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The Expansionist
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
 
Why a Cap on Social Security Tax? I receive Social Security and Medicare, and have been angry about the injustices in the system. So when someone appeared on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann speaking about raising the cap on income subject to Social Security tax, I was extremely irritated, so wrote to her public-policy organization on that cap and a few other SocSec issues. (That episode of Countdown was actually without the entertaining KO, but with the boring Lawrence O'Donnell, who can tire an audience easily; the initials are appropriate, KO vs. OD.) Here, then, the text of my email to OWL (as below).
I saw Ashley Carson on MSNBC's Countdown from last nite. I was surprised (and offended) that the Executive Director of the OLDER Women's League is a YOUNG woman. Why is that? You don't trust older women to do a good job?
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But worse, she spoke about raising the cap on Social Security taxes to 90% of earnings. (a) I don't know what she's talking about, because last I knew there was no such percentage cap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Wage_Base). Rather, there is a hard DOLLAR amount above which earnings are not taxed for SocSec, presently $106,800. If someone makes $7M a year, $106,800 is not remotely 90% of earnings. (b) Why should most people have to pay Social Security tax on every single dollar they make, every year of their working lives, but the rich do NOT? There should be NO cap on Social Security tax whatsoever, and OWL has got to advocate for ending the cap entirely, as a cap on earnings for Medicare tax was ended.
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Perhaps you are insufficiently concerned about the insane inequities in Social Security and Medicare. For instance, I was receiving $1,227/mo. in SocSec until I turned 65 (I took early retirement because of knee problems that multiple surgeries did not fix). Then the SS Administration took $97 out of my check for Medicare, reducing my payout to $1,130/mo. — when my mortgage payment (which includes property tax and homeowners insurance) is $919.36/mo. Leaves a lot for EVERYTHING else (heat, electricity, natural gas, gas for the car, auto insurance, fone, Internet, food, etc., etc.), doesn't it? I can't even use Medicare unless I am deathly ill or grievously injured because I can't afford the co-pays! A person who makes $84,999 a year — 6.3 TIMES as much as I do — pays the same $97/mo. for Medicare, and that's supposed to be fair. In income terms, I pay 6.3 times as much for Medicare as the rich retiree.
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The rich — MILLIONAIRES — get Social Security! Why?
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Not only do the rich get Social Security they don't need, but they get MORE than the poor or middle-class recipient, perpetuating economic inequality past retirement, all the way to death. Think about that: one person is paid MORE — often a LOT more — to sit around and do nothing in the paid economy, than another person who equally does NOTHING in the paid economy. Unequal pay for equal non-work. How does that make any sense?
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I just received a letter from the Social Security Administration that says that whereas people like me who (had to) take early retirement would lose $1 from their SS payout for each $2 they earned above a certain limit, after full-retirement age, anyone can earn any amount of money and still receive their full Social Security payment. Again, how is that fair or reasonable, that people can make a fortune and still receive Social Security, whereas people who are partially disabled and cannot find work in this troubled economy (esp. people who live in esp. hard-hit geographic areas) get no extra income, and their benefits are less because the system has to pay the people who are still working too, from the same pool of funds.
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Worse still, in order to pay the rich Social Security, benefits for the poor and middle class have to be REDUCED. Again, how is that fair?
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Then there is the entire area of private pension plans, 401(k)'s, and IRA's, which few to none of the poor get. The availability of an IRA means nothing to someone who is deeper in debt at the end of the month than he was at the beginning, so could not possibly EVER create an IRA. People who receive generous payouts from such plans do NOT have their SS payout reduced. Again, the rich get richer, and in order to pay the rich Social Security they do not need, payments to the poor and middle class are cut.
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Plainly, there is a two-pronged fix for the financial problems of Social Security: (1) end the cap on income subject to Social Security [tax]; and (2) means-test Social Security. It's called "Social SECURITY". If someone is already financially secure in old age, they don't need one CENT of Social Security. If their economic situation changes drastically for the worse, THEN they can apply for Social Security.
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OWL needs to address the fundamental inequities in the way retirement is funded in this country.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,416 — for Israel.)



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