downsizing of the public Federal Housing Administration for housing, the redeveloping of private Commercial District Associations in malls and scaling back of federal business and commercial councils for Main Street shopping districts, etc. Well that’s just my idea, if you have other suggestions I’m all ears.
“a bond between generations”?
How about inter-generational wealth redistribution?
Social Security won’t be around to help me winter in Florida, but instead of demanding that someone else (younger) pay for my retirement, I’m going to keep saving what money the government doesn’t take .