Letter to Romney: Social Security Does Not Need Saving
|Written by Dean Baker|
|Tuesday, 08 November 2011 15:30|
Governor Mitt Romney
Dear Governor Romney,
At the Americans for Prosperity “Defending the Dream Summit” last week, you discussed the future of Social Security. You began discussion of the program by saying:
“I believe we can save Social Security with a few commonsense reforms. First, there will be no change for retirees or those near retirement. …Second, for the next generation of retirees, we should slowly raise the retirement age. And, finally, for the next generation of retirees, we should slow the growth in benefits for those with higher incomes.”
Actually, Social Security does not need saving. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security will remain fully solvent through 2038, a full 17 years after the latest date you could possibly leave office if elected and re-elected president. From that point on, Social Security would still pay a substantial benefit – about 80 percent of full benefits from 2039 onward – even if Congress makes no changes whatsoever to the program. Because the scheduled benefit is projected to rise through time, even in this unlikely scenario where Congress never did anything to address a shortfall, retirees would always be able to get a higher benefit than what current beneficiaries receive.
You went on to propose raising the age of retirement for Social Security benefits because of increased longevity. I assume you know that there has been little increase in life expectancy for the bottom half of the wage distribution. And I assume you also know that almost half of all older workers have physically demanding jobs. These are two of the reasons that the vast majority of the public is opposed to raising the retirement age beyond the increase to 67 already scheduled under current law. Apparently you view the situation differently.
As a candidate for President of the United States, it may be worthwhile to consider the impact of these proposals on retirees. I hope that you will be careful to present the facts more carefully in the future. If you would like any additional background on the program, I would be happy to assist you.