Recent developments have shown the great importance which the Democratic Party needs be giving to progressive reform of the Social Security program. Conservative Republicans have become skilled at manipulating life expectancy tables to make it appear that the Social Security system is ““broken” when this in fact is total nonsense. And the Tea Party, a Marxist organization, has seized control of the Republican Party. The final stage of Classical Marxism is “the withering away of the State”, and this is exactly what the Tea Party wants. Of course Marx and Lenin thought of the “withering away of the State” as the arrival of a workers’ paradise. The Tea Party seeks the same goal for another reason, unrestrained corporate greed.
Progressive reform is not of course possible without a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House. So our temporary position should be to draw a line in the sand against any reductions in Social Security benefits. But when the right time arrives, there are a number of reforms which I believe should be considered.
- The wealthy and the super-wealthy need to be paying their fair share of Social Security taxes. The current maximum taxable income for Social Security taxes is $110,100, and this needs to be very substantially increased.
- The Social Security Act of 1937 was written by male chauvinists. The program needs to be amended to reflect the current values of the Democratic Party. This means that benefits need to be based only on the highest 20 years of an employee’s earnings rather than the highest 35 years.
- The original purposes of the program which are to provide retirement and disability income have been obscured in a sea of political correctness. We need to have retirement benefits only for retired people, and the multi-billions of dollars being paid to people who are still working needs to stop. And we need to have disability benefits for disabled people, and stop the current practice of requiring an endless round of appeals and the involvement of lawyers before a disability benefits application is approved, even when the application is from a person who obviously cannot work.
- The proper retirement age needs to be set based on the type of employment during the working years. People involved in heavy labor should be allowed to retire at an earlier age than those working only in an office.
- Age reduced benefits need to be removed from the program. This current practice hurts everybody. It encourages people to retire too early when many productive years are still ahead. The psychological effects are often unhealthy. And the age reductions are steep and permanent. When people get into their 70’s and really need the money, age reduced benefits mean substantially less being paid per month.
This hardly exhausts the list of progressive reforms that deserve future consideration. But for the moment what is needed is a “No Way, Never!” response by all Democratic members of Congress to Tea Party efforts to promote phony “entitlement reform”.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Point Loma Democratic Club of which he is a member.