The Assault on Social Security

 Contributed by Sparky Morrison.

Over 64 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in June 2020 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Now, it’s very existence is threatened by the current administration and Republican Senate

The Social Security Act, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, created Social Security, a federal safety net for elderly, unemployed and disadvantaged Americans. The main stipulation of the original Social Security Act was to pay financial benefits to retirees over age 65 based upon their lifetime payroll tax contribution. The social security program was intended to be and still is a social insurance program that is a government-run public program providing economic security to U.S. citizens.

Over the years, the Social Security Act was amended, but the basic principles are the same. The retirement age to collect full benefits has been raised depending upon the year you were born; and Survivors and Death Benefits, and Disability benefits were added. 

Social Security remains funded by the Payroll Deduction taxes paid by all U.S. employees and employers. This payroll deduction tax that funds social security is typically split between employees and employers, with each paying half of the total 12.4%. So you as a worker pays a 6.2% social security tax and your employer pays 6.2%. 

The money each individual pays into social security payroll taxes isn’t held in a personal account for him or her to use when they get benefits, however. The government uses current SSI payroll deductions to provide benefits to people collecting now. Any unused money goes to a Social Security trust fund.

Unfortunately, there is a Republican assault of Social Security and this forthcoming election may decide its fate. The president has vowed to eliminate this payroll deduction tax if re-elected, which will immediately give businesses a 6.2% profit while defunding Social Security. If this happens, the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted by mid 2023. 

This administration has already renamed “Social Security Benefits” as “Social Security Entitlement” in a move to remove the idea that a retired worker has the right to collect back on a tax that they paid over their working lifetime. By defunding Social Security, the Republican Party will be able to declare that spending has to be slashed and therefore enact cuts to Social Security. The Republican Party has long sought to privatize Social Security and to diminish benefits. These diminished benefits will be plus for profit-making businesses but extremely hurtful to those who depend on the benefits to help close the gap between poverty and economic stability.  

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