State of Alabama secondary Archives: on Social Security


Al Franken: Social Security was the greatest achievement of the New Deal

Social Security survived WWII, the Cold War, Vietnam, the sexual revolution, oil shocks, stagflation. No matter what America and the world could throw at it, Social Security just kept on ticking, sending out checks to delighted seniors, people with disabilities, and widows and orphans. Today, Social Security provides more than half the income for most of America's senior citizens. If it disappeared tomorrow, the poverty rate among senior citizens would jump from 8.7% to 46.8%. By almost all accounts, Social Security was the greatest achievement of the New Deal, and perhaps the greatest achievement of any kind in human history.

But why did it need saving? Because there was a crisis looming. In 2042, a mere 37 years hence, Social Security would be "bankrupt," "flat broke."

The solution to this crisis? Driving a stake through the heart of the program by transforming it from a system of shared protection into a glorified IRA. Plus cutting benefits.

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.184 Oct 25, 2005

Al Franken: Raise the cap on income subject to the payroll tax

Let's say you want to play it safe. You still have plenty of options for ways to achieve solvency. The most popular one is to raise the cap on income subject to the payroll tax, known as FICA, after the Federal Insurance Contribution Act. Right now, the cap is at $90,000, meaning that if you make $180,000, you pay FICA on only your income. Everyone earning UNDER $90,000 pays payroll taxes on every dollar they make.

Polls consistently find that more than 2/3 of Americans favor getting rid of the cap entirely. Another strategy is to raise the cap to $120,000, or $150,000. Or the Social Security Administration could invest part of the Trust Fund in stocks, rather than treasury bonds, which would introduce a little bit of risk, but that risk would be shared by everyone.

Reasonable senators could sit down & solve the solvency problem in 5 minutes. Private accounts would do NOTHING to solve the solvency issue. Nothing.

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.190-191 Oct 25, 2005

Cato Institute: Changed term "privatization" to "choice" in 2002

For a decade, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute has been an omnipresent champion of private accounts. In February of 2005, Tanner was thrilled by the White house's commitment to the fight.

Tanner was enough of a team player to change the name of the Cato Institute's "Project on Social Security Privatization" to the more politically palatable "Project on Social Security Choice" in 2002. Tanner let his guard down about what this was really all about: "In the end, this isn't a debate about the system's solvency in 2018 or 2042. It's about whether you think the government should be in control of your retirement or people should take ownership and responsibility. Our position is that people need to be responsible for their own lives."

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.207-208 Oct 25, 2005

Dwight Eisenhower: 1954: anyone attempting to abolish Social Security is stupid

Sometimes when I'm feeling unmoored, I reach for the collected letters of Dwight Eisenhower--a Republican of a different era, and a different stripe. Here's what Ike wrote about Social Security in a November 8, 1954 letter to his brother Edgar:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.218 Oct 25, 2005

George W. Bush: Overhaul Social Security because it's unfair to black people

Social Security needed to be overhauled, the President said, because it was unfair to black people. Bush laid out the problem at a staged "Conversation on Social Security Reform."

A questioner noted, "The average African-American male life expectancy is 69. But if the age is going to go to 67, you do the math. That's 2 years." The numbers came from a 1998 report by the extremely untrustworthy Heritage Foundation. The study assumed that every African-American man would live to EXACTLY 69 years of age, and then drop dead.

But Heritage ignored the fact that black men who reach 67 have a life expectancy of 79. That doesn't mean that they ALL die at 79. It's just an average. On average, black male retirees will receive Social Security benefits for 12 years--not 2.

In 2003, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that "in the aggregate, blacks and Hispanics have higher disability rates and lower lifetime earnings, and thus receive greater benefits relative to taxes than whites."

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.194-196 Oct 25, 2005

Heritage Foundation: Minorities realize dismal return from Social Security

A questioner noted, "The average African-American male life expectancy is 69. But if the age is going to go to 67, you do the math. That's 2 years." The numbers came from a 1998 report by the Heritage Foundation, which assumed that every African-American man would live to EXACTLY 69 years of age, and then drop dead.

But Heritage ignored the fact that black males, like white males, die at every age. And Social Security also pays disability and survivor benefits. And because of the enormous racial inequality in this country, African-Americans are much more likely than whites to receive both.

In 2003, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that "in the aggregate, blacks and Hispanics have higher disability rates and lower lifetime earnings, and thus receive greater benefits relative to taxes than whites."

Which is quite a contradiction to the Heritage Foundation's finding that "low-income African-American males realize particularly dismal rates of return from Social Security."

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.195-197 Oct 25, 2005

  • The above quotations are from State of Alabama Politicians: secondary Archives.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Social Security.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
2016 Presidential contenders on Social Security:
  Democrats:
Secy.Hillary Clinton(NY)
V.P.Joe Biden(DE)
Gov.Andrew Cuomo(NY)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel(IL)
Gov.Martin O`Malley(MD)

Republicans:
Amb.John Bolton(MD)
Gov.Jeb Bush(FL)
Dr.Ben Carson(MD)
Gov.Chris Christie(NJ)
Sen.Ted Cruz(TX)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Bobby Jindal(LA)
Rep.Peter King(NY)
Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
Sen.Rand Paul(KY)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Sen.Rob Portman(OH)
Secy.Condi Rice(CA)
Sen.Marco Rubio(FL)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
2016 Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg(I-NYC)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Donald Trump(NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura(I-MN)
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Page last updated: Mar 28, 2014