Today, the President's Fiscal Commission meets for the second time to discuss America's financial situation. The mainstream media has failed to focus on the real causes of America's deficit, and instead focuses largely on Social Security and other "entitlement" reform measures. Let's just be clear - Social Security is not responsible for our deficit. Instead, the government has "borrowed" $2.6 trillion of the People's money to fund other things and owes it back to the People.
The last time the full Commission met, I had to walk away several times in disappointment as older men talked about how their Social Security was "nice" but that they didn't need it. It would be nice to not need your eventual or current Social Security check, but that is not the case for the large majority of Americans.
For older women, the average benefit is around $11,000 annually. If older adults had to rely only on their income other than Social Security, nearly one in two seniors would be poor. Additionally, the benefits are an important share of income for middle income people. Older adults in the bottom two fifths of the income distribution draw about 80% of their income from Social Security.
Before the Commission dives into cuts to Social Security as a larger fix to our budgetary woes, the Commission should figure out how to advise Congress to pay back its loans. If this country is going to be fiscally responsible, then it wouldn't borrow money out of Social Security and then sneakily meet to figure out how to reduce promised benefits - in essence creatively devising a way to default on their loan.
Surely America can pay back its debts to its very own citizens. America has recently bailed out Wall Street. Well, American individuals don't want or need a bailout -however, they want and expect their earned and promised benefits. Americans are concerned about their personal budgets, about food, housing and medicine. Americans are doing their best to pay back their loans and to be fiscally responsible all the while contributing revenue to the most fiscally conservative and sound program - Social Security. I hope the Commission can learn a lesson from the American people.
(Statistics from a report, "Fixing Social Security: Adequate Benefits, Adequate Financing." National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), October 2009, www.nasi.org)
Social Security Matters: www.socialsecuritymatters.org
This Blog was done for Wider Opportunities for Women's "America's Budget Matters (So Does Yours)" Blog Day Event - http://www.wowonline.org/budgetmatters/