Media will use words like EXPANDED SOCIAL SECURITY------and 'REMOVING CAPS' in moving revenue to Social Security-----but they deliberately confuse the issue between the social Democratic intention of keeping Social Security Trust public and solvent------vs the Clinton/Obama neo-liberal goal of privatizing it away and sticking Americans into yet another Wall Street plan that simply allows Wall Street to use what is a few trillion dollars of our Social Security Trust for leverage. Wall Street and the FED have been using it anyway since Reagan started sending our SS Trust to the US Treasury instead of leaving it in its Trust----
BUT THAT IS NOT HOW IT HAS EVER BEEN USED SINCE ITS INCEPTION AS PART OF FDR'S NEW DEAL. A REAL DEMOCRAT WOULD HAVE REVERSED THIS---BUT WE ALLOWED ANOTHER NEO-LIBERAL IN CLINTON BE ELECTED AS A DEMOCRAT-----WANTING TO END SOCIAL SECURITY AS REPUBLICANS DO.
Below you see the REAL social Democratic stance on expanded Social Security-----Obama and Warren with Republicans are building the structure to privatize SS.
'To shore up Social Security's finances, Sen. Sanders' plan would eliminate the cap on Social Security contributions for earnings above $250,000 a year. It would also expand the system's revenue base to include high-income households' unearned income. Together, these measures would simply ensure that high-income households contribute to Social Security on all of their income at the same rate as the typical worker does.
To ease the retirement income crisis, it would expand benefits by:
- Increasing Social Security benefits by about $65 a month for most recipients
- Increasing cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients by basing them on an index that better reflects the living costs of seniors (the CPI-E)
- Providing a minimum Social Security benefit to significantly reduce the senior poverty rate'
Any justice organization and especially justice organizations tied to seniors would have shouted a few years ago when Obama installed Bush's SS privatization policies with myRA-----did you hear AARP shouting? That is because AARP is now a national corporation using senior issues to profit----it is no longer a justice organization. Every time media introduced the idea of myRA-----the Fairness Doctrine would have had someone telling you----
WAKE UP----CLINTON WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALS ARE WORKING WITH REPUBLICANS TO END SOCIAL SECURITY. ALL OF MARYLAND'S POLS ARE CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS OR BUSH/HOPKINS NEO-CONS.
ThinkProgress is a Clinton neo-liberal outlet and if you see all of the media hype----they have Warren as the champion of main street calling for expanded Social Security. Note that Bernie Sanders was calling for this BEFORE Warren and Bernie outlines this expansion as all social Democrats do-----protect SS Trust as it is----and expand revenue contributions by lifting the cap on affluent individuals to stabilize and allow SS Trust to last most of this century. When Bernie shouted that social Democratic issue----then all of the Clinton neo-liberal media outlets had Warren out there-----being populist------using the right words-----'expanded and capped'----but she and the Clinton neo-liberals in Congress posing progressive all have expanding Obama's myRA as a goal.
THERE ARE NO SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC MEDIA IN MAIN STREAM MEDIA EDUCATING AS TO WHY WARREN IS PROGRESSIVE POSING AND THIS IS HOW CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS HAVE FOOLED SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC VOTERS EVERY ELECTION----
'Working-age Americans are currently $6.6 trillion short of what they’ll need to have saved in order to maintain the standard of living in retirement — an amount that is larger than the entire economy of Japan — according to Warren'.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls For Expanding Social Security
by Alan Pyke Nov 19, 2013 8:56 am
American values demand that Congress boost retirement benefits rather than shrinking them to satisfy deficit hawks, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon. “We should be talking about expanding Social Security benefits, not cutting them,” Warren said.
Warren left the policy details for the end, focusing instead on history to show that the experience of being an American worker has gotten ever harder while providing less and less economic security. When wages flattened out and life got more expensive in the 1970s, “Working families didn’t ask for a bailout,” Warren said. “They rolled up their sleeves and sent both parents into the workforce. But that meant higher childcare costs, a second car, and higher taxes. So they tightened their belts more, cutting spending wherever they could.” As a result, she noted, working families have less to spend (adjusting for inflation) than they did a few decades ago, leaving less ability to include retirement savings in their budgets.
