Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A good review for the Fiscal Commission Social Security plan

After President Obama basically hung his Fiscal Commission's Social Security recommendations out to dry, it's good to see someone coming through with some support for the basic approach the Commission took. Here's a nice editorial in the Raleigh News and Observer by Andrew Dobelstein, professor of social welfare policy at UNC-Chapel Hill:

Far from "tax cuts for the rich and erosion of the social safety net," the Debt Commission recommended the opposite for Social Security. It approached Social Security in the context of overall fiscal reform, and its recommendations were directed specifically to establishing fiscal stability for Social Security as a stand-alone program. These recommendations were much more comprehensive than simply cutting benefits and/or increasing taxes in order to impact the budget deficit.

Calling Social Security "the foundation of economic security for millions of Americans," the commission affirmed that "Social Security is far more than just a retirement program - it is the keystone of the American social safety net, and it must be protected."

Taken together the commission's eight Social Security recommendations would enhance benefits for low-income earners, increase benefit limits for more affluent beneficiaries, eliminate the current Social Security "tax cap" and at the same time ensure long-range solvency. The commission would gradually increase the retirement age, while creating a hardship exemption for those unable to work. It would bring into Social Security all newly hired state and local government employees.

These recommendations, along with the commission's assertion that "Social Security must do more to reduce poverty among the very poor and very old who need help the most," give Social Security a larger redistributive effect than the current program. They would increase the level of scheduled benefits for the lowest quintile of beneficiaries by 3.8 percent and decreasing scheduled benefits for the highest quintile by 18.7 percent by 2050.

The whole article is worth a read.

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