Social Security is bankrupting the United States. Our promises made significantly outstrip our ability to pay. Instead of pretending the problem doesn’t exist, Washington needs to man up and deal with it. ‘Puter’s got a proposal.
First, let’s start calling Social Security by its real name: Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (“OASDI”). You may recognize OASDI from such places as your pay stub, wondering what the heck OASDI was and why you were being charged for it. ‘Puter would hammer home the “Insurance” portion of OASDI. Social Security/OASDI is an insurance program for our quasi-elderly, ensuring no one starves to death on the street. It was never intended to be a substitute for sensible retirement savings.
Given that Social Security/OASDI is an insurance program, it is logical that it be means tested. That is, if you can provide yourself a comfortable, non-starvation based retirement (‘Puter’s looking at you public sector pension recipients), you get reduced benefits, or none at all. Put another way, if you don’t have an occurrence of an insurable event (i.e., you’re not destitute or nearly so), you can’t collect. Just be happy you’re well off enough not to need the anti-starvation program.
‘Puter can already hear the plaintive cries of Republicans (“I paid in for years and now I can’t get my money, dammit!) and union members (“I paid in and just because I have gold plated retired benefits, I get nothing, dammit!”). It’s just not fair, consarnit! Stop whining. It is fair. Think of OASDI as auto insurance. You pay in for years, and may never use it. But, if you need it, it’s there.
‘Puter would determine the median income level of current retirees receiving Social Security/OASDI benefits as a baseline, and adjust the income threshold from there based upon political considerations, but hopefully treating that level as either a cap, or the starting point for a benefit phaseout. For all Americans not currently retired, ‘Puter would immediately start the means testing. For current retired Social Security/OASDI recipients, ‘Puter would have a 5 year phase in of the means testing, so retirees could adjust their expectations accordingly, or die.
Second, raise the retirement age. When Social Security/OASDI was enacted, the retirement age was above the average life expectancy. Now, the retirement age is significantly below the average life expectancy. The retirement age needs to be raised, and the concept of early retirement phased out altogether. ‘Puter would immediately raise the retirement age to 70 for all Americans under 50. He’d eliminate the early retirement option for everyone who is not currently retired. ‘Puter would require reexamination of the retirement age every 10 years thereafter and adjust as needed to promote fairness and maintain solvency.
‘Puter awaits his Congressional Budget Office score.