AMAC Action In The Media / Politics

It’s Time For a Moonshot to Save America’s Earned Benefit Programs Before They Go Broke and Bankrupt Us All

Dan Weber republicans recess tax death tax entitlement programsDan Weber’s Op-Ed as seen on FoxNews.com

President Trump discussed many important issues in his State of the Union address Tuesday, but left out one of the most important – the need for major reforms in two giant earned benefit programs for senior citizens, Social Security and Medicare, that account for most mandatory federal spending.

With control of both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans have the opportunity now to make the reforms needed to prevent these two critically important programs from running out of money in the decades ahead.

The Social Security Trust Fund, for example, is projected to be depleted by 2035. The Social Security Board of Trustees says that means Social Security recipients will than get only 75 percent of benefits after that unless changes are made.

Republicans in Congress have shown that when they stand together they can do big and necessary things – witness their passage of tax cuts at the end of last year. Now with a new year and an administration that has found its footing, it’s time for a moonshot to save America’s earned benefit programs before they go broke and bankrupt us all.

I understand as well as anyone that many politicians believe that the mere mention of reforms to Social Security and Medicare will raise the ire of senior citizens.

Earned benefit reform has been dubbed over and over again as the “third rail” of American politics, a political death sentence for anyone who dares to touch it. But as the head of one of the largest senior citizens’ groups in America, with more than 1 million dues-paying members, I don’t believe that is true anymore.

Seniors are tired of being manipulated on these issues by organizations claiming to speak for them. Mature Americans are smart enough to understand that the dire risk to our earned benefit programs will not only hurt them, but their children and grandchildren who depend on their sustainability.

Together, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and welfare programs provide essential funds and services to low-income Americans, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and others who find themselves in need of extra help. The great thing about Americans, though, is that we are a people who appreciate a hand up, not a handout.

After years of deficit spending – especially considering the excesses of the Obama administration – these programs still remain the top contributors to our rising national debt and deficit, with $2.9 trillion of the debt held by the two Social Security Trust Funds. Washington’s worst-kept secret is that Social Security will soon be insolvent.

Fixing Social Security so that it continues to serve those who depend on it today and in future generations, while at the same time bringing excessive spending under control, has been a Republican priority for decades.

There are four straightforward action items that Congress should take this year to set Social Security on a path of sustainable future solvency:

1) Gradually increase the full retirement age for new retirees to 69 for people born in 1972 and later, from the current age of 66.

2) Gradually lower Social Security benefits for high-income earners, while keeping low- income earner benefits the same.

3) Implement a tiered approach to cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Social Security payments, giving higher increases to those making less than $50,000 per year.

4) Provide all earners the ability to save more with Early Retirement Accounts (ERAs), which provide tax-deductible savings and allow future retirees to begin accessing funds in their ERAs at age 62.

All of these ideas are part of what we call the Social Security Guarantee Act.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has made it clear he intends to tackle earned benefit  reform this year, and he has already entered into discussions on the issue with President Trump. This is a brave and responsible position, but he will need all the help he can get to persuade more timid politicians in the United States Senate to follow his lead.

The Senate shamefully bungled passage of a stand-alone repeal of ObamaCare, which all Senate Republicans had promised to do on the campaign stump for nearly a decade. They just barely passed President Trump’s tax reform package, after much grandstanding and will-they-or-won’t-they press games led by lame-duck senators.

The chamber that calls itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body” can actually live up to its name by buckling down and working together with the president and committed colleagues in the House to fix these earned benefit programs for future generations. But they will need courageous and visionary leaders like President Trump and Paul Ryan to show them the way.

If earned benefit reform finally becomes law on President Trump’s watch, his administration will come even closer to mirroring the legacy of one of this country’s greatest leaders and Trump’s own self-professed inspiration, President Ronald Reagan.

Along with cutting taxes, one of President Reagan’s major successes on the domestic front was his landmark Social Security reform, which he signed into law in 1983 after working closely with Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts.

If President Reagan could enact Social Security reform with a Democratic majority in the House, shouldn’t it be easy for President Trump to pass a round of updated reforms when Republicans control all of Congress? You would think so.

