Presidential Candidate’s Views on Social Security 2016
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The Social Security program is, by definition, a liberal program. It provides a safety net for society’s most vulnerable and least able to contribute. Most of those on the right believe the system is in serious need of reform and a focus on individual responsibility is needed. This presidential debate has brought out some expressive rhetoric from both sides.
Republicans have proposed means-testing, which entails cutting benefits for higher-income workers.
Currently, high-income workers pay more into the system, and in turn receive higher benefits. New Jersey Governor and Presidential hopeful, Chris Christie, has proposed denying benefits to individuals with incomes over $200,000/year. The reasoning is that individuals with that level of income can be responsible for their own financial planning and don’t require government support. The opposing perspective is that high earners put the most money into the system, and it seems unfair to bar them from taking anything out.
Another Republican proposal is privatization of the Social Security program.
Privatization would route Social Security tax revenue into personal retirement accounts. The hope is that these accounts will be invested into high-yield stocks which will provide a better return on investment than the current system. This would also allow workers to have control over their own retirement investments, which appeals greatly to proponents of free-market economics and libertarian wing of the Republican Party. The downside is that it would put Social Security funding at the capricious whims of the stock market.
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Bernie Sanders has proposed altering the cost-of-living adjustments so beneficiaries are more likely to receive an annual increase.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has been the most aggressive about expanding Social Security programs.
He has proposed altering the cost-of-living adjustments so beneficiaries are more likely to receive an annual increase. Currently, the cost-of-living increases are based on a price index for wage earners; he proposes using a special price index for the elderly. This price index weighs housing and health care more heavily as they make up a larger percentage of the typical senior’s budget. His view is that in light of increasing poverty rates among seniors, it only makes sense to increase the safety net. His opponents point out that he does not have a plan to pay for an expansion of benefits. His belief is the system is solvent and can remain funded with only moderate adjustments.
Regardless of politics, Social Security is an important program that benefits millions of Americans.
Hopefully, those in Washington will do what is needed to keep the system funded and operating smoothly. Both sides make valid arguments; the government should help those who need assistance, but at the same time, it’s important to manage taxpayer money effectively.
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