Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, May 28, 2017

Social Security Benefits: What Do Americans Really Think About It?

Social Security Benefits: What Do Americans Really Think About It?

Social Security, the most popular and successful social program in U.S. history, has been under political attack almost nonstop since Ronald Reagan was elected president. And not just Social Security, but the people whose payroll taxes support it and who collect benefits after they retire. Politicians like former Senator Alan Simpson denounce the elderly as “greedy geezers.” Right-wing columnist John Tierney characterizes Social Security as a siren that lures Americans into a lifestyle of “greed and sloth.”

If they only knew better—if only they’d listen to the experts—Americans would understand that the system they overwhelmingly depend on to support them in old age must be cut back or even privatized. Retirement itself may need to be eliminated. “Americans Need to Wake Up to the Reality About Retirement Dreams, Aetna Survey Reveals,” was the headline for a press release by the big insurance company in 1995, when privatization was coming into vogue. “What we’ve found is a nation tied up in knots, whose fears lead to a paralysis on Social Security reform,” the centrist Brookings Institution complained about the same time.

But are American really “tied up in knots” about Social Security?

I studied over 30 years of polling on Social Security while researching my book, The People’s Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan. What I concluded was that Americans’ opinions about this vitally important institution are remarkably consistent—and, whatever the politicians say, completely rational.

It’s long been a truism of Washington discourse on Social Security that raising the payroll tax that supports it is politically not doable. Yet Americans value Social Security so highly that they’re fine with paying more to keep it healthy. They don’t think it’s a ripoff. And they firmly oppose any cuts to the program.

In 1977, 56 percent said in a poll that they approved higher taxes if it would improve the program’s health. In a 1995 AARP survey, 71 percent thought Social Security taxes were “very fair” or “moderately fair.” A Roper Organization/CBS/New York Times poll the same year found that 55 percent of non-retirees were willing to pay more to ensure Social Security would still be there for them. Younger Americans, often portrayed as the ones whose pockets are being picked by those insatiable seniors, agreed by almost exactly the same percentage. Last August, more than half of respondents to an Associated Press poll said they’d prefer to pay a higher payroll tax than see their benefits cut.

Virtually everyone — 96 percent — who participated in that AARP survey said they “view Social Security as essential retirement income.” In 2010, when Simpson was co-chairing a presidential commission on deficit reduction that incorporated Social Security cuts into its proposals, 57 percent of respondents in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they weren’t comfortable with one ingredient of the plan that would raise the retirement age—effectively, a cut in benefits.

What would they prefer to see cut instead? During the heyday of the Reagan era of sky-high defense spending, between 1982 and 1989, in five separate polls by Louis Harris and Associates, respondents said they would rather cut the Pentagon budget than Social Security by percentages ranging from 72 percent to 89 percent.

None of this means Americans are overly optimistic about Social Security. Indeed, they’ve long absorbed the message from the program’s critics that the program may not be there when they retire. A series of surveys for the American Council of Life Insurers conducted by Daniel Yankelovich and other pollsters found that, while 63 percent of respondents in 1975 were “very confident” or “somewhat confident” in Social Security, by 1994 the figure was down to 40 percent, although the results fluctuated considerably. Other surveys since then reflect that lower degree of confidence.

Yet this has never translated into dissatisfaction with the program, or a desire to see it radically changed. Or cut back. This despite the best efforts and enormous monetary investment over three decades of Social Security’s critics. Why?

One reason is that people who get Social Security — or are getting anywhere near that age — really, really need it. And have for a long time.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The National Memo

103 Responses to Social Security Benefits: What Do Americans Really Think About It?

    • Actually, it isn’t political fortitude and common sense…It’s a covert effort to get rid of SS completely in favor of privatized retirement accounts like 401Ks that rely solely on Wall Street investments. That goes right back to the speculations of the 1920’s that brought on the Great Depression. When Wall Street crashed, any money saved in a bank was gone…now, the Republicans are playing around again with the FDIC so that if there is another crash, the losses to individuals savings would take the greatest hit.

    • Yes, Lynda: Put the Social Security Account back in its own “hands off” bracket so every “swinging Politition” can’t get his grubby hands on it and put in an IOU.

  1. One reason may be that these lawmakers, policy wonks, lobbyists, and upper-tier journalists tend to see Social Security—like many other things—as a quantitative puzzle rather than a human problem.

    Why do we elect lawmakers who don’t see SS the same way we do? Is it because support for SS among the voters is so widespread and so strong we just assume the candidates hold the same opinion we do? If that’s the case, we ought to become more active in ensuring the policy-makers understand the depth of support for SS.

    This seems like a political problem. No candidate ever should elected without making a pledge to protect SS. We need a Grover Norquist-like loyalty oath to SS.

    • Lawmakers “don’t see SS the way we do” because they are so wealthy that they will never know what it is like to have SS as their only income. Our political system has become so dominated by the rich that lawmakers don’t have a clue about the problems that ordinary people struggle with, nor do they care. Since only the rich can afford to run for office the problem perpetuates itself. They see Social Security simply as another fund they can gut for their own profit. And I’m sure that they are under constant pressure from employers who resent having to pay into SS and would love to see the program ended.

