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Social Security is a Hard Choices Ahead

All people throughout history have faced the uncertainties brought on by illness, disability, unemployment, old age and death. Family members and relatives have always felt some degree of responsibility to one another, and to the extent that the family had resources to draw upon, this was often a source of economic security, especially for the aged or unwell.

To meet these obligations, the government will either have to raise worker’s payroll taxes, cut benefits or take more drastic steps such as raising the retirement age. Simply put, the social Security system won’t take in enough money to pay all of the boomer’s guaranteed benefits as they retire over the next thirty years. America’s seventy-six million baby boomers pose a catastrophic threat to the nation’s social safety net.

Entrepreneurs have appealed to congress to cancel the payroll tax increases that would substantially add inequitable and undue burden on businesses and their employees. However, their appeal was unheeded. A growing number of policy makers are embracing calls to privatize the system and shift some payroll taxes to private retirement accounts. This is mainly because of the discussions in determining the most equitable and most effective ways for the retirement system to meet the long term demands it faces. As current expenses to retirees, the disabled and their survivors reaches $256 billion, it will be more than double over the next ten years and will double again in the next decade.

Ignoring the costs of the current system is devious. Under any circumstances, keeping Social Security solvent will require a great deal more money than it is currently receiving. This additional money is necessary to reduce the difference between what Social Security will owe and what it will be able to pay. The Social Security will require additional money under any circumstances. The only question are when the additional funds will be needed and in what amounts.

Thus, despite all the talks concerning the changes in Social Security, the corrective action must not only deal with the immediate crises but also must assure sufficient funds for the sudden increase in expenditures when the baby boom generation reached its retirement years beginning 2010.

America’s workers deserve a more informative, less adherent debate about Social Security reform. The discussions regarding Social Security reform is not an academic exercise nor should it be used as a political ploy. The various myths and scare tactics that have emerged do not alter the unpleasant realities that will confront American workers if nothing is done. It is time to put aside the myths that have been stumbling blocks in a quest for effective, authentic and critically needed Social Security reform.

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