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  #1281  
Old 01-10-2019, 10:43 AM
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25 percent of workers aged 62 to 64 would face serious financial problems; that represents the share that is not working and has a health-related work limitation
This is an issue to be addressed by SSDI. I don't understand why this is so hard for people to grasp.

If the requirements to qualify for SSDI are too difficult, then we should change them. We don't need to adjust the rules for non-disabled persons to accommodate disabled persons when we already have a mechanism to take care of disabled persons.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:50 AM
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this is not only about Social Security....

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tedknut.../#47b005b9734d

Quote:
Comprehensive Bill To Aid Retirement Security Likely To Pass House This Year Says Ways & Means Chair
Spoiler:
The Democrat chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, Connecticut’s Richard Neal, said today he is putting together a comprehensive bill with Republican ideas to boost retirement security that is likely to pass the House this year.

He refused to make a prediction if the legislation would pass the Senate and become law.

“The retirement crisis is real and will only worsen unless we strengthen Social Security, make saving easier, and do more to encourage employers to offer retirement plans,” said the powerful Congressman.

Alluding to the increasing financial struggles many people are facing in their later years, Neal pointed out Americans are increasingly forced to work past retirement age.

He noted between 1977 and 2007, the number of workers over the age of retirement increased by 101 percent, and the number of workers age 75 and older increased by 172 percent.


Neal’s comments came on a day when Ways and Means and the Senate Aging Committee held separate hearings on the ills and possible cures for the nation’s retirement system.

The Democrat agreed with Republican Senate Aging Committee Chair, Maine’s Susan Collins, that retirement security is a significant public policy problem requiring bipartisan solutions.

At the House hearing, Republican Texas lawmaker Kevin Brady, who left the Ways & Means chairmanship when the chamber switched to a Democratic majority following the November elections, offered an olive branch to his Democratic successor:

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“If we work together, we can make Social Security solvent.”

The Social Security trust fund is projected to become insolvent in 2034.

With that financial cushion eliminated and payroll taxes still flowing into the system, beneficiaries would see their monthly payments reduced by about 20 percent.

There is a bill already in the hopper with good chances of passage that could bolster Social Security, Social Security Works President Nancy Altman in her appearance before Ways & Means.

The Social Security 2100 Act, sponsored by Ways & Means Social Security Subcommittee Chair Rep. John Larson (D-Conn), provides for across-the-board benefit increases, more accurate cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and a minimum benefit large enough seniors wouldn’t have to live in poverty.

Altman said she is optimistic because the legislation has 200 cosponsors and needs only 218 votes in the House to pass.

While acknowledging Social Security needs a fix, Brady painted a brighter picture than most experts of the state of retirement readiness in the United States.

He said economic expansion, job growth, and increased wages – the highest wage gains in nearly 11 years – have improved retirement security.

“We almost romanticize retirement in this country, and for good reason,” the former chair of the House’s tax law writing committee said.

The fellow Republican who chairs Senate Aging saw a cloudier outlook.

“For those living paycheck to paycheck, it can be difficult to cover the heating bill or to afford much-needed medications, much less save for the future. For many, saving for retirement seems out of the question,” cautioned Collins of Maine.

Pessimism was also voiced in the Ways & Means testimony of National Institute on Retirement Security Executive Director Diane Oakley:

“With the disappearance of pensions and declining workplace retirement plan coverage, most Americans have a dim retirement outlook.”

She called for two legislative fixes that could “meaningfully” improve the retirement income of workers who have saved little or nothing.

One bold stroke, Oakley said, would be for Congress to promote universal access to a retirement saving vehicle through employer payroll so all Americans could take a first important step to pay themselves first with a retirement contribution.

The other bold stroke, she urged, would be the expansion and transformation of the current tax credit for low- and moderate-income taxpayers who save for retirement.

“This Savers’ Credit is complex and burdensome for taxpayers and only a fraction of those eligible for the credit claim it,” Oakley said.

