Happy Birthday Social Security – Cut the Cake not the Program

Social Security is 77 years old and going strong.   Some may be surprised by that simple statement –given all of the political propaganda, lies and spin which pass for discourse these days—but it’s simply and demonstrably true. 

Happy Birthday Social Security – the American people thank you!

Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

“As we mark this 77th anniversary, Social Security’s promise of economic security for average Americans is facing the biggest threat of its long and successful service to our nation.  For too many political candidates, including the GOP Romney/Ryan Presidential ticket, Social Security is seen as little more than a budget target. They intend to use it to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and allow Wall Street to access American workers’ Social Security funds. 

While politicians use Social Security as a political bargaining chip, millions of Americans depend on it as their lifeline. Through times of war, economic crises, natural disasters and even terrorist attacks, Social Security has proven time and again to be the model of what an effective, efficient and compassionate government can do for its citizens. 

It represents America’s core values of hard work, contribution and intergenerational equity. On this anniversary, it’s vital for the American people to understand the potential economic and political forces that could radically alter the core values that have defined America’s economic security priorities for almost eighty years.  Social Security is a program we should be emulating…not threatening to tear down. ” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

Richard Eskow, Huffington Post

Today, August 14, is Social Security’s 77th birthday. That presents us with a difficult challenge: What do you give a government program that has everything… except a secure future of its own? Let’s take a look at the options for this year’s celebration.

The Gift Pile

Talk about an embarrassment of riches! Look what Social Security can already list among its gifts. It’s got:

Hundreds of millions of people who love it. Polls consistently show that Social Security, along with Medicare, is one of our most popular government programs.

The best balance sheet in the entire government. Despite all the scare talk (which we’ll get to shortly), no program in U.S. history is on a firmer financial footing than Social Security. It’s a stand-alone program which isn’t allowed to contribute to the overall government deficit, and is absolutely solvent until the early 2030s. No other program can say that.

A great profile. There’s no way to say this delicately, so we’ll come right out with it: Social Security has the slimmest, sleekest look in Washington. We don’t like to encourage our society’s fixation on thinness as the ideal of beauty, but let’s face it — Social Security is so cost-effective in delivering its benefits that it’s got the most streamlined chassis around. The Social Security Administration beats every private benefits program in the country when it comes to low overhead and efficient administrative design. One of the main reasons for that is the fact that everybody who pays into the system receives its benefits at qualification time. There’s no “means testing,” no gamesmanship, no trick, just trim, no-overhead service delivery.

Great polls. Time and time again, overwhelming majorities of Americans have made it clear that they don’t want this program to be cut. That means a lot: Of all the gifts in the world, the best any of us can hope for is friends who will defend you to the end.

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

For a 77-year-old, Social Security is looking pretty spry today, the anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of the Social Security Act in 1935. The program covers more than 54 million Americans, providing a dignified retirement and keeping the families of premature deceased workers out of poverty.

Among those who should be celebrating: Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., the newly-anointed GOP candidate for vice-president. As has been widely reported, Ryan’s father died in 1986, when the future congressman was 16. The younger Ryan collected Social Security survivor benefits, which he put away for college, until the age of 18. Yet he returned the favor by proposing one of the most draconian plans to privatize Social Security in 2005. When his proposal was rejected, he signed on as so-sponsor of the Bush Administration plan, which ultimately failed.

From the National Academy of Social Insurance – Just the Facts