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Let's keep Social Security around

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POSTED: August 11, 2010 3:27 p.m.
The nation’s Social Security program turns 75 years old this week.
According to a news release from Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the act Aug. 14, 1935, allowing millions of retirees to live in dignity thanks to their monthly benefit payments. During the past seven decades, Social Security was expanded to protect against the economic risk of career-ending disability and the premature death of a worker.
President Barack Obama in February created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to address our nation’s fiscal challenges. In December, according to Astrue, the panel will make recommendations regarding the future of Social Security. Given the nation’s unemployment situation, it is essential that the commission take swift and drastic action to get the program back on track.
Currently, Social Security is paying out more to beneficiaries than it’s garnering in tax revenue, system trustees said in an annual report released earlier this month. Needless to say, that spells trouble.
Tom Curry, the author of an article posted Aug. 5 on msnbc.com, reported that Social Security funds will be exhausted in 2037. The trustees say the drop in revenues stems largely from the recession, which is understandable. Obviously, unemployed Americans aren’t funneling taxes into the program. However, Social Security was in trouble long before the recession came along — that’s common knowledge.
The trustees said in their report the commission on fiscal responsibility has options:
• Hike the payroll tax rate by 1.84 percentage points.
• Cut benefits by 12 percent.
• Shift $5.4 trillion into Social Security from general tax revenues.
Whether panel members decide on one of those steps or a combination of them, they must think long and hard to come up with a solution that will work. The time for delay is over. Put a plan into action. For the sake of those pouring their hard-earned wages into the program right now, Social Security must stick around another 75  years.
 

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