Let's Get Political Tuesday's Debate Didn't Address The Future of Social Security: What's Our Next President's Plan? Alessandra Rizzotti

I care about the future of America’s Social Security program because as it stands, by the time I turn 48 in 2033, I will have put a percentage of 27 years worth of paychecks into funding it, but will most likely not see anything paid back towards my own retirement.  However, I believe in keeping the system going by modifying it because if older people can be confident enough to retire using their Social Security money, that leads to more jobs for younger and unemployed people.  Also, the money I am putting into Social Security is leant to the United States government, which uses it to fund schools, scholarships, roads, and hospitals.  The government then pays interest on the Social Security loans and that interest is the money that is given to older people when they retire.  Fortunately, I’ve prepared for my financial future in case America’s future president doesn’t fix what’s broke. With Suze Orman’s advice and tips from LearnVest, I set up a Roth IRA when I was 24, and I try to deposit $20 a week into it.  Unfortunately, the money I make doesn’t make it possible for me to retire comfortably.  What’s worse is, if I have children in my forties, they will most likely have to wait till they turn 70 instead of 65 to retire; that is, if Mitt Romney is elected November 6th, 2012.

(Image from socialsecurity.procon.org)

Tuesday’s presidential debate was a success for Obama, but Social Security wasn’t addressed and I hope it’s brought up in the next debate.  Mitt Romney released this ad yesterday using clips from the debate, saying that Medicare and Social Security are “at risk” under Obama.  However, according to CBS news, “the $716 billion in cuts Mr. Obama enacted in his health care law could keep the program solvent another eight years”, while “Romney has said he wants to repeal those cuts.”  Obama hasn’t done anything yet to stabilize Social Security, but this is his stance.  He also suggested lifting the payroll tax cap to “stabilize the system” in an April 2011 town hall, and this is a solution that could change the Social Security system for the better.  Below is a video about Social Security from Richard D. Wolff, an economist whom I admire and hope Obama will hire as an economic advisor if he gets re-elected. Wolff recommends that all income is taxed for Social Security at the same rate, including dividend and capital gains, taking away the maximum taxable earnings. This way, the wealthy pay more into Social Security because they have the money to do so, people don’t have to wait till they’re older to retire, and thus, more jobs open up for younger generations.  All Obama needs to take from Wolff’s advice is: 1) tax all income for Social Security and stop withholding the tax from incomes above $110,000,  2) lower the retirement age, and 3) DON’T cut benefits.

 

During the vice presidential debate in Kentucky between VP Joe Biden and Rep. candidate Paul Ryan, Ryan stated the Romney-Ryan platform supports slowly raising the age of retirement: “It wouldn’t get to the age of 70 until the year 2103 according to the actuaries.” Ryan seemed pretty indifferent at the debate regarding the 2103 retirement age because he’d be 133 years old by then (i.e. dead, unless some scientist invents the fountain of youth). Maybe I shouldn’t care about the 2103 retirement age either because I’d be 118 years old by then. But if I want children by age 48, hopefully they are healthy enough to work till they’re 70 in 2103.  Still, why raise the age of retirement because we are supposedly living longer?  That will only DECREASE the amount of jobs available for the younger generations.  And, as for the health of our future generations, as it stands, Designedtomove.org states that “Today’s 10 year-olds are the first generation expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.” So, with ever-increasing modes of technology, will our future newborns really be living longer? (Just watch Wall-E, and you’ll know what I’m talking about). The point is, I don’t see 70 as a reasonable age to retire, presently or in the future.

(Image from kaystreet.wordpress)

I’ll give a personal example. My father, a Vietnam Vet, found out he could no longer work at age 68. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and without Social Security, he’d be homeless now. As an office manager at a self-storage unit, he never made enough money to save up for retirement. And when he got sick, fortunately he had VA benefits to take care of all his medical expenses. The problem was, he couldn’t afford rent, food, or transportation to his doctor’s appointments without Social Security. You may ask me why I didn’t step in to help my father with his expenses, but again, I got out of college when the recession hit. I’m STILL trying to build a career that pays more than minimum wage. So, Social Security benefits not only my father, but also me. Obama has a personal connection to Social Security, so I know he wants to keep the system going. In the first presidential debate, he stated that it was because of Social Security that his grandmother, who raised him, could be “independent”:

“She had worked all her life, put in this money, and understood that there was a basic guarantee, a floor under which she could not go. And that’s the perspective I bring when I think about what’s called entitlements. The name itself implies some sense of dependency on the part of these folks. These are folks who’ve worked hard, like my grandmother, and there are millions of people out there who are counting on this.”

The President wants to make sure that Social Security is not privatized, while Rep. vice presidential candidate Ryan has supported privatization of Social Security both in 2005, when it failed under Bush, and in 2010.  For those of you that don’t know what privatization will do to Social Security, think of the stock market and Occupy Wall Street.  Since recent media mentions of this Republican support of privatization, the Romney-Ryan platform has been quiet on the matter, so I look forward to the last presidential debate.

Image by Wasserman from The Boston Globe, 2001. This comic is a commentary on Bush's attempt to privatize Social Security.

What’s your stance on Social Security?  Do you think it concerns you? You bet it does. So, let’s hope both candidates address it and offer a PLAN to strengthen it. Gaius Publius on americablog.com suggests what you can do to make sure SOMETHING is done to keep Social Security in tact. First, start by signing a petition on strengthensocialsecurity.com and report back here to say you’ve done it!

Featured Image by Getty

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