AMAC In The Media / Politics

It’s Time For a Moonshot to Save America’s Earned Benefit Programs Before They Go Broke and Bankrupt Us All

Dan Weber republicans recess tax death tax entitlement programsDan Weber’s Op-Ed as seen on FoxNews.com

President Trump discussed many important issues in his State of the Union address Tuesday, but left out one of the most important – the need for major reforms in two giant earned benefit programs for senior citizens, Social Security and Medicare, that account for most mandatory federal spending.

With control of both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans have the opportunity now to make the reforms needed to prevent these two critically important programs from running out of money in the decades ahead.

The Social Security Trust Fund, for example, is projected to be depleted by 2035. The Social Security Board of Trustees says that means Social Security recipients will than get only 75 percent of benefits after that unless changes are made.

Republicans in Congress have shown that when they stand together they can do big and necessary things – witness their passage of tax cuts at the end of last year. Now with a new year and an administration that has found its footing, it’s time for a moonshot to save America’s earned benefit programs before they go broke and bankrupt us all.

I understand as well as anyone that many politicians believe that the mere mention of reforms to Social Security and Medicare will raise the ire of senior citizens.

Earned benefit reform has been dubbed over and over again as the “third rail” of American politics, a political death sentence for anyone who dares to touch it. But as the head of one of the largest senior citizens’ groups in America, with more than 1 million dues-paying members, I don’t believe that is true anymore.

Seniors are tired of being manipulated on these issues by organizations claiming to speak for them. Mature Americans are smart enough to understand that the dire risk to our earned benefit programs will not only hurt them, but their children and grandchildren who depend on their sustainability.

Together, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and welfare programs provide essential funds and services to low-income Americans, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and others who find themselves in need of extra help. The great thing about Americans, though, is that we are a people who appreciate a hand up, not a handout.

After years of deficit spending – especially considering the excesses of the Obama administration – these programs still remain the top contributors to our rising national debt and deficit, with $2.9 trillion of the debt held by the two Social Security Trust Funds. Washington’s worst-kept secret is that Social Security will soon be insolvent.

Fixing Social Security so that it continues to serve those who depend on it today and in future generations, while at the same time bringing excessive spending under control, has been a Republican priority for decades.

There are four straightforward action items that Congress should take this year to set Social Security on a path of sustainable future solvency:

1) Gradually increase the full retirement age for new retirees to 69 for people born in 1972 and later, from the current age of 66.

2) Gradually lower Social Security benefits for high-income earners, while keeping low- income earner benefits the same.

3) Implement a tiered approach to cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Social Security payments, giving higher increases to those making less than $50,000 per year.

4) Provide all earners the ability to save more with Early Retirement Accounts (ERAs), which provide tax-deductible savings and allow future retirees to begin accessing funds in their ERAs at age 62.

All of these ideas are part of what we call the Social Security Guarantee Act.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has made it clear he intends to tackle earned benefit  reform this year, and he has already entered into discussions on the issue with President Trump. This is a brave and responsible position, but he will need all the help he can get to persuade more timid politicians in the United States Senate to follow his lead.

The Senate shamefully bungled passage of a stand-alone repeal of ObamaCare, which all Senate Republicans had promised to do on the campaign stump for nearly a decade. They just barely passed President Trump’s tax reform package, after much grandstanding and will-they-or-won’t-they press games led by lame-duck senators.

The chamber that calls itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body” can actually live up to its name by buckling down and working together with the president and committed colleagues in the House to fix these earned benefit programs for future generations. But they will need courageous and visionary leaders like President Trump and Paul Ryan to show them the way.

If earned benefit reform finally becomes law on President Trump’s watch, his administration will come even closer to mirroring the legacy of one of this country’s greatest leaders and Trump’s own self-professed inspiration, President Ronald Reagan.

Along with cutting taxes, one of President Reagan’s major successes on the domestic front was his landmark Social Security reform, which he signed into law in 1983 after working closely with Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts.

If President Reagan could enact Social Security reform with a Democratic majority in the House, shouldn’t it be easy for President Trump to pass a round of updated reforms when Republicans control all of Congress? You would think so.

The president is known for admiring loyalty, and America’s seniors have been a resolutely loyal part of his base, voting for him by an eight-point margin over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Older Americans remain some of President Trump’s staunchest supporters. Ensuring that Social Security remains solvent for them, their children and their grandchildren should be a central piece of the administration’s legislative agenda this year, and it would be a way for President Trump to reward them for their support.

 

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Read more articles by Daniel C. Weber

141
Leave a Reply

78 Comment threads
63 Thread replies
21 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
99 Comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
HAM

I disagree with Mr Weber that Social Security & Medicare are “entitlements”. We paid into SS our entire work life & pay Medicare premiums each month for our healthcare coverage. Mr Weber needs to review his description of these programs & make sure he does not use that verbage in his interactions with lawmakers.

Llenhard

Social security and Medicare are not entitlement programs. Give us back the money Congress stole from the programs, and then we can talk about reforms. This is our money, and we were forced to give it to the government to use for our benefit. Government has misused the funds, giving it to people who did not meet the requirements for it, not vetting those who have received enormous amounts through fraud, and in allowing themselves to opt out of the program so they have not been invested in making sure it remained solvent. This is wrong.

William Lee Kohler

I agree SS and Medicare need to be protected BUT those are NOT entitlement programs they are our SAVINGS ACCOUNTS that we PAID for with our labor and our employers contributions. As well as being robbed of part of our current SS payments.

Billie Lynn Thomas

The way to bring Social Security to sustainability is to have The Government repay the ious they owe, as well as not making payments to the illegal invaders of retirement age that did not earn it. The answer is not to punish the working man by making him work longer for less.

Judy S.