As economic security faded for working Americans, a secure retirement also grew more elusive. Employers started to back off pension promises, and the shift from classic pensions to 401(k) investment plans “that leave the retiree at the mercy of a market that rises and falls” meant that Social Security became a more and more crucial pillar of workers’ retirement planning, Warren said. Compared to classic pensions, which provide a fixed retirement income, 401(k)-style plans reduce retirement income for about a quarter of all participants. The shift to 401(k)s has made inequality worse over recent decades because they favor the wealthy, and the fees investment firms charge to manage the plans gobble up about a third of total returns over the course of the typical participant’s career. Almost two-thirds of the workforce is currently racking up debt faster than retirement savings, and even before the recession such “debt savers” made up nearly half of all workers.
“Add all of this up – the dramatic decline in individual savings and the dramatic decline of guaranteed retirement benefits and employer support in return for a lifetime of work – and we’re left with a retirement crisis,” Warren said.
If “crisis” seems like a strong word, consider that more than half of the people in the country are currently projected to see a significant drop in their standard of living once they retire. Working-age Americans are currently $6.6 trillion short of what they’ll need to have saved in order to maintain the standard of living in retirement — an amount that is larger than the entire economy of Japan — according to Warren.
Despite that crisis, Social Security has been repeatedly threatened with reductions in budget negotiations over the past three years, with cuts usually coming in the form of a change in the formula used to calculate benefit levels. Warren rejected that proposal, calling instead for shifting to a formula progressives favor for measuring senior citizens’ cost of living that “would generally increase benefits for our retirees, not cut them.”
“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,” she said.
I looked all over the progressive posing Clinton neo-liberal media outlets-------the ones that claim Warren is our populist leader and not one of them explains the real goal of this Clinton neo-liberal Congressional SS policy led by Warren and a very conservative West Virginia Manchin.
Financial media outlets do explain the goal because the intent of Warren and these Clinton neo-liberals is to do what Bush and Republicans have tried for decades-----PRIVATIZE SOCIAL SECURITY.
While Bernie Sanders as a REAL social Democrat outlines his intent to do what Americans really want done-----KEEP SOCIAL SECURITY AS A PUBLIC TRUST----BUT LIFT THE PAYROLL CAP ON AFFLUENT TO ADD REVENUE TO THE TRUST-----Clinton neo-liberal outlets are lying and filling the press with Warren as having the right answer. Since Warren supports Hillary----now the media will promote Hillary as supporting Expanded Social Security just like Bernie----only they are privatizing it.
ALL OF THIS IS BEING DONE BECAUSE MEDIA NO LONGER HAS FAIRNESS DOCTRINE WITH AN FCC MAKING SURE ALL POLITICAL VIEWS ARE HEARD.
'It would be better, as Biggs proposes, to shift gradually to a new system that separates the two functions of Social Security. People joining the workforce now should be promised a flat universal retirement benefit set at a level that keeps all seniors out of poverty. At the same time, they should be given the opportunity and incentive to save so that they have retirement funds beyond that subsistence-level benefit. They should be auto-enrolled in retirement savings accounts that would include an option to invest in index funds, with the mix of investments shifting from stocks to bonds as workers approached retirement'.
Elizabeth Warren Is Wrong About Social Security
2336 Apr 8, 2015 1:29 PM EDT Bloomberg Financial
By Ramesh Ponnuru
Social Security has a long-term funding gap that just keeps growing. Neither political party has a plan to pay for the promises we've already made to people contributing to the system. But Democrats are bringing a new idea to the table: make even more promises.
Almost all Senate Democrats have lined up behind a proposal by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to expand benefits for current retirees. Liberals are exulting that Warren has shifted the politics of Social Security to the left: Where once we were debating cutbacks to the program, now we're debating benefit increases. Too bad that also means the debate is shifting further away from fiscal reality.
Social Security is becoming a worse deal for each generation. Those now joining the workforce are expected to pay more into the system than they get out of it. Warren's plan is to shower more money on the current generation of retirees, but without increasing the deficit over the next 10 years. That means, in all likelihood, raising taxes on current workers while also increasing the program's long-run fiscal deficit.
The strongest argument in favor of expanding benefits is that Social Security should keep all senior citizens out of poverty, and doesn't. That fact, though, is really a remarkable indictment of the way the program is currently structured. As my American Enterprise Institute colleague Andrew Biggs has pointed out, the program substantially reduces work, saving and even birth rates without accomplishing this key social goal.
