Archive for Tuesday, January 9, 2007

LHS political clubs debate Social Security

January 9, 2007


Reforms should consider all demographics

Under Social Security's existing provisions, it will soon be in shambles, and to fix it, Congress and the President need to reform the system immediately. The current system provides benefits to retirees with standing Social Security tax savings, and applies any excess funding to other areas of the federal budget. Because all of the money entering the system each year is spent, predictions estimate that in roughly 10 years, when the baby boomers have retired or begin to retire, benefits for the system will exceed revenues and the government will be forced to seek additional funding from the Social Security Trust Fund. The Social Security Trust Fund is predicted to run dry by 2042.

The excess Social Security funds used in facets not pertaining to social welfare exemplify the government's fiscal irresponsibility. In order for this pay-as-you-go system to work, a consistent equilibrium of workers and entitled retirees is necessary. It is in the best interest of Congress to address the projected future shortfalls before they arrive to avoid legal difficulties with entitled retirees.

There are many options the government may consider when addressing Social Security's problems. Raising Social Security taxes may not be the most favorable solution, though, due to its negative ramifications for future taxpayers. Congress should consider these taxpayers when they attempt to fix the system because younger generations may be opposed to an increase in their taxes. The federal government should consider building a larger Social Security trust fund as soon as possible and raise the age at which retirees begin to receive benefits. Although raising the retirement age will upset many people, those people must remember that Americans are living much longer and the American taxpayers cannot afford to pay out the current benefits for as long as people live now. Congress must remember to consider all ages and demographics when they begin to reform the system in coming years.

- Dan Bentley is president of the Young Republicans at Lawrence High School.

Proven program not straining government

One of the controversial platform topics of the moment is Social Security. Republicans in Congress, as well as President Bush, are in favor of the privatization or abolition of government-sponsored retirement benefits. Democrats see the fault in this argument and feel that it produces undue burdens and risks for citizens who are not wealthy. Republicans argue that the privatization of Social Security will allow those who "deserve" retirement benefits to retain them. This implies that those who benefit from Social Security are not always those who pay for it. This is an unfair argument, however, that does not take into account the fact that each citizen gets more out of Social Security than they have paid into it their entire lives.

President Franklin Roosevelt began Social Security as part of his New Deal program to help provide retirement income for ordinary Americans. The program flourished and succeeded in saving a generation from poverty in old age. Since World War II, the program has enjoyed widespread popularity and has not proved a burden for the government to maintain.

Congressional Republicans often ignore the social ramifications of their actions against Social Security. One of their arguments for privatization maintains that each citizen will be responsible for his or her own retirement funds. The idea that this is "their money" and that the government should not have it is popular among Republicans. What this position fails to appreciate is that the real beneficiaries of the program do not have the money to adequately manage their own retirement funds or to pay into a retirement fund at all. These citizens have a right to retirement that could not be realized without Social Security benefits.

The Democratic Party feels that Social Security is a positive program with a proven track record and that it will not strain government resources. The social benefits provided by the program far outweigh the economic discomfort of conservative administrations. The Democratic Party does not intend to allow rich elites to determine the economic futures of the American middle and lower classes who depend on Social Security in their retirement.

- Julia Barnard and Samuel Huneke are co-presidents of the Young Democrats at Lawrence High School.


3rdsun 11 years, 1 month ago

Both sides make valid points here, but lets not forget the facts:

First, Bush's proposal to privatize Social Secuirty is completely unconstitutional, and it is actually a subversion of the letter of the Constitution. The first problem with Bush's scheme is the Constitution authorizes "general welfare" as a legitimate function of the taxing-and-spending power of Congress. Nowhere in the Constitution is there authorization to use tax moneys for "personal welfare" or for "private welfare," as Bush proposed. This is constitutional subversion No. 1.

In 1923, the most-conservative Supreme Court in US history handed down two rulings on taxpayer issues. In the cases ( Massachusetts v. Mellon and Frothingham v. Mellon) the court established that money collected by government through taxation is owned by the government. It is not the property of taxpayers, therefore there is no such thing as "taxpayers' money" the media like to bandy about. Bush's plan to let taxpayers continue to own their tax payments amounts to constitutional subversion No. 2.

The second point the court made is something that should be obvious to anyone who follows government. It is that Congress has the sole constitutional authority to determine how public money is to be used. Bush's plan to allow taxpayers to determine spending of government money is constitutional subversion No. 3.

The Constitution specifies that the general welfare (Social Security) is to be funded with money raised through taxation; no other way. The power for government to borrow money for other purposes wasn't introduced into the Constitution until paragraph 2 of Article I, Section 8; well after funding for general welfare with tax money was established; therefore Bush's plan to borrow close to $2 trillion to cover transition costs of converting Social Security to unconstitutional private or personal accounts is constitutional subversion No. 4.

However, the Republicans are correct to state that the Trust fund will run dry in 2042 is nothing is done. The Office of the Actuary at the Social Security Administration makes this point very clear: "The projected growing deficits in both programs will exhaust HI trust fund reserves in 2018 and Social Security reserves in 2040, under current financing arrangements...Social Security could be brought into actuarial balance over the next 75 years in various ways, including an immediate increase of 16 percent in payroll tax revenues or an immediate reduction in benefits of 13 percent (or some combination of the two). To the extent that changes are delayed or phased in gradually, greater adjustments in scheduled benefits and revenues would be required. Ensuring that the system is solvent on a sustainable basis over the next 75 years and beyond would also require larger changes. "

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