Shana Burt, Host of Financial Issues Live
During the State of the Union address earlier this month, President Biden assumed credit for unifying the parties on funding issues regarding Social Security and Medicare. But not before he accused Republicans, inaccurately, of putting Social Security and Medicare on the “chopping block” to remedy the debt ceiling limit questions.
For years, Democrats have been using this scare tactic to win votes and scare Americans into believing that Social Security and Medicare will be ripped away from them if they elect Republicans.
That simply is not true…but make no mistake, Social Security and Medicare are in big trouble. For years we have been warned that it is likely that less than 80% of Social Security benefits will be payable from the combined trust funds by 2035. The clock is ticking as we draw closer to that ultimatum each year.
If you receive a Social Security statement each year, you can see that warning prominently stated on the front page. In 1983, amendments were made that ushered in the transition age of full retirement benefits from 65 to 67.
People often express uncertainty about when they will be able to collect their benefits. Is it 65? Is it 62? Is it 67? Is it 70? And they wonder if the postponements are meant to fleece them from the benefits they have paid into. Well, the answer is “not exactly.” The trouble with social security is simple math and poor management.
First and foremost, politicians have used these funds for the wrong things. They have borrowed against these trust funds and issued IOUs into the program that they haven’t paid back.
Situationally, there are also societal factors that can be difficult to predict. An unexpected baby boom from the 1940s to the 1960s drastically changed the population. Social Security and other programs like it are calculated and planned for using historical statistical data. Anomalies like this can sometimes lead to faulty projections. But, faulty projections regarding something this important must be remedied at some point.
We have a very limited and imperfect view of the future, and historical data can only tell us so much. When Social Security started in 1935, almost a hundred years ago, only 54% of men and 60% of women who made it to age 21 were expected to make it to age 65.
Social Security was built for the 54-60% of the population they assumed would use it. And those that did make it to 65 were only expected to receive benefits for 13 to 15 years.
Fast forward to today. Due to advances in healthcare and other factors, people are living longer. 72-84% of the American population make it to age 65 and receive benefits for more years. Instead of 13-15 years, Americans now typically receive benefits for 15-20 years.
Although it may feel unfair to some that they are required to wait longer to receive their benefits, in reality, decades ago, people received even less out of the Social Security system because they did not live long enough to benefit from it as significantly. As life expectancy increases, it makes sense that the starting age to receive benefits must be extended.
However, considering all of these factors, there are still some very simple ways that our government could fix Social Security without impacting anyone at their point of need. The problem is that Social Security serves as a powerful political bargaining chip, and no politician wants to touch it.
Do I believe that any of you are at immediate risk of losing your Social Security benefits at your point of need if we see more Republicans elected? No, I do not believe our government, under Democrat or Republican leadership, will let that happen. They want to keep their jobs and will therefore ultimately do whatever it takes to save Medicare and Social Security in the short run. But a day is coming when something will have to be done.
If you are under the age of 55, you should take stewardship over your financial future rather than trusting it to a government that can’t manage its own lunch money. If you’re under 40, I would not make any future plans that depend on income from social security. Think about it… would you take financial advice from a person who spends almost twice what they make, has no savings, and owes almost 6x what they make in a year? That would be absolute foolishness, but that is an accurate assessment of the government that is managing our social security benefits.
So, take all of Biden’s Republican blame-shifting ramblings with a grain of salt.
When you hear accusations from the Democrat Party about a Republican threat to Social Security and Medicare, look deeper and think critically about the actual statistical data. It is time for Washington DC to make some difficult decisions.
First, our government will have to quit spending money on unnecessary things. We need to get more people back to work in order to have an economy that can grow, and taxes will have to go up, just to pay for what we’ve already spent.
When Davy Crockett served in Congress many years ago, a bill came before Congress asking for money for a very good cause- to provide relief to a fallen naval officer’s widow. Crocket offered to donate from his personal finances toward their cause but apologized that he could not vote in favor of spending governmental funds. He said, “We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity, but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.” How did we, the people and those that should be representing us get so far from that kind of thinking?
This is the kind of mentality we need in our government today. Our representatives seem to be confused about the purpose of the government and their responsibility as public servants. It seems as though they would like to replace the God of the Universe who created everything and sustains everything and is responsible for everything, so that they instead may be worshiped like God. They plot and scheme to make people dependent on Big Brother rather than on the Lord, and that needs to change – sooner rather than later!
We need to take back the power that the government has taken to squander our tax dollars by electing fiscally conservative representatives who are serious about reducing the size and power of government. Our financial future depends on it. If we don’t want to be guilty of idolatry, we cannot and should not depend on the government as we depend on God.