Social Security

Unless politics are put aside, Social Security will stop paying full benefits after 2042.

Social Security is the third rail of politics – as the high-voltage middle rail that powers subway cars, anyone foolish enough to touch it is in for a shock. Tough choices and gutless politics embody the Social Security discussion in the 2004 campaign. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s plan is nowhere to be found. President George W. Bush’s privatization plan aims to cut the throat of Social Security.

Social Security is one of the crowning pieces of former President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. It has provided independence for elderly and kept generations from drowning in homelessness and economic ruin. The list of benefits is long, but, in short, Social Security is a very good thing.

Social Security has current workers pay for retirees’ benefits. This system works well until a aging generation, like the baby boomers, is much larger than its successors. Because of this, Social Security is expected to only pay full benefits until 2042.

Bush’s plan is to privatize Social Security by allowing younger generations to invest funds rather than paying into Social Security. This might sound fine, but in reality it is a vicious scam. First, the taxes Bush proposes to be invested into private accounts are earmarked for the benefits of retirees. They have already been promised to the retiring generation. Bush’s plan results in only three options that are all unpalatable. We either raise taxes, allow the deficit to balloon further into oblivion or give the benefits slated for the baby boomers to the younger generation. Logically, Bush’s plan is not to save Social Security but to end it. This is unacceptable.

Unfortunately Kerry has not yet concretely laid down a plan to save Social Security. He must step forward and quit walking a tightrope, telling us he will make tough choices while opposing any reduction in retiree benefits .

Both candidates could begin by seriously looking at Social Security’s problems. Remember the projected $1.5 trillion surplus ? Our leaders have wasted it without strengthening Social Security – help they literally owe to the Social Security fund, effectively one of the federal government’s largest creditors.

They must repay these debts. Repealing Bush tax cuts would be a start. Second, the retirement age must be raised. Lastly, Social Security benefits must be paid on a graduated scale. Bush and Kerry must step up, and they can start their plans here.