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.email@example.com, or on my website at Doggett.house.gov.
Rep. Doggett has represented Caldwell County families for the last 4 ? years.
How sad it is that you would refer to Social Security as, ” the pillar of financial security for 159 million Americans”.
The program known as Social Security has indeed helped many in need. Was it designed to support 159 million Americans? No! There are 308 million Americans, (census 2010)of that 37 million (12.8%) are above the age of 65, yet the Social Security program supports 159 million Americans? That is 51% of our population, it is four times our elderly population! How did that happen? Certainly, Mr. Doggett must see that the program has been abused by both the politicians and the population.
Like many government programs, whose intentions were honorable, abuse and political manipulation has corrupted the entire Social Security Program to an extent that it is not sustainable. Our politicians saw the mountains of cash adding up for use in the Social Security program. What did they do? They bought Treasury bills with Social Security cash so the government could spend it. That means the Social Security program must submit those Treasury bill to the Government for the cash they need to pay Social Security bills. With the nation 14 Trillion in debt (that’s 45,454.00 per man woman and child in the US), would you be interested in lending us the money for our government to operate? They also expanded the program to pay benefits for many other reasons, besides old age, so that today, a person who has a speech impediment can qualify for disability. Thus, enabling them to receive a regular check from the Social Security Administration.
How do we change it? Phase out the Social Security program. Allow for a 20 year elimination of the program. Each year the employee will contribute 5% less to the program, transferring those funds to a private account. The employer will continue to fund the program as he has in the past. At the end of the 20 year period, all distributions will be made to the employees private retirement account.
The sad truth is this: Our government has abused our trust as stewards of the public funds of our nation. The “pillars” are rotten, collapse is assured.
Our Nation’s pillars are:
1. Liberty – personal and economic
2. Capitalism – equal opportunity to pursue one’s own financial interests for profit
3. Limited government – lower government cost equal more personal wealth
4. Private property ownership – control of those private lands for use however the owner wished
5. Democratic elections for a Representative Republic – Prevents mob rule
6. Independent Judiciary, Legislature, and Executive branches of government – balance of powers prevents dictatorial rule
Those are pillars that support our nations history and future. It’s time our politicians knew it.