Social Security – Yes, Again, Because...

category_bug_politics.gif...it is vitally important not only to you and me, but to our younger friends, our children, grandchildren and beyond. Nevertheless, a lot of members of Congress and all the Republican presidential candidates would kill it altogether if they could.

Failing that, they keep coming up with ways to chip away at the benefit – if not for current recipients, then future ones. It continues to amaze (and annoy) me, when they try to reassure elders that reductions would not affect people already receiving Social Security, that they apparently believe we don't care if our children are short-changed.

That tells you more about their worldviews than ours. This little chart from the Strengthen Social Security website should convince anyone of the extraordinary value of the program:


That's right, since the inception of Social Security, the poverty rate for elders has dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent – all due to Social Security. Without it, I cannot imagine how I would live. For me, it would be a choice between Medicare premiums and eating.

Which brings me to the current danger to the program - the Congressional “Super Committee” that is tasked with finding $1.5 billion in deficit reduction costs which, according to Strengthen Social Security, can include cuts to Social Security as well as Medicare and Medicaid.

A week ago, Congress finished appointing the six Democrats and six Republicans to the Committee, half from the Senate and half from the House. According to Eric Kingson, Co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign,

"...half of the members of the Super Committee have already voted to make deep cuts to Social Security benefits while giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy...

"All it takes is one more vote on the Super Committee and the economic security of tens of millions of Americans would be put in great peril."

You expect the Republicans on the Committee to want to hack away at Social Security, but some of the Democrats have been wobbly too.

Committee Co-Chair, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wa) has said nothing is off the table.

Senator John Kerry (D-Ma) believes Social Security and other programs are to blame for the deficit and supports a “grand bargain” that could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) is willing to consider a cost-of living (COLA) cut (that would affect current beneficiaries) and is open to means testing for Social Security.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) is open to a “grand deal” that could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The Committee's approval of their recommendations requires only a simple majority; as Eric Kingston said, “all it takes is one more vote” meaning, from a Democrat.

There is an excellent and thorough page at Strengthening Social Security with details about where all the Super Committee members stand on these issues, their past votes and statements.

By Congressional standards, the Super Committee has little time to come up with a plan – just three months from now. This is the schedule:

  • September16: Super Committee must have first meeting
  • October 14: Legislative committees and president make recommendations to Super Committee
  • November 23: Super Committee must vote on plan. If approved, it goes to Congress
  • December 23: Super Committee plan must pass both chambers to avoid trigger

Just in time for Christmas. If the Committee does not deadlock, if there is a plan and it passes Congress, will the holiday be a happy one for elders, or not?

The Strengthen Social Security Campaign also has an informative page with three charts showing, by the numbers, the importance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to the people in the Committee members' states and districts.

This organization, which has 320 national and state coalition partners, has been around only a year and already they have created a valuable resource of information about Social Security updated regularly with the latest information. You should bookmark it.

I know, I often ask you to call or write your representatives and sign petitions and now I am asking you again. The Strengthen Social Security Campaign has a new petition asking the 12 members of the Super Committee to remove Social Security from consideration in their deficit reduction deliberations. Please sign it. You can do that here.

I have no idea if petitions help, but I do know that not signing definitely won't help.

There is no story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. There will be next week.


That graph really says it all. Thanks.

It absolutely boggles my mind how many "tea partiers" have no idea that they have sent to Congress people who will gut Social Security and Medicare and the result will be their own poverty in their own old age. Just incredible!!

I wish the graph had shown the rising rate of chilren living in poverty.

I have signed several petitions and written about the fact that S.S has actually improved the financial position of the U. S. and has been fully paid for by those retirees now on S. S.

The funds paid into S.S. have been borrowed by the government and have helped to keep us afloat. It is disgraceful that any politician is so craven that he/she is even talking about cutting benefits.

I signed the petition and added a rant.

Well, Chris Van Hollen is my Rep. and he will be hearing from me!

A great new resource. Thanks Ronni

Thanks for this. I know that Social Security is a lifesaver for people of all ages. I've watched two families close to my heart make ends meet and save enough for college after the fathers died young. They were able to do it only because Social Security helps widowed families with kids under 18.

And I worry about what today's young adults will do in their old age. Many elders today have traditional pensions, in addition to social security, but young people worried about making ends meet now are contributing less to 401Ks, or cashing in what they have. What will they do when they can no longer work, if Social Security has been cut out of existence?

I would hate to see future generations learn the hard way just what their lives would be like without SS when they reach older years.

I remember the horror stories about the "poor houses" my Mother told me about when she was a young woman.

The young should be concerned since company pensions are no longer available to them, and if they sink their savings for the future into this world financial market they're really gambling it looks like.

The positions of the committee members sounds really shaky. Are they all millionaires,too, who don't have to worry about income?

The alternative to a healthy SS system is vigorously saving up for one's retirement oneself. That alternative is out of reach in today's economy for all but the wealthiest. Typical American, married with kids, cannot hope to amass a decent retirement fund in this economy. There is no indication that this will change in the near future. Without SS young Americans are looking at a grim old age indeed.

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