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May 13th, 2009
09:07 AM ET

Rx: Social Security

 Almost everyone can agree the system needs to be fixed.  What do you think is the best way? 

* Increase payroll taxes

* Reduce benefits

* Allow private savings accounts

* Raise the retirement age

* Base benefits on income

* Base benefits on inflation

Filed under: Nicole Lapin • Tony Harris
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Colin Dean

    An increase in payroll taxes will only further anger those who are sick of governments' taxes. Reducing benefits will obviously anger recipients of said benefits, as will raising the retirement age, limiting benefits based on income, and basing the benefits on such a pernicious creature as the Federal Reserve's tax called "inflation."

    Allowing private savings accounts is the best of these options, as it moves responsibility for future financial planning back to where it belongs: out of a government's hands.

    However, there is a better solution:

    Anyone under a certain can choose to stop paying into Social Security and begin receiving benefits immediately. There benefits end when they've received all of the money they've put in. Those over that age can stop, but cannot draw until they retire. Anyone under 18 as of the date this change is enacted can neither pay into Social Security nor receive its benefits.

    In this way, Social Security will be phased out throughout the course of the next ~30-50 years. It's a gradual change which must occur in order to free the people from an insolvent program which should have long ago been declared an eventual failure and phased out like this sooner. Too many people depend on it and will come to depend on it because it's always been there for them. However, the younger generations are smarter with their money, and there would be a rise in the whole industry of financial planning–the private sector and the markets will compensate and perform better than a government ever could.

    May 13, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  2. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    Increase taxes on the rich and if they have enough money and stocks or whatever to live their lives out without using social security or medicare they should not receive it. It should be for the poor who have no other means to pay their bills!

    May 13, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  3. Paul from Florida

    Reduce benefits. Having something later on is better than nothing.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  4. Raul Martinez

    Sure. Shoot the politicians. Problem solved. We simply have a spending problems and spendthrift politicians with wrong priorities.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  5. Fred Wiese

    The government should pay it back

    Is Social Security really going broke or should the government pay back what they owe it ???????????******************************************************** How much money is "borrowed" from the Social Security fund by other government entities? What are these entities? How much interest do they pay and under which administration did this practice start?
    ANSWER: The Treasury Department "borrows" surpluses in the Social Security trust funds for use across the federal government. As a practical matter, the amount of money borrowed equals the balances in the trust funds after benefits are paid out.
    Two funds exist: one for disability benefits and a much larger one for retirement benefits. The surplus in those funds at the end of fiscal 2007 (Sept. 30, 2007) was about $2.2 trillion, all in non-marketable U.S. Treasury bonds.
    The bonds now earn about 5 percent interest. Last year the government paid $110 billion in interest to the trust funds.
    This practice began in 1937 with the creation of the Social Security system during Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. That first year the government paid $2 million in interest on money it borrowed from the retirement trust fund.
    ********************************************************************************************This is the reality!!!! Why is the federal government in debt to the Social Security trust fund?Social Security is set up as a “pay-as-you-go” program. It is not a saving or investment program. Although we would expect the government to bank the extra money in a Social Security trust fund, it has actually been borrowing this money for its ongoing program operations. In fact, today, the Social Security trust fund is running a surplus, but only on paper. The government has borrowed from it, and has indebted itself to pay the money back in the back. The fact is, if the government had been putting Social Security and Medicare taxes in a secure trust fund (remember that lockbox) then there would be no problem meeting the costs of retiring Boomers. But again, that is not what they have done, they have spent it all. When the government will have to start paying for retired Boomers they will have to cut expenses, raise taxes, or borrow more money to do it. It is estimated that the government will begin to pay out more than it collects in Social Security taxes in the year 2017. Have a good day

    May 13, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  6. Cthompson

    Give back all the money that has been siphoned off over the years, and take back all the billions given to greedy banks and put it all back into social security. There should be enough after all that to keep it running for decades.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  7. pclimited

    I think it should be done away with all together. I am self employeed and being 42 years old, I am in serious doubt that I will receive a penny of the thousands of dollars I have paid in. This money leaving my check is painful and always hard to come up with. I personally feel that this system amounts to nothing less than extortion in my case.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  8. Wayne


    How are ya'll doing?

    Tell Tony my plan fixes Social Scurity without raising taxes or raising the retirement age.

    It is simple math.


