I’m a day late responding to the piece in the March 14 Washington Post but, good gosh! When are we going to go on the offensive on this? The political class has no idea what they are getting ready to wreck! Obama intentionally starved Social Security with his “payroll tax holiday”. Very, very few realized what he was doing. He didn’t cut income tax withholding, which funds would have gone to the U S Treasury, he cut into the income necessary for a secure retirement. Now that the diminished contributions have further imperiled future benefits, POTUS is telling the Congressional right-wing that he’s in favor of reducing cost-of-living adjustments. Of course it won’t affect him or them, financially well-off as they are.
I am absolutely agog over the lack of anger, urgency, and action that is accompanying this blatant austerity move! Folks are more riled over Kobe Bryant’s ankle than they are over this threat to their future!
The politicians are convincing people that our security is a bargaining chip in the “grand bargain”, that Social Security is a luxury our national budget can’t afford. We can’t afford it, so we gotta cut it. Try that trick the next time you go to the store. If you can’t afford the item, tell the merchant to cut the price until you can afford it. See where that gets you!
A polite merchant might tell you to acquire the income so that you can buy what you want. It’d be the advice that our legislators should follow. There is an income threshold above which no Social Security contributions are made. It used to be so low that even construction workers like me would exceed it! No longer, of course, but it’s still artificially low. For 2013 it was raised $3600 to $113,700 per year. That increase will probably not even recover the “tax holiday” reduction.
Why does such a restriction on contributions even exist? Right now, I don’t know. My guess is that it was a compromise designed to protect higher income earners and, of course, their employers. Regardless of its origins it’s got to go, or at least be significantly modified. I’m sure it wouldn’t take government actuaries more than a month to figure out a level that would be financially realistic and politically feasible.
Ah, but the impetus for that actuarial review is lacking! I once asked a Congressman about it and he responded as though I’d asked to see his tax returns. We, the American People whom they claim to represent, need to provide the impetus to save Social Security from the hatchet. It took the suffering of the Great Depression, and the Labor unrest it engendered, to get Congress to enact Social Security in the first place. It’s going to take substantial action, not after-the-fact protest, to force Congress to “preserve, protect, and defend” Social Security and the other “entitlements”.
To that end I propose a “Million Wheelchair March” as soon as it can be arranged. In Washington and other major American cities, on a clear day, the streets need to be filled with the wheelchairs and walkers of those who need them. And those others who support the elderly or disabled need also to realize that it is their future security that is at risk while they march. I can think of no more impressive way to force our political “leaders” to understand that the social safety net needs to be strengthened and expanded - not cut!
Is anybody with me on this? Your comments and suggestions are welcome.