The Democrats’ Hot, New Plan: More Social Security


Social Security has a long-term funding gap that just keeps growing. Neither political party has a plan to pay for the promises we’ve already made to people contributing to the system. But Democrats are bringing a new idea to the table: make even more promises.

Almost all Senate Democrats have lined up behind a proposal by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to expand benefits for current retirees. Liberals are exulting that Warren has shifted the politics of Social Security to the left: Where once we were debating cutbacks to the program, now we’re debating benefit increases. Too bad that also means the debate is shifting further away from fiscal reality.

Social Security is becoming a worse deal for each generation. Those now joining the workforce are expected to pay more into the system than they get out of it. Warren’s plan is to shower more money on the current generation of retirees, but without increasing the deficit over the next 10 years. That means, in all likelihood, raising taxes on current workers while also increasing the program’s long-run fiscal deficit…

Now, in raw politics, this is a good idea – you see, elder voters are increasingly trending GOP and they tend to vote very consistently…thus playing a huge role in the anti-Democrat blow-outs of 2010 and 2014. In 2016, which is expected to be a close-run race, getting a few more elderly voters to pull the lever for the Democrats might make the difference between President Hillary and President Walker. So, off we go: raise social security benefits for current retirees and hope that out of gratitude they vote for you.

Of course, as noted in the quote, this can only be done by increasing taxes on current workers and it would also, naturally, put a heavier strain on social security in later years. The bottom line is that social security just doesn’t work – it is predicated upon a very large number of working people supporting a relatively small number of retired people. Trouble is, the work force keeps getting smaller and the miracles of modern science are keeping us alive ever longer. My father retired in 1992 at the age of 65 and died in 2009 at the age of 82 – seventeen years of picking up the SS check. Suppose I live 10 years longer than my dad did…even if I retire at 67, that will still work out to 25 years of SS payments for me. And a kid of 25 today might easily live until his late 90’s, or even longer. Meanwhile, we’re not having all that many kids. The program eventually goes belly up. But what is that to Democrats? What they need is a way to buy votes now – what will happen later is irrelevant; whatever happens, their program to deal with it will be to promise more free stuff.

Ok, so how do we fight against this? Can’t just say, “screw the old folks”. That would just play into Democrat hands. We have to come up with some sort of program which both benefits the oldsters while also helping out the younger folks who are paying for the goodies. My preferred option is to start implementing a privatization of social security without being too explicit that full privatization is the ultimate goal (politics is the art of the possible, folks). Something along the line of “10% of the money you pay into ss, today, will go into a private account owned by you and your heirs”. Whatever we do, we have to do it well – because this will be a potent weapon for the Democrats in 2016.

5 thoughts on “The Democrats’ Hot, New Plan: More Social Security

  1. Cluster April 10, 2015 / 11:07 am

    First of all – means testing MUST be part of the reform. There is no reason whatsoever why someone like Warren Buffett should receive SS. I remember my grandfather telling me that he didn’t understand why he received SS, because he certainly did not need it. If we means test, and allocated the benefits to those who truly need it, we could possibly increase benefits.

    On a political note, I think it needs to be pointed out to the younger generation that via the misguided and partisan ACA and now the SS proposal, the leftist Democrats are putting the financial burden of this country squarely on the shoulders of those just getting started in life.

  2. Retired Spook April 10, 2015 / 12:07 pm

    I know I’ve said it before — several times, but it bears repeating. Early in his first term George Bush told Congress that there was a narrow window in which SS could be made solvent for at least a couple generations. Unlike Obama and the Democrat majority in 2010 telling Republicans they didn’t want their input on ACA, and they didn’t need their votes, Bush invited Democrats to join the discussion of SS and said EVERYTHING was on the table. Democrats told him to pound sand. I think back to the last “fix” for SS, when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil set aside their differences and saved SS for a generation. There are virtually NO Democrats left at the national level who are willing to set politics aside and do what’s right for future generations. That’s inexcusable. At some point they will have to pay a steep price for that.

    • Cluster April 10, 2015 / 1:06 pm

      I think Democrats should apologize to Americans for exploding the debt, depressing wages, creating an historically low labor force, an anemic GDP, dividing Americans along racial, gender and class lines, and for making this world a hell of a lot more dangerous.

  3. Retired Spook April 10, 2015 / 10:49 pm

    There may actually be a hidden agenda in advocating for higher SS benefits for current retires, which, given a Democrat is suggesting it, wouldn’t surprise me in the least. The way SS works is that benefits are not taxed until total income reaches a certain level; then it’s an ever increasing percentage up to 85% of benefits. To Cluster’s point, it’s actually a subtle form of means testing. But it might be possible for the government to increase benefits and end up getting a good portion of it back in higher taxes. The last year before I sold my business and retired I had a unusually good 4th quarter. Not only did it throw me into a higher tax bracket, it also made most of my SS taxable (and my wife’s SS too, even though she wasn’t involved in the business, since we file jointly) creating a double whammy.

  4. Cluster April 12, 2015 / 10:02 am

    Sunday humor:

    This is called the Democratic Whackjob Survey, and I propose that all Democrats take it. There are eight questions and the answers will be tallied to give you a score on the whack-o-meter.

    And yes, all of these are based on well-known Democratic positions . . .

    Do you believe abortion should be unrestricted and that even just a late-term abortion restriction is proof that there is a Republican “War on Women”?

    Do you think the government should punish institutions that employ or host scientists who question claims about the impact of “man-made global warming”?

    Do you believe that President Obama’s foreign policy has been mostly effective?

    Do you want to raise taxes as a way to combat income inequality?

    Do you think we should raise Social Security benefits?

    Do you believe that after Obama’s 2009 inauguration, the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal?

    Do you think Obamacare is effective and worth the cost?

    Do you turn up the volume on the television whenever Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz gives an interview?

    And finally, a bonus question, since Carter promised eight questions in his survey but only delivered seven:

    Bonus Question: Do you think the Rev. Al Sharpton should continue to act as an adviser to the next president of the United States?


    If you answer yes to:

    0: You should probably change parties.
    1: You are lucid.
    2-3: You are a flower child that time forgot.
    4-5: You are a flake.
    6-7: You are a Che wannabe who is impossible to take seriously.
    8: If you answered “yes” to 8 out of the above, you’re a whackjob who’s probably permanently in a purple haze, camped out in a public park with a Unibomber-inspired protest sign nearby. And if you are not currently working for the Obama administration, working on a Democratic voter-registration campaign or doing commentary on MSNBC, you should look into those opportunities.

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