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Eighty-Seven Years and Counting – by Stephanie Kelton

Social Security recently turned 87 years old. You may have seen several people, among them President Biden, wishing the program a Happy Birthday. Someone who didn’t mark the occasion by sending positive vibes was Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Instead of reflecting on the vital role this popular program plays in supporting tens of millions of seniors, their survivors, and people with disabilities, Senator Johnson has suggested which are Social Security and Medicare removed as federal right programs and treated like any other discretionary program that Congress must vote to approve (or not) annually.

I have long argued that Social Security’s Achilles heel is its so-called funding mechanism. I will not repeat those arguments here. To understand my views you can read chapter 6 of my book or check out the series of posts I did earlier this summer (here, here, here).

History shows that as long as there are projected “shortfalls” in the program’s finances, Social Security is vulnerable to attack. The vast majority of Democrats will try, as they always have, to preserve the program by proposing various ways to reduce or eliminate the planned shortfalls.

More progressive members of the party will continue to push to raise the cap so that top earners don’t max out their contributions at $147,000 and will call for non-wage income (or wealth) to be subject to the payroll tax. retention So-called “moderate” Democrats might even join the Republicans (as they have done in the past) by supporting means testing, raising the retirement age, or opening the program to some form of privatization.

As Data for Progress reminds us, surveys show that anything amounting to a cut in Social Security remains deeply unpopular.

Despite the program’s popularity, the push to undermine Social Security will only intensify if Democrats lose one or both houses of Congress. Unfortunately, the entire debate about the “solvency” of the program is rooted in a flawed understanding of our monetary system.

I will post a reply tomorrow. It’s a long rant from the MMT economist Scott Fullwiler. It was originally posted on Twitter, but you can no longer find it there. Fortunately, Scott got hold of a copy of the thread and agreed to let me submit it the lens. Every Social Security advocate should read it.


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