Opinion: Social Security Is Playing This Election Season – And Seniors Have Tremendous Power

Sometimes voters don’t necessarily connect the dots – the reason for this is another discussion. But let me give an example, and it has to do with Social Security.

Remember that older Americans tend to vote in larger percentages than younger ones. For example, in the 2020 presidential election, 76% of Americans aged 65-74 voted, while only 51% of Americans aged 18-24 did. This data, provided by the Census Bureau, adds that there are similar correlations between education and turnout: the more educated you are, the more likely you are to vote.

In the approaching midterm elections, now less than three months away, Republicans continue to have a strong advantage — a 78% chance, FiveThirtyEight says — to win back the House of Representatives, which they lost in the last midterm elections in 2018 The current 50-50 Senate split has a 62% chance of tipping in Democrats’ favor, tightening their wafer-thin hold on the upper house.

Seniors, tens of millions of whom are heavily dependent on the social security safety net, should pay more attention to this. The massive program, which will distribute $1.2 trillion to 66 million Americans this year, is at a crucial crossroads. As I and other MarketWatch writers have pointed out, Social Security is currently paying out more than it takes in. The trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2034. When that happens, retirees will get whatever can be generated by payroll taxes, and currently that’s expected to be about 77 cents per dollar.

The demographics are ominous. Americans are retiring en masse, taking advantage of Social Security and living longer. But thanks to declining birth rates and some people’s antipathy to immigration, the workforce needed to pay Social Security taxes isn’t growing.

Read: sen. Ron Johnson wants to turn Social Security into ‘discretionary spending’

Republicans and Democrats alike know that something must be done. But their solutions vary wildly, and that’s what seniors who vote should be aware of.

“It was far too late to make sure we improve this program,” Representative John Larson (D-CT) said at a town hall this week. The 12-year-old congressman, who chairs the Social Security subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has introduced legislation called “Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust,” which he says would include benefits for seniors. and better protection against inflation. His idea to fund this expansion of Social Security — the first in more than half a century — is a well-known one: to remove the Social Security tax cap, currently $147,000.

Read about Social Security 2100: Here’s Why Congress Needs to Take Action on Social Security—Right Now

So far, Larson’s legislation has attracted nearly 200 co-sponsors and the support of more than 100 advocacy groups, but has not progressed very far, overshadowed by other priorities. The danger for Social Security advocates is that a Republican takeover in the House — again quite likely at this point — would reject Larson’s bill, particularly his plan to raise taxes on top earners.

What would the Republicans do? Florida Sen. Rick Scott has released “An 11-Point Plan to Save America,” pointing out that Social Security — and Medicare for that matter — has problems and needs to be addressed. Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Commission, proposes to “lapse” (expire) basic legislation that has supported Social Security since 1935 and Medicare since 1965, which would force Congress to act if it wants to keep it. . programs go. “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again,” the plan says.

In other words, Scott proposes that these critical programs — on which you may be dependent on yourself — be put on the chopping block on a regular basis unless lawmakers agree to keep them going.

When asked about this recently on Fox News, Scott called it nothing more than a “Democrat talking point” (it’s not, it’s in his plan), a point also made by Senate Republican top Republican Mitch McConnell. from Kentucky. Here’s a full fact check on it all:

Given how essential programs like Social Security and Medicare are, seniors who depend so much on them should examine the views of both parties and determine for themselves what’s best. Because seniors vote in such large numbers, there will be a lot of campaign ads about this. I urge everyone to ignore these slick 30-second commercials and instead read the details that both parties – which I have referenced in this article – are suggesting.

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