    May 13, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  9. Raul Martinez

    End payroll tax and any other tax. Enact a flat national sales tax about 35 to 40%. If you want a shiny new million dollar helicopter, then you'll have to spend $350K in national sales taxes. No more IRS. No more property, gas or phone tax. No other taxes. If our politicians can't take 35 to 40% from spending and give everyone health care and run the country, then they need to leave office. I don't want them managing my money.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  10. jerry sanders

    if I remember correctly social security had a huge surplus at one time and that's what was used to start the welfare system.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  11. Leonard

    You should only think of increasing the retirement age if you can fix healthcare. Also, the wages of the average worker and the cost of living does not allow for much in IRA, 401k investment or growth. Start with the realistic view of a Walmart employee, or many service workers who make just above minimum wage. With the cost of living greater than the minimum wage, how does one save for their retirement. If the government would mandate that both the employer portion and the employee contribution would go to the employee for investment into a retirement plan, then it might be feasible for some, never all employees. Also, what guaranteed investment vehicle except the government could many trust.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  12. Ray Harkleroad

    This is the FIX:
    Social Security is Capped at $106,800 per person for 2009 at 6.20 per cent.
    Remove the Salary Cap – Social Security is Fixed
    As currently set, President Obama and Bill Gates both pay a maximum social security tax of $6621.60 as do millions of others in this country. If the Social Security salary cap were removed:
    President Obama would pay $24,800 on his $400,000.00 Salary,
    Bill Gates would pay $62,000,000 on his first Billion Dollars.
    Isn't it time we all paid a fair share of Social Security tax? The weight and impact on the wealthy of the world is no greater than it is on the $30,000 year wage earner.
    Demand your Congress remove the Social Security Salary Cap Now.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  13. Sammie

    In my candid opinion, i think social security benefits would always be there because many immigrants return to their home countries before they get to retirement age. This is something nobody wants to talk about either because of oversight or unscientific but it is a reality.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  14. Frank Pollan

    Increase the retirement age and tax all earned income without a maximum.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  15. Charlie Rudd

    There is no way that those crooks are going to let S.S. go down. Think about it, the political team that is in power would go down if that would happen, while in power. Why don't you tell the truth and let the public know what is happening to the fund. They are stealing from the fund and that is a fact.

    Thank You
    Charlie Rudd

    May 13, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  16. William Traynham

    Supplemental Security Income: This was one of the reason Social Security was set up for. But I know people with six figure income, who do not need Social Security or Medicare but are first to sign up. Reason: I earned it. I think the system to make payment only to those who really need it to supplement their income, not gravey.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  17. Dot TX

    posted in the wrong column..dang it.

    there is NO social security fund, ..they pay what is owed and then put the money in the general fund where it is spent on other stuff.
    collect SS taxes and keep it in a place just for SS and SSI.

    then go collect all the IOU's that have amassed and put the moneyback in.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  18. Bob Horn

    Since I am 62+, it simply would not be fair to adjust anything for people in my age bracket. When I was younger, SS was professed to be retirement income – 401k's didn't exist. But I do agree that it should be based on what other income you are getting at retirement.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  19. frankie

    As your last guest just said, Social Security (and all other economy predictions actually) are based on a model that does not allow for a repaired economy with honest business models. YES WE CAN!!!

    May 13, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  20. Susan

    Working longer may be alright for someone like Ali Velshi that just flaps his gums for a living, but a production worker on a factory line can barely make it to 60 they way they are pushed to produce. I think it would be better to raise payroll taxes, and set a limit for those that have a good income so that they don't receive anymore than they paid in to social security.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  21. Leonard

    What about the 'windfall elimination' aspect of Social Security? How can you get additional retirement if Social Security is going to offset what many thought was going to be additional retirement income?

    May 13, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  22. chuck fontana

    How many SS benefits (in dollars) are going to people who have never contributed to the system? i.e. those who have let drugs or alcohol ruin their lives and now depend on the SS system for income or illegal aliens who know how to scam the system and collect money not earned. Is all the money being paid out to those who have paid in or their family members? It seems to me that the system has been expanded to include a lot of people who have never contributed, true/false?

    May 13, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  23. Dave Kim, Tucson AZ

    Every few years the Social Security scare surfaces. It's a known fact that Congress has for years been dipping into the Fund for unintended purposes. I'd be happy to have back allof the Contributions that I've paid in over the Years !

