Jeb Bush is running on a platform to raise the retirement age for full Social Security benefits to 69 or 70. Other Republicans , except Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump, all seem to agree, with many also urging we move the minimum retirement age from 62 to 65. That single change would remove three years of benefits from early retirees, and at 70% of full benefits, would mean about $60,000 less payment to the average elderly couple.
Hillary wants a commission, just like the one in 1983, which unfortunately raised the retirement age from 65 to 67, and also reduced benefits for early retirees.
When asked in 2008 if she would agree to raise the FICA wage limit, so the rich paid more into Social Security, Hillary said:
I don’t want to raise taxes on anybody. I’m certainly against one of Senator Obama’s ideas, which is to lift the cap on the payroll tax, because that would impose additional taxes on people who are educators, police officers, firefighters and the like.
Of course, police officers and firefighters don’t earn more than $116,000, so it wouldn’t affect them, Hillary had a plan similar to Ronald Reagan in mind:
I am totally committed to making sure Social Security is solvent. You’ve got to begin to reign in the budget, pay as you go, to try to replenish our Social Security Trust Fund. And with all due respect, the last time we had a crisis in Social Security was 1983. President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill came up with a commission. That was the best and smartest way, because you’ve got to get Republicans and Democrats together. That’s what I will do. And I will say, #1, don’t cut benefits on current beneficiaries they’re already having a hard enough time. And #2, do not impose additional tax burdens on middle-class families.
Hillary seems to favor the stance of the Heritage Foundation, which usually thinks for just “centrist” DINOS and GOP politicians. The Foundation maintains:
Social Security will gradually be transformed from an “income replacement” system back to its original purpose of guaranteeing seniors freedom from fear of poverty and assuring a decent retirement income. This means that Social Security benefits will evolve over time into a flat payment to those who work more than 35 years–a flat payment that is sufficient to keep them out of poverty throughout their retirement. Because the new Social Security is a real insurance system, designed to protect seniors from poverty, retirees with high incomes from sources other than Social Security will receive a smaller check, and very affluent seniors will receive no check. (2015)
Love him or hate him, Trump (Elizabeth Warren Lite on this issue?) doesn’t mince words in defense of Social Security:
Social Security faces a problem: 77 million baby boomers set to retire. Now I know there are some Republicans who would be just fine with allowing these programs to wither and die on the vine. The way they see it, Social Security and Medicare are wasteful “entitlement programs.” But people who think this way need to rethink their position.
It’s not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money’s worth–that’s not an “entitlement,” that’s honoring a deal. We, as a society, must also make an ironclad commitment to providing a safety net for those who can’t make one for themselves. Social Security is here to stay. To be sure, we must reform it, root out the fraud, make it more efficient, and ensure that the program is solvent.
Same goes for Medicare. Again, people have lived up to their end of the bargain and paid into the program in good faith. Of course they believe they’re “entitled” to receive the benefits they paid for–they are! (2001)
Martin O’Malley, a Presidential candidate with little support, seems like the same kind of Democrat as Hillary – eager to “reform” Social Security along the lines of the GOP and Heritage Foundation. Check the code words and generational warfare mongering in this quote from 2010:
An ever-growing share of the federal budget today consists of automatic transfers from working Americans to retirees. Moreover, the costs of the big entitlements for the elderly — Social Security and Medicare — are growing at rates that will eventually bankrupt them and that could leave little to pay for everything else government does. We can’t just spend our way out of the problem; we must find a way to contain future costs. The federal government already spends seven times as much on the elderly as it does on children. To allow that ratio to grow even more imbalanced would be grossly unfair to today’s workers and future generations. In addition, Social Security and Medicare need to be modernized to reflect conditions not envisioned when they were created in the 1930s and the 1960s. Social Security, for example, needs a stronger basic benefit to bolster its critical role in reducing poverty in old age. Medicare needs to offer retirees more choices and a modern benefit package that includes prescription drugs. Such changes, however, will only add to the cost of the programs unless they are accompanied by structural reforms that restrain their growth and limit their claim on the working families whose taxes support the programs.
O’Malley is following the DLC and New Democrat philosophy that would raise the payments to some of the poorest recipients of Social Security, while cutting 20% to 100% off the benefits of the middle class – based on income, not contributions. This Robbing Hood plan is to steal from the middle class to provide a welfare program to the poor, a subsidy which instead should be subsidized by general tax revenues that come from both the rich and the middle class.
If you are looking for a Democrat, who would be fair to seniors and their benefits, check out Bernie Sanders in this clip below, an announced Presidential candidate, who gets little press recognition, despite double-digit support in the polls.
P.S. In the midst of pondering the sad fate of our national social welfare, I saw a report that the White House had 500 guests for a “private” party last night, but won’t release the names of those most favored. The Obamas said they are paying for this out of their own funds. Have to wonder what the rate is to rent five or six hours at the White House for your family reunion or birthday party? Call: 202-456-1414
Let’s see, 500 times $200 per person, equals $100,000, which hopefully should include open bar.
Time to raise that wage limit on FICA taxes, because the rich are running out of sensible things to buy, and are just squandering the dough.