This is a call to action. We have a problem - the fake "Social-Security-Is-Going-Bankrupt!" problem.
Politicians, pundits, and policy wonks falsely claim that Social Security is going-bankrupt-now!, adding-to-the-deficit!, and destroying the Futures-of-Our-Children-and-Our-Children's-Children! They argue for "reforming" Social Security, by which they mean cutting benefits. Other politicians, et al. dignify this malarkey by treating it as if it merited consideration. Some examples:
This exchange, during the 10/11/12 vice presidential candidates' debate, between moderator and ABC journalist Martha Raddatz, and vice presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI):
Martha Raddatz: Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive, Mr. Ryan?
Representative Ryan: Absolutely. Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.
The Simpson-Bowles Commission's deficit reduction "plan," which proposed a combination of cuts that would reduce the average annual Social Security benefit for middle-income workers by up to 35 percent. (Note: There is no official Commission plan because only 11 of the Commission's 18 members voted to endorse their own work, three short of the 14 needed to send it to Congress.)
Social Security recipients are not cheating future hard-working, tax-paying, by-the-rules-playing citizens, as some people seem to suggest. Rather, cuts proponents are proposing to cheat future benefit recipients by raiding Social Security. People who say otherwise are being poopy-heads, and here is why:
1) Social Security doesn't contribute one penny to the deficit, and is prohibited from doing so by law.
2) Social Security benefits 56 million Americans, and keeps 20 million people out of poverty.
3) Social Security's surplus in 2011 was $2.7 trillion; it can operate at current benefit levels for at least 20 years -- without any "reforms."
These are indisputable facts.
If ever there was a time to expand Social Security's capacity to protect the "average citizen and his family against " poverty-ridden old age," as FDR said, it is now. Yet we are told that Social Security is in crisis and needs immediate cuts so that it will "be there for people who need it" several generations from now, that we must remember The Children, etc.
Translation: If I (a Baby Boomer under 55) insist on receiving the uncut Social Security benefits I have earned and will need to avoid poverty, a Terrible Burden could be visited on The Children 40-some years from now. Motivated by guilt and a sense of urgency, I am supposed to happily forfeit my benefits - right away. (Unless I act now, I might realize something: If reformed Social Security benefits no longer cover my rent and food, it is my children who will feel obligated to pay for these essentials -- while also paying for their kids' child care, saving for college tuition, and who knows what else.)
Remember the 2011 protests that shifted the national policy focus from the deficit to the destitute and near-destitute? It's time to protest again. We need to call out politicians who continue to insist that during the worst recession in 50 years, they need seniors' stay-out-of-poverty money to pay down a debt largely due to tax cuts for the rich. We need to call out people who pit our needs against our children's.
Picture this: Throughout December, voters show up at their U.S. senators' and representatives' offices, daily, to demand Social Security benefit increases. Senators and representatives are deluged with emails, letters, and phone calls, all advocating this same position. At town hall meetings and other public events, they are urged to increase benefits. When they go downtown, they are greeted by demonstrators demanding more benefits. Each time they check the news, there's another letter to the editor, op-ed, or interview, about increasing Social Security benefit levels.
If they don't hear us, we turn up the volume. Local senior groups*, Occupy chapters, and others who care about seniors join forces and: