Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget writes about two social security reform plans – one of which is mine, published by the American Enterprise Institute – that would reduce poverty in old age.
Recent conversations about Social Security have evolved from how best to make the program solvent to whether benefits should be expanded for all future seniors. U.S. median senior income is among the highest in the world, while economic security for many families and public investment are falling behind. Given that, and with Social Security on the brink of insolvency, increasing benefits for middle- and high-income seniors would not be at the top of many people’s lists.
There are, however, ways to reduce senior poverty without broad-based benefit expansions. Two recent Social Security proposals-–one from experts at the American Enterprise Institute; the other from the Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings at the Bipartisan Policy Center-–suggest doing just that.
These plans are quite different. But both would make Social Security solvent and enhance retirement security for those who depend most on the program while increasing retirement income for the bottom 30% or so of earners and reducing senior poverty. The Bipartisan Policy Center plan would reduce senior poverty by about a third; the AEI plan would virtually eliminate senior poverty. Both would do so without relying on massive and politically unviable tax increases that would crowd out revenue for other national priorities.
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