Social Security: The nation’s Timex

January 13, 2009 | John Burbank

Remember that old saying about a Timex?

Now that we have watched our 401K accounts become 201K accounts, defined benefit pensions being reduced and sunsetted, and our retirement savings drained by Wall Street, many of us are licking our financial wounds, wondering what will come next.

We have a lot to fear for our own financial security in retirement. But there is one thing that hasn’t been caught up in – or brought down by – the gyrations of the private financial sector: Social Security. It’s still ticking along, keeping the U.S. economy moving.

On January 1st, all seniors got their automatic cost-of-living adjustments, right on time. In fact, today Social Security is the most securely financed of all government programs. What’s more, it is the fundamental backstop for economic recovery in the United States.

Where $350 billion for “troubled asset relief” has gone, no one seems to know; but Social Security checks are a different story. People spend them, and that creates economic activity. Social Security has an extremely high multiplier effect for our economy.

So, with private financial savings for retirement lying in ruins, now is the time to beef up Social Security. We should increase Social Security benefits, boost monthly checks to widowed spouses, raise the benefits for low-income retirees, roll back full retirement from age 67 to age 65, and boost overall benefits by 10%.

We could pay for the added benefits simply by having high income executives pay taxes for Social Security on their entire incomes, instead of only the first 100K, as they do now. Or we could just finance it through deficit spending, as we did with the $750 billion TARP bail out to the largest financial players in the country.

It would be a lot cheaper, and get much more bang for the buck. And, after all, wouldn’t it be the moral thing to do?!

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Posted in Retirement Security, Social Security

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