Category Archives: Social Security

The Republican Plan for Paid Family Leave: Cannibalize Social Security

That so-called “pro-family” agenda of today’s Republican party? Not so much. Their latest idea: cannibalize Social Security to fund paid family leave, and have parents work longer into old age (or take lower benefits).

It’s a backdoor attempt, both shrewd and crass, to privatize and cut Social Security — one that would add yet another financial penalty to the list that women pay when they become mothers.

Via the New York Times:

Paid leave for new parents, long a Democratic cause, has become a Republican one, too. But policymakers don’t agree on what a leave plan should look like. Now some Republicans have a new idea: Let people collect Social Security benefits early to pay for time off after they have a baby.

Unlike some other proposals, this would require no new taxes. There’s a catch, though: Parents would have their Social Security benefits delayed when they retire to offset the costs.

Social Security has long been viewed as an untouchable part of the social safety net. By letting people tap it for parental leave, it would begin to feel more like an individual account — an idea conservatives have been trying to advance for decades.

Later in the article, this quote (from Carrie Lukas, who heads up a right-wing think tank that supports the plan) illustrates just how out-of-touch this idea really is: “Sixty-seven is really late middle age, and many people are really happy to continue working.”

Really? Happy to continue working? Or have no choice but to continue working?:

A 2016 study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that one-quarter of workers 50 and older say they won’t retire. Among low wage workers, earning less than $50,000 a year, it was 33 percent.

Another 2016 report, by the nonpartisan research nonprofit National Institute on Retirement Security, shows that many black, Latina and Asian women have to work past retirement age to be able to afford basic expenses. Women were 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished. For men between 70 and 74, about 19 percent of their income comes from wages. For women, it’s about 15 percent.

Aside from tone-deafness and utter lack of connection to the daily lives of working people, Republicans actually do have one part of this right: the Social Security Administration is a great place to set up a national paid family leave program — overhead is very low, staff and infrastructure are already in place, etc. But the way to pay for it is…wait for it…to actually pay for it instead of making workers borrow from their future benefits — like this:

The Family Act, a bill sponsored in the Senate by Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, would create a new fund within the Social Security Administration. Employers and employees would each contribute 0.2 percent of their wages for 12 weeks of paid parental, family or medical leave.

Sen. Gillibrand’s proposal builds on Social Security’s proven history, and is a lot like Washington state’s own recently-passed Family and Medical Leave Insurance: workers and employers both contribute to a shared insurance fund that’s available when needed, without a penalty later on in life.

In other words, it’s a model for building on (and upholding) a real social contract, instead of shredding it.

Immigrants play a vital role in securing our Social Security system’s future

The Trump administration’s immigration policies are morally reprehensible. That should be enough. But for those primarily focused on their pocketbooks, it is imperative to recognize that Trump’s proposals are extremely damaging to our economy and our Social Security system, in particular.

If Trump pushes through his plan to slash immigration, it will cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost GDP. It will also hit Social Security’s financing, making it much harder to expand, and not cut, our earned benefits.

Immigration strengthens Social Security’s financing. On average, immigrants are younger than other Americans, so they will work and contribute to Social Security for more decades than the nation’s American-born, aging population.

If Trump’s decision to cancel DACA is not reversed, it will cost Social Security an estimated $31.8 billion over the next decade. Moreover, if Trump and hardliners in Congress are successful in slashing immigration in half, Social Security will lose $2.4 trillion over the next 75 years. In contrast, if immigration were doubled, Social Security would gain around $5 trillion over the next 75 years.

Full story: The Hill »

The Next Big Fight: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

 

Fresh off passing massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, Trump and congressional Republicans want to use the deficit they’ve created to justify huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

As House Speaker Paul Ryan says “We’re going to have to get… at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.”

Don’t let them get away with it.

Social Security and Medicare are critical safety-nets for working and middle-class families.

Before they existed, Americans faced grim prospects. In 1935, the year Social Security was enacted, roughly half of America’s seniors lived in poverty.  By the 1960s poverty among seniors had dropped significantly, but medical costs were still a major financial burden and only half of Americans aged 65 and over had health insurance. Medicare fixed that, guaranteeing health care for older Americans.

Today less than 10 percent of seniors live in poverty and almost all have access to health care. According to an analysis of census data, Social Security payments keep an estimated 22 million Americans from slipping into poverty.

Medicaid is also a vital lifeline for America’s elderly and the poor. Yet the Trump administration has already started whittling it away by encouraging states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

Republicans like to call these programs “entitlements,” as if they’re some kind of giveaway.  But Americans pay into Social Security and Medicare throughout their entire working lives. It’s Americans’ own money they’re getting back through these programs.

These vital safety nets should be strengthened, not weakened. How?

1. Lift the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax. Currently, top earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $120,000 of their yearly income. So the rich end up, in effect,  paying a lower Social Security tax rate than everyone else. Lifting the ceiling on what wealthy Americans contribute would help pay for the Baby Boomers retirements and leave Social Security in good shape for Millennials.

2. Allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prescription drug prices. As the nation’s largest insurer, Medicare has tremendous bargaining power. Why should Americans pay far more for drugs than people in any other country?