In addition, she said the tax credit into an “Uncle Sam” matching contribution.


http://www.aei.org/publication/testi...ricas-workers/
Quote:
Testimony: On improving retirement security for America’s workers

Spoiler:
Chairman Neal, Ranking Member Brady, and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss developments in retirement income policy in the United States.
Today I wish to make three main points:

There simply is no retirement crisis. Retirement incomes have been rising rapidly and the vast majority of retirees state they have sufficient money to live comfortably. Retirement savings have risen seven-fold since participation in traditional defined benefit pensions peaked in 1975 and retirement plan participation has increased. No system is perfect, but the notion that retirement income provision needs a wholesale redesign is entirely unjustified by the data.
Congress has enacted a number of policies to increase 401(k) participation and improve 401(k) investments. Further bipartisan improvements have been suggested. However, Congress has over 30 years failed to reform Social Security and many Americans have little faith in the program. If there is a retirement crisis, it is in retirement plans run by federal, state and local governments, whose unfunded liabilities exceed even the most pessimistic estimates of shortfalls in retirement saving by U.S. households.
Because there is no retirement crisis, proposals such as to expand Social Security should be considered with caution. Expanding benefits could help low-income retirees, but middle and high-income workers would likely reduce their personal saving in response to higher expected Social Security benefits. Likewise, while tax increases would help address Social Security’s funding shortfalls, those same tax increases could increase borrowing and debt by low-income workers and reduce work and encourage tax evasion by high high-wage employees.
Even if there is no broad retirement crisis, severely inadequate retirement incomes are always a crisis to the retiree who suffers from one. Congress should not ignore gaps in retirement income security. Instead, we need to address problems where they occur while being aware of unintended consequences. In some cases such reforms would be targeted; in others, a broader rethinking of retirement income policy may be necessary.
In the remainder of this testimony I review data regarding the adequacy of U.S. households’ retirement saving and incomes; insights into Social Security reform; recent Congressional accomplishments on retirement policy; the challenge facing multi-employer pensions; and unintended consequences of state-sponsored auto-IRA savings plans.
Many of these facts and figures may be new and sometimes surprising. It is my hope to present retirement-related data and research that may be new to Members of the Committee, providing greater context to our nation’s retirement savings success and challenges.

Read the full testimony here.


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  #1283  
Old 02-07-2019, 03:45 PM
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https://www.forbes.com/sites/ebauer/.../#163f3a35556d

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It's Time To Go Big On Social Security Reform

Spoiler:
Is retirement back on the agenda?

Two weeks ago, Rep. John Larson reintroduced his Social Security 2100 Act (which I discussed previously), with great hopes that under a Democratic-controlled House, the bill would progress forward in a way that hadn't happened in prior years.

And yesterday there were not just one but two hearings in Congress about retirement, the first at the Ways and Means Committee, on the topic of "improving retirement security for America's workers," and the second at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, "“Financial Security in Retirement: Innovations and Best Practices to Promote Savings.” At the (livestreamed) Ways and Means hearing, the discussion was wide-ranging, including Social Security itself, private savings, the impact of the so-called "gig economy," multi-employer plans, and more, and representatives from both sides of the aisle affirmed their desire to deal with the multiple issues at play.


But here's the challenge.

On the one hand, there are calls to increase the extent of Social Security benefit provision; Larson's bill, for example, increases Social Security benefits for all participants by a flat 2%, above and beyond other changes. Other proposals call for increases in benefits for survivors, the addition of caregiving credits, and the like.

On the other hand, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute observed, both in his written testimony and in person, increases in pension benefits for the middle class are correlated with decreases in personal savings, rather than an overall increase in retirement provision.

Diane Oakley's testimony as the Executive Director of the National Institute on Retirement Security pointed to low levels of retirement savings among Millennials. Biggs responded that (paraphrased), it's simply not true that 100% of the population needs to save for retirement 100% of the time, because low-income folk see good income-replacement levels from Social Security and Millennials choosing to repay student loans might be making reasonable decisions relative to their financial situation. (Incidentally, the data on the level of retirement savings turns out to be murky, with different sources producing different answers.)

And many of the Congressmen and witnesses alike invoked the defined benefit plans of the past without due recognition that this system only benefitted those who were lucky enough to work a full career at a single, large employer, and that it was an unsustainable system in any event.

What's the solution? We need to Go Big in Social Security reform. These discussions repeatedly reveal the design flaws of Social Security itself. In any other situation, we wouldn't hesitate to say that an 84-year old system could be overhauled. FDR was not a saint who created a system under divine inspiration, nor a genius whose insights our intelligence is too limited to surpass.

