Given that the Social Security Trust Fund is forecast to start operating in the red by the year 2035, most every politician knows the status quo cannot continue due to basic math. Over the years, the issue of how to “fix” Social Security gets discussed briefly, then immediately shelved when voters think that benefits are being cut, expanded, or simply touched in any way.

The can has been kicked many, many times down the road. As a result, a few of the 2016 candidates, on both sides of the aisle, have offered contrasting visions for the program.

First, former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) has called for expanding the program, which is the view in line with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Report from the WSJ:

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a Democratic presidential bid, told Iowa voters that the nation must expand benefits to help more people realize the American dream.

Short on specifics, O’Malley would likely support raising the income cap and possibly increasing benefits by raising taxes on wealthy individuals to pay for it.

On the complete other end of the spectrum, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) has come out with a plan to reform the program by raising the retirement age and implementing means testing, among other things, as a way to make the safety net solvent once again. Report from the Washington Examiner:

By suggesting cuts to Social Security, Christie will go beyond even the boldest plans for entitlement reform offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and offer conservatives concerned about the federal debt a reason to support him.

Christie will propose raising the normal retirement age for Social Security from 67 to 69, and the early retirement age from 62 to 64.

He will also introduce significant means-testing into the program, phasing out retirement benefits starting for seniors earnings above $80,000 and zeroing them out for those earnings more than $200,000 annually.

The changes would affect future retirees rather than current beneficiaries, and Christie would not raise payroll taxes on high earners. He would also seek to address the fiscal problems with the Social Security disability program.

Christie’s plan isn’t filled with new ideas, but ideas which have been proposed over time to keep the program solvent without drastic changes.

Unfortunately, something tells me that 2016 will be filled with a lot of talk on this topic, just like previous years, but little action in the way of solving the problem. However, at least the conversation has started and candidates can offer plans and defend them which hopefully conveys the need for reform to the general public.

Also worth noting is that Hillary Clinton has tended to favor a more modest approach, somewhere in between Christie and O’Malley, as reported by the Washington Times:

Mrs. Clinton said only that as president she would be “100 percent committed” to providing retirees a good quality of life.

She has been under intense pressure from her Democratic Party’s left wing to embrace a plan to expand Social Security benefits and pay for it with increased taxes on wealthy Americans.

As a senator in 2007, Mrs. Clinton opposed a plan to raise the cap on income subject to Social Security tax in order to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund, which is projected to be depleted in 2035.

So far, Mrs. Clinton has avoided committing herself to any policy and offered only vague promises to fight income inequality and champion “everyday Americans.”

I’m guessing that Hillary will come out and favor something which, at minimum, will keep Social Security as it stands, perhaps by using tax increases on the top income earners to make that happen. This would fall in line with ensuring she is not outflanked on her left by O’Malley.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Taking away benefits from American Citizens to pay for Puerto Ricans that live in Puerto Rico, WHO don’t speak English well, is NOW considered a “disability”, so Social Security will PAY THEM BENEFITS in Puerto Rico!

    You can’t make this liberal crap in anyone’s wildest imagination — but, it happens to be true under our America-hating usurper of the White House.

    “As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the Social Security Administration is now approving disability benefits for hundreds of Puerto Ricans because they can’t speak English – even though Puerto Rico is, of course, a predominantly Spanish-speaking nation.”

    http://absoluterights.com/paying-disability-benefits-to-puerto-ricans-who-cant-speak-english-is-just-criminal/

    • This certainly seems like something that should be investigated. AND the reason that it’s news is that it IS being investigated, by the Social Security Administration, report published April 3.

      (1) The policy dates back to the 1970s. It’s not an Obama plot.

      (2) Puerto Ricans have been American Citizens since 1917, so they should have the rights and responsibilities of the rest of us.

      (3) Between 2011 and 2013–three years–there have been a total of 218 cases of collection of benefits. Less than 71/year in a population of 3.5 million.

      (4) While not being able to speak English is a liability in the US, it is probably not in Puerto Rico. Surfisher is right about that. [Not often I get to write those words.]

      (5) The purpose of the OIG report was to analyze if there’s a problem and what to do about it. The report recommended that any application for relief should be analyzed as to whether the lack of English REALLY kept the person from achieving employment.

      The Agency agreed with the recommendation, so the 6/10,000 of 1% of a problem is well on the way to be solved.