Social Security has always been a combination of forced savings and redistribution. The forced savings is overt, and helps cement political support for the program: It's the basis for the idea that retirees are "just getting back what they put in," which has been a fiction for most of the program's history. The redistribution is hidden, disguised in part by the program's universality: The formula for setting payments is progressive, but it is complicated, and even Warren Buffett can draw benefits.
Liberals seeking to expand Social Security want to keep this structure. They hope to make it better at alleviating poverty by raising benefit levels for everyone, even people who don't need it. The AFL-CIO's executive council put it this way in a 2012 statement: "Social Security retirement benefits must be increased across the board, which would be especially meaningful for low-income seniors." That's a good way to help the neediest at the largest possible cost.
It would be better, as Biggs proposes, to shift gradually to a new system that separates the two functions of Social Security. People joining the workforce now should be promised a flat universal retirement benefit set at a level that keeps all seniors out of poverty. At the same time, they should be given the opportunity and incentive to save so that they have retirement funds beyond that subsistence-level benefit. They should be auto-enrolled in retirement savings accounts that would include an option to invest in index funds, with the mix of investments shifting from stocks to bonds as workers approached retirement.
That would do better than the current program at preventing destitution because of the basic benefit. It would make for a more predictable stream of retirement income because it would dispense with complicated benefit formulas. And it would reduce Social Security's negative economic effects because it would no longer discourage work and saving.
It would also reduce Social Security's unfunded liability -- assuming, of course, that anyone still cares about that.
Bernie's plan for expanded Social Security leaves the SS Trust as it is----public-----and simply increases revenue by removing the payroll cap that stops at around $100,000 income----this will add lots of money to the SS Trust. What Bernie does as well that is never mentioned ----is try to lift monthly SS payments for seniors that were hit hard by the FED manipulations of last decade-----seniors lost a few hundred dollars a month because of FED manipulations of inflation and interest rate. Bernie wants to return those losses with a $65 a month boost. Then, Bernie addresses the COLA debacle----the one that does not tie Cost of Living to things relative to a senior's life----all of this is GOOD SOCIAL SECURITY POLICY AND IT DOES MAKE SS TRUST STABLE AND ABLE TO LAST ALL CENTURY.
Warren's and Clinton neo-liberal Congress' plan is Obama's myRA privatization plan.
Please take time to see the difference----and then look at all the media outlets that tried to make the Warren and Congressional neo-liberal plan look progressive AND STOP FOLLOWING THOSE OUTLETS---THEY ARE PROGRESSIVE POSING NEO-LIBERAL MEDIA.
Sen. Sanders' Bold Plan to Expand Social Security
03/16/2015 01:47 pm ET | Updated May 16, 2015
- Ben Veghte Vice President for Policy at the National Academy of Social Insurance
Last week U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced the Social Security Expansion Act, a thoughtful plan to both ensure greater retirement security for today's workers and retirees and strengthen Social Security's finances over the long term. It achieves these goals in large part by reforming Social Security to better come to terms with the much higher levels of inequality in the 21st-century economy.
Social Security's Revenue Structure Is Being Undermined by Inequality
Since the 1970s mutually reinforcing economic and political forces have allowed a larger share of our national income to flow to the owners of capital and to high-level managerial employees, while the wages of average workers have stagnated. The labor share of national income has declined by about 10 percent since 1980, while the share going to the owners of capital has increased by over a third. And within the labor share, the distribution has become more skewed toward the top, with greater inequality than at any time since the 1920s.
Not only has wage growth slowed and become highly unequal, but wealth inequality has grown as well. Today the top 1 percent receive a majority of all investment income in the United States.
Social Security payroll taxes are not due on earnings above the Social Security tax cap. Only 6 percent earn above the cap, which is $118,500 in 2015. Hence only the bottom 94 percent of earners pay Social Security contributions on all of their earnings. Higher earners pay no Social Security contributions whatsoever on their earnings above the cap, or on any of their investment income. Given these structural constraints on Social Security's revenue stream, it is unsurprising that slow and extremely unequal wage growth is causing significant harm to Social Security's finances.
Retirement Income Crisis Calls for Expanded, Not Reduced, Benefits
Just as inequality is hurting Social Security's finances, it is also hurting average Americans' ability to save for retirement. After three decades with no growth in the aggregate income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans, a new report by the National Institute on Retirement Security finds that the typical working-age household has been able to accumulate only $2,500 -- and the typical household nearing retirement only $14,500 -- in retirement savings, and that more than half (62 percent) of households nearing retirement have retirement savings lower than their annual income. Moreover, today only 14 percent of workers participate in a defined benefit pension, with a downward trend.