    May 13, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  24. Stewart Hearn

    The primary "fix" to SS is none of the above. What is needed is to force those beknighted dolts in Cogress to stop "appropriating" the SS funds to pay for their perks and their porkbarrel projects that only benefit their corporate and special interest owners. Thank you.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  25. Bob B

    My god, how in the world should I feel safe investing hard earned money in to a system that in the last year I lost 48 percent ! Plus add to that the amount I pay the company to handle my account boy it sounds like a plan !!

    May 13, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  26. Patrick

    Since when was social security solvent? It has been in the red for years, and no one wants to fix it because everyone posits that "things will get better" and it will take care of itself. The government just continues to issue IOUs to Social security, and congress has no vested interest in fixing it because they are on a completely different system and they don't have to worry about their financial future or future healthcare.

    Why does the VA have to shop for the lowest prices, but Medicare prices are fixed artificially high and drain the system? Why can't they address ALL the areas where we are bleeding profusely? Again- congress doesn't really care- it's just something to use when they campaign.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  27. John Countryman

    You really want to fix this mess? The Social Security Trustees should 'Call The In Markers' that the government has put in the coffers over the years! Billions..........are owed. Forget AIG, they are a 'Money Pit'! If they can collect premiums but can't afford the claims then they should raise their rates! Fire the idiots on top. They don't know how to run a company.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  28. Larry

    If we make it so that the longer you work before retiring, the higher your benefits, many of those who can will keep working and paying into the system instead of taking money out. If you do the numbers right, the problem is solved without increasing taxes or cutting benefits.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  29. jaleh moayyad

    In order to save social security, government should stop let old foreign people move to this country and become citizen just to receive social security benefit. Most of them have their homes back in their country and even live there but they get social security benefit. I'm sure there are many many of them in this country.


    May 13, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  30. Stewart Hearn

    Note on previous comment. Cogress should be Congress!!!

    May 13, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  31. Richard Mayorga

    hey, tony....

    I don't think they should raise the age,

    what they need to do is raise the tax, maybe create a Roth IRA and put half of what get tax and the rest into the system since they use our money to pay retirees,

    May 13, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  32. Mutullah Muhammad

    S.S. really does need a major overhaul. Not just because it's in danger of being exhausted but because the ability for injured people, people with various disabilities that were developed later in their working life. After spending years, sometimes half of their lives putting into the system, when it comes time to withdraw, it's a not qualified answer from the SSA.

    The problem is the administration has spent years giving money to people that didn't truly qualify for it and now there's a boom of people that do and they don't have the money to cover everyone. It's almost like a ponse scheme.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  33. Stewart Hearn

    Or is it only 1 "s'???? Oh well, dolts however you spell it.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  34. Kurt Umscheid

    Social Security is the largest Ponzi scheme on the planet.

    The only way to save it is to end it.

    The notion that people cannot plan their own retirement is so outdated. Just ask the those in the three counties in Texas who opted out of the scheme.

    Imagine how much money you'd have it you put 15% of your income away in a interest bearing account for 40+ years! It'd be millions!

    May 13, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  35. AJ Brown

    Increase the retirement age based on the life expectancy of large groups such as whites,blacks,hispanics.The facts are that whites lives several years longer than blacks .Therefore in many cases,Blacks,would be deceased before drawing any of the money they they paid into the system.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  36. Scott Bowers

    The SS situation is an example of the problem associated with all other Socialist-types of programs, which we are pursuing now perhaps at a greater rate than ever before.

    The problem with Socialistic programs is: at some point, you run out of Other People's money.

    Add to this the fact that over the years, we used SS surpluses to fund non-SS expenditures, and it's not rocket science to understand that the SS system is essentially headed to bankruptcy.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  37. Zina Jordan

    I question SSI payments. How is it that monies are paid out to children of mothers who have never worked. I personally know of a woman who has 2 children receiving SSI payments. She orginally recieved welfare for these children but had a doctor state that they had a disability and now receives more money per month than I do, and I
    worked for 37 years.

    I think there is a serious flaw in the SSI system. Tell me, how much does SSI payments impact the SS system?

    May 13, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  38. Leonard

    One way to fix Social Security is to leave the fund invested at the highest secure rate possible. If the IRAs, 401Ks, etc can be touted as the future for retirement, why can the Government not achieve the same results for the citizens who invest thru them into Social Security?

