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In defense of Social Security

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Monday, February 14, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

If you look back at the comments on this retirement planning blog regarding Social Security, you can read a host of opinions from people who believe the program should be either eliminated or radically overhauled. Not many articulate responses have been posted by people who are supporters of Social Security. So in the interest of fairness, I'd like to share some of the opinions of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who has launched an all-out campaign to protect Social Security.

In an op-ed Sanders wrote that has been published in many U.S. newspapers, he says, "As corporations over the last 30 years destroyed the retirement dreams of millions of older workers by eliminating defined-benefit pension plans, Social Security was there paying full benefits. When Wall Street greed and recklessness caused working people to lose billions in retirement savings, Social Security was there paying full benefits.

"Despite its success, Social Security faces an unprecedented attack from Wall Street, the Republican Party and a few Democrats. If the American people are not prepared to fight back, the dismantling of Social Security could begin in the very near future," Sanders writes.

Sanders points out that while Social Security should have enough money available to pay full benefits for the next 26 or so years and 78 percent of promised benefits after that, fixing Social Security so it continues to be stable for our children and grandchildren is a good idea. Sanders proposes raising the cap on taxable income. "By removing the cap on incomes up to $250,000 or more, we can make Social Security fully solvent for generations to come," he writes.

Sanders also addresses why he thinks Social Security is under attack. He says Wall Street stands to gain billions in profits if workers are forced to go to private financial establishments for their retirement accounts. Second, he says that as the Republican Party has moved far to the right and become more anti-government, there are more Republicans who do not believe government has a responsibility to provide retirement benefits to the elderly or to help those with disabilities.

Sanders writes: "Needless to say, I strongly disagree with both of those propositions. In my view, maintaining and strengthening Social Security is absolutely essential to the future well-being of our nation. For 75 years it has successfully provided dignity and support for tens of millions of Americans. Our job is to keep it strong for the next 75 years."

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19 Comments
JACK W BARNES
March 30, 2011 at 7:13 am

I AM 82 YEARS OLD. FDR STARTED SS IN 1936 AND THE INTENT WAS TO PROVIDE FOR THE ELDERLY THAT COULD NOT PROVIDE FOR THEMSELVES. IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE A RETIREMENT PROGRAM. AS A RESULT OF A CORRUPT GOVERNMENT, THE SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAM IS NOW IN SERIOUS TROUBLE AND BLAME THE REPUBLICANS IF YOU WISH BUT THAT WILL NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM. PAYING THE MAXIUM AS A SELF EMPLOYED PERSON FOR ALL MY WORKING YEARS I PAID INTO SS $35000. NOW I HAVE RECEIVED OVER $200.000. AND PLAN TO LIVE ANOTHER TEN OR MORE YEARS. ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE STUPID OR WHAT?

jdunc
March 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Social security is solvent, it just doesn't have any money. Why? Because over the past 30 years (under mainly republican administrations) the trust fund has been borrowed to pay for tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations and to pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The republicans have been against social security since 1935, some things don't change. George Bush said it was his greatest failure not to privatize social security- a guy who really understands the problems of the middle class and the poor! So, the government HAS to pay back the money they borrowed from US, but the republicans say we can't afford to do that and still have no tax increases on the rich or tax loopholes for corporations. Are any other Americans beginning to see this picture for what it is? When we in the middle class say enough is enough and get out there and protest and vote, republicans will back down, but when more than half of you don't vote, we lose. Its your money, your future, your democracy, join the fight or accept the consequences! The Tea Party members are paid hit men for the corporate elite and are not on our side. Less government interference in your life is good up to a point, but when it means fewer health, environmental, and workplace regulations it is not good. Keep the Bill of Rights, but protect the people from the big powers.

Linda
March 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I have been paying into social security since I was 15 years of age. I'm now 57. I didn't pay while working for a University Hospital or while my children were small. I teach nursing at a Community College and have been working steadily as an RN for the last 20 years. I have found out I will not be able to receive the social security I'm entitled to based on the wages I put into it. This isn't fair. I don't plan on retiring ever if my health holds up. I will work at least part time until my death if possible. I was blessed with excellent health. Others are not so fortunate. All individuals should get what they paid into social security. Those that are super rich and don't need it to live should at least what they paid into the system. Before social security the elderly depended on the charity of others to live. We are Christian Nation is this any way to treat our elders? I find it interesting that the Republican that associate themselves with the Christian Faith would do this to the elderly. Shame on them.

Dr.W. James
March 03, 2011 at 8:50 pm

My friend your questions hit the nail on the head. The Congress and the Senate should be required to answer every question you have laid out above because that really tells the story. More people are getting SS than paid into it, and the ones that have worked all of their lives and put into the system are refused because of some law that prevents them from receiving it. One question you did not ask is what happened to the money that was borrowed from SS and was it ever paid back? People walk around with their head in the sand instead of finding out what is really going on in this country. We the Americans are the second class citizens in this country not the aliens.
They did an investigation a few years ago and found that Millions in SS checks are being sent to PO Boxes and the owners were traced to Mexico. Did they do anything about it, no. Check it out for yourself. The money is being waisted and misused and no one is willing to put a stop to it.

Herman Hester
March 03, 2011 at 12:09 pm

We need someone to make sure our SSI program is govern properly right now I know for sure it's not. If this program is reduced to people who really have a need and were still short money, well then we should talk about taking things away from old people.

Herman Hester
March 03, 2011 at 11:48 am

We have young men in our community that could work( DOING SOMETHING) that don't. I won't call names but this one man i'm thinking of took a job with his father-n-law working in an orange grove. He made arragments that he could take a day or two off to go fishing,of his choosing. He worked less than two weeks and QUIT. Same man, dug a small tree up with a shovel in his back yard. At one time when his children were still at home I was told he recieved clost to three thousand dollars from SSI per month. Think about it in a big city how many of these kind of people do we have? If we clean all this up and were still short of money well then start think about taking things away from old people.

Steve Russak
March 01, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Social Security was never an entitlement program. It was an investment program deducted from payroll taxes that the government was to reinvest in safe market shares with the highest rate of return. We should be receiving at minimum [3] times what the monthly rate is currently if the government had invested that money as promised. Instead, Social Security was perceived as a "cash cow" and the money was continually borrowed to help pay for other programs. The government owes US billions of dollars over the past three decades and I know where they can get it. Instead of the meager 9% corporations pay Uncle Sam now - raise the corporate tax to 50% over the next 5 years, invest that money each year for a maximum return and Social Security is solvent for the next 100 years.

BS
February 26, 2011 at 1:00 am

Can someone publicly (Magazine/intranet) answer these questions?
1. Who pays into SS? (Government Workers / Officials)
2. Who can draw from SS? (A person that did not contribute)
3. Are the people controlling SS paying into SS? (Government Workers / Officials)
4. Can someone track the money from start to finish: i.e. from a deduction from one's paycheck to the money being spent. Not funds given to an organization but who ultimately spends the money at a retail outlet.
5. Is the money being given to emigrants coming to this country to jump start their stay here?