Views on “Saving” Social Security - 19fortyfive.com; AMAC
In a post yesterday on 19fortyfive.com, Cato Institute Budget and Entitlement Policy director Romina Boccia weighs in with an analysis of actions to be considered in the reforming of Social Security, all geared toward ensuring the program’s long-term survival. The recommendations she advances in the post fall into three broad categories:
- Increasing the eligibility age for benefits: Ms. Boccia suggests adding three years to the early retirement age (now 62) and the full retirement age (now 67 for those born in 1960 or later, 66 and several months based on birth year for those born before 1960), citing the fact that increases in life expectancies have outpaced the parameters enacted decades ago. The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), in its Social Security Guarantee legislative framework proposal clearly concurs with the full retirement age recommendation; however, AMAC’s position on the early retirement age differs in that the increase would penalize those unable physically to extend their working lives. AMAC’s proposal, instead, includes a Security PLUS option offering savings options and withdrawal capabilities that would offset the reduction in benefits attributable to early filing.
- Adding means testing to Social Security’s focus: Ms. Boccia notes that the program supports seniors financially without regard for need, and suggests that steps be taken to focus on retirees with limited means to support themselves rather than seniors with higher net worth. While this might be considered synchronized with the program’s stated purpose of antipoverty protection in old age, it should also be noted here that Social Security already has means testing built into the calculations that determine eventual retirement benefits. Further means testing would move the program further away from an earned benefit program to a form of welfare.
- Resolving the solvency issue by eliminating the trust funds: In discussing the Social Security trust fund reserves and the treasury obligations comprising them, Ms. Boccia characterizes them as simply a part of the gross national debt, a “legal accounting entity that holds no real economic assets.” Since the systematic liquidation of the special interest treasury notes held in the trust funds is the mechanism allowing Social Security to continue paying promised (and earned) benefits, the recourse she suggests is that “Congress should reduce Social Security spending by making the programmatic reforms” outlined in her article.
For the full text of Ms. Boccia’s post, click here. The need to reform and modernize Social Security is beginning to gain traction on Capitol Hill, with optimism that the 118th Congress will elevate the legislative focus on ensuring the program for future generations.