Too many pundits and politicians want Social Security to accomplish two goals: to keep the elderly out of poverty, and to ensure that middle-class retirees can maintain their standard of living.

We are already moving towards a recognition that making savings easier is a key ingredient in solutions to the latter problem. In fact, one of the witnesses was a small business owner, Luke Huffstutter, who was one of the first participants in OregonSaves and was enthusiastic about its success in helping his employees save. While I've shared my concerns with these programs in the past, the overall objective is sound: to increase the degree to which workers save for retirement even if their employer doesn't provide access to retirement savings. There are efforts, too, through defined contribution multiple employer plans, to reduce employers' administrative costs to increase the feasibility of plan offerings. What's missing are innovations to help American workers understand how much they need to save, given their individual situations, and solutions to help them spend down their money so as to avoid either outliving their assets or over-reducing their standard of living in an effort to stretch their savings unnecessarily much.

All too often, and even at the hearing itself, we still hear that employers are not meeting their responsibility to provide for their share of their workers' retirement benefits. But we need to abandon the idea of the three-legged stool once and for all, or at least discard the notion that Social Security, employer, and personal savings income sources are interchangeable stool-legs.

The economic system of the 1930s no longer exists. And Social Security's design, and its "stool" concept, is a relic of a time when industrial America was imagined simply to continue to grow, when employers and the Social Security Administration alike would benefit from the same literal pyramid effect of high birth rates and comparatively low post-retirement life expectancy, when individual employers would likewise only continue to grow their workforce, once the temporary economic conditions of the Depression were behind us. (Incidentally, many low-fertility countries, such as Germany, are now forecast to have inverted-pyramid population distributions, and the U.S. may follow suit depending on immigration levels.)

Instead, we need to refocus Social Security on the first of these objectives, ensuring retirees are protected from poverty, and, to reach that goal, it would be an entirely fair trade-off to reduce Social Security provision for middle-class income and above, in order to ensure that Social Security meets its objective of keeping American elderly out of poverty/near-poverty. That might be through a simple flat-dollar benefit for everyone, or a means-tested benefit that phases out at higher retirement income levels, or a hybrid benefit.

Then we can work out the best means of ensuring middle-class Americans are able to save for retirement and are able to spend-down their savings in retirement appropriately.

Only in this way can we move past the same old, tired debates about benefit cuts vs. tax hikes and, increasingly benefit increases, debates that never make progress because the terms of the debate are so ossified.

(And, yes, if this sounds familiar, this is indeed, in broad outlines, my own pet Social Security reform proposal.)


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  #1284  
Old 02-07-2019, 04:56 PM
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http://www.indexjournal.com/news/nat...61fc24c79.html

Quote:
National Institute on Retirement Security Testifies Before House Ways and Means Committee on the U.S. Retirement Savings Shortfall

Spoiler:
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb 6, 2019--Diane Oakley, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security, will testify today before the U.S. House of Representative Ways and Means Committee hearing, Improving Retirement Security for America’s Workers. The hearing will begin at 10:00 AM ET in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Oakley will provide committee members with an overview of the fundamental changes to the nation’s retirement system that have made it increasingly difficult for Americans to prepare for retirement. She will discuss how the disappearance of pensions and declining workplace retirement plan coverage means that Americans have a dim retirement outlook.

She also will provide insight on how the deep retirement savings shortfall means that many Americans will face the prospect of continuing to work well into their 60s, a substantially reduced standard of living, and/or the need to turn to families or government for financial assistance. Ultimately, the inability of older Americans to be self-sufficient after a lifetime of work will have negative impacts on the U.S. economy, government budgets and families.

The testimony also will provide committee members with insight on bold actions that can be taken to improve the retirement outlook for working Americans.

Download the testimony here.

Read more about NIRS research cited in the testimony, including:

, which finds that the median retirement account balance among all working individuals is $0.00, and that 57 percent (more than 100 million) of working age individuals do not own any retirement account assets in an employer-sponsored 401(k)-type plan, individual account or pension.

, which finds that only 31 percent of all working age Latinos participate in workplace retirement plans, resulting in a median retirement account balance equal to $0.

, which finds that this generation is far off-track when it comes to saving for retirement, and that 66 percent of working Millennials have nothing saved for retirement.

