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Hang on tight to the safety net

It’s probably human nature to take good things we encounter in life for granted, especially if we were not part of the effort to create them. But ignorance about them can be dangerous, so we need to get honest facts and understand the related issues before those good things are stolen right from under our noses.

I’m thinking of our country’s “social safety net” of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that are meant to provide affordable comprehensive health Insurance and a small “pension” to help Americans avoid slipping into the most devastating catastrophes.

That’s why I want to share with you the following article by Peter S. Arno, Ph.D, that I believe is valuable information and makes a good follow up to last month’s Intergenerational article.

Arno says:

  • The latest Social Security Trustees’ annual report shows that Social Security has an accumulated surplus of about $2.9 trillion and can pay benefits in full for the next 16 years.
  • After that, even if Congress does nothing to protect it, Social Security will be able to pay 80 percent of benefits.
  • Older adults overwhelmingly support Social Security. It is an American success story, a highly effective anti-poverty program that improves the lives of all Americans. What not everyone realizes is that the fight to strengthen it is about intergenerational justice.
  • Democrats in Congress are proposing to strengthen Social Security so that it can pay full benefits for the next 75 years or more.  Congressman John Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act would raise minimum Social Security benefits and adjust the formula for calculating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) so that benefits increase for everyone. It already has more than 200 co-sponsors.
  • Strengthening Social Security is easily affordable. Larson proposes a 2.4 percent payroll tax increase phased in slowly over several decades, and also requires everyone with incomes over $400,000 to pay into Social Security up to the current cap and then on income above $400,000.
  • Before the 2020 election, we must broaden public support for Social Security by engaging younger generations who benefit directly and indirectly from Social Security in ways they may not yet grasp.
  •  To win, millennials need to understand the value of Social Security to them, not simply that it makes their parents and grandparents more economically secure.
  • As a result of stagnating wages, millennials, unfortunately, are the first generation to earn less than their parents. And there are other economic reasons that two in three millennials have no retirement savings.  Wages have stagnated. Student debt is huge because college and graduate school education is so expensive.
  • Thus, Social Security will protect millennials down the road, when their savings are likely to be less than those of their parents. Additionally, millennials will likely live longer and, therefore, have even greater dependence on Social Security.
  • Republicans are wrong. Younger Americans may benefit now from Social Security’s disability insurance and survivor benefits for families, but they will all definitely benefit when they reach retirement age.
  • Americans of all ages have a stake in strengthening Social Security. If we all work together, we can ensure Social Security’s long-term political and financial viability.

As seniors it is our responsibility to educate the next generation about the importance of the social safety net. Please talk with your children and grandchildren about the importance of keeping the safety net strong. We all must help inform present and future generations about the importance of paying attention to these issues.

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Table of Contents – July-August 2019