Jim Carr By JIM CARR, Statewide President, PEF Retirees 

PEF Retirees LogoMay 3, 2023 — Happy spring to all my readers! I hope this season finds you healthy, happy, and energized!  This month’s article focuses on the constant messaging from the far right that Social Security is going broke. Below, I have provided you information from the Alliance for Retired Americans with some information about how Social Security should be fully funded rather than cut! 

In April, the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds released their 2023 reports. Below is Alliance for Retired Americans Executive Director Richard Fiesta’s statement on the reports: 

“Today’s reports show once again that Social Security’s Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund is strong and solvent, with enough money to cover full benefits and expenses until 2033, one year earlier than reported last year. If no changes are made, the Trust Fund can pay 77% of scheduled benefits. 

“Further, the Medicare Part A Trust Fund for hospital care has sufficient funds to cover its obligations until 2031, three years later than reported last year. 

“The Trust Funds are strong because most Americans contribute to them with every paycheck. They could be even stronger if the wealthiest Americans paid their fair share. 

“We must strengthen Social Security by lifting the cap on earnings — currently $160,200 — subject to the 6.2% payroll tax. 

“President Biden’s budget extends Medicare’s solvency by decades by further lowering prescription drug prices and asking the wealthiest to pay a little more and should be passed by Congress. 

“Eighty-eight percent of Americans oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare. They do not want the government to lower benefits, change the retirement age, or let Wall Street gamble with their guaranteed benefits. 

“Older Americans have earned these benefits after a lifetime of hard work and will not allow the rug to be needlessly pulled out from under them, their children, or their grandchildren.” 

From my perspective as the PEF Retirees President, Director Fiesta is 100% right. Congress needs to expand, not cut Social Security. Social Security is an earned benefit we paid for with FICA taxes. It’s not an “entitlement!” Social Security is often referred to as the third rail in politics, because it’s so charged that “touching” it is considered dangerous to political careers. Traditionally, some politicians have suggested cutting benefits or increasing the age to receive benefits to fix the insolvency issue, while others have looked to expand funding of the program. During his State of the Union speech in January, President Joe Biden elicited a strong reaction to his remarks about the need to fix the program, with legislators on both sides of the aisle responding to his call to “stand up for seniors … Because Social Security works.”  

Wall Street politicians are attacking the Social Security system, claiming that it’s unaffordable because of a projected shortfall a decade from now. Here’s the thing: A big reason that shortfall exists is that Social Security contributions are only made on the first $160,200 of wages — so any earnings growth above that cap doesn’t go toward Social Security.  

The runaway inequality of the last 40 years is what allows Wall Street politicians to attack Social Security and the best way to fight inequality is with UNIONS. Unions raise the wages of working people, meaning less for the millionaires and billionaires, and more for everyday people. This, in turn, strengthens the Social Security trust fund.  

Tell your congressional representatives to scrap the cap!