I believe that people need to remember that a lot of money was stolen/borrowed from the Social Security Program years ago, I believe in Lyndon Johnson’s era, and never put back. We seem to have money to help other countries and for ridiculous studies funded by the government (remember the shrimp on the treadmill ??), so why can’t our government pay back what they stole from our Social Security program years ago?!!

Pam Ward

If the US government had managed the money taken from tax payers for Social Security and Medicare instead of plundering it the program would be in better shape. The numbers of “boomers” paying in paid for previous recipients. Now there are fewer paying in and many ready to collect what they paid into. I and my employers paid a lot of money and it makes me furious to have it described as an “entitlement”! One great idea would be for our elected public servants to lose their cushy retirement and be in the same system , maybe then they would have the will to fix it.

Charles F Campbell

Social Security/Medicare are not entitlements for those of us who worked all of our lives.

Beholden

What exactly is meant by these two proposals? They sound like a Liberal-Progressive “income redistribution” program. “2) Gradually lower Social Security benefits for high-income earners, while keeping low- income earner benefits the same. 3) Implement a tiered approach to cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Social Security payments, giving higher increases to those making less than $50,000 per year.” If, at some point in your working career, you were a high earner, then you paid more into Social Security. After your retirement, you are no longer a high earner. Are you then penalized for having earned more during your working career? At the time of retirement, you work with a financial planner to try to put together a sustainable budget to continue living at home. How do you plan when you don’t know the formula that Social Security will use to whittle away at your benefits? Should you be penalized if you… Read more »

Stephen Eldridge

First, I was mislead by Mr. Weber’s title. I thought he was going to discuss the need to drastically redeuce the $1T in annual WELFARE, which IS the proper Constitutional thing to do. Instead, as many here note, Mr. Weber incorrectely treats SS/Medicare (that we paid for, Progressively) as “entitlements” – they are NOT. While his suggestions # 1 & 4 begin to make sense to make those programs more financially sensible, # 2 & 3 are disturbingly Marxist which is shocking coming from a supposedly Conservative organization. They would “socialize” those programs, thereby redistributing wealth. This is Karl Marx, not Alexander Hamilton. Congress (including the GOP) has alrteady begun to socialize these programs by enacting a 2.9% Medicare tax on INCOME as well as the GOP’s “means-testing” of medicare premiums, so that the rich (who paid the very highest 2.9% medicare Tax on UNLIMITED amounts of income) can pay… Read more »

Judy

If they want to save money go after congress’s (entitlements) we are paying for there retirement packages, while they paid nothing towards our SS benefits.

Nurse S

I, too, am weary of social security and Medicare being referred as entitlements by both Congress and Mr. Weber. They are not entitlements, but programs we and our employers paid into throughout our working lives. No mention is made of addressing the fraud in these programs or of the funds “borrowed “ from them that were never repaid.

plummobile

Mr. Weber,
Social Security and Medicare are NOT entitlements. They have been paid for with the sweat of millions who have worked their entire lives and paid in to the system. They (both the funds and the people who have paid in) have been raped over the years by Congress who pulled out the money for their nefarious acts when spending more than they should.

GDS44

I strongly disagree with Mr Weber that Social Security & Medicare are “entitlements”. I paid into SS my entire working life & still pay Medicare premiums each month. How can that be called an entitlement??

American Believer

Mr. Weber, we are not receiving entitlements when we draw from a Social Security fund we have paid into for over 50 years. Those that do draw from welfare and Social Security disability funds when they are either fraudulently claiming a life changing injury, or, entering our country illegally and immediately claiming benefits, are draining OUR Social Security fund. I for one collect Social Security to supplement the monies I personally set aside for my retirement. The Social Security I receive back is from funds I involuntarily paid during my working life. The Medicare benefit I receive back is from monies I pay monthly, along with a REQUIRED supplement plan I personally pay for.

American Believer

And by the way, if it’s such a fabulous program why does EVERY Federal employee, including our own Representatives in Washington, have a private fund, paid for by us, instead of a Social Security account?

Polly

Social security is NOT AN ENTITLEMENT!!! I is our money earned by working for years. If you want to save SS, get the us government to return the money looted from our fund over the years, and stop giving social security benefits to illegals.

Solidbob

Mr Weber, You sir are truely misrepresenting the facts here, as has been said by many others already, Medicare & Social Security are “NOT” entitlements. That has been prior and still is being Earned by the blood, sweat and tears of millions of Americans in their course of daily work or defending this country. Even those of us already drawing Social Security continue to pay for healthcare premiums while receiving a meager 3% COLA that doesn’t even cover costs for Insurance, Food, Utilities, Fuel to Doctors, ETC. Granted under Obama we got nothing while those from other countries continued to draw from these same sources like Medicade, Medicare or Unemployment and they continue to do so!! This country needs to take care of its own legal population and solve its home grown problems and stop sending money to foreign countries for their problems, as long as we continue to give… Read more »

Roger Short

I take exception to calling social security an entitlement program. My ssa funds belong to me, I’ve paid into it for years along with paying into Medicare! Unlike many who have never paid a dime into it and receive funds. Those funds do not and have never belonged to the government, they belong to those who worked, sweated and slaved to put a portion of their hard earned dollars into it.

Robert Ackert

What needs to be reformed is the High salaries of gov workers , both state and fed. Their pay depends on tax payers and the gov workers are paid much higher then the general public. That’s all because of unions.

DA Varwig

I was going to say the exact same thing that was said by HAM… The retirement payment is NOT an entitlement. That needs to be distinguished from all the other things that Social Security most laudably covers for those in need but are clearly provided as true entitlements. If you don’t frame that properly, you have lots of government workers who get retirement checks who think they actually paid more into theirs than we did, which is not true… and you have loads of public retirees who should have had to continue working for another 10 plus years as we had to.