Robert Samuelson: Not a vote-getter!

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  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2019 7:29 p.m.

    Want to see a miracle?

    Merge the Congressional and federal retirement systems into social security and Congress will miraculous find a way to fund it

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 27, 2019 1:03 a.m.

    Regarding how long people live, Google u s population by age and generation. Now here is a useful chart. It shows the massive die off in the 70 + age range. It is a downward sloping ski jump! People really need social security and raising the eligibility age is an obvious no go.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    April 26, 2019 10:08 a.m.

    Social Security is a program that transfers wealth from rich to poor. But, how many rich people want to live in a country like Mexico where poverty and the poor is so visible in their communities? Social Security is the safety blanket that keeps this country from mass civil unrest and provides a minimum standard of living for those who for whatever reason, don't have personal savings for the later years of life. The data shows removing or raising the current cap of taxation would keep the program solvent for up to 70 plus years.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    April 26, 2019 8:09 a.m.

    To "Copybook Headings" that will never work. You cannot ever have SS set up to pay you back what you paid into the system.

    SS not only covers retirement, but it also pays people who are born disabled once they are adults so that they can live independently. It also pays widows who still have children at home. It pays women who stayed home and raised their children. It pay former workers who are now disabled and can no longer work.

    You see SS covers so many other things that you cannot ever expect to get out what you put in.

  • Copybook Headings Draper, UT
    April 26, 2019 4:40 a.m.

    Social Security was never meant to pay greens fees at the local golf course. It needs to be means tested right down to 'you get back what you paid in'. There's also about 8 trillion dollars (or more) sitting in retirement accounts right now. So I don't think retirees are going to hurt all that bad if SS payouts get cut.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 25, 2019 6:31 p.m.

    @Impartial7: "First, right wingers need to stop calling Social Security an "entitlement". People pay into it like a 401K or bank account. "

    Then left wingers need to stop suggesting we means test it or raise the tax limit. Stop calling them "contributions". That suggests the taxes are voluntary. They are not.

    Those earning less than ~$125,000 a year will get back more than they paid in. This is still a lousy deal because they could do far better with some kind of interest bearing account.

    Bad as that is, those earning more than $125,000 actually have a negative return as they back less than they paid in.

    Toss in disability payments offered to those who have never worked and in total, SS is clearly an entitlement program that is simply paid for via a specific line item tax.

    We are literally forcing people into poverty by taking 13% from them. We'd do far better to cut that in half to fund a disability and last resort old age survivor insurance while requiring workers to save the other half in some kind of interest bearing, low risk retirement account. Investments beat Ponzis every time, unless you are the guy at the top.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 25, 2019 6:20 p.m.

    @Kent C. DeForrest: "We need to raise the age gradually because people are living and working longer."

    Yes. This makes perfect sense.

    "We also need to increase the cutoff for payroll taxes. In 2019, payroll taxes are being assessed only on the first $132,900 of a person's income, up from $128,400 in 2018"

    No. This is nothing but pure wealth transfer. Your higher income earners are already heavily subsidizing your lower income earners. To whit:

    Social Security Payments are calculated based on the Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). For the first $826 of monthly earnings, SS pays 90%. For the next $4980 in monthly income, SS pays 32%. for anything above that, up to the SS maximum, you get 15%.

    So, a person who earned $10k a year for 45 years paid (total him and boss) $58,500 into the system. Over a 20 year retirement, he gets $179,000 out.

    In contrast, a person who earned $130k a year pays $760,000 in and gets $742,000 out.

    Since the employer portion of taxes doesn't max out, the higher the income, the worse this gets.

    Notably, at any reasonable investment, the $10k earner would increase his payout to $200k with a large nest egg to pass to his children.

  • SC Matt Saline, MI
    April 25, 2019 2:24 p.m.

    @partial7:

    "Do you expect a 65 year old accountant, engineer or mechanic to go work at Home Depot of McDonald's for $12.00/hr?"

