The following is an excellent article written by The Editorial Board of the New York Times on October 19, 2016 titled “Social Security at Stake on Nov. 8” and I quote:
“Social Security at Stake on Nov. 8”
There is no overstating the extent to which Americans rely on Social Security. The program provides monthly benefits to some 60 million people, mostly retirees for whom the modest payments — about $1,300 a month on average — represent half to all of their income. As the population ages in coming decades, Social Security will only become more important — and, unfortunately, less reliable. According to the latest projections, the system will come up short in 2034, unless reforms are undertaken before then to strengthen its finances.
After emerging briefly as an issue in the primaries, Social Security has not received the attention it deserves in the presidential contest. In fact, the words “Social Security” and “retirement” were not mentioned in the first two presidential debates by either the moderators or the nominees. In other settings, however, the candidates have presented starkly different views of the program. Understanding the differences is vitally important to Americans’ lives.
Hillary Clinton has proposed raising payouts for people whose benefits often prove inadequate, especially surviving spouses and people who left the work force to care for sick relatives. She would also increase revenues to the system by raising the ceiling on wages subject to payroll taxes, currently $118,500. That reform is overdue. In recent decades, the wage ceiling has not kept up with the income gains of high earners; if it had, it would be about $250,000 today.
Mrs. Clinton has also made clear what she wouldn’t do. She would not support reforms that require low- and middle-income people to pay more or accept less. She would not divert Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts, a favorite idea among Republicans. She would not lower Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment, or raise the retirement age, currently 67 for people born in 1960 or later. (Both ideas have broad Republican support and narrow Democratic support.)
She is right on all counts. Privatization would weaken Social Security while exposing retirees to the risks of losing money in the stock market and outliving their savings. There is no compelling evidence that the current cost-of-living adjustment is too high. Raising the retirement age for everyone — an idea based on the simplistic assertion that everyone is living longer — would mostly harm lower-income workers because the wealthy are increasingly outliving the poor.
Despite those lines in the sand, Mrs. Clinton’s plan allows for compromise with Republicans who favor cutting benefits to keep the system viable. Her opposition to raising the retirement age across the board, for example, does not preclude benefit cuts for high-income recipients. This fix can be made simply by adjusting the formula used to calculate benefits for high earners.
Donald Trump has said he would not cut benefits. But it’s fair to ask whether he can honor this pledge while at the same time honoring two other promises — to slash taxes and raise military spending — that, together, would lead to explosive federal deficits unless there were spending cuts in large programs like Social Security. And Mr. Trump has dodged the solvency issue. Absent benefit cuts, the only sure way to shore up the system’s finances is to increase revenue, an option that Mr. Trump has never broached.
Mr. Trump’s approach — no benefits cuts and no tax increases — closes off both avenues to solvency. Which, in the long run, would essentially bankrupt the system.
Mrs. Clinton’s path, by contrast, would help to provide for the long-term health of Social Security, enhance benefits for the neediest and continue guaranteed benefits for all who pay into the system.