      • “Puerto Ricans have been American Citizens since 1917”

        Only American Citizens can vote in the General Election — Puerto Ricans can’t, therefore, they are not American Citizens. Period.

        So, wrong again, Goethe, kid — you, and your liberal sidekick Tess Liehard, need to take a break….for the two of you are polluting this forum non-stop…LOL!

            • 8 U.S. Code § 1402 – Persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899. . .are declared to be citizens of the United States as of January 13, 1941.

            • P.S. I don’t know if you realize it, but it is possible to post a comment that doesn’t include an insult.

            • Reference to 1917 was contingent on the person accepting US citizenship:

              SIXTY-FOURTH CONGRESS . Sess. II. Cas. 144,145. 1917.

              Sec. 5. That all citizens of Porto Rico. . . shall be deemed and held to be, citizens of the United States. . .

            • QED…?

              LOL, the only thing you’ve proven is that you are an uncomprehending, pedantic numbskull … who puts adult Puerto Ricans on par with American children….in some convoluted sophistry that your weak mind thinks can pass for logic. Pathetic.

              Here is the qualified (to stop your idiotic pedantry) statement:

              Only American Citizens (of legal age and not felons) can vote in the general election.

              Can Puerto Ricans do so?
              Answer Yes or No — it’s that simple (sciolistic, pedantic dolt).

              So what’s the correct answer….?

            • You’re so irrational.
              This thread was about the investigation of social security benefits, supposedly paid to Puerto Ricans because they can’t speak English.

              The investigation already found that there were payments to a total of 218 people–over three years–from among 3.5 MILLION people.

              The investigation suggested reviewing whether the 218 people were due benefits, and to tighten the rules that were written in the 1970s.

              For some reason, you brought up citizenship, and I pointed out that Puerto Ricans have been eligible for citizenship since 1917, and were automatically US citizens as of 1941. The question is irrelevant to the point, but I didn’t mind pointing out that you were wrong. Puerto Ricans are US Citizens. It was ridiculous for you to doubt it. And even more irrelevant to ask if they vote. Do you want to ask their favorite color next?

            • LOL — you evade again!

              Just answer the question:

              Can Puerto Ricans vote in the genereal election — Yes or No?

              It’s a simple question, that even a simpleton like you should be able to answer.

            • You’re such a moron. I didn’t answer, because it was such a stupid question. OK, I’ll answer if you’ll answer mine.

              No, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in US Elections. But it’s TOTALLY irrelevant to this discussion.

              QUESTION: What possible relevance does that have to this discussion??

            • What kind of “moderator” are you, if you cannot moderate your own posts…calling a poster “moron”…?

              Gotcha-ya …silly boy.

              Attention Nate:
              Is your policy to have moderators insult posters…?!

            • LOL — you evade again!

              Just answer the question:

              WHY WOULD IT MATTER to this thread, if the citizens of Puerto Rico vote in the general US election? WHY?

              It’s a simple question, that even a simpleton like you should be able to answer.

            • Simpleton Goethe — since Puerto Rico’s citizens cannot vote in the US elections, they CANNOT be Real American Citizens.

              Therefore, it is a travesty to give them Free benefits of ANY KIND, let alone Social Security Benefits (for not speaking English in their own Spanish speaking nation) that belong to Real American Citizens!

              Are you truly this dense, kid…?!

              P.S. — unlike you, who has no life other than posting here nonstop nonsense 24-7, I do have a life….

  2. Force the federal government to pay back what they have taken from the Social Security trust fund for years!
    This is not there money, yet they help themselves to it like it is a piggy bank. If they pay it all back, social
    security would be totally solvent. Roosevelt set this up for the American citizens, not for the criminal
    politicians.

  3. Whatever individuals pay into Social Security payroll taxes, the money goes into the General Fund of the Treasury along with all other taxes. When Social Security has a cash-flow surplus (when more is coming in that being paid out) Social Security taxes are ‘available’ to pay for other programs.” The Republican Joint Economic Committee reported “Treasury should have $6.5 trillion in surplus FICA taxes but has only $2.6 trillion.” This deficit exists because Republicans borrowed trillions in
    FICA taxes to offset tax cuts for the rich, and fund unnecessary wars. Seniors are now left holding
    an IOU, from the U.S. debt and tax cuts.

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