      • Agree comletely! And I think good old MontanaBill would second your last sentence about employers resenting to have to pay their half of SS monies). Since he’s so up in arms now about the extra costs today with Obamacare coming on line, I’m sure had he been around when FDR started Social Secuity, he would have been one of the nation’s biggest business whiners (and I’ m sure there were just as many of them back in the 1930s percentage wise as there are today Obamacare whiners) about having to start contributing to his employees social security. (He’s obviously a typical GOP lover – it there’s something related to his business (or anything else in his life) that doesn’t benefit him personally – it’s something that’s gotta go!)

  2. I believe the invisible hand of profit for the insurers is why our politicians refuse to support SS as voters do. Insurers are salivating to get a piece of the SS trust funds and buy politicians to try to pry open the vault.

    • Sleeve: The vault has alreade beem pryed open. Lyndon Baines Johnson pryed it open when he put the S.S. in the General Fund.Everyone has had their hand in the till since. I suspect the Iraq Debacle was funded with some of S.S. Go Figger.

      • Sorry Leo but you are incorrect. From Wikipedia: “The social security funds have NEVER been moved into the general fund. In 1968/69 the trust fund was added as item accounted for in the budget, but it was not made part of the general fund nor available for anything other than social security. This practice was eventually phased out in 1990. ” There is currently $2.7 Trillion dollars in the fund and it is solvent until 2032 without any changes needed. SS is NOT part of the debt problem, Spending is but only as it relates to revenues which ARE the problem. Unemployment creates lower revenues which cause spending to loom large. The Republicans are focusing (again) on the wrong issue in order to gut SS which has been their want since it was created. Fact is SS has reduced poverty among seniors by 40% during it’s history meaning the government and private industries have been free to use their money on other items.

        • Great post! Couldn’t agree more!! As usual the GOP has everything backwards; it’s not cutting spending drastically that we need (not that some couldn’t be done); it’s doing everything we can to get the economy rolling – like passing some jobs bills that not only fix many things needing fixing in the country which also creates jobs. Insufficient revenues is the problem and raising taxes isn’t going to generate enough to fix things – it’s only putting millions back to work and providing incentives for people to start new busineses that will fix our deficit problems.

        • I don’t know which President’s Congress did this but, I have read where Social Security was put into General Revenue and money has been borrowed to fight wars and other things and it has never been paid back.

      • FDR used SS to fight WW2. Ever since, our politicians have been dipping into the General Trust Fund for their own greedy needs.

        If it weren’t for all these years of raking SS over the coals by their crooks, SS would be totally healthy.

        • As Rvn pointed out just above, no one has pirated social security funds – the fund holds over 2.7 trillion dollars and would be solvent until 2032 with no changes needed. As with everything else, the GOP is blowing even the social securities problems way out of the water.

          They even keep crying about how broke America is, when our country is in better financial shape than virtually any other industrialized nation on the planet. Our debt to GDP ratio is only about 67%; whereas most other nations similar to America have debt to GDP ratios of over 80% and even Canada’s ratio is over 85% (with Japan’s around 100). I don’t hear Canadians crying about being broke, and they’re not as sound financially as we are.

  3. Anyone who lives in NJ today will tell you what’s so wrong with Big Insurance…they are thieves. They rake in premiums year after year. Increase the rates of premiums year after year and then, just try and make a claim and see how fast they hand you a 320 page novel of excuses why you are not covered. How isn’t that extortion?

    What Big Insurance wants, Big Insurance today gets. 35% of most Americans incomes…house insurance, auto insurance, healthcare insurance, dental insurance, pet insurance, life insurance, billions upon billions paid to Big Insurance with little ROI. Why? Because Big Insurance has for generations escaped the deep investigations other industries are subject to.

    In NJ, homeowners insurers are making more excuses to not pay out claims than even Pinocchio could invent. HMOs do the same thing. If our premiums are nothing more than paychecks for Big Insurance CEOs, it may be time to put a stop to these fearmongering extortionists. If you pay over a lifetime more than $1 million in insurance premiums and get zip back in return, is the premise really that you were “Lucky not to have to file a claim?”

  4. Social Security has been the bain of GOP politicians since FDR instituted it. Today, with massive unemployment, massive loss of job creation and hiring and massive skankola by businesses toward their employees, i.e., dumping all healthcare and retirement costs on employees, many Americans know that SS is all they will have. The number of employers dropping healthcare and retirement plans is staggering. They do this for one reason only…profit. Yes…they do profit from cutting employee benefits. Employees know this. The day employers are living in ghettos and driving jalopies, is they day they’ve earned the right to complain about their salaries.

    • Thank you, Eleanore, for being an experienced business owner who fully understands that business owners are simply out to do their employees in, simply for profit. Only someone who has had the actual experience would be so knowledgeable as to know that you can run a business solely for the benefit of the employees without thinking about profit. No self respecting business person would ever go without a paycheck while mortgaging their house to make sure payroll for the employees was met. Thank you for understanding that it is the greed and mismanagement of companies that has lead to massive unemployment, loss of job creation and skankola toward employees, and that it has nothing to do with the fine and impressive job the current administration is doing.

      • Please Bill — your posts are making me cry big salty tears that end up all over my keyboard. Bless your heart for thinking about your employees at your own expense. I’m certain that you would never lie about Obama just so that you could justify cheating poor hungry families in order to line your own pockets.

        I have no doubt that one day you will be known as ‘Saint Bill’.

      • The ONLY time someone starts a business is when they think a product they make will make a PROFIT.

        Granted, this is what business is about. And, I agree that it should.

