To the Editor:
While we read about tariffs, family separations and the administration’s cabinet members trying not to resemble swamp creatures, a crisis brews very slowly. Congress and the current administration have ignored the decaying nature of the Social Security program. After next year, we will see a noticeable decline in the surplus as Baby Boomers continue to retire at the rate of more than 10,000 a day.
In less than 20 years, Social Security will become a pay-as-you-go program, meaning what is collected that month will be paid out the next month. No surplus at all. 20 years sounds like a long time, but 9/11 was just 17 years ago. Time does fly. The result will be a reduction in the average monthly payouts of about 20 percent to keep the program solvent. That’s a $300 decrease per check in today’s dollars. But the good news is, it will keep seniors slightly above the poverty level.
What do the parties propose, if anything? Raise taxes like President Reagan did in 1985. The Democrats want the cap taken off of wages above $129,000 a year. That windfall should maintain the surplus forever. The Republicans, those who don’t want to kill the program entirely, say keep raising the full retirement age. Today that is 67 for anyone born after 1960. Maybe people could work to 75. Donald Trump said in a speech in 2013 at a Conservative Political Action Conference meeting that you do not want to do anything to Social Security or Medicare just before an election, unless you want to lose. Let the economy grow, he said, and the problems take care of themselves. But we have elections every other year and the economy has been growing steadily since 2009. And yet the surplus erodes.
Considering that current budget proposals have targeted cuts for seniors including housing assistance, such as Section 8, heating assistance, food stamps, Medicaid payments and food delivery, you would think living on the average Social Security payment of $1,400 is adequate and possibly generous. Come on, seniors of America, learn how to budget better.