Push to expand Social Security gains momentum

A coalition of progressive politicians, policy experts and grassroots advocates started a campaign three years ago facing very long odds. They proposed expanding Social Security retirement benefits for millions of Americans.

Mainstream thinking in Washington at the time ran in the opposite direction: Social Security benefits should be cut as part of a “grand bargain” to get the federal deficit under control. Nearly all Republicans supported this consensus view, as did many Democrats with moderate or conservative leanings.

President Barack Obama also bought in to this thinking, signaling that he was open to benefit cuts as part of a big budget deal.

Meanwhile, it has become more evident that retirement security is eroding for many Americans.

The value of Social Security benefits has shrunk by roughly 25 percent due to benefit cuts put in place when the program was last reformed in 1983. At the same time, the share of households receiving guaranteed income from traditional pensions has plunged. And a very large segment of the near-retirement community has negligible savings: Among workers age 55 or older, just 30 percent have saved more than $250,000, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute; 15 percent have between $100,000 and
$249,000 – and 33 percent have saved less than $25,000.

But the tide has turned – big time – and it is starting to look like Social Security expansion really could happen.

Obama endorsed the idea in a speech last week – a big development signifying that the idea has been pushed to the center of the Democratic political agenda.

Neither of the presumptive nominees for president favor cutting benefits – although with Donald Trump, it is difficult to tell. Hillary Clinton has slowly moved from “no cuts” to embracing expansion. If Democrats win the White House on Nov. 8 and regain control of either legislative chamber as part of a Trump-linked Republican meltdown, they will be in position to propose expansion as part of a much-needed, broader Social Security reform package. That is a dramatic shift from the Social Security battles of the past decade, when progressives were forced to play defense against proposals to reduce annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), increase retirement ages – and transform the program into a system of private savings accounts.

Learn more at Reuters Money.

Comments

  1. Social Security needs to be expanded because basic needs are very expensive. Medical costs are going through the roof along with quality food, transportation (car repairs and insurance), home repairs and taxes (real estate tax along with school tax). The list goes on & on. Yes, gasoline has gone down but just about everything else has gone up! The bear necessities of life are very expensive! Most hard working people who have paid in to Social Security for 35 + yrs. have been paid wages that were to low!! This makes it hard to have saved very much! I am talking college educated and in positions of Technical, Engineering, and Nursing, etc. These jobs have not paid a decent enough wage to buy a home, own a car, enjoy a little recreation ( a movie 2 or three times a yr. going out to dine once or twice a month, and maybe go down to the shore for 3 or 4 days once every other year) and save a whole lot of money for retirement! When living in a home, the roof every 20 yrs needs replacement (5000 dollars!), bathrooms need remodeling at least once every 15 years (5000 dollars!), washing machines and dryers need replacing, along with refrigerators and on & on! Real estate taxes 3000 to 7000 dollars a year depending on the neighborhood ( middle class ) & thousands more for school tax! Now that we are retired living in a middle class neighborhood ( home values are around 185K but 30 some years ago about 60K) we are forced to move because of these taxes!!! Yes, expand Social Security please!

    FB

  2. Don’t expand it too far but change the cost of living increase formula. Currently the COLA is a joke when compared to realistic expenses that retired folks incur. We spend less on gasoline and vehicles and more on health care and housing repairs for example. I don’t understand why the cap hasn’t been just eliminated so that all income is subject to FICA. This along with a very slight increase in FICA withholding would help stabilize social security for years to come. That said social security should always be used as a safety net and not a primary source of retirement income. This needs to be drummed into people when younger so that IRAs and 401s can be taken seriously. These grow nicely when started at a young age.

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