        But, I never met a business own yet that had any real use for their employees. Yes, they, the owner will give lipservice, telling people their main idea was to help the community out, or they “care” for people. This is pure BS and always has been.

        The ONLY reason why business pays for bennies and other programs at all is because they are either mandated by law or to retain a good employee that makes them profit. And, the more a company can brainwash an employee into thinking their valuable, the better for the company, not the employee.

        In a nutshell, the employee is nothing more than a Clock number, Cost Center, a commodity to use as a company sees fit.

        An employee is no more valuable to a company than when I use an appliance in my home. Once it’s wore out, I throw it out. The same analogy can be used for any company and employees.

        And, Social Security is here for us who get thrown out on our ears after years of service to the company.

        SS is our Safety Net, plain and simple.

        You can not rely on investments in your later years. Please notice a few years ago when Wall Street Gutted most everyone’s 401’s and other investment schemes. A lot of these people when broke in the process. Needless to say, Wall Street didn’t, especially their speculators.

        Just imagine IF SS were to be Privatized! Wall Street would have a FIELD DAY with it.

        • I think you pretty well described the roll of employees. No business was ever started just to provide jobs. I got the drift of that after getting fired a few times because management wanted to go in a new direction. So the key to longevity is to be the employee who is necessary to creating profit.

          Here’s the deal on SS. Most people think of it as an enforced savings account where you are contributing to something similar to your own account. That is totally wrong. It is a Ponzi scheme, where today’s contributors are paying for today’s retirees, heirs, SSI recipients and SSDI recipients. In 2017 there will not be enough incoming taxes to pay benefits promised and the IOU’s in the trust fund will have to be cashed in. Congress will need to raise that money somehow to pay back its obligations. By 2037 all the trust fund IOU’S will be depleted. Those dates are moving backward as more people are added to SSI and SSDI. When SS was started life expectancy was 64. Now it is 78 and increasing, further accelerating the point at which all funds will be depleted. Another accelerant is the total of people unemployed and the duration of that unemployment. Those people are not contributing to the pot. The real unemployment rate is over 15%, not the 7.8% rate widely published.

          What to do? 1) scale back benefits 2) raise taxes 3) add some alternatives

          The Republicans have never proposed privatizing all of SS. They proposed a choice. Either contribute to SS as it exists today or contribute to a fund that is invested, much like a 401k but with more stringent investment controls. No matter what, SS as we have it today is doomed.

          • SS was originally built on the premise that;

            1). There would be enough tax dollars coming in.

            Well, #1 has been gutted and trampled on by;

            a). Not taxing the rich enough.

            b). Low wages, (current wages are now brought back to pre 1990 levels thereby not collecting as much as would have been collected otherwise.

            c). Taking otherwise good paying jobs and shipping them to China.

            d). Quite a few more I can’t think of at the moment.

            2). There there would be enough newborns that would go to work to support existing retirees and would support their own retirements.

            When SS was first started, the average american family had 6+ kids. They all went to work, mostly had good wages and all contributed to the program.

            Now, the average family has only 2 kids at the most and can’t find a decent job even when they do go to work, IF they live long enough to reach that age.

            I agree with you on one specific point. I also believe the un-offical unemployment rate is above 15%. I believe it’s hovering between 15% and 20%. Why is this?, well, the official government unemployment figure does not include;

            Temp Employees
            Contract Workers
            Part-Time Workers
            People who’s unemployment compensation ran out
            People who just simply stopped looking for work
            Incarcerated People

            I don’t know what the final solution is going to be. I’m smart enough to know we’re in trouble.

            And, I’ll be dammed if I willingly give up my SS and medical coverage. I’ve never had such good coverage, even all the years I worked. And, I’ll be dammed if I willingly let SS become privatized.

          • Income taxes and FICA are two different taxes. At no time has there been a progressive FICA percentage. You simply paid less if you didn’t make the SS maximum. All rich have always paid the maximum. The rich do not collect anymore than a worker who has contributed than a maximum level, so why do you think they should pay more?

            The rich are paying a substantially larger percent of Medicare than, say the middle class worker. They are also less likely to be dependent on Medicare for health care. Mostly likely, since large numbers of them own businesses, they have also paid for large numbers of employer paid SS and Medicare for their employees. If anything, the system is substantially unfair to them.

            Who is getting lower wages? Minimum wage is substantially above 1990 levels. Auto unions were protected during the recession. I know I pay my employees substantially more than 1990 levels. People who are trained for today’s jobs are well paid. So you must be counting those who lost jobs and haven’t been able to find a job that paid what they were previously earning.

            Jobs are shipped overseas simply because if they had stayed here, paying American wages and benefits, the companies would be out of business. It is a global market and business must be competitive. It means the American worker must also remain competitive. If you have a job that can be automated, you need to start training for something else immediately. Automation will replace even the cheap overseas worker.

            When Americans had large families, much of America was rural. Farm people did not contribute to SS.

            Privatization was not proposed as a replacement. It was proposed as an employee optional choice.

            SS was originally designed to be a much different system than we have today.

          • I won’t play this game and have a running argument with you.

            But your wrong on nearly every point.

            End of Discussion.

          • Of course businesses are about making a profit but, today it is all about greed. There can be a happy medium and everyone is rewared.