, which finds that 76 percent of Americans are concerned about their ability to achieve a secure retirement, and some 88 percent agree that the nation faces a retirement crisis.

, which finds that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older.

The full body of research is available at www.nirsonline.org.

The National Institute on Retirement Security is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established to contribute to informed policymaking by fostering a deep understanding of the value of retirement security to employees, employers and the economy as a whole. Located in Washington, D.C., NIRS’ diverse membership includes financial services firms, employee benefit plans, trade associations, and other retirement service providers. More information is available at www.nirsonline.org. Follow NIRS on Twitter @nirsonline.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/ho...0206005338/en/


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Old 02-08-2019, 02:09 PM
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The Social Security trust fund is projected to become insolvent in 2034.[/url]


Any publication that states this without further discussion is very misleading. Yes, 2034 is when the trust fund will theoretically be exhausted and benefits HAVE to be changed.

However, the economy will be crushed well before then by the need for the general revenue to pay back the trust fund. Benefits HAVE to be curtailed sooner and/or FICA taxes raised to match cash flows. The longer we wait, the worse those benefit decreases or tax hikes will be.

We have spent decades sucking on the teat of deficit spending. How can we possibly cut back so much that the IRS actually takes in MORE money than congress can spend, freeing up the dollars to repay that IOU to OASDI? It's not realistic. Keep borrowing more and more? Tbills will become riskier than junk bonds, I fear.

Keep an eye on the ratio of accumulated deficit to GDP. When that gets over 100%, be afraid.
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:01 PM
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Oregon allows "x" when indicating gender on birth records, presumably on SS card applications. This could become widespread. How will that affect SS studies/projections?
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:42 PM
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They can do a blended gender projection, I suppose. I've worked with such mortality tables in the past.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:38 AM
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https://www.telegram.com/news/201902...curity-fantasy

Quote:
Robert Samuelson: The Social Security fantasy

Spoiler:
One of the great challenges of our time is to prevent Social Security and other programs for the elderly from taking over the national government. It may already be too late. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office reported that federal spending on the 65-plus population now amounts to 40 percent of non-interest outlays, up from 35 percent in 2005. By 2029, the CBO projects it to be 50 percent.

Here is how the CBO describes the outlook:

“Over the next decade, as members of the baby-boom generation age and life expectancy increases, the number of people age 65 or older is expected to continue to rise — by about one-third, from 16 percent of the population in 2018 to 20 percent in 2029. ... Federal spending for older people is anticipated to ... [take] up a greater share of federal resources.”

By the CBO’s math, two-thirds of the projected growth in federal spending over the next decade, after adjustment for inflation, will stem from programs for the elderly -- mostly Social Security and Medicare, but also long-term nursing home care under Medicaid and civil-service retirement.

Against that backdrop, raising Social Security benefits would seem a non-starter. Guess again.

Congressional Democrats have proposed legislation to increase spending. There are four main provisions: (1) an across-the-board benefit increase of about 2 percent; (2) a cost-of-living adjustment that would raise future benefits faster; (3) a larger minimum benefit for the poor; and (4) tax cuts (Social Security benefits are taxed if non-Social Security income exceeds $25,000 for singles and $32,000 for couples; these thresholds would be raised to $50,000 and $100,000.).

Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn, a main sponsor of the bill, believes the U.S. faces a retirement crisis.

Actually, we don’t, as recent testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee by Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute makes clear. (Biggs was deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration in 2007 and 2008.)

The most convincing evidence is what retirees say about themselves, Biggs notes. According to Gallup, more than three-quarters of retirees (78 percent) say they “have enough money to live comfortably.” The Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances finds that 75 percent of Americans 65 and over have “at least enough to maintain [their] standard of living.” That is up from 61 percent in 1992.

The polling organization NORC at the University of Chicago regularly asks respondents about their financial situation. “In all recent years,” says NORC, “those 65-plus have shown the least financial dissatisfaction.”

In 2014, 45 percent of 65-plus respondents were “satisfied” with their finances and 37 percent were “more or less satisfied.” Only 18 percent were “not at all satisfied.” By contrast, only 21 percent of the 35-to-49 group were satisfied, 50 percent were “more or less satisfied” and 30 percent were “not at all satisfied.”