The president is known for admiring loyalty, and America’s seniors have been a resolutely loyal part of his base, voting for him by an eight-point margin over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Older Americans remain some of President Trump’s staunchest supporters. Ensuring that Social Security remains solvent for them, their children and their grandchildren should be a central piece of the administration’s legislative agenda this year, and it would be a way for President Trump to reward them for their support.

 

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Amber Jones
3 years ago

I’m new here at Amac. I was so excited to find a more concerned and realistic alternative to AARP. To be honest, the article, the first article I came to on my hand-held device was “It’s Time For a Moonshot to Save America’s Entitlement Programs Before They Go Broke and Bankrupt Us All am knowledgeable” an op-ed piece by Dan Weber ‘as seen on FOX News.’

This article and Amac is propulgating the term entitlement to being used in regard to Social Security. The correct terminology is Social Security Benefit. A quick search on Google leads me to this page: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/federal-benefit-payments/ which says “Social Security isn’t a savings plan or an investment scheme; it’s an Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program intended to ensure that Americans are guaranteed a minimum monthly payment in their non-working years.” Snopes also says that Social Security is NOT referred to as an entitlement.

This article has been up for more than 4 months. It is written wrong and upsetting your clients. Why are you leaving it up this long? I’m rather knowledgeable on computers. A single web-page is easy to take down. To me, if a company geared towards acquiring a lot of clients on Medicare would be more concerned with an upsetting article. Perhaps Mr. Webster, the author, should read the above link at SNOPES to know how to address Social Security programs and recipients.

I really have no idea why Amac would leave such a controversial article on the 1st page that possible new clientele will obviously see.

Lisa
3 years ago

I agree with the comments below. This is not an entitlement. Both myself and every company I worked for paid into Social Security so that I would get that money returned, with interest after working for 50 years or so. I do think that no one should be able to collect at 62 any more with higher life expectancies. But that’s their choice to take lower amounts. The shouldn’t get welfare supplements if they do, however. Medicare does need reform. Health care costs have skyrocketed and the amount we pay into that is negligible. But once again we paid into that for 40 or 50 years. So these are NOT entitlements. Make a plan to pay back the money misappropriated from these funds, make increases in Medicare premiums and STOP the FRAUD. Prosecute doctors and lawyers as well as individuals that commit disability fraud.

Trap
3 years ago

what is wrong with AMAC and weber??? calling SS, Medicare “entitlement’s” does he or AMAC not realize that we, as legal American’s were forced to pay into these programs to legally work in America. there was/is no option other then pay. I get just TICKED off when I see this crap any place but here. has AMAC already lost it way? come on Mr. Weber you need to do a better job with this. now if you want to talk about REAL entitlement programs like food stamps, housing assistance, gas assistance (my favorite one to irk me) free medical etc. etc. etc. and on and on then go for it. but lumping people who paid their was with slackers ticks me off.

God Bless America
Trap

Bob Keller
3 years ago

I to remind you, that unlike food stamps, or child care funding, Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlement ” programs! I spent over 30 years funding them!

Hank
3 years ago

Social security is a ruse. It is invested in US treasuries. The interest on the treasury debt should be paid by the Federal government’s only source of income, tax dollars. But instead, it is paid by more Treasury debt [rollover]. This rollover-expansion dilutes the dollar, fuels inflation, which perpetually makes the money received worth less than the money invested. So the interest is actually paid by the consumer in the form of higher prices of American products. The money the government received in exchange for their promissory note, was spent on artificial demand items, in the form of expenses. THE BIG PROBLEM IS the government is pretending to be like a bank savings plan. A bank, however, has to reinvest your money for a legal profit. A bank pays you back, with interest, from the profit. The Federal government puts a banker in jail if he continues to take on investors while continuing to operate at a loss. Instead, the government expenses the money away. There is no profit in such spending. There is nothing to pay its debts. The Government is a “not for profit” institution. It should not be allowed to borrow money. It should not be taking peoples money and saying it is investing in the future. It is the biggest ponzi scheme running – and it is starting to play out.