As a result of these dynamics, a majority (52 percent) of today's working-age households are expected to suffer a decline in their living standards in retirement. In fact, the total gap between what households aged 30 to 60 have actually saved and what they should have saved by today to maintain their living standards in retirement is estimated to be $7.7 trillion. In short, we have an enormous retirement income crisis in this country. It is arguably our most significant public policy challenge. Yet most of the Social Security talk in Congress today is about cutting, not expanding, benefits.
Sen. Sanders' Plan Tackles Both Policy Challenges Head On
The Social Security Expansion Act, introduced last week by Sen. Sanders, would kill two birds with one stone.
To shore up Social Security's finances, Sen. Sanders' plan would eliminate the cap on Social Security contributions for earnings above $250,000 a year. It would also expand the system's revenue base to include high-income households' unearned income. Together, these measures would simply ensure that high-income households contribute to Social Security on all of their income at the same rate as the typical worker does.
To ease the retirement income crisis, it would expand benefits by:
- Increasing Social Security benefits by about $65 a month for most recipients
- Increasing cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients by basing them on an index that better reflects the living costs of seniors (the CPI-E)
- Providing a minimum Social Security benefit to significantly reduce the senior poverty rate
Those Serious About Retirement Security Should Embrace This Plan Now
While Social Security benefits may have been adequate in the 1980s, slow and unequal wage growth, the failure of the private account system, and cuts to Social Security benefits make benefits inadequate today. This suggests a strong need to expand Social Security beyond the current average benefit of $15,970 a year, to provide for a minimum benefit, and to ensure that benefits are not eroded by inflation after retirement.
Social Security has been a rock-solid foundation of the middle class over the past 80 years -- always self-funded and never contributing to the debt. It has proven to be an effective, efficient means of providing economic security to the broad middle class. In order to pick up the slack in employer pension provision and individual savings, it should not only be restored to full solvency but expanded. Sen. Sanders' plan would expand benefits while also extending Social Security's solvency through 2060.
Many in Congress talk a great deal about retirement security and about the need to "strengthen Social Security," but few back up their words with thoughtful proposals. Sen. Sanders' Social Security Expansion Act offers a bold, comprehensive plan that would go far in addressing the nation's retirement security challenges by truly strengthening Social Security, the only leg of the retirement stool that has a proven track record of success.
It is important to note that never in the history of Social Security----from New Deal FDR days----has SS COLA's been manipulated to almost nothing as has happened under Bernanke's FED. The FED was allowed to operate during Obama's terms as it never has ----all under the guise of 'saving the economy'. Of course---saving the economy was breaking up the Wall Street banks and recovering trillions of dollars in fraud----but global pols both Clinton/Obama neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons have allowed the FED to operate against its mission and against public interest in the march to moving all wealth to the 1%. Normally seniors have gotten the real inflation rate of 3-5%------AS INFLATION HAS BEEN THESE SEVERAL YEARS. The FED manipulated inflation and interest rate figures to zero and 1% just so the rich could have soaring profits and free money lent for acquisitions and mergers overseas. This is why the rich saw their wealth soar----as main street's wealth further declined----AND IT WAS DELIBERATE, WILLFUL, AND ILLEGAL ACTIONS BY THE FED.
This is what Bernie as a social Democrat is trying to address----first by setting a platform for the lowest SS monthly checks can go-----then by automatically boosting monthly payments by $65----it should be more-----and taking care of the COLA that has nothing to do with costs to seniors.
'Since 1975, annual Social Security raises have averaged 4.1 percent. Only six times have they been less than 2 percent, including this year, when the increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low'.
Social Security COLA to again put squeeze on retirees; benefits increase is just 1.5 percent in 2014
In this Feb. 11, 2005 file photo, trays of printed social security checks wait to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury's Financial Management services facility in Philadelphia. For the second straight year, millions of Social Security recipients can expect an historically small increase in benefits come January 2014. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower, File)
By The Associated Press
on October 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM, updated October 13, 2013 at 10:01 PM
9 sharesWASHINGTON -- For the second straight year, millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees can expect historically small increases in their benefits come January.
Preliminary figures suggest a benefit increase of roughly 1.5 percent, which would be among the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in 1975, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
Next year's raise will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven't gone up much in the past year.