          • Business greed is about sending our jobs to China for their cheap labor, the wages of the jobs that are left here are stagnant except for the CEO’s and others that are higher up in the business chain and the meantime people here in the US have no money to buy the inferior products that are made in China and so on. Getting products made at cheaper wages does not result in lower prices for the products. It only increases the profits for the big guys in business.
            After years of being loyal employees of a company and helping make that company successful they are laid off or their benefits are slashed so that the CEO’s can make more.

          • That is standard liberal dogma, but woefully short on facts. Many companies shipped jobs to China because if they had stayed with American labor salaries and benefits, the company would fold. Low skill workers may have lost their jobs, but there were still a lot middle and upper management jobs that were saved. Admittedly, some CEO’s compensation is not tied to performance as it should be. But the majority are.
            Don’t worry about Chinese jobs. Those will go to other countries with even lower wages and finally to automation.
            You are paid to work for a company. Employees are no more loyal to the company than the company is to employees. Businesses are created to do one simple thing: make a profit.

          • What you say is standard Conservative dogma and woefully short on facts. Companies are now coming back to the USA after they have put us through high unemployment. Business are created to make a profit but there are off shoots of that profit which you and the conservatives don’t seem to understand.

          • So you are saying that there are no Democrats that are business people and that most Republicans are business people. That word entrepreneur gets tossed around so much these days that I’m getting sick of hearing it. If this country was made up of only entrepreneur’s we wouldn’t of had a very successful country. What makes business successful is the combination of entreprenuers and producers. You also have the consumers and if good payng jobs don’t stay here then you have no consumers. There are plenty of places going out of business these days because businesses took the jobs off shore for cheap labor and the product is sent back here selling at a high price and the only people who can afford to buy are the wealthy. Greed is the word.Ronald Reagans tickle down economics didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

          • Where do you think ‘producers’ came from? All businesses are entrepreneural at the beginning. If you doubt the influence of entrepreneurs on the economy, take a look at their current success and hiring rates. Stagnant. When government gets out of the way, things will change for the positive.

            Jobs are leaving because the American worker is not competitive. Nor will the Chinese worker be competitive with other even poorer countries. And, very soon, even those will not be competitive with automation. Jobs are available to those who will accept minimum wage, move to a new profession, or train for the future’s jobs. The old, put a nut on a bolt, jobs are never coming back. It has nothing to do with greed and everything to do with competition.

            I’ll have to go to an old saw regarding trickle down. If it doesn’t work, go get a job from a poor man.

          • No-ones getting a job from a wealthy person either. They are holding on to their weath hoping the polititions will give them even bigger breaks than they have had in the past. It is about greed and more greed.

          • Sorry to bust your bubble, but I and my companies created quite a few jobs last year. You simply don’t know what you are talking about.

          • No. Actually, I like free interns.

            I’ve posted this before. I pay well above average wages because I want the best and brightest people I can find. It is those enthusiastic, energetic people that are the engine of growth. I pay for the employee and their families healthcare, including dental. Two to three weeks paid vacation, depending on longevity. We have a 401k plan where we contribute 15% of their annual salaries. Free coffee and tea, too, but that’s not a big thing. We have grown every year for over 30 years.

            If you are looking for a minimum wage job, you are probably worth it.

          • Any degree of privatization diminishes social security. The rising cost of health care is the reason for VERY MUCH of our economic problems. Individuals, companies, and governments cannot keep up with health care costs. Health care should be nationalized. We need a single-payer system. There are some things that should be outside the profit-motive. Health care is one of them!

          • I’m in the healthcare business, so I’m pretty aware of what affects us. You are dead wrong about healthcare being nationalized. The rising cost of healthcare is due to two primary causes: 1) trial lawyers, 2) government. If you think a single-payer system is better, next time you come down with what might be a serious illness, go to a single-payer country and see how quickly you can be diagnosed and treated. Profit motive means competition. Competition means better and faster service. Competition means lower costs. Medicare and Obamacare are driving providers out of the system. Many doctors are going to cash only practices or selling their practices to hospitals because they can’t afford the staff to keep up with the requirements and paperwork, nor do they want the arbitrary bureaucracy imposed low compensation. Fewer practitioners for more people means longer wait times, lower quality of service, and poorer healthcare. Single payer magnifies that.

          • We’ve operated under the profit-motive for the past 100 years. It doesn’t work! The so-called “conservatives” have been telling us for years that private insurance and competition are the answer to our problem — that the “free market” and competition will lower our costs — they haven’t and they won’t!!!

          • We’ve operated under the profit motive since most of the first settlers arrived. To say it doesn’t work is to totally ignore history. It is why millions migrated to this country. It is how we built the only superpower in the world today. It is why a country with such a diverse population can have one the highest standards of living in the world. Even our poorest are better off than the wealthy in most countries. Recently, other countries have surpassed us, but they are small, have homogeneous populations and are protected by our military shield. They have very high taxes and low achievement rates. Our wealth classes are very fluid with people constantly moving up or down. Theirs are not. If you want to lead a government subsidized, lower middle class life, their system is for you. If you, at least, want the opportunity to make choices about your own life, you are in the right place. This is still the land of opportunity, but it won’t be handed to you.

            The primary reason medical costs have been going up is government interference in the market. Take a look at the history of medical costs. You will see the big jumps have occurred after every single government bill has been passed to ‘help reduce costs’. Competition is why Walmart and other big box stores have prospered. People shop there, not because they like them, but because they can save money. By the way, they still make a profit. With a little less regulation, insurance companies would go back to being competitive, too. It is government that has regulated them to such a degree that they are no position to be competitive.