3. Finally, reduce overall health costs and create a stronger workforce by making Medicare available to all. There’s no excuse for the richest nation in the world to have 28 million Americans still uninsured.

We need to not just secure, but revitalize Social Security and these other programs for our children, and for our children’s children.  Millennials just overtook Baby Boomers as our nation’s largest demographic.  For them — for all of us — we need to say loud and clear to all of our members of Congress: Hands off Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Expand and improve these programs: don’t cut them.

Republicans Are Killing Social Security One Tiny Service Cut at a Time

By steadily squeezing funding for the Social Security administration, Republicans have created a world where seniors and their caregivers have to drive miles from their homes to visit a Social Security office. Where bereaved widows and widowers with young children have to wait weeks for an appointment to claim the Social Security survivor benefits that their late spouses earned for their families. Where people with career-ending disabilities after decades of work most certainly have to wait two years or more to claim their earned Social Security disability benefits—if they can survive for that long.

And Republicans are still not satisfied. That world will get even worse if the budget soon to be voted on includes the Senate Appropriations Committee’s plan to squeeze another nearly half a billion dollars out of SSA’s budget.

Get the full story on Slate.com »

Thalia: Why Social Security Is Important To Me

thalia-syracopoulosWhy is Social Security important to you?

Social Security enabled my parents to live modestly into their 90’s without having to call upon me and my brother to supplement their income. It enabled my grandmother, who was widowed at a young age and who paid into Social Security only from its inception to her retirement in 1960 to remain independent.

What will it mean to you, personally, if Social Security is cut or changed in any way that could reduce benefits in the future?

I have been self-employed for 95% of my working life. I have no pension and rely entirely on my Social Security and my savings. With these, I am able to live modestly without having to receive financial help from my children. If benefits were cut or changed in any way I would not be able to remain in my home, care for my partner or live modestly without asking my children for financial support. In addition, cutting or downgrading Social Security would be a betrayal of the millions who have been paying into Social Security as insurance against poverty in their old age.

VIDEO: (Don’t Wanna) Work ‘Till We Die

Our latest Social Security music video “Work ‘Till We Die” is right here — it’s got a country/honky-tonk feel, and a catchy little chorus you’ll be humming later. Be sure to sign this letter telling the President and Congress to expand Social Security and “scrap the cap” so everyone pays the same tax rate for the same guarantee! http://bit.ly/1PfvcWi

The loudest calls for cutting Social Security come from wealthy CEOs who will never have to worry about their own retirement security.

The roughly 200 CEOs who collectively make up Business Roundtable — a business lobbying group that often pushes conservative views, including Social Security cuts — have average retirement savings of $14.5 million, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government.

That’s about 1,200 times bigger than what the median American worker has saved for retirement a decade before the end of his or her career, according to the study. (That paltry amount is just $12,000, by the way, according to a separate report.)

But by simply requiring upper-income taxpayers to pay the same tax rate as middle-class families, Social Security’s benefits could be expanded — AND its funding would remain in balance for decades beyond the longest projections.

Social Security is funded through deductions to everyone’s paychecks. We pay in while we’re working, and then collect benefits when we retire or become disabled. But not everyone pays equally into the system: Social Security taxes are only collected on the first $118,500 earned per year. Any income above that cap isn’t taxed.

Join us to tell the President and members of Congress: it’s time to expand Social Security by ensuring everyone pays the same tax rate for the same guarantee.

For a full understanding of the report’s methodology, you can click here to read the report. [Original: Huffington Post]

Be part of a music video to help protect and expand Social Security, America’s best-loved social insurance plan!

wtid-video-spotlightWho: Hopefully you! No previous acting experience required (thought it’s great if you have), but you should be game to try something new and fun regardless. People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome – families too!

Organizers: This video is being produced by Social Security Works – Washington and the Economic Opportunity Institute, in collaboration with Reel Grrls Productions.

What: Building on the wild success of the rap video Scrap the Cap (We’re Movin’ In), we’re seeking volunteers to appear in a country music video for a new song called: “(Don’t Wanna) Work ‘Til I Die”. Once completed, the video will be posted on social media and websites all over the country by people and organizations working to protect and expand Social Security.

When: A few hours during one Sunday in April. The exact date is weather-dependent, but will be either April 12th, 19th or 26th. Volunteers will get a confirmed date and time range with several days’ notice.

Where: Orting, WA (50 mins. south of Seattle, 30 mins. southeast of Tacoma). Exact location/address will be given to confirmed volunteers.

You’ll Need:

  1. Personal transportation to and from the location;
  2. Personal clothing (some volunteers will be asked to wear work attire, others casual/weekend clothes);
  3. A signed media release (provided when you arrive on set);
  4. To be on-site for the duration of the time specified (there will be busy times, and slack times); and
  5. A willingness to take direction as requested by the director/producer.

You’ll Receive: A really unique and fun experience, your name in the credits, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping protect and expand Social Security: America’s best-loved social insurance plan!

To Join In: Send an email to wtid@eoionline.org that includes:

  1. Your name(s)
  2. A photo of you (and your friends/family if they’re coming too)
  3. Your availability for each of the days noted above
  4. Best phone number to reach you

Please forward this post widely – especially to fun-loving friends who are game to try something new and enjoy being on camera!