I very much appreciate Paul K, Sens Harkin and Warren, and others who are putting an expansion of Social Security on the table. Relative to fighting about cuts to the stalwart retirement program, that’s called “playing offense,” and given that Social Security is the most solid leg of the three-legged retirement stool (Soc Sec, pensions, savings), strengthening the program makes a lot of sense.
But I wanted to elaborate one point from Paul’s oped this AM. He points out that one argument against expanding benefits is that the elderly poverty rate in already relative low, at about 9%. But his argument here is that measured correctly, the elderly poverty rate is actually about 15%, and as pensions continue to deteriorate, it will go higher.
But IMHO, the best argument here is in the figure below. Social Security itself is the reason the official elderly poverty rate is 9%; absent those benefits, the rate would be 44%!
So, whether we’re talking about expanding the program for those who need it the most, or preserving it against those who would whack at it through benefit cuts or privatization, keep this figure in mind. In an era when people are questioning whether the government can run large, effective, efficient social insurance programs, Social Security stands out as an extremely strong affirmative answer.
Source: Ruffing, CBPP