Friday, October 10, 2014

Upcoming event: “Social Security: What Americans Want and Are Willing to Pay For”

National Academy of Social Insurance

Social Security: What Americans Want and Are Willing to Pay For

October 23, 2014, 10:00 am — 11:45 am

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Choate Room
Washington, DC 20036
United States

With lawmakers considering future changes to Social Security, it’s important to know what their constituents want — across political parties, generations, and income levels. Join the National Academy of Social Insurance for the release of a groundbreaking new public opinion study.

Social Security faces a long-term funding challenge. How do Americans want to deal with it? This survey explores Americans’ views on Social Security and uses an innovative application of trade-off analysis, a technique widely used in market research, to explore the kinds of policy changes that Americans want for Social Security and are willing to pay for. If voters could choose their own policy package, what would it look like? 

Survey participants chose among policy options that would reduce benefits, increase benefits, or raise revenues to put the program on solid footing for future generations. Speakers will present findings from the Academy’s new report — Americans Make Hard Choices on Social Security: A Survey With Trade-Off Analysis — and discuss the implications for policymakers.


  • William J. Arnone,  Board Chair, National Academy of Social Insurance
  • Elisa A. Walker, Income Security Policy Analyst, National Academy of Social Insurance
  • Mathew Greenwald, President and CEO, Greenwald & Associates


  • Jason Furman, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers


  • Moderator: Mark Miller, Columnist, Reuters
  • Andrea Louise Campbell, Professor of Political Science, MIT
  • Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
  • Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO, Center for Global Policy Solutions
  • Virginia P. Reno, Vice President for Income Security Policy, National Academy of Social Insurance

» Register Now


WilliamLarsen said...

I have answered many surveys, a few concerning Social Security. Nearly all have questions that do not allow the person to answer it due to there answer not being one of the selected ones.

When it comes to Social Security, the single largest problem is the public knowledge of the program and how it works. The vast majority of people know social security pays benefits period. However, the vast majority of people do not know that their benefits are based on wages earned. The vast majority believe their payroll taxes paid determine their benefit.

The vast majority of people also believe the trust fund was raided by congress and used to pay for general budget items like defense and wars.

Another problem is most have no idea what the payroll tax is, how much they have paid or how to calculate either present value, future value or how much their payroll taxes would provide if invested in the same US treasury Notes that Social Security does.

Now the survey results are to be released. If you ask 99 ignorant people out of 100 what they think should be done to solve Social Security, will you get a working option or a non workable option?

How much background information was provided if any and was the information from SSA, Trustees, or some private group; CATO, Heritage Foundation, Roosevelts son who is trying to save Social Security, etc.?

My experience dealing with these groups is they have credentials, but lack math and common sense.

About two decades ago a group from Oregon were proposing the state opt out of SS. They had a proposal that cut benefits by age. I evaluated the cuts by age and it surprised me that these two individuals came up with values extremely close to those I had about five years earlier. Their proposal was died quickly.

Arne said...

Although William is quite right that most people cannot do a present value analysis, it does not matter because SS really does work by current workers paying for current retirees. The Trust Fund is there to smooth economic variations, not to earn interest.

People do earn their own benefits, but it is by entering into a compact to take care of current retirees. That is the way it has always been. As hunter gatherers we did not refuse a share to elders (as long as there was a share). When grandpa could not put in 40 hours (more really) on the farm, he did not get kicked out. Even the poor houses right before SS started were funded by taxes (primarily) on people who had income.

SS is only part of what is needed for retirement. If you believe that forcing people to save for themselves is reasonable, then add that to what we have. If both halves of such a program are successful, then you can adjust the balance as you figure out how much insurance is really needed.

A pay as you go program will always need adjustments. If workers get the raises that SS currently forecasts, then scheduled benefits can be continued by taxing only a portion of that raise.