    May 13, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  39. Gordon

    Why not let workers contribute on a voluntary basis to a fund administered by Social Security that would gain intrest based on the GNP AND NEVER BE ABLE TO BE TOUCHED BY CONGRESS nor any other Government Entity. This money would acrue intrest based on the GNP, thus providing retirement funds above and beyond those provided by Socila Security and not be subject to tax upon retirement.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  40. Jonathan

    I used to be a little LouDobsian, and worried about outsourcing and immigration, as well as Social Security solvency. Then I realized that all retirement plans have a big problem in common with Social Security: there will be too few workers per retiree as the baby boomers retire. This will create inflationary pressures that reduce the value of private retirement plans in addition to reducing Social Security tax income per retiree, What is needed is more workers per retiree and greater productivity per worker.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  41. Mark

    For those that worked and paid into the Social Security system, they should really be the only ones receiving the money. Do not make this into the ill-advised, abusive and literally wasteful spending programs like SSI, Welfare, Medicaid, and in-part food stamps! Depending on how it is exactly set up, if social security(for the workers) is getting low or runs out, there should be a direct transfer of funds from the abusive SSI, Welfare, Medicaid, and food stamp programs to regular Social Security, never the other way around. After all, those that are working and paying into Soccial Security are the hands that feed America, but yet always get bitten by the ill-advised programs mentioned above.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  42. Jim Kirk

    The best way to save social security is to put it in a lock box so Congress can not put their hands on it. Also, reguire Congress to pay back all the IOU's . Social Security is not gravy for 70% of the working class. But for you rich people that make over $ 200 K a year it would be gravy.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  43. Braden Franklin

    I am 48 and have just watched my 3rd 401k evaporate with firms going bankrupt (wrong stocks you say? Like GM, bankrupt banks, etc.) I wouldn't mind working for the rest of my life, but companies don't keep old people around. So if we never get Social Security (my family history doesn't live to 75) and 401k is a big business scam, someone better legalize euthanasia. Or legalize pot and maybe Social Security won't have to be constantly raided by the government.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  44. Ellen Martin

    Average Age is irrelevant. My mother managed to collect four years of Social Security, but my father (with good job and doctor) died at 62, my husband (with decent job and doctor) died last year at 55, and my husband's cousin (who was a doctor) just died at 60. And no, these weren't "lifestyle" deaths. Keep the age of eligibility right where it is.

    Don't reduce benefits. My generation has worked as hard as others, and saved what they could, and should not be thrown on the trash heap.

    How to fund it? Remove the current cap on the amount of income subject to the payroll tax. Then, don't rely on payroll tax, which is regressive, but add taxes on capital gains and patents and corporation profits - not heavy or punitive taxes, just enough so that these sources of national income are contributing their fair share to the decent livelihood of people who outlive their working years.

    Anybody or any corporation unwilling to pay such tax should be asked to house someone else's grandmother in their own homes.

    May 13, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  45. shed garr

    Do you think this could help raise money for the federal gov't?

    Foreclosure Bank of America - FBA

    US Government creates an online bank that takes on bad assets(foreclosed properties commercial and residential)

    Government sells stock in this bank to the public.
    Government sets law to where all foreclosed properties are sold off to the FBA
    Government purchases these properties for half the remaining balance on the property after it is foreclosed on.
    The government then raffles off these properties to the public.
    The money amount that should be raised on each property that is being raffled should be the original loan price for the property,
    a flat $100,000 for raffling each property,
    and $25,000 for every $150,000 the property is worth which will go to the owners of stocks to be paid in dividends or to go towards payments on national debt or health care or education or social security or medicare.

    bank forecloses property A that is worth $300,000.00
    balance on property A at time of foreclosure was $200,000
    government pays $100,000 to bank for property A
    Bank loses only $100,000k on property A (tax deductible at least half of it)
    government raffles off property A to raise $450,000 ($300,000 for original loan price. $50,000 for being a 300,000 property and $100,000 raffle fee. Once the target amount is met the property is then raffled off and winner selected. First come first serve.

    (tickets to enter raffle can be any amount not to exceed $50 or $100($1 dollar a ticket is ideal)

    Winner wins a property worth $300,000.00
    FBA makes $350,000.00 profit

    The numbers are adjustable the business model is the point.

    A 100 thousand dollar profit on just 50,000 properties will raise 5 billion dollars

    The homes under Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae could be a starting point?

