May 11th, 2010
09:00 AM ET
8 years ago

Fixing Social Security: The 'low hanging fruit'

New York ( - Reforming Social Security is still a hot-button issue. But relative to other measures needed to stabilize U.S. debt, it should be a snap.

"They could begin with Social Security, which oddly enough has gone from being the 'third rail of American politics' to the low-hanging fruit," wrote Robert Bixby, director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan, grassroots deficit watchdog group.

While a Social Security fix would cure only a small part of the country's long-term fiscal shortfall, it could pay big dividends in terms of the U.S. standing internationally, deficit hawks say. "It would be a confidence builder with our foreign lenders," said Pete Peterson at a recent fiscal summit organized by his foundation, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

That could lessen the risk of a big rise in interest rates and buy the country more time to handle other debt-related issues, such tax and budget reform and further changes in Medicare.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office in March estimated that starting this year, Social Security will for the first time take in less revenue than it must pay out in benefits.

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Filed under: national debt
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. John D

    We would not have a problem with Social Security if Congress would quit stealing from it to pay for their earmark pork projects or stop the fraud from illegal recipients from the fund.

    May 11, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  2. Jack

    I suggest the gov't increase our SS witholding slightly–just a few dollars (afterall, it's an investment in ourselves) and raise the retirement age. We live in a country that lives longer and healthier than it we did when SS first came on board. Many people I know are working into their 70s. There could be several gradations of SS depending on the years one choses to retire (we only have two now). Why not start at 65 and, each year, after that one gets a larger return. If someone chooses to retire at 72 they get full benefits. There could also be increased tax credits for investing in IRAs or other retirement accounts. This would encourage more aggressive retirement investing. My two cents.

    May 11, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    This administration, no doubt, will propose:

    – Lifting the cap on income subject to FICA without a corresponding lift on benefits

    – Raising the retirement age beyond the life expectancy age

    – "Means" testing – meaning big brother will determine whether or not you "need" the money you and your employer put into SS

    Expect nothing less from this redistributive mentality administration.

    May 11, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  4. jp,michigan

    Due to the unemployment rate and less paid in to Social Security, Do you not think it is time for our federal government to pay back the money they borrowed from the system? Instead of all the bail outs especially continuously to Freddie and Fannie. Another round of bailout is request by them. No the federal government rather play roulette, with the elderly and physically disadvantage, then stop buying failed mortgages from banks and continuous bailout of Freddie and Frannie.

    May 11, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    I'm never going to collect any of the money that I have paid into SSI. I'm a late baby boomer born in 1956. I started working at age 12 paying into this Government Ponzi scheme. I should be collecting at age 55 but I now have to wait until 67 1/2, and the fix is to raise the age again to 72 or higher. That is 60 years of me paying in and not getting any return on the investment. I'm taxed beyond 60% of my gross income and I receive nothing back, which is wrong, SSI was wrong, mandated health care is also wrong.
    What was my crime to be punished at such a great percentage of my income? I know why!
    I was born here in America, I did not move here illegally at age 65; I work to provide for myself and my family. In today's America this makes me a bad person who needs to be taxed at over 60 % of income for the 63K a year I earn.

    May 11, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. ronalde

    Im tired of all this talk about s.s. going broke.congess needs to pas a law that the government keeps it hands off of social sercurity right now the government owes s.s. 2 trillion dollars why isn't some one talking about that.Social sercuity isn't broke stop borrowing from it and stop all the Bull about it being BROKE.

    May 11, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. Randall in Torrance, CA - Fix Social Security Now!

    Congress better get off their asses and fix this now! Stop bailing out failed banks. When is the middle class and seniors going to be a priority? People everywhere are frickin' fed up with our government giving seniors and the middle class the middle finger while giving Wall Street a hand job.

    May 11, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  8. Nick

    Not one mention in the "solution" column of identifying a better investment strategy to increase returns above the miserable 2% paid today. The return on what we pay in doesn't even cover inflation in most years.

    May 11, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. gt

    gutless politicans wont do anything ,, all they want is to be elected get there money , do nothing and blame everyone else,,,

    May 11, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Bill from GA

    I remember the debates between George W. Bush and Al Gore, ten years ago. Both were going to continue paying down the National Debt and fix the growing crisis with Social Security. Bush was also going to cut taxes.

    We all know how that worked out.

    May 11, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. RichP, easton, pa

    Until you can keep the clowns in the houses from writing IOU's to SS nothing gets fixed on it. You would think that after 60+ years it would have become a profit center by now.

    May 11, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  12. America Shrugged

    Of course this is the first year SS will be paying out more than what gets put in. This is the GOP masterplan, this is what they run on. Bankrupting government to prove a point. What was the last adm's answer to the SS problem? Let's put all that money into wall street, afterall, the people know better where to invest their money and would better trust wall street with their retirement than the gubbmint. Well, many of us have seen first hand at what Wall Street does behind our backs. What a load of hogwash.

    May 11, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Hannah

    Now that most companies have gotten rid of or spent people's pensions and wall street looted the people's 401ks, Social Security is even more important. it was never intended to be a retirement plan but with everything else gone, it has turned into just that. Workers in America have lost ground over the past thirty years, ever since Reagan broke the unions when he was in office. Workers salaries overall have declined while CEO's salaries and bonuses have gone up 400% over the past ten years.

    May 11, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Tony D.

    SS could easily be repaired by returning it to it's original intent. SS is supposed to be a supplemental retirement program. No one is expected to live entirely on SS income. Over the years, it has been liberalized to the point of insolvency. We are paying full benefits to people who are no retired. You can earn limitless amounts and get your full SS. Longevity has added to this burden. Disability was originally for permanent conditions that would prevent a person from working indefinitely. Now it's paid if you are expected to be unable to work for 12 months. Now we pay ex-wives benefits. Now we pay illegitimate children benefits. We have to reel in the liberalization of payouts and get back to a basic retirement and and disability requirement.

    May 11, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |