Social Security is an immensely popular program. After all, we as Americans believe that everyone should have an economically secure retirement.
But sometimes we need to curtail this program’s spending so as to ensure its survival for future generations.
To their credit, President Reagan and his Democratic rivals got together during the 1980s to take steps to keep the Social Security fund solvent. They increased payroll taxes to make that happen — not a politically palatable choice but absolutely essential.
Since then, no president has been able to achieve such a bipartisan compromise for Social Security. Now, with the baby boomers starting to retire, Social Security is trending toward insolvency, although it’ll be a long time before that occurs.
So what is President Obama proposing to do to solve this problem? Nothing so far.
In fact, he appears to be moving in the opposite direction. This year, seniors didn’t receive their annual cost-of-living adjustment. Why? Because the cost of living hasn’t risen in the last year, as happens during recessions. Besides, retirees got a whopping 5.8 percent hike last year.
As such, it’s fair that retirees don’t get an increase this year. But the politicians in Washington know one crucial thing about older Americans: They vote — and in big numbers.
As such, Obama is proposing to give a $250 check to every Social Security recipient to make up for the lack of an adjustment. And you can be sure that both Democrats and Republicans will join him in this effort. No politico wants to make seniors angry. That could mean revenge at the ballot box.
What makes this $250 bonus idea even worse is that seniors are probably doing better than any other demographic group in this economic downturn.
Let’s admit another fact about Social Security: There are plenty of older Americans who don’t need it.
With the coming insolvency, why not cut off Social Security for the rich? Of course, some would counter that the rich paid into the system. True, but they only pay up to a point. The payroll tax is capped to $106,000 in annual earnings. After that amount, a person pays no more.
We need to rethink the goal of Social Security. Now, it’s seen as a system to give every single senior — no matter income — a pension. Rather, I think we should consider it as a program that’s there when you need it.
A wealthy person doesn’t need any extra cash. Just about everyone else does.
David Giuliani is managing editor of the Las Vegas Optic. He may be reached at 425-6796 or email@example.com.