    May 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  46. roberthelder

    Small businesses pay the largest amount into social security through matching FICA tax. Help the small business man succeed and you automatically help social security. Retirement benefits for government employees especially congress will sap more of-our tax money than anything else if we keep growing government. We MUST let free enterprise work or we all lose. Fix the real problem at hand not social security. We as individuals and small business people paid into social security in good faith and now you want to change the rules. There are a lot of people threw no fault of their own depend on social security for their ONLY income!!!!

    May 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  47. Terry Pratt

    Because lower income workers on average have shorter lifespans and lower marriage rates (thus fewer eligible survivors to collect benefits) than other Americans, the commonly suggested reforms tend to b e highly regressive.

    Privatizing Social Security – allowing ALL workers to keep their contributions in personal accounts they can pass on to heirs at death – is the only non-regressive reform other than creating a means test for receiving Social Security benefits.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  48. Dan Dennett

    This whole system of Social Security; giving money to the elderly when they are retired is nice an all, but why should we? What have they for me or us that our hard-earned money should be going into their pockets? Maybe if they had saved their money while still employed they wouldn't need our money to take care of themselves.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  49. Mark Stevenson

    Social Security can't truly go broke, as long as payroll taxes are being
    collected there will be funds available. The amount of benefits may have to be adjusted if nothing is done. The best fix may be to raise
    the cap where taxes are no longer collected. Also Congress needs to stop raiding the trust fund to offset the deficit.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  50. Lynda Gram

    Im on Social Security and luckily on a partial military retirement that my husband paid a premium on all his life. He died this year of cancer. I cant imagine how anyone could live alone on Social Security, but I can't imagine living without it. I'd be like many Americans, I'd lose my home. My son prepared, like all baby boomers, by having a 401k and because of the stock market mess its gone from 300k to 21k, so he will also have to depend on Social Security. We were told by this administration that the war in Iraq would be over AND WE EXPECTED those soldiers to come home, not continue in Iraq and then go to Afghanistan. We cannot afford to pay for these wars and if there must be a war at all, the rest of the world needs to get involved too, with men and women and money.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  51. Barry Watts, Baton Rouge, LA

    I don't like any of the suggested options. Aside from raising the cap on SS-taxable income, as President Obama has suggested, I think social security should be reinvented as an insurance program with an asset test similar to SSI. The allowable assets would obviously have to be something more (much, much more) than what SSI allows, but why should anyone who retires with millions of dollars in the bank and considerable income from private retirement plans, stocks, etc. receive a paltry social security check? We pay into all kinds of private insurance programs that require a loss (or a need) in order to file a claim, so why should social security be any different? I cringe when I think of wealthy people receiving a monthly social security check. It is just pocket change to them, but enough for the average American household to live on. If someone retires a millionaire or billionaire and then somehow manages to squander their wealth, then they could file a claim and would qualify for retirement benefits. Am I the only one who thinks this would be fair?

    May 13, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  52. Chuck Fontana Pittsburgh, PA.

    In responce to Mr. Nelson. While I am by no means rich, taxing the rich is not the answer. The point missed is that SSI was set up and intended for the people who have worked all their lives and paid into the system along with their employers. If the poor need assistance that is all well and good, put a tax on gambling, cigarettes, etc. to aid the poor. Why should the rich and the workers of this country spend their hard earned money to give to the poor who have never contributed? I also agree that if you are wealthy and have the means to live without SS benefits you should do so (see Bill O'Reilly) and his comments on the subject. I doubt if the rich will give up their SS no matter how much money they are worth. Senator John McCain is worth $100 million and collects $22,000 of SS each year. Does he deserve it? earned it? Yes. Does he need it? No.


    May 13, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  53. Sherwood

    Between employer and personal contributions, wife and I are putting about $12,000 a year into Social Security, and by the time we retire, will have paid into the system for just shy of 50 years. Where is our money? (Rhetorical question.) Do the math, and at what the government is going to give us as Boomers in our Golden Years, and we have been ROBBED under the best of circumstances.

    The government has ROBBED US, and now wants us to fix the system because they do not want to repay the IOU's they left in the cash box. Care to tell America the truth...we could have easily have saved Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid with what we gave the banks.

    How to fix it...give every Boomer our money back, including passbook interest on it for the time Uncle Sam was supposed to safequard it, and this includes the matching part put up by our employers, and let us fend for ourselves...simply stated, the American Government cannot be trusted, are nothing more than a bunch of thieves and crooks watching out for nothing but themselves.