Judith
3 years ago

Mr. Weber, your proposals–numbers 2 and 3–are positively communistic–and punitive. You suggest a redistribution of wealth, which makes you sound like obama. Those whose income is considered “higher” should give up some of their Social Security so the government can give more to those with lower incomes? My income is not high by any means, yet my Social Security is now taxed as income. Why is that? That money was taxed when it was forcibly taken from me, and now it’s being taxed again. Double taxation. Our founders fought a revolution for lesser reasons than double taxation. Because I worked hard and saved and invested wisely all of my life, you wish to punish me. I have a friend who never worked. She sat around and read novels all day. So now I should give her part of my Social Security? Shame on you, Mr. Weber.

Wylie
3 years ago

I’m so tired of these people calling ” Our Social Security” an entitlement! 50 year they forced me in this program! I would like them to pay me back in full with “50 year of interest compounded daily”! Also their Social Security should have to be added to this Ponzi scheme (” Govt. scam”) These young people need to wake up before it’s to late. It may all ready be to late.

Joe hermes
3 years ago

If the government would just return the money they have stolen from the Social security system there would be an enormous surplus of funds!! They have used the money for shortfalls in other programs, not to mention payment to people who never paid into it to begin with. To suggest that we should give up part of the benefits we paid for is an insult to everyone that has paid into the system!!!

Scottar
3 years ago

I like the last 3 proposals, it helps to make the fund solvent and fairer. Hopefully it will lead to the end of Social Security as we know it now. Still trying to eradicate it outright would be like trying to eradicate Medicare or Medicaid, too many people are entangled in the mess to just end it suddenly. It’s became an entitlement to many and ending it won’t happen overnight.

On the bright side social security encourages people to work for a bigger retirement payback. So make it fairer, make Congress payback the IOUs and make payments go into a separate fund. The biggest problem is fraud, only increasing private alternatives can significantly reduce that.

The Federal government must undergo significant decentralization for significant reforms to occur. It means draining the swamp and reducing government’s bureaucratic monkeys on our backs.

Gary
3 years ago

An entitlement is something you are entitled to, and belong to those who have paid into them. Welfare programs are giveaways. The liberal socialists have been mixing the two for so long the definitions have become blurred.

Gary
3 years ago

I don’t agree with those 4 steps. Here are the ones I propose:

1. Social Security and Medicare are special taxes for special purposes. They are retirement programs managed by the government, and we working people have no choice but to pay into them. Separate out every other program that draws from these funds (Medicaid, Disability, etc.) and call them what they are, welfare programs. Figure out somewhere else to get the money to pay for them.

2. Every single dollar that has ever been taken from these programs shall be returned with interest and penalties, and no more money should ever be taken out of either program in the future.

3. Investigate and prosecute all fraud in both programs. All money fraudulently taken shall be returned with interest and penalties. Pass strict laws to make fraud very unattractive to get involved with in the future.

4. These two programs, which are true entitlements by definition, should be only for people who have paid into them.

Wylie
3 years ago

AH! Yes Social Security, I paid it all my life!! I’M ENTITLED TO IT! Typical Bureaucrat trying to steal more from “WE THE PEOPLE”! Are we not their Employers! Thank you LBJ for this mess!

Kacs
3 years ago

Dear Mr. Weber,
Medicare and SS are NOT entitlements….have you ever had a job where you paid into them? If you have you would not be so glib with your terminology. The Government forced us to pay into it as a savings for our retirements. WE PAID!!! An entitlement is something given to you by someone’s benevolence. The Government may like to think of themselves as our benevolent benefactors but they are not. We worked hard for that money….it is OURS! Good ol’ President Johnson decided to stick his hand in the till and our government officials have been doing it ever since. Before you let our dysfunctional senate and congress try to fix it first let them pay us back for everything they stole from us. Then you can take away all of the freebies you insist on giving to people who blatantly break our laws by coming here illegally. Quit being a benevolent benefactor to criminals!

Ken
3 years ago

Mr. Weber, you’ve not only drunk the juice, but your gargling it. Jimmy Hoffa went to prison for giving loans out of the Teamsters retirement fund. And yet here you are trying to run cover for a Congress that did the same thing. Shame on you! At least the teamsters didn’t loose anything, but America’s taxpayers sure are. Regardless, you and your ilk want to take even more from those that pay-in and give them far less back. This country fought a revolution for less injustice.