            I don’t know how old you are or the degree of your schooling, but you need a better education in world and U.S. history and economics.

          • Sorry, your wrong about Wallyworld.

            Their Meds, out of pocket, are just as high as everywhere else.

            Yes, most of their other products are little cheaper. But, the greater cost is passed down to other businesses that has to close up and go out of business in the area.

            Why does a small town like Canton Ohio where I live need to have 5 Wallyworlds all over the place?

            Some of these Strip Malls around here look like Ghost Towns because of Wallyworld.

            But, you see, I don’t blame Wallyworld for this. I blame my own next door neighbor for shopping there.

            People in the end are the ones that are screwing themselves in the long run.

            That’s ok by me. I don’t really give a crap anymore. Pretty soon we’ll all be stocking up on That Little Red Book since Wallyworld is China’s second largest trading partner.

            Hell, I might even go buy a few hundred of them books and start selling them:)

            Hail the God of Free Enterprise and Greed!

          • I don’t shop at Walmart either and I really don’t like what their business model has done to local shops in small town America. But, they do nothing illegal. People are not forced to shop at Walmart. They are not forced to work for Walmart. Before Walmart, it was KMart. Walmart was simply better at the business model than KMart. If is inevitable that something will knock off Walmart. People may decide they have had enough of gigantic stores. For years, we heard that independent pharmacy would disappear as the Walgreen’s, CVS’s, Walmarts and supermarkets appeared with pharmacies on every corner. Guess what? In various places around the country, new small independent pharmacies are springing up all over. People like a pharmacist they know and a place they don’t have to tromp through a big store to get to the counter. Slowly but surely, small hardware stores like ACE and Tru-Value are making a comeback. We may be seeing the beginning of the end of big box stores.

          • The Era of the Huge Mall with big box stores as anchor stores on either end of the Mall are all dieing one by one.

            Strip Malls are now the fad and even here, stores like Best Buy are starting to close down and downsize.

            Wallworld is generally located nearby:(

            I could say more but really don’t have the space to do it.

          • Other countries have in one form or the other single-payer, government-covered medical plans that can sometimes either match of exceed ours.

            Don’t listen to these hacks. They’re full of crap.

            Yes, it should be NATIONALIZED. Medical cost should be severely controlled.

            This country is the only modern country in the world that does not control its medical costs.

          • Social Security is not doomed. Raise the FICA tax modestly, or extend it to higher levels of income. Either or both can be done to tide us over until the Baby Boom has gone to its final destiny.

            If life expectancy was 64 in the 1930’s, and the eligibility age was set at 65, then it was a rip-off …

            The Repugnicans announced schemes have changed from time to time; they began to say privatize it all, then retreated (publicly) to offering choice. I don’t trust them not to ditch the whole thing, if ever they have power with their lunatic fringe in control of their caucuses.

          • Do some math and tell me how much FICA needs to be raised. Extending it to higher levels of income is simply another ‘tax the wealthy’ to pay for my failures.

          • See comment above about …. U now have CHOICES …. BS .. it’s the FIRST step in taking away a benefit …

            CUT military budget FIRST ….

          • You will be happy to know that the military budget will be about $31B less this year than last, at $613.9B which includes oversea contingency operations.

            Social Security: $725B
            Medicare: $480B
            83 different welfare programs: $745.8B

            When BO took office, spending was at 40% of GNP. This year: 70%.

          • There hasn’t been enough revenue coming in for the past 3 years and we have had to go to China to have them fund current beneficiaries

          • I’d like to get back to the SS issue. (Sorry I digressed to healthcare in my other post.) We could raise the limit for SS contributions. Currently it is less than $110,000. People making less pay SS tax on their entire income. It is fair to raise the cut-off. Also, Congress should not be allowed to raid the SS Trust Fund!!!

          • You could raise the limit, however, that is simply another tax on people who are likely not going to really need SS when they retire. It is more wealth transfer which makes SS even more of a welfare program.

            Congress will have to pay back those IOU’s, unless they simply can’t find anyone else to loan us money. I referred to SS as a welfare program simply because much of SSI and SSDI are nothing more than welfare. Since we already have 83 welfare programs that cost more than DoD, SS or Medicare, surely we could combine some of them, manage them a bit better and move SSI and SSDI out of the SS program.

          • Were you born stupid or do you practice? Are we all free to assume now that you especially will promise never to collect Social Security?

        • The reason why you never met one is Republicans are the ones who start business and socialists are the ones always whining.

      • It is greed that has done it … and if you look at reasons why companies fail … mismangement (to many parties .. high living … trips … conferences … to go to.. )
        is the PRIME reason …

      • No its what always happens when Dem’s control congress and they implement their demented agenda thinking that there will be no consequences.

    • Anytime a company starts a program to ‘give the employee’ more power by ‘giving them MORE choices’ you can bet your beanie in question that that benefit will be GONE about 6 months after the employees accept the ‘new choices’ .. example … adding the ability to have cash retirement plans rather than paid benefit plans …

    • I don’t remember what the piece of legislation was called but back in the eighties there was a law that required employers to provide health insurance for all employees working forty or more hours per week.It was then that corporate America once again broke faith with the American Worker and made it damn near impossible for a job seeker to find good paying full time employment.You can’t find anyone responsible to come right out and say it but there are those entities here in America who desire the American Worker to live as indentured servants.Witness the dismantling of the middle class.Now imagine that a person who was earning $75K to $80K has lost thier job because the position has been outsourced.Time goes by and no job can be had,the saving become exhausted and one is now forced to apply for welfare in order to survive.Then one begins to endure the insults that come from right wing politicians right on down to the undereducated social conscience lacking village idiot that you are a scum sucking lowlife parasite who is ruining America.Now witness THE ROYAL SCAM!