    Shaking head...people wonder now why many of us here in America hate our country...look what it has done to us even though we OBEYED ALL THE RULES.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  54. Margaret Josten

    I know what I am going to say is not politically correct, but when Clinton was President (who I voted for) changed welfare to only 2 year benefits, which made people go to SS to get SSI benefits, even illegal aliens. Also, Pres Bush had his hand in the Social Security funds to support his war. It seems there are people using these funds instead of what FDR set the program up for. I worked all my life, what about my benefits?? Margaret

    May 13, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  55. Edward Silverman

    I am 71 years old and was watching Ali Belchi giving information about the social security crisis. What seems to be glossed over by not only Ali Belchi but other commentators is the fact that the social
    security funds has been raped by congress in the amount of trillions of dollars over the years. Congress still has not put Social Security in
    a Lock Box yet ! This is pathetic and congress should pass a bill that
    starts to put back all the funds they leached from the Soc Sec funds
    over the years. This using Soc Sec funds for other projects really
    bothers most Seniors. Also Pres Obama during his pre election
    promises, said that he would pass a bill stoping the deduction of
    soc sec in the paychecks of seniors that are over 70 years old and
    working part time. My wife and I just barely make it with Soc Sec and
    a part time Job working 3 days a week and yet at least $14.00 a week
    are deducted from my tiny pay. The wealthy are getting away with
    paying peanuts compared to their incomes while Senior Citizens are
    just scrapping by and still getting taxed.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  56. Agnes Peterson

    Social Security was from the beginning a Ponzi scheme. Who would invest in a program where you never know what it will cost you and what return you might expect?
    My father was Social Security's favorite type of member. He died just month's before retiring, having paid in since its inception. The $200 we received towards his funeral didn't come near his investment.
    My husband paid into the scheme for about 40 years. When he retired we were collecting about $1,600 from his social security. After he died, I collected this amount for a while. But for the past several years, I've received a notice from them stating that while I am being given a cost of living increase, I am being charged more for medicare (currently $308 per month). The result is that I am now receiving (after several increases less than $1,500 per month. Is this because I have collected more money than others from medicare? No! Actually, I hardly ever go to a doctor. I do go to a chiropracter who has helped me, but he is not on their approved list. They deduct $308 per month because they have checked my last tax return and decided that I have enough money. (My income is less than Tom Dascle receives as a consultant.)
    How do we fix Social Security? Close it down! Let the young people save for their retirement. They'd have to do better than leaving their retirement income in the hands of free spending politicians.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  57. steven bower

    I signed on a contract between the federal gov. and now have a social security number for life! I am an american citizen and have paid into taxes for over 40 years,30 of which was with RCA, until the company left the united states in 2004 because of Bill Clintons 'FREE TRADE".Because of George Bush Administration, 'NOT' having the oversight as required, many people took advantage of the Bill Clinton 'ACT' and have plunged this country in to a irreversible 'DOMINO EFFECT' and such programs as SOCIAL SECURITY, WHERE AS MY MONEY FOR OVER 40 YEARS, was placed in trust bonds and this money was used for whatever corruption The George Bush Administration decided...not the american people who paid ALL THEIR LIVES are suddenly being told 'YOU"LL NOT BE RECIEVING A COST OF LIVING FOR 2009-2010. BECAUSE OF THIS CASTAROPHY THAT THE GEORGE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS CREATED,myself like so many others will suffer! Is this change? American auto makers filing bank-rupt is this change?A war that is costing billions and billions still exist is this change?The point..THE AMERICAN CITIZENS OF MY AGE BUILT THIS COUNTRY AND NOW AS SENIORS WE ARE PUNISHED...AND George Bush,Karl Rove,Dick Chaney,Libby walk free as a bird and no worries of retirement funds. This is not justice nor moral!

    May 13, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  58. Gail

    I have a solution to fix social security and there would be an abundance of money left over. I worked in payroll 18 years until the plant where I worked shut its doors. My unemployment run out a month ago. Most Americans don't know this, but people that make over $106,800 don't pay social security taxes after they reach this amount. Check it out it is in the Circular E. Why should they get a break when the middle and lower class of employees pay on all of their earnings? If everyone paid on their earnings ss, unemployment, and health care could be provided for ALL Ameicans........

    May 13, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  59. Patricia Lewis

    Where is the information/quiz you spoke of during the broadcast?

