Will Anticipated Voter Turnout Dictate the Future of Social Security Reform? - themessenger.com

In analyzing the Social Security reform positions taken by President Biden and former President Donald Trump, Frank Gunter (professor of economics at Lehigh University) speculates that their priorities for resolution of the steadily progressing deterioration of the program’s finances would sacrifice the interests of young workers. Gunter begins his hypothesis with a review of the two “long-term” causes for the solvency problem: extended lifespans and a declining base of taxpaying workers. He goes on to examine several of the most frequently advanced reform measures: full retirement age setbacks, reductions in cost-of-living adjustment strategies, increases in the payroll tax rate, removal of the cap on earnings subject to payroll taxes, and reallocation of income taxes to fund Social Security shortfalls.

In discussing each of these potential reform measures, Gunter offers statistics on the impact each would have on the solvency problem, concluding that “younger wage earners would bear the entire cost of adjustment.” Citing the political expediency of the Biden and Trump perspectives that “impose the burden of preserving the social security system solely on wage earners,” he then takes a look at U.S. Census Bureau statistics noting that 74% of older Americans–age 65 and older–voted in 2020 compared to 57% of those in the age 18-34 cohort. This comparison of voter turnout supports his conclusion on the likely impact of any reform measures on younger workers. Adding further support for his conclusion, he notes that older voters value preservation of Social Security more highly than younger voters, citing analyses presented in CNBC’s “College Voices 2020” report following the last presidential election.

Mr. Gunter presents an interesting anaylsis, and you can read it in full here. Know that we’ll continue to bring perspectives on the evolving Social Security finding problem to readers’ attention on this website in the weeks and months ahead.

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