Don’t change Social Security

President Bush wants to weaken Social Security by introducing the element of risk into the system, as well as increasing the administrative costs tenfold, or maybe 100-fold. This proposal will cost about $1-1/2 trillion over the next 10 years, money the government will have to borrow. The administration doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that we have a national debt of more than $7-1/2 trillion now, as well as an accumulated trade deficit of more than $3 trillion.

The Social Security Trust Fund has a debt of more than $1-1/2 trillion, which is a debt that we owe to ourselves. All this debt will have to be paid off by our children and grandchildren. The Social Security debt does not show up in the budget that Congress provides to the American people. Nor does the $5 or $6 billion a month we are spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How long can this go on? With the value of the dollar falling against the Euro, when will the individuals, banks and governments holding these I.O.U.s decide they would rather invest in a more stable currency? And how would the wholesale selling of all this debt affect our financial markets?

The Social Security Trust Fund is fully funded up to 2042, according to the Trustees, who run the Fund. The Congressional Budget Office comes up with a figure of 2052. Either way, there is no need to panic. By adopting one or more of the following changes, we can lengthen that period by 10 or more years: 1) Raise the amount of salaries subject to Social Security deductions to 100 percent of salaries received, rather than the $90,000 llimit now in place; 2) cut the amount of cost-of-living increase to benefit recipients, by some reasonable amount; 3) raise the amount taken out of workers’ salaries from 6.2 to 6.25 percent. There is, as you can see, no need to support the fundamental changes that the president calls for.

Rudy Hazucha is a local resident.

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