    May 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  60. Joe M. Manuella

    Do Not increase pay roll tax
    Do Not reduce any benefits
    Do Not raise retirement age
    Do Not base benefits on income
    Do Not base benefits on inflation (unless benefits are raised to accomodate inflation)

    DO- REDUCE WASTE (Every organization has- WASTE) When WASTE is reduced by even 50%, Social Security will operate at normal promised levels.
    Too Simple ?!? It works every time. In any Organization
    Joseph Michael Manuella

    May 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  61. David

    Raise income level for Social security taxes somewhat. Then get to work helping to find the 40m people whose income is below 10,000 per year, probably more people than that now, get employed. That means helping the big three, making sure the banks make it, generally following through on the economy recovering. Social security is a savings system. It's a safety net too, but it's effect to the economy is as a savings system existing simultaneously with investment, other banking options for retirement and the economy in general. Also is congress making efforts to pay back monies borrowed from the Social Security fund? In other words, just being there is a helpful thing that Social Security does.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  62. L.K. Jones

    How can the social security funds be in jeopardy. I thought that the United States Government guaranteed to pay the money borrowed from the fund back. I thought it was similar to China buying our treasury bonds. With that said, the only way to increase the amount of money coming into social security is to make everyone working pay on the money they earn and not allow anyone to cease contributing because they reach a certain amount of earnings. I feel raising the age limit should be off the table. Most people who will depend on social security are not coming from plush, easy, sit down jobs. They mostly do manual work and should not be force to continue to work past 62 years old. Once again the common man is alway ask to give up more, to accept less. Those who can afford to meet this challenge are not ask to do anything. While I am writing, the 401 K has been exposed for what they really are and it is not a viable retirement plan. I would not put a nickle on the stock market again. You are better off saving this money on your own in some other more secure options or just bury it in your backyard or stick it in your mattress. I have not seen anything that shows the thugs on Wall Street are going to be held to account for this diaster. I have not seen the common man having their 401 K being restored but I do see the bums that got us into this jam are making out like fat rats. I may never trust any one advising me of anything dealing with the stock market. Another thing since I am on a roll. I want all these consultants giving advice on getting another job and advicing on money issues to SHUT UP! People do not have money to save and when they do, they should not listen because you are not living in the reality of main street.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  63. C. Jane

    Re: your discussion of Social Security.

    The Federal Government should repay the money with interest that has been "borrowed" from the SS Trust Fund. Barring that, there is always a government bailout as in banks and auto companies, etc.

    Women are the majority of SS recipients and get the lowest dollar amount of pay during their work years which equals lower SS benefits. ( Check the stats on men's pay to women's pay especially in the "equality" state. )

    After working with the pre boomer population for many years, the money they do get in retirement is spent on healthcare in the form of unnecessary medical procedures, lack of access to generic medications, and greedy insurance and pharmaceutical companies. If insurance rates are based on actuarial stats that are represented by provider liability costs, it is time to get rid of the "practitioners" that drive these costs up. Check the malpractice stats and litigation if they will let you have access. Publish the names and we'll take care of the rest through “supply and demand” and the "re-call" process as in salmonella infested peanuts.

    HSA's instead of Medicare premiums withheld from pay checks would provide the incentive and fairness to the increasing "blanket " of health issues and choices. …. Just as the choice of uninsured habitual drunk drivers and hurricanes and poorly maintained bridges and dikes and airplanes affect my finances even though I choose not to participate in those activities or subject myself to those conditions.

    A bandage won’t cure a cancer!

    C. Jane

    May 13, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  64. Paul Sciortino

    The SS tax rate for 2009 is 7.65% for each the employee and employer or 15.3% total. I am self employed and have to pay the full 15.3% and that tax is already high! Please check the facts before you report.

    Paul S.

    May 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  65. RJ

    we are broke because the system has made it way too easy to recieve them. The govt. continues to give these benefits to people who either hasnt earned them or dont care to help themselves! I mean a family of four can qualify for $500.00 just for food, my wife and I make close to $100,000 a year and after all the freloaders have gotten theirs we dont have much left over. Its time we start kicking these people off the system and giving these benefits to people who have earned them! Start taking money away for every kid these welfare rats keep having, the more they have the more they get is gotta stop! Stop automatically giving kids Social Security benefits too kids whos had a parent die! Not all of these cases demand payments giving to these kids! Lastly make the welfare rats work for their checks, dont just allow them to sit home all day doing drugs and watch the tax payer work, its gotta stop!