    My dad is 80 this year and earns more than that at WalMart. He started when he was 60, after a life of construction work.

    "Many companies lay off older, more experienced and higher paid workers for younger cheaper workers."

    Do you have examples? Surely you know that age discrimination is already illegal, meaning your suggestion is moot, but examples would give the justice department a place to start.

    @Thomas Thompson:

    ""Deficits don't matter." The Republicans own Dick Cheney said that many years ago. Why don't they believe him?"

    If the US Budget deficit as a percentage of the US GDP is less than the GDP growth rate, then his statement is true, because the debt/GDP ratio drops, making future debt payments easier, even if the nominal amount is higher.

    And, before 2008, the debt/GDP ratio was fairly steady, near 60%.

    It's now over 100%, and climbing.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    April 25, 2019 2:16 p.m.

    To "Impartial7" name your source. I did notice that you left out the more critical point, and that is the lifespan. Look at the lifespan in the 1940s and compare that today. Remember that the retirement age really hasn't changed much since SS was implemented.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2019 12:52 p.m.

    "Deficits don't matter." The Republicans own Dick Cheney said that many years ago. Why don't they believe him?

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    April 25, 2019 12:18 p.m.

    @RedShirt;
    "The solution to SS is simple. More kids. When SS was started the average age at time of death was 65, and there were 6 kids per family."

    That is patently false and nowhere near the truth. You can't just come here and make up facts. When social security was started, the average US family size was 3.67 people. 66% were made up of families with 0-2 kids. Families with 4 or more kids were 15% of American families.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    April 25, 2019 11:51 a.m.

    "We could be working longer — and should be. Eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare should be raised, perhaps as high as 70 and gradually introduced over a 20-year period, to reflect the improved health and the nation's stretched finances. "

    First, right wingers need to stop calling Social Security an "entitlement". People pay into it like a 401K or bank account. Let's call your 401K and bank accounts, entitlements, and cut your balances and withdrawal abilities. Corporations have already bankrupted workers pension accounts. That in itself is another broken promise to workers. Next, stop moving the goal posts. People that have planned for retirement for 30+ years don't need to find other jobs at 65. Many companies lay off older, more experienced and higher paid workers for younger cheaper workers. Do you expect a 65 year old accountant, engineer or mechanic to go work at Home Depot of McDonald's for $12.00/hr? How about passing laws that prohibit companies to "phase out" older workers if you want them to work longer? Social Security needs to be paid as promised. Not everyone is living longer.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    April 25, 2019 11:45 a.m.

    To "Kent C. DeForrest" if we collect FICA taxes on the first $1 million, then shouldn't their SS payments in retirement also go up? If you say no, then how is that fair?

    How is it fair to increase taxes just to pay for the retirement of people who couldn't bother to put away money for their own retirement?

    Plus, it just won't work because it won't increase SS funding that much.

    See "Why Taxing the Rich Isn't a Social Security Cure-All" in the Motley Fool for an additional explanation.

    The solution to SS is simple. More kids. When SS was started the average age at time of death was 65, and there were 6 kids per family. People collected SS for about 5 years then died. Now there are fewer kids paying into the system, and people live past age 80.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    April 25, 2019 10:46 a.m.

    We need to do a couple of things. Cutting benefits to most retirees is not one of them, since most don't have much saved for retirement. We need to raise the age gradually because people are living and working longer. We also need to increase the cutoff for payroll taxes. In 2019, payroll taxes are being assessed only on the first $132,900 of a person's income, up from $128,400 in 2018. This is way too low. If we started collecting FICA taxes on the first $1 million of a person's income, Samuelson wouldn't be writing this editorial. I know taxing the wealthy is frowned upon by conservatives, but since the wealthy have made off like bandits during the past 40 years, shifting income steadily from the working class to themselves, why shouldn't they pay extra? The alternative is that the U.S. is turning into the wealthiest Third World country on earth.