Reports from the Economic Front

a blog by Marty Hart-Landsberg

Happy Birthday Social Security

Social Security turned 80 on August 14th, 2015.  For some years it has been under attack by Republican and Democratic politicians who, falsely claiming that the system is heading for bankruptcy, want to both privatize it and reduce its benefits.  No doubt the attacks will escalate as we enter another Presidential campaign season.

Happily, polling shows that the great majority of Americans not only believe in the system, they actually want to strengthen it and increase the benefits received by recipients.

Therefore, as Paul Krugman notes:

It’s remarkable, then, that most of the Republicans who would be president seem to be lining up for another round of punishment [by campaigning against the current Social Security system]. In particular, they’ve been declaring that the retirement age — which has already been pushed up from 65 to 66, and is scheduled to rise to 67 — should go up even further.

Thus, Jeb Bush says that the retirement age should be pushed back to “68 or 70”. Scott Walker has echoed that position. Marco Rubio wants both to raise the retirement age and to cut benefits for higher-income seniors. Rand Paul wants to raise the retirement age to 70 and means-test benefits. Ted Cruz wants to revive the Bush privatization plan. . . .

And while most Americans love Social Security, the wealthy don’t. Two years ago a pioneering study of the policy preferences of the very wealthy found many contrasts with the views of the general public; as you might expect, the rich are politically different from you and me. But nowhere are they as different as they are on the matter of Social Security. By a very wide margin, ordinary Americans want to see Social Security expanded. But by an even wider margin, Americans in the top 1 percent want to see it cut.

The following info sheet on Social Security comes from the National Priorities Project,

ss_turns_80

See here for a useful fact sheet that busts some of the more common negative myths about Social Security.

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