True, most people’s incomes drop when they retire. But their expenses also typically drop. The stereotype of most old people tumbling into poverty is wrong, in part because their incomes are significantly underreported. An important recent paper by economists Adam Bee of the Census Bureau and Joshua Mitchell of Welch Consulting estimated that, after correcting for the missing money, the median income of elderly households in 2012 jumped almost a third, from $33,800 to $44,400. The poverty rate among the elderly, already much lower than in the general population, also fell by a quarter. The main sources of underreporting involve income from IRAs, 401(k) plans and traditional pensions.

There are roughly 50 million Americans 65 and over. In a population so large, there are bound to be some Americans who are in dire straits because they don’t have retirement savings or have retirement plans that are tragically underfunded. There may be targeted remedies that can help them. But the notion that there is pervasive poverty among older Americans is a political fantasy that is used to justify spending that, as a society, we cannot afford.

One way that the Democrats would pay for their new benefit is by imposing payroll taxes on wages above $400,000. Another way is to increase gradually the payroll tax on all workers. By 2050, the added taxes would equal an estimated 4.9 percent of current law payroll. Budget deficits might, it seems, be contained. Isn’t that responsible? Well, no. Under existing policies, the CBO projects deficits of nearly $12 trillion over a decade. Higher taxes are needed to trim these deficits. That will be harder if they’re committed to paying more for Social Security.

It is conventional wisdom in Washington that the Republican addiction to tax cuts is mainly responsible for the huge budget deficits. This is, at best, a half-truth. Democrats are equally responsible, because they refuse to come to grips with the massive spending on retirement and health care. Expanding Social Security is mostly a political bribe that comes at the expense of other programs and workers, who must pay the resulting taxes.


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Old 02-11-2019, 11:39 AM
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https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamieho.../#634cfa9e79ad

Quote:
New Proposal To Update Social Security Fails To Address One Of The Biggest Issues

Spoiler:
In what amounted to a slight surprise in Congress because of the ongoing political divide, a remarkable piece of legislation – The Social Security 2100 Act – was introduced by Representative John Larson (D-CT). The act is aimed at solving one of the biggest issues facing the government and Americans: the funding shortage for Social Security. The bill was introduced with more than 200 cosponsors and appears to have a good deal of broad support. The bill does a lot right, but also misses one of the biggest issues around Social Security today – ill-informed decision making.

Why The Bill Is Important
The pending Social Security funding shortfall has mostly been put to the side in recent years. Social Security remains the bedrock of American retirement, with roughly one-third of all retirees relying on Social Security as their only real source of retirement income and roughly 60 percent of Americans relying on Social Security for more than 50 percent of their retirement income.

Furthermore, it’s the government’s single largest expenditure and over 90 percent of the workforce pays into the system. A shortfall is expected around year 2034, making the funding issue harder to fix with every year Congress doesn’t act. But then again, when have we known the government to fix an issue a decade or more ahead of when it breaks?


What The Bill Does Right
The new legislation would do a number of things:

Change benefits
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It would increase benefits for those who have paid into the system almost across the board. Overall, the benefit increase would be around 2 percent of the average benefit. Lower wage earners would see the biggest increase in benefits. The minimum benefit would be set at 25 percent above the poverty line, ensuring a safety net for workers in retirement and continuing the initial purpose of Social Security – to provide a floor of income for keeping retired lower-end earners out of poverty.

Update cost-of-living adjustments
Additionally, the cost-of-living adjustments would be updated to ensure the system tracks retirees’ spending needs. Currently the system relies on the CPI-W, which tracks worker spending. The act would adopt the CPI-E, which would better reflect the spending habits of seniors. The taxation of Social Security benefits would be updated, reducing a tax burden on many in retirement.

Fix funding issues
Lastly, and most importantly, the bill would fix the funding issues. The system is called Social Security – the key word being Security. Social Security benefits create a floor of income for those who pay into the system that lasts for life. This should bring a sense of security to the recipients, knowing they have a steady, inflation-adjusted and lifetime income source in retirement.

The new means for funding the Social Security system would be to tax high income earners on wages over $400,000. The tax would only impact the top 0.4 percent of wage earners but would bring in significant revenue. Currently, Social Security taxes stop at roughly wages of $132,900. The new system would essentially start the tax back up again at $400,000. It is not entirely clear if this provision – crucial to the bill’s success – will garner support on both sides of the political aisle.

