Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Now's Not the Time to Cut Social Security
"...Social Security has been under attack. Monthly payments are modest, averaging
about $1,250, and over time the benefits are shrinking in value. This puts a terrible squeeze
on our seniors.
"With tens of millions of people more financially stressed as they approach retirement, with more
and more people left out of the private retirement security system, and with the economic
security of our families unraveling, Social Security is rapidly becoming the only lifeline that
millions of seniors have to keep their heads above water. And yet, instead of taking on the
retirement crisis, instead of strengthening Social Security, some in Washington are actually
fighting to cut benefits.
"Just this morning, the Washington Post ran an editorial mocking the idea of a looming retirement
crisis. To make sure no one missed the point, they even put the words “retirement crisis” in
quotation marks. No retirement crisis? Tell that to the millions of Americans who are facing
retirement without a pension. Tell that to the millions of Americans who have nothing to fall
back on except Social Security. There is a $6.6 trillion gap between what Americans under 65
are currently saving and what they will need to maintain their current standard of living when
they hit retirement. $6.6 trillion—and that assumes Social Security benefits aren’t cut.ix Make no
mistake: This is a crisis.
"The call to cut Social Security has an uglier side to it, too. The Washington Post framed the
choice as more children in poverty versus more seniors in poverty. The suggestion that we have
become a country where those living in poverty fight each other for a handful of crumbs tossed
off the tables of the very wealthy is fundamentally wrong. This is about our values, and our
values tell us that we don’t build a future by first deciding who among our most vulnerable will
be left to starve.
"I hold deep values, and I look at basic facts. Today, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus. If
we do nothing, Social Security will be safe for the next 20 years and even after that will continue
to pay most benefits. With some modest adjustments, we can keep the system solvent for many
more years – and could even increase benefits.
"The tools to help us build a future are available to us now. We don’t start the debate by deciding
who gets kicked to the curb. We are Americans. We start the debate by figuring out how to
create better efficiencies, how to make small changes that will make the system fairer, how to
grow the pool of those who contribute, how to rebuild a system that every single one of us can
rely on to make sure that there is a baseline in retirement that no one falls below.
We don’t build a future for our children by cutting basic retirement benefits for their
grandparents. No, we build a future for our kids by strengthening our economy, by investing in
education and infrastructure and research, by rebuilding a strong and robust middle class in
which every kid gets a chance—and the most vulnerable have a strong safety net..."
The rest of her remarks can be read here...