Culture Wars and Social Security…A Changing Landscape -

As we wind down this turbulent year, we see a spate of media commentary that smacks of warfare across the generational spectrum regarding Social Security. First, there was the December 11 piece by Andrew G. Biggs (“No, Social Security Isn’t ‘Earned’) suggesting that “Promised benefits are far in excess of lifetime payroll taxes. That’s a compelling case for reform.” Then there was the piece earlier this week from Brent Arends (“This is the scariest number for Social Security”) discussing the notion that favors to the “political-donor class” are at the root of the long-term financing problem. Then, just yesterday, MarketWatch columnist and director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Alicia H. Munnell joined the fray with a post disputing the claim regarding lifetime benefits outweighing lifetime contributions. Yesterday, former Sen. Phil Gramm and Mike Solon offered an article titled “Social Security Was Doomed From the Start” asserting that Social Security’s fatal flaw was “FDR’s decision to make it a pay-as-you-go benefit. We should have fixed it by now” and extolling the virtues of privately investing Social Security capital as a method to ensure financial stability.

Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect and professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School, then offers a piece adding a counterpoint to many of these positions, pointing out what appears to be “fake generational warfare” presenting the potential to undermine efforts to stabilize Social Security’s financial situation. All posturing aside, Kuttner strikes a clear note with the comment, “What gives the issue new resonance is that the trust funds will not be able to pay all of the benefits owed within a decade or two. We need to act soon, either by increasing the revenues to Social Security or reducing benefits.” He goes on to argue for strengthening Social Security’s finances for future generations versus weakening its coverage. Read his post here.

As an example of the leading thoughts on how to reform Social Security, the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC, Inc.) believes Social Security must be preserved and modernized.  This can be achieved without tax increases by slight modifications to cost-of-living adjustments and payments to high-income beneficiaries plus gradually increasing the full (but not early) retirement age.  AMAC Action, AMAC’s advocacy arm, supports raising the thresholds at which benefits are taxed and then indexing for inflation, and calls for eliminating the reduction in people’s benefits for those choosing to work before full retirement age.  AMAC is resolute in its mission that Social Security be preserved for current and successive generations and has gotten the attention of lawmakers in D.C., meeting with many congressional offices and staff over the past decade. Learn more about the AMAC position by visiting the AMAC Action website.

The first two links provided above connect readers to the full content of the posted articles. The URLs (internet addresses) for these links are valid on the posted date; cannot guarantee the duration of the links’ validity. Also, the opinions expressed in these postings are the viewpoints of the original source and are not explicitly endorsed by AMAC, Inc.; the AMAC Foundation, Inc.; or

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