So, let me get this straight– our government made us pay into a system they rob from. They use their political slight-of-hand to expand benefits for non-payers so that they can curry political favor and regain re-election. Then, when the whole thing goes belly-up they want to INCREASE our tax and DECREASE our benefits. Is that about it? No, I’m forgetting something, aren’t I? Oh, that’s right, now I remember. Congress doesn’t have to pay-in to this losing stock. Instead, WE have to fund a separate program and wealthy lifestyle for THEM. Yes, that’s better. That’s much more fair for our bunglers on the Potomac. Thanks for being so analytical.

Sandra
3 years ago

The most fair and effective reform measure would be to stop giving social security benefits to those who haven’t earned them. The social security trust fund was sound until the Dems began giving handouts to non-retirees back in the 80’s. Addicts, illegals, etc., receive largesse from the social security trust fund as part of the liberal entitlement give-away program. Got a problem, don’t want to work, appeal to a Doc to certify you as disabled and you get to ride the gravy train. Meanwhile, the masses have to pay involuntarily. So now the fund is becoming depleted — no surprise there — and we want to find a way to reduce payouts to those that paid-in. Real nice.

Elena Tellez
3 years ago

Social Security and Medicare ARE entitlement programs, because we are ENTITLED to receive them because we paid into them. Perhaps EARNED ENTITLEMENTS would be a better term. Welfare, free Obamacare and Obamaphones are NOT entitlements. Illegal aliens and those able bodied people who are too lazy to work are NOT entitled to anything. In fact, we should CUT ALL AID to illegals, and carefully screen those Americans on disability and welfare — requiring them to prove they are a) truly disabled and unable to work.

Susan+Smith
3 years ago

Yup, social security is socialism at its best…the people who pay in the most get penalized, those who don’t pay in as much, but still qualify are propped up with disproportionately higher monthly payments relative to those who pay in the most. Then there is the disability crowd…really, are there THAT many people in this country (who proudly tell you they are “disabled”) who absolutely can not work AT ALL? Give me a break..the more programs to encourage sloth & laziness, the more people will participate in them. Please reform social security, but do the right thing.

Gloria P. Sterling
3 years ago

It is NOT an “entitlement”!!! I still say the SS payments should be returned to it’s original place, away from the “general” fund budget where LBJ managed to have it placed. It should stand alone once more. If it had not been placed in the general fund, there would be ample money to secure for what it was meant to used, retirement moneys for seniors who have worked and paid into it.

Patrica Ancil
3 years ago

Social Security is NOT an entitlement! That money came out of our pay checks. It does not belong to the government!

Crazy from the Heat
3 years ago

I couldn’t disagree more that social security should be saved. Yes, it must be preserved for those who have paid into it all these years, but the only reasonable correction to this awful system is to allow the taxpayers to opt out of it. Social security CREATES poverty because it robs us of a huge amount of our income and pays zero interest above inflation. If, for example, I paid $100,000 into social security in my lifetime and it paid a nominal 2% in interest, which is not a bad guesstimate, after 50 years, I would receive around $269,000 back (very rough numbers, it’s an example). On the other hand, if I took the same $100,000 and invested it at a conservative and easy-to-achieve 6% rate of return, I would receive back roughly $1,842,000. That’s the difference between retiring with dog food for dinner or buying a new motor home and it makes me crazy because at 56 years of age, I could be retired NOW, but instead am stuck with intolerable bosses and awful work situations because I cannot retire and will probably have to work until I die.

PaulE
3 years ago

Good to see you get it! Yes, SS was a flawed design from the beginning, that has consistently produced substandard returns for its entire time of existence. The AMAC solution is also a deeply flawed solution, as it is continues many of the same progressive (socialist) ideas inherent in SS and adds new layers of unnecessary bureaucracy via a new ERA that is also government managed. One might ask correctly “What is so bad with people being able to control their own retirement funds when they can easily make 2 to 3 times the rate of return the inefficient government solution provides?” Answer: nothing. Get the federal government out of the way and allow people to control their own money, instead of relying on the government to end up paying you less. The slightly increased potential rate of return the AMAC plan might produce would likely be consumed by additional bureaucratic and managerial overhead. Instead the correct solution is, as you have already articulated, a free market based solution that will provide a much higher rate of return with no government bureaucracy or overhead.

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