OPINON: Don’t raise the retirement age. Protect Social Security from Republican attacks!


One reason for the great popularity and success of Social Security over the last 85 years is its essential sense of fairness: You pay in as you go along in your work and career, and it pays you back after all the years you’ve paid in.

Republicans want to break this trust.

Constant Republican proposals to limit, reduce, privatize, or place greater limitations on the essential protections offered by Social Security are keeping younger Americans questioning: Is this program I’m paying into even going to exist by the time I’m old enough to receive benefits?

Republican front-runner Donald Trump tried to cut Social Security in every budget he submitted in his four years in office, and other Republican candidates including Tim Scott, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley have called for raising the retirement age for young people.

These proposals come even as life expectancy in the U.S. is falling, from 79 years old in 2019 to 76 years old in 2021.

It’s a common sentiment, a big part of the American Dream: We want our children to do better than we have.

To intentionally deny or delay today’s young people their part in society’s future safety net, when they are already facing burdensome student debts, a climate crisis, and an out-of-reach housing market, only adds to young people’s cynicism about the fairness and opportunities offered by American society.

We must stand together to protect the future.

Republicans are not shy about requiring working folks to “sacrifice” their benefits, but then are conveniently much less vocal about requiring sacrifices from their millionaire and billionaire donors. The ultra-rich pay into Social Security only up to a “cap,” currently set at an income of $160,000. Any income that surpasses this, no matter what its source, is immune from Social Security taxation.

Instead of demanding ever greater sacrifices of the working young, with a weak promise they might get some of it back when they reach an advanced age, why not raise the Social Security cap on the ultra-wealthy – or eliminate it altogether?

If everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – paid in to Social Security at the same rate the rest of us do, the system could increase benefits for retirees now and in the future.

Compared to other industrialized countries, Americans work too many hours and receive too few benefits, from vacation to healthcare. Why should working Americans always bear the brunt of the “sacrifices” the economy “requires?”

The answer is: They shouldn’t. Absolutely not.

Congress must not demand more sacrifices of working people, especially when they won’t make the rich pay their fair share.

Americans already work longer than citizens of many other countries. We are the richest country in the world, at the richest point in its history. Now is not the time to ask a factory worker to sacrifice – it’s time to demand sacrifice from greedy Wall Street CEOs.

You can sign a petition to tell Republicans we will NOT raise the retirement age at https://actionnetwork.org/forms/tell-republicans-we-will-not-raise-the-retirement-age.

(Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Reprinted from Inequality Media Civic Action.)

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