I’m just a few years away from being able to start using one of the two social insurance programs I’ve paid into all of my working life. So, this time the spin from the right wing, referring to these programs as the loaded “entitlements,” is personal. I thought Mike Hiltzik (disclosure – I’ve met Mike, he did a great piece on my former boss Ray Dolby when I was PR Director at Dolby in the early 2000s) really nailed it with this list of lies published in the Los Angeles Times.
First of all, a tax restoration (instituted to help avoid a depression) is not a tax hike — one of the Right’s favorite lies. Also, that temp payroll tax cut left out certain categories of people who don’t pay into the social security system anyway – teachers, for one.
Then there’s the problem that millionaires and billionaires also get social security – it’s a huge drain! Wrong again. Have you ever gone to the soc sec website and punched in different scenarios for your retirement benefit? I have – and after a certain point there’s not more than a hundred dollars or so month difference between what someone making $25K per year would get vs. someone making $250K per year would get – Social Security is set up as a baseline income for seniors.
Also, one shouldn’t think of these programs and the deductions that go into them as retirement funds like an IRA or 401-K. They’re not. They are insurance. Everyone’s ultimate benefit will be different, depending on circumstances. It’s more helpful to think of the situation along the lines of car insurance or homeowner’s insurance.
The last lie is the tendency of the critics on the Right to lump social security together with Medicare – which does have some very serious problems going forward. Medicare is hampered by a huge external, i.e., the for-profit, American carnivorous health care fiasco, aided and abetted by Congress on all sides – and as long as that’s the case, costs will rise much faster than inflation or premiums could ever keep up. But don’t take my word for it – read Mike, he says it much better than I can.