Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 8, 2012

Forum: Social Security ain't broke

Social Security is more popular than sliced bread. And it should be. Our Social Security system is the foundation of our families' security: We work hard and pay into it with every paycheck so each of us can retire with dignity.

Social Security is a basic part of what makes America run, like our national highway system. And with pensions vanishing, it's more important now than ever. Without Social Security, nearly half of elderly Americans would live below the official poverty level.

Social Security doesn't add a single penny to the deficit and never has. And it ain't broke. The good news is that Americans can count on our Social Security system for decades to come. There's already a massive trust fund with a growing $2.7 trillion surplus in the safest investments in the world.

Keeping Social Security strong into the next century is simple: Close the tax loopholes that make middle-class Americans pay at a higher rate than millionaires do. Under current law, workers making a middle-class income pay a portion of their income into Social Security at a much higher rate than the richest of us. Instead, we can have every worker pay the same rate.

Yes, people are living longer. Isn't that good news? Let's make sure that we have decent retirement income. Given the extreme market volatility that's grown routine, Americans clearly can't count on stocks or real estate to guarantee our retirement. Americans should save for retirement, in addition to relying on our Social Security benefits. Average Social Security earnings are only $14,000 per year, which still provides two-thirds of income for a typical senior and more than 90 percent of the income for a third of seniors.

Polls, including surveys dating back six decades, consistently show that an overwhelming majority of Americans strongly support Social Security. And yes, it's a government program. If you think you don't like the government and you like Social Security, then think again.

About the author: Elizabeth Rose is the communications director for the Campaign for America's Future, which promotes progressive policies; on the web at: www.ourfuture.org; distributed via OtherWords.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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