Voice of the People: Even the Score

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by James J. Devine

With unemployment around 10 percent and economists predicting that at some lost jobs will never return, Americans ought to increase Social Security benefits, lower the age of retirement and cut taxes on the first $20,000 of income.

Republicans have been pushing a lot of scare talk as part of their plan to destroy Social Security, but there’s really no substance the Republican rhetoric.  America is a wealthy country — we can afford to be more generous toward retirees.

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According to the 2010 Social Security Trustees’ report, the 75-year gap is estimated to be just 0.7 percent of our projected economic output — less than one penny on the dollar.

Calling that amount $5.4 trillion sounds like a vast sum, but over 75 years it is just $72 billion per annum and right now, the Social Security payroll tax doesn’t apply to any income over $106,000.

The top three percent of US households — those with income exceeding $250,000 — rake in almost a third of total income.

In other words, the richest Americans pay no Social Security taxes on their income over the first $106,000, thus almost one-third of all earnings are currently exempt from the payroll tax.

That means America is robbing from the poor to give the rich a tax break.  It’s not a novel idea, but it sure is one the Republicans do not want you to think about.

Social Security would be on sound footing forever if the payroll tax kicked in only after the first $20,000 of income, even if we increase benefits and lower the retirement age, as long as it applied to income over $106,000.

Republicans are lying when they say taxes are too high, because the truth is that taxes are just unfair.  Most Americans deserve a tax break, but the wealthiest citizens need to start paying their fair share.


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