WICHITA, Kan. - Today is the first day of the week that President Obama and the Republican House are to go at it, as my father used to say, hammer and tongs on the budget and the deficit.
Obama is proposing a budget of 3.7 trillion dollars, a budget that he claims will reduce the deficit 1.1 trillion in the next decade. Of course, Speaker of the House Boehner immediately stated that that 1.1 trillion-deficit reduction was not enough. What both of them, in fact most of our elected representatives and senators, ignore completely are the entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare. They don't want to talk about those benefits paid for over a lifetime of work by 94.7% of the American population.
That is a simple problem to solve, depending on whether the conservatives are willing to solve it despite having to listen to the screaming and gnashing of teeth (pardon the cliché) from the bank and Wall Street executives drawing obscenely monstrous bonuses and the Kochs, et al at the very top of the income tower.
The solution is to charge social security taxes on every dollar anyone earns and not increase the benefits they can draw out. Currently, workers and employers each pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,800 of income -- about 83% of all wages. Anything earned over and above $106,800 escapes taxation for the entitlement programs. According to the American Academy of Actuaries, if we tax all earned income -- but don't raise payments to workers who make more than the cap -- we'll eliminate 100% of the shortfall without raising the entitlement benefit age or increasing the deductions for 94.7% of workers.
It has always angered me that my sister-in-law worked, from the moment she graduated from high school, until age 65 at a minimum wage job for the same store and the most she ever drew down was $376 in Social Security per month. On the other hand, my uncle, a founder of one of the most successful and largest law firms in the state drew down the maximum allowable Social Security benefits until his death, as did his widow, following. One of my family lived on handouts and other assistance because, although paying into Social Security all her employed life, existed below the poverty level. My aunt and uncle didn't need to draw out social security benefits; their wealth dwarfed the FDR granted benefits.
Conditions were different in the Great Depression. People, indeed whole families, were living in poverty and conditions worsened. Something had to be done; FDR and the New Deal established a program to give Americans money to survive in old age, which working people, and their employers paid for. And it was capped so that higher wage earners were limited in how much they had to pay, in deference and to avoid listening to the screams of the wealthy.
But enough is indeed enough. The cap must be eliminated and benefits not increased accordingly. The shortfall in the entitlement programs is ended.