The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won't be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen Wednesday, but the report was delayed indefinitely because of the partial government shutdown.
The COLA is usually announced in October to give Social Security and other benefit programs time to adjust January payments. The Social Security Administration has given no indication that raises would be delayed because of the shutdown, but advocates for seniors said the uncertainty was unwelcome.
Social Security benefits have continued during the shutdown.
More than one-fifth of the country is waiting for the news.
Nearly 58 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,162. A 1.5 percent raise would increase the typical monthly payment by about $17.
The COLA also affects benefits for more than 3 million disabled veterans, about 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors, and more than 8 million people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.
Automatic COLAs were adopted so that benefits for people on fixed incomes would keep up with rising prices. Many seniors, however, complain that the COLA sometimes falls short, leaving them little wiggle room.
David Waugh of Bethesda, Md., said he can handle one small COLA but several in a row make it hard to plan for unexpected expenses.
"I'm not one of those folks that's going to fall into poverty, but it is going to make a difference in my standard of living as time goes by," said Waugh, 83, who retired from the United Nations. "I live in a small apartment and I have an old car, and it's going to break down. And no doubt when it does, I'll have to fix it or get a new one."
Since 1975, annual Social Security raises have averaged 4.1 percent. Only six times have they been less than 2 percent, including this year, when the increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.
By law, the cost-of-living adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.
The COLA is calculated by comparing consumer prices in July, August and September each year to prices in the same three months from the previous year. If prices go up over the course of the year, benefits go up, starting with payments delivered in January.
This year, average prices for July and August were 1.4 percent higher than they were a year ago, according to the CPI-W.
Once the September report, the final piece of the puzzle, is released, the COLA can be announced officially. If prices continued to slowly inch up in September, that would put the COLA at roughly 1.5 percent.
Several economists said there were no dramatic price swings in September to significantly increase or decrease the projected COLA. That means the projection shouldn't change by more than a few tenths of a percentage point, if at all.
Polina Vlasenko, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, projects the COLA will be between 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent.
Her projection is similar to those done by others, including AARP, which estimates the COLA will be between 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent. The Senior Citizens League estimates it will be about 1.5 percent.
Lower prices for gasoline are helping to fuel low inflation, Vlasenko said.
"In years with high COLA's, a lot of that had to do with fuel prices and in some cases food prices. Neither of those increased much this year," Vlasenko said. "So that kept the lid on the overall increase in prices."
Gasoline prices are down 2.4 percent from a year ago while food prices are up slightly, according to the August inflation report. Housing costs went up 2.3 percent and utilities increased by 3.2 percent.
Advocates for seniors say the government's measure of inflation doesn't accurately reflect price increases older Americans face because they tend to spend more of their income on health care. Medical costs went up less than in previous years but still outpaced other consumer prices, rising 2.5 percent.
"This (COLA) is not enough to keep up with inflation, as it affects seniors," said Max Richtman, who heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "There are some things that become cheaper but they are not things that seniors buy. Laptop computers have gone down dramatically but how many people at 70 are buying laptop computers?"
The cost of personal computers dropped by 10.6 percent over the past year, according the CPI-W.
That's a small consolation to Alberta Gaskins of the District of Columbia, who said she is concerned about keeping up with her household bills.
"It is very important to get the COLA because everything else you have in your life is on an upward swing, and if you're on a downward swing, that means your quality of life is going down," said Gaskins, who retired from the Postal Service in 1989.
As we look at Social Security policy-----know the history because that allows voters to understand current policies. Here you see the Reagan Republican neo-liberal with his Ayn Rand Libertarian Greenspan talking about Social Security policy. Since neo-liberalism is far-right-----and Libertarianism is far-right------we know this policy discussion will not end well for the American people----and look at today where Social Security Trust lies-----with the same groups of people saying SS Trust is almost depleted.
Reagan did many things to kill Social Security ----but the two things that Republicans love to do-----soak citizens with taxation all of which is then handed to corporations and the rich----YES, TAXING MAIN STREET HEAVILY WHILE NOT TAXING THE RICH AT ALL IS REPUBLICAN. Reagan and Greenspan came up with these policies in the 1980s----saying that in order to have enough SS for baby boomers they needed to triple the payroll tax rate ----but having the cap on income over $100,000. This was a huge chunk out of worker's checks and it was sold as having plenty of revenue for baby boomers ----that's today.
