Fixing Social Security at Age 68
Byline: James L. Martin, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Most senior citizens know Aug. 14 as the eve of V-J Day: the day in 1945, 58 years ago, that the Japanese stopped fighting, ending World War II.
But Aug. 14 also marks another historic occasion: the day in 1935, 10 years prior to V-J Day, that Social Security began.
Unfortunately, both the bloody Pacific campaigns of World War II and the much-scarred Social Security retirement program, created during the Depression, soon might be remembered only in our history books. While there is little we can do to prevent the demise of the World War II generation, most of whom are now at least in their 80s, there is much we can do to prevent the demise of Social Security. We can fix the program.
That is why I'm calling on all of my fellow seniors this Aug. 14 to dedicate their energies to the necessary task of updating the tattered federal retirement program. We need not do it for ourselves; we will be fine. No politician would be stupid enough to even try to deny us our due. They have seen the seniors lobby in action and they know better.
But we do need to fix the program. We need to do it for our grandchildren.
Even in its weakened (and still weakening) financial condition, Social Security will clearly outlast the World War II and Korean War generations. When our children - the 77 million baby boomers - start retiring, however, the system will plunge into the red, paying out more in benefits than it receives in taxes. By the time our grandchildren and their children reach retirement age, Social Security will only be a shadow of its former self, or a distant memory - unless we do something to fix it, and do it soon.
What that something should be continues to be the subject of heated debate.
Some people want to keep the program pretty much as it is. And that's certainly an option. With lower birth rates and longer life expectancies, however, the current system could only survive by increasing taxes, reducing benefits, raising the retirement age another few years (some have suggested 70) - or some combination of the three.
This would be a bad deal for our grandchildren. Social Security taxes already are high enough. …