What The Bill Is Still Missing
The biggest issue the Social Security 2100 act doesn’t address is claiming decisions. Far too many Americans claim Social Security benefits before their full retirement age, causing a huge and permanent reduction in their benefits and lower retirement security. In some cases, claiming benefits early results in incentives so it is crucial to be informed.

The government should do more to encourage people to stay in the workforce longer and defer Social Security benefits out further. One option would be to delay the earliest you can claim benefits, which is currently set at age 62.

Another option would be to have required counseling before someone claims benefits. This is similar to what is done with the reverse mortgage HECM program and other types of government loans. While staffing such an endeavor could be challenging, modernizing the technology and systems of Social Security in a bill aimed at fixing the system to 2100 would make sense. The education or counseling could be set up as a computer software program or other form.

Fixing the underlying funding issues of Social Security is crucial, but we also need to support better and smarter decisions around Social Security claiming. We know many people are not making the best decisions, and this should be addressed to paint a more secure retirement picture for Americans. Ultimately, the bill is a huge step forward. It would significantly improve the status of Social Security – if it can make its way through Congress.


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Old 02-13-2019, 07:32 PM
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https://www.forbes.com/sites/ebauer/...I#736df51c2262

Quote:
How To "Scrap The Cap" The Right Way

Spoiler:
It is, so Twitter tells me, "Scrap the Cap Day" -- the day when Social Security expansion activists are out in force promoting the idea that, because someone earning a million dollars in wage income would hit the Social Security ceiling today, it's a clear proof that we need to eliminate the ceiling itself. The Center for American Progress chose today to issue a report on the topic and Senator Bernie Sanders chose today to unveil his Social Security legislation, which, as described by CNN, boosts benefits by means of an additional 12.4% payroll tax on earned income above $250,000 as well as a 6.2% tax on investment income for singles with total income above $200,000, or $250,000 for couples, in the same fashion as the existing Medicare surtax.

(This legislation is further described as a reintroduction of his 2017 bill, which sets a minimum benefit after 30 years of eligible employment at 125% of the single-person poverty measure, or $31,225 for a two-person household, indexed at national wage increases; indexes Social Security by the CPI - E, a form of CPI specifically reflecting the spending of the elderly; but does not make any provision for the indexing of the thresholds for the payroll or Medicare surtax.)

Now, this isn't new, and I've addressed the issue in an article last year, but at the risk of repeating myself, sure, we can "Scrap the Cap." But if we do, we need to be honest about it.


First, we need to acknowledge that Social Security would no longer be a Social Insurance program as conventionally understood. Readers of that prior article will recall that we are already outside the norm in terms of the way countries fund their pension systems, at least with respect to systems which resemble ours in terms of providing accruals based on pay and work history. Their ceilings are much lower -- to take one example, in Canada, the ceiling is CAD 57,400 (about USD 43,000).

Now, it does appear that the conventional wisdom that people won't accept Social Security as a "welfare program" may no longer be true -- after all, there is considerable interest in the federal government providing all manner of services for residents, from medical care to free child care and tuitionless-universities. But without getting bogged down in that debate, we need to at least acknowledge what's on the table.

Second, if we're to abandon the Social Security ceiling, then there's really no reason to tie Social Security taxes to specifically earned income or a payroll tax. In that event, it's far more practical to simply increase income tax rates the requisite amount and collect the tax revenues along with all other taxes. (Again, I raised the issue with respect to Medicare earlier as well.)

And, finally, once we abandon the connection between earnings and Social Security that's inherent in the elimination of the Social Security ceiling and the taxation of investment income, and once we demand that the upper middle class and wealthy "pay their fair share" -- that is, pay more in than they get out in benefits -- then the entire formula is due for a re-think, as, again, the most honest way to deliver benefits in such a system is with a flat dollar amount, whether that's means-tested and phased-out with income (Australia), part of a two-element system alongside a wage-based system (Canada), or a simple flat benefit for everyone (the Netherlands). And the size of such a benefit will have to be determined, not in isolation, but by evaluating the system's cost and retiree living standards alongside the needs of families with children, the disabled, and the poor.

So how 'bout it?


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