Needless to say, neither Reagan nor Greenspan was interested in saving SS for baby boomers---they wanted the US Treasury to have more revenue to loot----and Reagan funded his nuclear arms race with that tripled payroll tax. It was at the same time of raising the payroll tax rate that Reagan decided all Social Security Trust payroll tax revenue should go to the US Treasury and not the Trust----and VOILA----all of what should have been protected SS Trust is now in the US Treasury building overseas military and open for Wall Street and corporate looting of tens of trillions of dollars in fraud.
SO, THIS POLICY WAS DESIGNED TO MAKE SURE THERE WAS PLENTY IN SS FOR THE BABY BOOMER EXODUS INTO RETIREMENT----AND NOW SS TRUST IS ALMOST BUST THEY SAY.
1983 Greenspan Commission on Social Security Reform
This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current policies or procedures.
Appendix C of the 1983 Greenspan Commission on Social Security Reform
This chapter consists of additional statements of individual members of the National Commission. These statements are presented alphabetically by name of member; those which are signed onto by several members appear first.
The statements appear in the following order:
(1) Commissioners Archer, Beck, Conable, Dole, Fuller, Greenspan, Heinz, and Trowbridge
(2) Commissioners Ball, Keys, Kirkland, Moynihan, and Pepper (long-range financing and issues of special concern to women)
(3) Commissioners Ball, Keys, Kirkland, Moynihan, and Pepper (independent agency)
(4) Commissioners Ball, Keys, Kirkland, Moynihan, and Pepper (HI cost estimates)
(5) Commissioners Dole and Conable
(6) Commissioner Archer
(7) Commissioner Armstrong
(8) Commissioner Fuller (long-range financing)
(9) Commissioner Fuller (issues of special concern to women)
(10) Commissioner Kirkland
(11) Commissioner Waggonner
SUPPLEMENTARY STATEMENT ON MEETING THE LONG-RANGE FINANCING REQUIREMENTS BY COMMISSIONERS ARCHER, BECK, CONABLE, DOLE, FULLER, GREENSPAN, HEINZ, AND TROWBRIDGE
The recommendations made in the "consensus" package fail to meet the long-range goal of providing additional financing equivalent to 1.8% of taxable payroll. The shortfall is an estimated .58% of taxable payroll. We believe that this should be derived by a delayed, slowly phased-in increase in the "normal" retirement age (the age at which unreduced retirement benefits are available to insured workers, spouses, and widow(er)s -- which is age 65 under present law).
The major reasons for this proposal are:
(1) Americans are living longer.
(2) Older workers will be in a greater demand in future years.
(3) The disability benefits program can be improved to provide cash benefits and Medicare to those between age 62 and the higher normal retirement age who, for reasons of health, are unable to continue working.
(4) Because the ratio of workers to beneficiaries is projected to decline after the turn of the century, younger generations are expected to pay significantly increased taxes to support the system in the 21st century. An increase in the normal retirement age will lessen the increase.
(5) Given sufficient notice, coming generations of beneficiaries can adjust to a later retirement age just as earlier generations adjusted to age 65.
Although we believe that greater action in this direction may be desirable, we are suggesting only enough change to produce approximately the needed .58% of taxable payroll. The recommended change would apply only to the normal retirement age. Early-retirement benefits would continue to be available beginning at age 62 for insured workers and spouses and at age 60 for widows and widowers, but the actuarial reduction factors would be larger. The minimum age for eligibility for Medicare benefits would continue to be the "normal" retirement age for OASDI benefits. Disability benefits are now available under somewhat less stringent definitions for those aged 60-64. However, because some workers, particularly those in physically demanding employment, may not benefit from improvements in mortality and be able to work longer, we assume that the disability benefits program will be improved prior to the implementation of this recommendation to take into account the special problems of those between age 62 and the normal retirement age who are unable to extend their working careers for health reasons.
Under our proposal, the normal retirement age would be gradually increased -- one month each year -- to age 66 in 2015, beginning the phase-in with those who attain age 62 in 2000. Beginning with those who attain age 62 in 2012, the normal retirement age would be automatically adjusted (on a phased-in basis) so that the ratio of the retirement-life expectancy to the potential working-lifetime (from age 20 to the "normal" retirement age) remains the same over the years as it was in 1990. The estimated long-range savings of this proposal is 0.65% of taxable payroll.