Governor Rick Perry, the current frontrunner among Republican presidential candidates, in recent weeks has called Social Security a failure, a monstrous lie, unconstitutional and a Ponzi scheme. The Texas governor is wrong on all four accusations. The only reason Social Security is facing possible financial trouble is because Congress has spent the annual surplus of revenue versus expenditures all these many years instead of wisely investing these funds. If nothing is done to the current program, Social Security is expected to pay full benefits until the year 2037 and pay seventy-five percent of benefits until 2084.
One way to make this entitlement more fiscally sound is to remove the current income cap of $106,800 in payroll FICA tax. Why should someone earning a million dollars or more pay the same FICA tax as that of someone earning a little more than a hundred thousand dollars? Removing the current cap would guarantee complete solvency of this program for the next seventy-five years.
Turning Social Security into private retirement accounts would be a disaster waiting to happen. To expect the vast majority of Americans to have the capability to invest their retirement income on the whims of Wall Street is foolhardy. Investing wisely in Wall Street is a very complicated process and requires constant studying of the market and evaluation of an individual’s investments. I first stated studying the stock market back in my Navy days in the late ‘70s, when the Dow Jones stood at 700. Just because it is now just shy of 12,000 does not mean that everyone who invested in the market became rich, or made money for that matter. The NASDAQ is off fifty percent from its record high days in March of 2000, when the high-tech bubble burst. I think Boomers getting ready to retire are thankful that Republican politicians were not able to convince the country that investing their entire retirement income in the stock market a good thing.
One question I would love to hear anyone ask Governor Perry or any other Republican candidate for president who espouses that Social Security should be dismantled is “Do your parents receive Social Security benefits and are they grateful for this socialist program?” The answer, assuming any candidate is fortunate enough to have their parents still living, would be a universal “yes.”
Steven H. Spring