Guest Column – 75 years of social security – peace of mind for Lockhart seniors
By Congressman Lloyd Doggett
U.S. House of Representatives – 25th District of Texas
Recently, I was at the Lockhart Senior Center on Bois D’Arc to visit with some Lockhart seniors about what has been happening in Washington. As I mentioned during this listening session, there was a time when I would get a call to speak to a seniors group like this one becaus
e they wanted a dynamic young speaker. Now, for some reason, the same invitations seem to be, “we’d like someone with maturity—about our age.” With the Internet, disinformation about Social Security can now travel at the speed on e-mail.
75 years ago, Lockhart was a very different place, and America was a much less secure place or seniors. The security of seniors changed significantly that August, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt overcame steadfast opposition to any new government program and signed Social Security into law. As we celebrate its 75th anniversary, Social Security has never been a day late or a dollar short, and it has delivered with greater efficiency than many private plans. Now, we must ensure that Social Security can continue to be a promise that one generation of Americans makes to the next. Ensuring that my two young granddaughters and your grandchildren have the same protections as seniors do today must be one of our goals.
Reasons to Celebrate Social Security
For the past 75 years, the program has continued to provide modest, yet vital, retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to millions of Americans. If Wall Street banks undermine your private retirement and misfortune strikes other sources of retirement income, Social Security will still be there as a backstop. And that is a backstop that for many in Lockhart actually puts food in the fridge week and keeps the electricity on. This guaranteed source of income provides 90% or more of the income for 1 in 3 seniors. Social Security is also not just for those in their golden years; often it is also the only source of life insurance or many of the 4 million children who receive survivors’ benefits because they have lost a parent. It is also the primary source of disability insurance, ensuring that when a loved one becomes too disabled to work, some support will be available.
Beware of a Cure that is Worse than the Disease
Without a single change, Social Security has sufficient funds to pay 100% of promised benefits through 2037, and it could pay slightly reduced benefits for many years after that. But some improvement is necessary to extend its solvency for an even longer period of time. We must work together to strengthen Social Security without harming the middle class or cutting guaranteed benefits.
I am committed to doing what is necessary to preserve and strengthen Social Security without resorting to privatization. Misguided and risky privatization schemes would divert substantial payroll taxes to Wall Street management fees and replace the safety net of Social Security with the insecurity of the market. Privatization rejects the guaranteed benefit approach to retirement, replacing it with a system with an uncertain future. It exchanges guaranteed, inflation-proof benefits for the mere chance to recover a portion of the benefit cuts by playing the stock market. Recent events demonstrate that we cannot subject retirees’ security to such a roller coaster ride. We need to strengthen retirement security, not promote insecurity.
Keeping the Security in Social Security
My job, as a member of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee is both to seek ways to strengthen Social Security and to guard against persistent efforts to weaken it. I understand the essential role of Social Security plays in the lives of American families as they face retirement, disability, or the death of a bread-winner, and I will continue to work hard to protect and improve Social Security – the pillar of financial security for 159 million Americans, many of whom reside right here in Lockhart.
Readers who wish to write to me about Social Security or any other federal issue can send me a note by mail at 300 E. 8th Street, Suite 763, Austin, Texas, 78701, via email at Lloyd.firstname.lastname@example.org, or on my website at Doggett.house.gov.
Rep. Doggett has represented Caldwell County families for the last 4 ? years.