    • They are dumping it in record numbers due to obamacare, you know the fix that every lib wanted and now business are saying I’ll take a pass and are dropping their previously provide HC

  5. Actually the Republicans have hated Social Security since 1935. They do not believe in the american concept of “one for all and all for one”. They believe in “More for me!” The republicans always claim they need a business person as president. Someone who can manage. And they have had them occasionally. However, if the repubs from Reagan to GW had been real managers, managing the country for the good of all, they would have foreseen this problem and adopted reasonable tax policies that would prevent it. But while Americans were dazzled by movie stars and “dancing with the stars, the repubs adopted a strategy of “divide and conquer; raising wedge issues, turn us against each other, and lowering taxes on the rich, calling them “job makers”. Should we be su[pporting two wars against persons who offer no threat to the United States? Not that I can see. Should we continue to support a militry which was originally created to defend us against the “threat of communism”? Communism is dead! Get over it! Shrink the 17 agencies that have a role in “defending america”!Raise the limit on payroll deductions for Social Security. This “problem” is a straw man created by the Repubs to scare americans into giving up their retirement security.

    • Actually Ed, the Republicans had a bonafide business person in the presidency back in 1929 – he was the Mitt Romney of his time: Name was Hoover. He had all kinds of super knowledge in business; and you know how that turned out: he inherited a bump in the road recession at the end of Coolidge’s term, pretty much the same scenario that Bush experienced at the beginning of his 1st term; and with his expertise business knowledge, turned the recession into a full fledged world-wide depression preceeded by a stock market crash that took 13 years to fix – it took much longer than should have been necessary because of the same kind of GOP stalling and obstructionist tactics then as they’re using on Obama today.

      And there have been a numberr of other supposed business people too: George Bush jr. was one – and we sure know how successful that turned out. Virtually every business person who has become president has been a dud.

  6. Mr. Laursen;

    Popular? You bet. Successful? Only if you consider a program that is financially unsustainable a success. This shows what happens when you put the government in charge of any program. The politicians use our money to buy our votes. He who robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

    Dik Thurston
    Colorado Springs

    • Sorry, but you’re mistaken. The Social Security trust fund has 2.7 trillion saved up that will keep SS solvent until 2032 with no changes to benefits or funding. The notion that it’s going broke is a GOP scare tactics. Not that it doesn’t need some tweeking, but that’s what it needs, tweeking; not major changes. It’s only those who are determined to destroy the benefit that are determined to gut it – for no purpose other than they don’t like for government to provide for its people. (Of course, unlike almost every other industrialized country on the planet.)

      • Dear Independent1;

        You have pointed out the results of this program. First, go look in the so-called lock box that holds these funds. You will find it loaded with IOUs that the taxpayers must meet. Second, if these funds support it until 2032, actuarial analysis predicts that there is no amount of ‘tweaking’ that can keep the program solvent. There will not be enough workers to support the retired with ruining the economy.

        Best Regards;

  7. Over the years retirement programs have been changed to 401K’s, which only survive if the stock market does well. A 401K will never equal a guaranteed pension and without Social Security I don’t see how seniors could survive. How anyone can support the GOP efforts to destroy it is beyond me.

    • Have you noticed that businesses today are even doing the best they can to phase out 401ks? The GOP never really promoted them either. As someone pointed out earlier, most politicians are independently wealthy and have the notion that everyone should be able to take care of themselves with respect to taking care of their retirement needs.

  8. I agree with the premise that people would not object to raising the payroll tax for Social Security and I believe they would feel the same way about Medicare. I paid into the system for decades before I started collecting and clearly remember a couple of increases in the payroll tax during that time. What I do not remember is a lot of people complaining about it. The increase was never was very large and had little to no impact on how I lived. So I have often asked myself, if the programs are in such trouble why don’t they just increase the payroll tax. The result of that would basically help the generations now paying into it (not those currently collecting) by keeping it financially solid and securing the programs for a much greater time than they currently are. It would also help cover the baby boomers that Right is so concerned about.

    I can tell you this, I know many older Americans that are deeply thankful for both Social Security and Medicare. People can make all the retirement plans they want, but life happen as do recessions. I had lots of plans for retirement, the housing crash, financial meltdown, and job losses changed them all. I somehow adjusted my falling apart plans and survived without moving into my car, but I know in part I can thank the two great Social Programs for being able to do it. They have helped me stay independent and contributing part of this society and I am only one of many millions of seniors who have the same story. The Country made a promise to its seniors in 1935; it needs to keep that promise. If our political leaders would stop acting like adolescent boys and girls, put their ideology aside and open their minds it seems there would be many simple solutions that would work to help reduce our deficit while spreading the cost in a fair and moral manner. But then, that might be impossible considering the personalities of the current bunch of radicals that have taken control of the House of Representatives.

