Saturday, August 8, 2015

Keep Republicans Away From Social Security

Here's yet another prime example of why Scott Walker and the Republican party are wrong for America.

Scott Walker Suggests Raising Age To Qualify For Social Security.

There is so much misinformation out there regarding Social Security. Much of it pushed by conservatives who would like to end the program.

For starters, hopefully everyone is aware that the current full Social Security retirement age (for those born after 1960) is 67.

As Ezra Klein stated:
But “cutting” Social Security is unpopular and people don’t like to talk about it. So folks who want to cut the program have instead settled on an elliptical argument about life expectancy. Social Security, they say, was designed at a time when Americans didn’t live quite so long. And so raising the retirement age isn’t a “cut.” It’s a restoration of the program’s original purpose. It doesn’t hurt anything or anyone. 
The first point worth making here is that the country’s economy has grown 15-fold since Social Security was passed into law. One of the things the richest society the world has ever known can buy is a decent retirement for people who don’t have jobs they love and who don’t want to work forever. 
The second point worth making is that Social Security was overhauled in the ’80s. So the promises the program is carrying out today were made then. And, since the ’80s, the idea that we’ve all gained so many years of life simply isn’t true…. 
[S]ince 1977, the life expectancy of male workers retiring at age 65 has risen six years in the top half of the income distribution. But if you’re in the bottom half of the income distribution? Then you’ve only gained 1.3 years.
Christian Weller adds:
Workers who have paid into Social Security have to wait until a specific age before they can receive full retirement benefits. In the past, the full retirement age was 65, but it has been gradually increasing and will eventually reach 67 for people born in 1960 and later. Retirees can still claim Social Security at age 62, but their benefits will be reduced significantly if they do. These permanent benefit reductions are greater the earlier somebody claims Social Security and the higher the full retirement benefit age is. Some conservatives, including Cruz and Paul as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have now called for raising the full retirement benefit age even further –- for instance, to 69 years. This translates into across-the-board benefit cuts due to Social Security’s formula, which yields a larger amount for every month a worker delays claiming retirement benefits up to age 70. And it translates into especially deep cuts for workers who must retire early. These cuts are particularly harmful to lower-income workers and people of color.
David Rosnick and Dean Baker have found that increasing the Social Security qualification age also increases inequality:
The full retirement age for Social Security benefits – originally 65 – is currently 66 years, and is scheduled to increase over the next 15 years to age 67 for workers born in 1960 and later. Every year of increase in this “normal” retirement age (NRA) is equivalent to a cut in benefits of 6-7 percent.1 Despite this increase, there has been discussion of raising the retirement age even further – to 69, 70, or even higher.
Rosnick and Baker, in their research, also address the falsities regarding solvency and life expectancy:
The primary justification for such an increase is that the Social Security Trust Fund faces a looming shortfall. Yet the Congressional Budget Office projects that Social Security will be able to pay all promised benefits through 2038.2 Thereafter, even with no changes whatsoever, Social Security will be able to pay more than 80 percent of benefits until 2070. Under current law, a young worker planning to retire at age 70 will receive a monthly benefit 24 percent larger than if the same worker retired at age 67. However, those credits for delayed retirement would be eliminated if the retirement age were increased to 70, resulting in a 19 percent cut in benefits. In addition, workers who start collecting benefits at an earlier age would see a reduction in benefits of roughly 18 percent compared to current law.
Another justification for an increase in the retirement age is that life expectancy is increasing, and the retirement age has not kept up. But this makes little sense when discussing workers in physically demanding jobs who are often unable to continue working into their late 60s. Additionally, as we reported in earlier work, there has been considerable widening of the gap in life expectancy between high- and low-income workers. As a result, the already-scheduled increase in the retirement age has effectively wiped out the gains in expected years of retirement (if workers retire at NRA) for males in the bottom half of the income distribution.
Paul Krugman elaborates:
Start with Mr. Christie, who thought he was being smart and brave by proposing that we raise the age of eligibility for both Social Security and Medicare to 69. Doesn’t this make sense now that Americans are living longer? 
No, it doesn’t. This whole line of argument should have died in 2007, when the Social Security Administration issued a report showing that almost all the rise in life expectancy has taken place among the affluent. The bottom half of workers, who are precisely the Americans who rely on Social Security most, have seen their life expectancy at age 65 rise only a bit more than a year since the 1970s. Furthermore, while lawyers and politicians may consider working into their late 60s no hardship, things look somewhat different to ordinary workers, many of whom still have to perform manual labor. 
And while raising the retirement age would impose a great deal of hardship, it would save remarkably little money. In fact, a 2013 report from the Congressional Budget Office found that raising the Medicare age would save almost no money at all.
The bottom line is that we all need to be very leery of Republicans claiming to have the best interests of social programs at heart when they propose increasing eligibility ages, reducing payouts or any of their other trojan horses. Social Security is too important to be left to the whims and disproven ideas of Republican apparatchiks.

For Further Reading:

No comments: