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Now is the time to save Social Security




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The author of this entry is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
October 13, 2011 | 1,300 views | 4 comments

Social Security reform is a topic of much concern to most Americans -- whether they are current retirees counting on their benefits check to meet living expenses, or disabled Americans who can no longer work, or young and middle-age Americans who are paying into a system that they are counting on to be there in the future.

Social Security's fiscal health is critically important. As Americans are living longer, healthier lives; adjustments are necessary to keep it strong. But reforming a major entitlement program requires great effort and political will.

While these attributes are often in short supply in Washington, if left unattended, Social Security is on course today to run out of funds, leaving current and future retirees vulnerable to drastic cuts in their core benefits.

This situation is unacceptable -- and unsustainable. We can, and must, act quickly to ensure that Social Security is truly secure for those who count on it now and those who will need it in the future.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the "supercommittee") is now working to tackle the critical issues facing our nation's debt and deficits, and I am calling on them to put the vital issue of Social Security reform on the table as well.

With just a few adjustments, Social Security's finances can be shored up for many decades longer. When Social Security began during the Great Depression, the average life span of an American male was 60; a female 64. Today men live to 76 on average and women to 80.

If we do nothing, the Social Security Trust Fund will exhaust its reserves and run short of money by 2036. At that point, current law would force immediate benefits cuts of about 23 percent (about $270 per month in today's dollars).

After that, the situation only gets worse as benefits payments are projected to exceed payroll tax contributions by as much as $6.5 trillion over the next 75 years.

The math is inescapable. If we hide our heads in the sand, deep cuts in benefits or massive payroll tax increases will be the only choices. Doing nothing now is not a responsible option.
My proposal, called the Defend and Save Social Security Act, would maintain Social Security for at least the next 75 years-- without raising taxes or cutting core benefits.

This would be accomplished by very gradual upticks in the retirement age and a modest adjustment to the annual cost-of-living increases, keeping core benefits untouched. Enacting these incremental changes now would leave enough time to erase the projected 2036 Social Security shortfall.

Under the Hutchison plan, the eligibility age would not be changed for those ages 58 and older. For everyone else, we would raise the normal retirement age by just three months a year, starting in 2016, going from age 67 in 2019 to 69 in 2027.

The early retirement age would also be raised gradually from 62 to 64. Again, these age increases would be done very gradually over the next decade. My bill would couple this with a 1 percent reduction in the increase of the annual COLA. Together, these two steps would prevent triggering automatic benefits cuts and keep the Social Security Trust Fund solvent until nearly the end of the century.

Others have different ideas for adjusting retirement age requirements and COLAs. But this is an important national discussion whose time has come. Small adjustments now will avoid the necessity of big, painful changes in coming years.

The 12 members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction are charged with putting forward a long-term deficit-reduction plan. Getting the Social Security system back on a sustainable financial footing is a crucial part of meeting this challenge.

We now have a unique opportunity to design a timely, bipartisan package of gradual Social Security reforms. Doing so will assure that benefits will be there for both current and future retirees. We should not let this opportunity slip away.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas
 
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Your Opinions and Comments

 
Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
October 14, 2011 7:33am
 
"pozi scheme"? ....hate it when that happens.

 
The Marcelina Muse  
Dry Tank, TX  
October 13, 2011 2:49pm
 
Dear Kay, incremental and bipartisan is why you are not governor of Texas.

 
Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
October 13, 2011 1:33pm
 
Perry had it right. Social Security is indeed a pozi scheme.

 
Elaine K.  
Floresville  
October 13, 2011 11:46am
 
New post.

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