Some days, it really feels like some Democrats just can’t stand winning. Case in point: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) who cheerfully volunteered his participation in a Republican scheme to cut Social Security, the same one Sen. Angus King (I-VT) has been touting, the one he’s working on with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
This comes one day after President Joe Biden was actually in Virginia playing offense on keeping the safety net intact. He’s been effectively pounding Republicans on Social Security and Medicare and on their hypocritical deficit peacockery for weeks. He’s got them in a hole, and they can’t stop digging.
So why in the world would any Democrat work against him and, just as importantly, the working people of this country?
It also comes at the same time as this:
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As of Feb. 28, anyone making more than $1 million had paid all of their Social Security taxes for the year, because the payroll tax cap is set at $160,200. After someone earns that, everything else they earn for the whole year is exempted from payroll taxes. The rest of working Americans—94% of us—keep paying that 6.2% payroll tax the rest of the year. Because that is helping our retired loved ones live with at least of modicum of security and comfort.
Do we need to look any further for ensuring the future of Social Security than making millionaires and billionaires actually pay their share? Why would we look any further than that?
And why would we risk a system that has worked for 87 years for the idea that Kaine says he’s so excited about: risking at least some of our Social Security financing in a sovereign wealth fund. That amounts to a backdoor privatization scheme, another way for the banksters to get their paws on our old-age funds. If the risk doesn’t work, then the bright idea is to either raise payroll taxes or cut benefits. That’s adding a layer of risk and complexity that is absolutely uncalled for.
"If Senators Cassidy and King are so convinced that a sovereign wealth fund is good for the country, why are they proposing to use it to fund Social Security rather than to fund defense and other spending?” Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, told Daily Kos. “One of Social Security’s strengths is that it does not add a penny to the deficit, so deficit hawks have a hard time claiming it should be cut to reduce the federal debt.”
“Notably, the Cassidy-King proposal requires the immediate borrowing of $1.5 trillion, which, if enacted, would make it harder to keep Social Security out of the deficit hawks’ cross hairs,” she continued. She also points out that this is a distraction from the real and “massive benefit cuts” that the senators are also kicking around. “Rather than simply releasing the entire package, the wealth fund idea was shared with progressive economists to give the media the impression that progressives might support the package,” Altman said. “When all the details are out, they won’t. Indeed, this should be an absolute non-starter now for everyone who cares about protecting current and future Social Security beneficiaries."
What really doesn’t have to be messed with is the retirement age, which is up for discussion as well with this crew—eventually going up to 70. There are an awful lot of people employed in jobs in this country that require physical work and long periods of standing, from most of the trades to the service industry, things that get increasingly more difficult as bodies age. Plenty of people simply can’t work in their profession that long. Plenty can’t work to the current retirement age of nearly 67. In fact, about half of people retire early, at 62.
Raising the retirement age is a benefit cut, for people who retire early and for everyone else.
When the full retirement age was 65, workers who filed at 62—as about half of claimants do—could get 80 percent of a full benefit (or $800, if a worker had a full benefit of $1,000). Now that the full retirement age is 66, workers who file at 62 get 75 percent of a full benefit ($750, in this example); when the full retirement age rises to 67, workers who file at 62 will get just 70 percent (or $700, in our example). That reduction in monthly benefits lasts for the rest of a beneficiary’s life.
It’s just a bad, harmful, and completely unnecessary idea that should don’t get any consideration from Democrats, period. Particularly right now when encouraging Republicans on possible cuts to these programs means making it that much harder to hold the line on the debt ceiling fight.
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