Why Expanding Social Security Is Crucial to Addressing Inequality in America in 2014
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“Only 2 percent of women in America make over $106,000,” she said. “So, of course, no one knows there is a cap. This is the biggest loophole that people didn’t know about in the tax structure.”
The added revenues would not just fortify Social Security’s long-term finances, but allow benefits to be adjusted and expanded. First, the government could use a more accurate inflation gauge to calculate real cost of living increases for the elderly, instead of deliberately undercutting it as has done since the mid-1980s. Elderly Americans have higher energy and healthcare costs, for example, in contrast to younger demographic cohorts.
The increased revenues could be used to improve benefits for people who really need them: such as have a minimum benefit of not less than 125 percent of the poverty line (other proposals say 150 percent); increasing what widows receive after spouses die; increasing what students get when parents die; and other adjustments that cost little but would make big quality-of-life differences.
It’s remarkable that Washington’s political establishment—from the House GOP, to Obama’s White House, to Washington Post editorials—sees the solution as cutting Social Security in future decades. There may no issue where they are more out of sync with the public, Lake said. The bottom line is Social Security won’t be broke for 20 years and simple, fair-minded fixes will not only make it solvent for decades, but expand it so no elderly Americans fall into poverty.
“Don’t listen to anyone in the Beltway,” Lake said. “Real people are wildly in favor of Social Security, wildly supportive of it. And this is a voting issue in 2014. We will have a record number of seniors [who are going to get] out to vote. And the senior vote is swinging back and forth between the two parties. This is going to be a very key issue and a very key vote. And it’s not, frankly, just for seniors.”
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