  9. Only sociopaths would argue for cuts in Social Security. This includes the Wall Street establishment, Peter G. Peterson, Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, the Koch Brothers, the Republican party and some Democrats and countless other wealthy Psychopaths. Best thing is to ignore their arguments until they die.

  10. I don’t know why the Politicians won’t take the stinking cap off FICA. Studies show that this alone would solve 86% of the funding issues. I think it is because they would actually have to kick in to the fund out of their own outrageous salaries. God knows the ruling class doesn’t want to live within the same laws and rules as the lower classes!! I think we have elected the best Polititions that the Special Interest Groups can buy!! Keep voting ANTI-INCUMBENT !!

  11. What all of us overlook is that the people that want to see Wall Street, Banks and other institutions that keep the country going crash is that the majority of their money and investments portfolios are vested overseas in countries that they have propped up and those countries are doing quite well so they won’t loose a thing, then they can come back and pick up the pieces and restructure the country as they see fit and all the bullshit Montanabill is spouting is just that deversion from the truth he owns many companies (1) Iask how does he find time to post in the National Memo, (2) he states that todays contributers are paying for todays retirees, pray tell what happened to the funds that were contributed by todays retires. in other words the retirees are muching off of todays contributer this a prime example of what the Republicans want you to believe so they sponsor these people to spin these yarns in order to get next to you and listen to their bullshit and in doing so they could tell you that they are president of corporations or ceo or what ever it take to put you sleep so you will concede to them and do what they want, in these times one has to stay alert and on their toes. You know as a retired carpenter I remember during one stretch hearing some carpenters complaining about a program the Union had, they would deduct a certain amount of money from your pay check every week, I forget exactlly what the amout actually was but at the end of the year around the middle of the month of November you would receive a check for $1500.00 for Christmas spending what they deducted wasn’t that much but what the Union invested that money so that you could have a littke nest egg to spend on your family nobody complained at Christmas, howevr, the Union got tired of the complaining and stopped the practice. So the assholes lost because their point was we can save our own money which probably about 95% never did, the moral of the story the President is trying to help but he can’t do a thing if the peple and the Congress tie up his hands we all have to do our part whatever that is there are some people that won’t help because they can’t swollow the thought of cooperating with a Black man even though they won’t admit it but fact is fact we can’ t make people work together but we sure can change the makeup of the Congress come 2014.

    • As you pointed out, MontanaBill spouts half truths mixed with many distortions. one of them is on Social Security. The SS trust fund has 2.7 trillion dollars in it which will keep SS solvent until 2032 without any changes to benefits. The GOP’s scare tactics on SS are just that – scare tactics. That’s all the GOP knows how to do, work on people with fear. They’re not only the party of No, and the party of obstruction, they’re also the party of lets scare everyone to death so we can change things so the wealthy can fill their pockets with more taxpayer money.

  12. The american public gets upset when ever they find out that illegals and those who have never contributed to the program are eligable and are drawing benefits

    • Obvioously you realize to do that an illegal would have to steal someones SS number. So just like with anything else, there are crooks that will resort to do anything to get money. But that’s not necessarily a problem that can be easily solved without catching the perpetrators – and just for your info, the Obama administration has caught and prosecuted more people trying to defraud the government in the healthcare and defense contracting sectors, than the past 3 presidents administrations combined – saving the country Billions by recovering these fraudulently charged monies.

      • obviously you know NOTHING about SS and its problems. Illegals AREN”T required to prove what SS numbers they have used or produced pay stubs all they have to do is “claim” they used those numbers. Its not easy to solve??? SS sends out letters to companies when there is a mismatch of a SS that some one else is using or its invalid.
        The problem is that even though E-verify exists the federal govt REFUSES to enforce the law. and the INS doesn’t follow up

        • Go ahead. Let’s see you contact Social Security and start payments without coming up with a bonafide SS number that has a job history associated with it that the SS administration can used to calculate you a benefit. You’re listening to too much Faux News and Rush Limbaugh.

          • Yea, that’s one thing I don’t understand.

            How can someone collect SS without having a valid SS Number? I know if can happen through fraud. But on the scale some believe is happening, I just don’t see how.

            And, by the way, you have to have so many points collected in the system before you even apply for SS. They usually figure the last 5 years of your working history for the amount you receive.

            And, to collect SS Disability, you have to have a little more points in the system above what you would normally need to collect regular SS.

          • No I read the legislation passed by the Dem’s under Clinton. Guess research isn’t something you have ever done. It just goes to show that libs love to pass legislation that causes programs to go bust and then start blaming Republicans

  13. Social Security is all that stands between many families and homelessness and starvation. Medicare is all that stands between many families and premature death. It’s that simple. In our own case, at age 58 I became the victim of a campaign of ‘outsourcing’ by devotees of the Tea Party type of thinking. Subsequent events proved them wrong, but by then we were down the road. Then a state budget cut did the wife out of her job. Soc is all we have. Private retirement funds are soon to be exhausted in caring for a divorced child and two grandchildren, as the child struggles in this economic climate to find a new career.

    If Social Security were taken out of the merged federal budget and separately stated, its current fully solvent status would appear clearly. For decades the Social Security budget was always stated separately — it was more recently that it was merged into the budget at large so that its surplus would help disguise the ‘general fund’ deficit. Now the writing is on the wall that in some 20 or 30 years it will no longer support itself, which can be addressed by applying the social security tax to higher levels of income, or by raising the rate itself. We do not need to eviscerate Social Security in order to ‘save’ it.

