(Article changed on April 14, 2013 at 10:56)By Dave Lindorff
Obama on his campaign promise not to cut Social Security: Who me?
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Let's start with the fundamental problem: Social Security is not a cause of the federal budget deficit, and will not be for years, even if nothing is done to raise more revenue for the program.
Sure the US will eventually have to come up with more money to pay the benefits earned by retirees in the Baby Boom generation, but that problem of an eventual shortfall in Social Security tax revenues can be easily solved by simply eliminating the cap -- currently $113,000 in annual income -- that is subject to the FICA tax. If the cap were completely eliminated, so that all income was subject to the tax, as is the case with the Medicare tax, the shortfall would be nearly eliminated. Any remaining shortfall could be erased too, by extending some kind of FICA tax to unearned income from investments. My favorite is one that is common in Europe: a small -- say 0.25% -- tax on short-term stock and bond trades.
Nobody in Congress is talking about slashing military spending and spending the savings on medical care, Social Security, education and other pressing needs. The public needs to demand this.
But let's leave those two points aside for a moment, important as they are.
What the Obama administration is calling for -- a switch from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' CPI to a new chained-CPI to determine inflation adjustments in Social Security checks each year -- is a brazen attempt to cut benefits for the elderly without admitting it. This is unconscionable, and as poorly reported as the story has been, the American people, regardless of age, are smart enough to be solidly opposed to the idea.