Social Security is Not in Crisis

(April 2012)

Social Security is hugely popular, and the nation’s most successful social program, but many young adults believe it won’t be there for them. But, Social Security is not out of money or in serious trouble as recent headlines and columns by pundits would lead you to believe.

A recent Harris poll shows that Americans across the political spectrum, including Tea Party members, are opposed to cutting Social Security payments. Still, the recent Trustee’s Report prompted the usual outcry from some politicians for raising the retirement age, changing the cost of living adjustment or for more privatization.

The result of any of these proposals would be benefit cuts. It would be no surprise that, if those cuts happen, both young and old, rich and poor would lose faith in the program.

It’s time for Congress to lift the payroll tax cap on all wages above $110,100 to make Social Security solvent. As proposed by advocates on all sides of the issue and supported by the majority of the public, this one fix will strengthen Social Security for the long term without cutting benefits.

There are many options for strengthening Social Security. Developing a consensus in the current political climate is a challenge. However, the program is not in crisis and we should let politicians know that the long-term funding gap is important, but not if the solution risks the income security of whole generations of Americans.

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