    • Social Security money hasn’t been merged anywhere. Read my response to HillBilly just above for an explanation. The SS trust fund has 2.7 trillion in it; enough to keep the system solvent at current benefit and funding levels till 2032.

      • Agreed. It’s just that the current practice when stating the ‘deficit’ is to use the positive balance in the Soc fund to reduce the apparent deficit. Thus not stating Soc entirely separately disguises the ‘general fund’ deficit and lets people think that Soc is the problem.

  14. This article is very confusing. Is this author for or against Social Security? There would not be any problems with Social Security if past Presidents and Congress hadn’t used the money as their private cookie jar to fund pork projects and cover up the fact that their economy policy didn’t work. Starting with FDR through Bush 2 Presidents have used SS Funds for favorite projects or to make their economic policies look better even through they are not suppose to do so. In 1981 Ronald Reagan cut taxes for the rich, increased SS taxes and put the Society Security funds into the general fund. Reagan then promised the baby bookers that if we paid 2/3 more than we were suppose to that extra 2/3 would keep our children and grandchildren from having to pay some much money toward our retirement money and we would be better off. We fell for it hook line and sinker. What Reagan did, upon advise from from his economic advisor, Allen Greenspan, was to take the access money baby boomers were paying into SS and other SS funds and apply the money to his deficit so his trickle down policy would look better, Greenspan told him that him taking the money wouldn’t show up for 30 years and what would it matter then. It matters lot. Many baby boomers today are living is proverty because of Wall Street and the use of SS funds for everything but SS.Many boomers ever lost all or a large percent of the money they were saving when Wall Street and the banks lost their money in shady deals. Now all they have to live on is their SS and what they have to pay out to keep a house over their head, medical and drug expenses, even with medicare they still pay a lot for medicines and food. Since many boomers worked at minium wage jobs most of their lives they don’t get a lot of money from SS. There are also many boomers like me, they used up all their savings they had saved for retirement while trying to find a job after being laid off after Bush’s2 2nd tax cut, I didn’t get SS the amount of I would have to live on would be $480. 59 a month and that is from a pension that I get from the place I got laid off from. Btween a house note,utilities,medicine, food and other things I need in order to live I pay out out over $1000. oo dollars a month. I would be about $500.oo dollars each month in the hole if I didn’t the get SS ,which I payed into for over 42 years . To Congress you want to cut entitlements, the first thing you do is do away with corporate welfare, do away with the perks you get, stop giving Israel so much money and weapons, stop giving foreign aide money to nations that hate us and cut the amount of foreign aid we give to other Countries , cut the budget of the Defense Department, stop waste and fraud in Government. These ideas should add a tidy sum toward cutting the deficite and saving Medicare and SS

    • You apparently aren’t reading other posts. No one has taken any money from the Social Security trust fund – it’s all there: 2.7 trillion of it; enough to keep SS solvent until 2032 without any changes in benefits or funding. The problem isn’t that someone’s taken the money, the problem is that the GOP is doing what they do best – Lying to the American people. Social Security doesn’t need any major overhauls, all it needs is a little tweeking to make it solvent for years to come. What the GOP is trying to do is scare everyone into believing that SS security needs to be gutted with major changes because the party just doesn’t like the fact that our government has something that helps the average working person. It’s their idea that everyone should take care of him or herself by having invested their money in accounts that financial sector ripoff artists can use to syphon just a little more of everyone’s money. It’s all about pumping more money into the pockets of those that already have more than they should ever need.

  15. We need a person in congress who does not live in fear for thier political carreer,to stand up and demand that every dime that has been stolen from the Social Security fund be repaid.When you raid the piggy bank you must pay back what you have taken,otherwise you are just another crook.That is the primary fix that Social Security requires.Can we get a mandate?

  16. Just enough tax increase for the wealthy in order that the wealthy might realize that we are all in this together, and all the increase in productivity going to profits kept by the bosses is not a good idea. Most of the ‘them vs us’ stuff for the last forty to sixty years has been initiated by the wealthy, vs the rest — class warfare has been alive and well since Reagan first ran for office, but not initiated by the less well off.
    Now if the social justice approach to abortion were to be initiated, then possibly more babies growing up into workers would help with the Baby Boom and no taxes would have to be raised.
    Barring that, give me a month or two and time to re-research what the knowledgable have told us, and I’ll duplicate their effort. The fund is good for 20 or more years as it is.

  17. I’ve had to deal with Social Security when my husband died young and when I reached the age to receive Social Security. The people I’ve dealt with are extremely efficient — there have been no glitches or problems. Ask anyone who deals with Social Security — it is an efficient program.

  18. George Westinghouse and Henry Ford a century ago practiced “Socially Responsible Capitalism”, which created a large and strong middle class envy of the world. But the Neo-Capitalists discarded the “Social Responsibility” element of capitalism. Once this happened, the crime syndicate Bosses and War Lords not only infiltrated and took over the Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower, but they also took over the Board Rooms of corporate America and the Halls of Congress. First they put a Crook [Nixon] then an Actor in the White House in the Seventies and Eighties to destroy the middle class, and then a Village Idiot at the dawn of the new century to destroy whatever was left of the middle class America.

  19. Rather than cut Social Security we should be looking at raising the contributions from businesses. They are the ‘entities’ making fortunes while their workers cannot afford to retire.

Leave a reply