Social Security, like most other government programs that go on for any length of time, is a mess. So what to do about this mess is a question that comes up all of the time in Presidential elections. Crazily the thought is that the president can do something about it. He can't. Congress runs this program, and they seem really and truly to be incapable of making hard choices.
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VoteSmart.org and others try to ask loaded questions like this one. "Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?" Where if one answers "Yes." People will think that you are a Republican, and that you don't care about people and want them to starve if they make poor choices. And then if you say, "No." that you are a Democrat and want the program to limp on until if fails.
Here is the crazy thing. I don't think just doing either thing, allowing personal investment or not, will save or curse Social Security. This action has nothing to do with the fate of this program. The problem is not one of investment, or with regulation, or with fraud, or with most other things that are proposed to help.
Social Security has really only one problem. (This is the same problem as the budget.) It is a math problem. The Federal government is the only institution that believes that they can spend more money than they bring in and that this is okay. (California thinks this too. I know. )
The solution to Social Security is a math solution. Fix the program by either spending less, or bringing in more. Or Both.
Here are some options to spend less:
- Raise the retirement age. (This is math, not cruelty)
- Reduce the amount paid for non-retirement reasons. (Again, you may not know that SS covers all sorts of other people not just retired workers.)
- Put caps on expenditures and benefits. (As many as possible.)
- Don't pay SS to anyone that doesn't want it.
- Don't pay SS to anyone that doesn't need it. (This is not an investment program. It is welfare.)
- The penalty for anyone found guilty of welfare fraud loses the right to ever receive it for themselves. (If you try to cheat SS, medicare or medicade, you will never get food stamps or SS yourself.)
- I am sure that if we set down and looked at other things that SS pays for we could all find some things that are obviously stoppable. They may be worthy causes, but are really outside of SS charter.
Sadly, I can't say that as President that I would do any of these things. It really isn't his job. If you want these changes, please write your congressmen.