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IVANKA TRUMP AND SOCIAL SECURITY
To create a fund for family leave, presidential daughter Ivanka wants to take the money from Social Security recipients, a move that would delay retirees' benefit start date.
Actually, it's Senator Marco Rubio's idea to which Ivanka has hitched her paid family leave proposal, the idea being to fund the program on the backs of old people who have spent a lifetime paying into Social Security.
It would work something like this: the bill would allow
"...people to draw Social Security benefits when they want to take time off for a new baby or other family-related matters, and then delay their checks when they hit retirement age." reports Politico.
"For instance, a person who would begin receiving full benefits when he or she turns 67 years old but wants to take six weeks of paid leave wouldn’t draw Social Security benefits until six weeks after his or her 67th birthday."
Long-time Social Security advocate and president of Social Security Works, Nancy Altman, released this statement after hearing about Rubio's Ivanka-approved proposal.
“It’s well past time for our country to join the rest of the world in providing workers with paid family and medical leave. But we should not undermine our retirement security to achieve it.
“In light of the decline of traditional pensions and the proven inadequacy of 401(k) plans for everyone but the wealthiest, Social Security’s modest benefits will be even more important in the future.
“We are the wealthiest nation in the world at the wealthiest moment in our history. Our country can afford to increase, not cut, Social Security’s modest benefits, while also adding paid family and medical leave.
“Other less-wealthy nations have those benefits. We can too if we simply require the wealthiest among us to pay more to our commonwealth (i.e., “common wealth”) from which they have benefited so enormously.
A admirable and reasonable approach but it won't gain a foothold during a Trump administration. Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has exchanged email with Ivanka about a paid family leave program, has a different approach. She argues
”..that paid leave has to be national,” reports the Daily Beast, [it] must be structured as a social insurance program (i.e., have a finance stream that a wide swath of the population contributes to), must be gender neutral, and must cover not just the birth of a child but also time that workers spend caring for sick family members.”
That would get it off the backs of elders but if you believe a Republican Congress is going to buy it, you haven't been paying attention:
”Republican leadership has never wavered in their opposition to Gillibrand’s approach. [House Majority Leader Paul] Ryan has said he opposes any leave policy that requires employers to give their workers paid time off for the birth of a child—favoring, instead, legislation that would allow workers to bank overtime hours to use at a later date for comp time.”
Huffington Post reports that the Ivanka/Rubio plan is a disaster for women who generally make less money throughout their lifetimes than men, they are also the ones who would make most use of a family leave program:
"The plan’s backers suggest that a person applying for Social Security benefits would just have to wait six more weeks to collect, [former SSA analyst, Kathleen] Romig explained. In reality, the recipient would receive a lower benefit, she said.
“'It’s cutting your benefit for the rest of your life,' said Romig, who is now a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities...
"Perhaps most alarming: The very idea of using Social Security funds as a private piggy bank threatens to destabilize the very notion of a social insurance program.
“'If we start treating Social Security, really the bedrock of financial security for elderly people, as just another asset to tap, we are imperiling people’s financial security,' Romig said."
It is unlikely that there will be much, if any, movement on paid family leave legislation this year, but it behooves us - people who know how important Social Security is to retirement – to keep our eye on Congress.
Small sneak attacks like this one and other big-time privatization schemes such as President George W. Bush's failed attempt at that 10 years ago along Paul Ryan's almost constant barrage of attacks on Social Security are only the most recent assaults on old people's retirement income.
Republicans have been trying to kill Social Security since President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into being in 1935.
The problem for them is that Social Security is the most successful and most beloved program in the federal government. Hardly anyone in the U.S. supports cutting Social Security (or Medicare/Medicaid).
In a May 2017 Pew survey, only three percent of Democrats or those who lean Democratic support “decreasing federal spending on Social Security.”
Among Republicans and those who lean Republican, in the same survey, just ten percent support “decreasing federal spending on Social Security.” So the Trump administration and the current Congress need to be careful about floating ideas to cut any of the programs they too often refer to as “entitlements.”
Don't forget, Americans pay into Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid all their working lives – that's why it is called an earned benefit and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
I would be alarmed by this latest attempt to chip away at Social Security but I don't think the plan to fund family leave on the backs of elders has a much chance of flying with the public. Nevertheless, it's important that we keep track of the attacks and who is trying to sneak them past us.
One more thing: perhaps you have noticed that this is Valentine's Day – a perfect time for me to again thank you all for your continuing support of this blog and especially your many good thoughts during the past eight months of my, ahem - medical interlude.
Sending much love and hugs and good cheer to each and every one of you from Ronni, Crabby Old Lady and Ollie the cat.