With the Tea Party shutdown of our government over for now, Congress is turning its attention to enactment of the federal budget. Republicans were unsuccessful in defunding the Affordable Care Act, but they will now be pushing to make drastic changes to one of our most crucial safety net programs: Social Security. Unfortunately, President Obama and many Democrats also seem willing to support such cuts as part of a budget deal.
For years, the conservatives have been falsely claiming Social Security is a burden on the taxpayers and is going broke. In reality, Social Security is not an "entitlement," but an earned benefit -- if you don't pay in, you don't get Social Security, and your allotment is based on what you contributed over your lifetime. Social Security is also not going broke -- the Trust Fund currently has enough money to pay all benefits until 2033.
Instead of draconian cuts to Social Security payments (opposed by 82 percent of Americans), Congress should work to increase the benefits. In 2012 the average benefit paid to a retired worker was $1,230 per month, barely a liveable amount. Implementing a chained CPI or increasing the retirement age will only make things worse.
A new study by AARP shows that Social Security generates about $2 in economic benefit for every dollar paid to recipients, amounting to more than $1 trillion each year. Increasing the benefits would clearly help our struggling economy as well as the struggling recipients.
Eliminating the cap on earnings taxed for Social Security, currently $113,700, would allow benefits to be increased and would extend the life until 2049. This proposal, supported by two-thirds of Americans, would require the richest 5 percent of people to pay on all their earnings just as the other 95 per cent of workers do now.
Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (Cal.) have introduced legislation in the Senate (S.567) and in Congress (H.R.3118) to make positive changes to Social Security which will not only help those receiving benefits, but will also insure that the system is solid in the future.
I urge everyone to contact Senators Casey and Toomey and your local Congressman. Tell them "No cuts to Social Security!" Also ask them to support the legislation introduced by Sen. Harkin and Rep. Sanchez.
David B. Kyle, New Columbia