Social Security has proven itself as a rock-solid foundation of the middle class and by protecting seniors, widows, orphans, and the disabled from extreme poverty.
It is completely self-funded, with operating costs of half of 1%, yet Congress has cut 14 of its last 16 requests to use a tiny bit more of its own $2.8 trillion surplus—money we’ve already paid for its services.
The US provides lower Social Security benefits than most developed countries, ranking 26th out of the top 30 nations. Many people applying for Social Security lose all their financial resources, homes, or even die or kill themselves while waiting for help.
Millionaires and billionaires pay no Social Security tax at all on any earnings beyond $128,400, which means we actually fail to collect this tax on more than 86% of all wages.
Just taxing the rich on all their earnings would cover the entire $13.2 trillion needed to pay the full Social Security benefit until 2092. In 2016 alone, rich people didn’t pay any Social Security tax on $1.2 trillion in earnings.
Nearly 10,000 very wealthy people only pay Social Security for the first day or two or week or two of their work each year, then no more for the rest of the year. This is ridiculous, when the working poor struggle to pay the Social Security tax on everything they earn.
Very rich people don’t work for most of their money—it comes from investments. And they don’t pay any Social Security taxes on this income, either.
Polls show most Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, do not want to cut Social Security or Medicare. In fact, they support increasing Social Security and paying for it by making the rich pay into Social Security at the same rate as everybody else.
There is no need to cut programs that strengthen our economy by supporting the middle class and helping our poor and elderly, like Social Security and Medicare.
Strengthen Social Security & Medicare (Full Text)
Now that corporations have eliminated retirement pensions for most workers and the middle class is shrinking and hurting, we have a real retirement crisis. Over half of all Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings at all.
For most average Americans, Social Security is the only thing that will protect them from extreme poverty in old age. Because of Social Security, our elderly poverty rate is 9%. Without it, the poverty rate for old people would be 44%.
Because women very often do free work for many years as caretakers for children or elderly parents, work less than men, make less money when they work, and live longer than men, the great increase in never married or divorced women leaves many elderly women in poverty. One in 6 single white women 65 years old or older lives in poverty. So do 1 in 3 single black elderly women and almost 1 in 2 such Hispanics.
Social Security has proven itself as a rock-solid foundation of the middle class. It provides virtually all the income for 1/3 of retirees and 50% or more of the income for 2/3 of all retirees. It has kept millions of senior citizens, widows, orphans, and the disabled from extreme poverty.
Those trying to cut, privatize, and destroy Social Security call it an entitlement, trying to make it seem like a government handout many people don’t deserve. They also falsely claim it is broke or contributing to our deficit.
They even pretend their proposals, like the Social Security Reform Act or the Save Our Social Security Act, will save the program, while in fact cutting its benefits.
The truth is Americans have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits by paying taxes all their working lives. And Social Security now has a $2.8 trillion surplus. If we do nothing, it will be safe for the next 18 years. Even after that, it will still be able to pay about 75% of its currently scheduled benefits.
Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit because it uses no money from the federal budget. It is completely self-funded by workers’ contributions. It is amazingly efficient, with operating costs of just half of 1%.
Yet Congress has cut 14 of Social Security’s last 16 budget requests, constantly reducing how much of the agency’s own $2.8 trillion it can use. This has cut 597 offices and cut its workforce by 25,000, despite an exploding workload with ever more baby boomers retiring.
Now over one million people are waiting for decisions on their disability claims, with the average wait at nearly two years. Some people go homeless while waiting. Many wait hours and hours just to talk to a worker.
Congress could very easily fix these problems by letting Social Security use just 1/10 of 1% more of the $2.8 trillion surplus we’ve already paid for these services. Republicans are deliberately causing the agency’s problems to sabotage it, claim it is broke, and privatize it so Wall Street can make money on it.
The richer you are, the less percentage of your income you pay to Social Security. Millionaires and billionaires pay no social security tax at all on any earnings beyond $128,400, which means we actually fail to collect social security tax on more than 86% of all wages.
Because of this foolish rule, nearly 10,000 wealthy people pay Social Security taxes on just their first week or two of work, then none for the rest of the year, every year! Nearly 1,000 of these people only pay Social Security taxes for only a day or two of their work each year!
This is ridiculous, when the working poor struggle to pay the Social Security tax on everything they earn.
By simply charging the rich the same Social Security tax rate that poor people pay on all their wages, their fair share, we could collect the entire $13.2 trillion needed to pay the full Social Security benefit until 2092. In 2016 alone, rich people didn’t pay any Social Security tax on $1.2 trillion in earnings.
Rich people, and especially the richest people, don’t even work for most of their money. The vast majority of their income comes from dividends, interest, and capital gains from investments like buying and selling real estate or stocks.
Because of our crazy laws, they don’t even pay any Social Security taxes on this non-wage income. The richest 20 Americans, each earning $22 billion a year on average, pay no Social Security tax.
By taxing this non-wage income, too, we could increase Social Security benefits and the program would still be funded far longer. The rich certainly benefit from the program. Since 2004, people with salaries of $1 million or more have collected over $9 billion in social security.
We first created Social Security to support low-income workers in retirement. But rich people now live significantly longer than the poor, so they get to collect their larger (income-based) benefits for longer.
Our Social Security benefits are actually very low. The US provides lower Social Security benefits than most developed countries, ranking 26th out of the top 30 developed nations. Our Social Security disability program restricts eligibility more harshly and has stingier payments than all but one of the top 34 nations.
Many people applying for Social Security lose all their financial resources, homes, or even die or kill themselves while waiting for help. Salvador Santa Cruz worked 12 hours a day until exhaustion and endless coughing stopped him. Doctors found lung fibrosis disabled him but Social Security refused his claim for 2½ years until after he died.
Randal Darby lost his teaching job when he became disoriented from diabetes, then opened a coffee shop to keep working. He had to give that up when his customers sometimes found him in a near-coma and when his numb hands dropped cups and dishes and got burns he didn’t feel. He also died before Social Security granted him disability.
Army sergeant and single mother Lauri Wells had to quit working because of 11 medical conditions but she lost everything and lived in poverty because it took Social Security 7 years to agree she was disabled and start retroactive benefits.
Despite what some people think, it’s not easy to get disability here, disability fraud is not rampant, and disability claims are not skyrocketing. In fact, people on disability are 3 to 6 times more likely to die than people in their age group not on disability.
Polls show most Americans do not want to cut Social Security or Medicare. In fact, 90% of Democrats and 73% of both Republicans and Independents support increasing Social Security and paying for it by making the rich pay into Social Security at the same rate as everybody else.
We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world and richer than ever before. There is no need to cut programs that strengthen our economy by supporting the middle class and helping our poor and elderly, like Social Security and Medicare.