    May 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  66. RJ


    May 13, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  67. Shirley Drouin

    SS was to be a fund to prevent the average working person from living in utter poverty when they get too old to work. FDR created it after the last financial meltdown which like todays meltdown brought on the great depression. The greedy rich living in their mansions in their gated communities are responsible for this mess we find ourselves in. The greed of Wall Street knows no boundries. Maddoff is a perfect example of this utter disregard for other human beings. Stop the borrowing from the SS Fund. Payback all that is owed to it. Take the Cap off the Payroll Tax. This would only affect the greedy rich and add millions to the fund. And they should with their billions not receive SS payments at all. It was created for the working poor. If some feel this is Socialism then I say maybe its time to consider this alternative.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  68. Gregory Bennett in Pineville, Louisiana

    Greetings: The National Guard is an extension of this country's personal character and should not be left to the whims of an individual character's personal identy crisis. However he displays his affiliations to the world is a personal character affiliation of OUR character as a whole to the WHOLE WORLD and as yet we as a people do not harbor the same sentiments of character as this young officer in the National Guard. His personal descry of his sexual affiliation demands a gender base which our armed forces cannot be associated with because we are as a PEOPLE the controling force of this planet. The desolution of moral character must be judged or where should we stop. Should we sacrifice our children? Should we go back to slavery? What is the Moral epititude we as a People hold? or should we?
    I believe this young National Guardsman would be better off if he just contracted his services out to the U.S. Military DOD as a linguist. He would make a lot better living that way. He would also possibly keep his beneifits for the fine job he has done for this country to date.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  69. J.Michael Reagan

    There's always some political rhetoric around Social Securty.It's never broke and if push come to shove, TARP IT. The government feels comfortable bailing out MILLIONAIRES,so lets keep our fingers crossed,eh?
    One of the cut backs in SSA/SSI is to get rid of all the lawyers and quacks they support to deny people constinately,people waiting and fighting "their "system for years only to have a Judge approve it which has to waste the Courts time,. There's so much wrong with this system and they should cut the salaries of all those in charge.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  70. michael armstrong sr.

    hears another dont give our bennifits to people who arnt american citizens?

    May 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  71. Lamar White

    Greetings, I emphatically do not agree that social security needs to be fixed. But, you gasp, the trustees report said we would start to use the trust fund surplus by 2017 (dates approximate from my failing short term memory), and by 2037 only 78% of benefits can be paid!!! If you believe that economists can forecast anything even one year into the future with the precision needed to start making changes to this system, you are irrational.
    The Reaganauts started charging social security taxpayers more than needed to pay for current expenditures in 1983 or so. That surplus (spent on extant federal programs as it was received) now totals over $2 trillion. This IOU from the general taxpayers needs to be honored, starting today as the baby boomers (for whom the surplus was to be stored away until they reached retirement age) are old enough to start drawing social security (reduced benefits at 62).
    Tinkering with tax rates and such while this trust fund is as full as it is would only add to the trust fund, kicking the tough decisions about how and when to honor those IOUs down the road.
    Lets draw down the trust fund, allowing the tax rates to be reduced immediately, and set up a system to allow bi or tri annual changes to the social security tax apparatus to cover payments over the 4-8 year time horizon.
    Lamar White

    May 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  72. Sherry

    I say keep their hands OUT of the funds and pay back ALL of the IOU's and it would probably resolve itself.

    May 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  73. Gary, South Dakota

    Increase taxes by removing the wage cap! Social Security taxes are actually a flat income tax on the lower income wage earners and small business owners. There are no deductions or exemptions until you reach that magic plateau the wage cap, then there is no more tax. Since all surplus is given over to the general fund, it has become an income tax and all income should be taxed even those making more than the current wage cap. I can hear the screams already from those who can most afford it!

    May 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  74. nowoolinmyeyes

    This is the wealthiest country in the world and you want me to believe that we cannot afford social security and medicare? When much poorer countries provide for their elderly? My BS detector is going crazy. saying that the ideologues are trying to frame the debate becuse they want these programs destroyed. But they will fail only if the citizens of this country do not have the political will to save them.

    My parents paid social security taxes so that their parents could receive benefits and live decently in their later years. They didn't whine about the costs. I have paid taxes for more than forty years, a;sp without whining, so my parents could also live decently. Millions of others have done the same.

    To save these programs you don't raise the retirement age or reduce benefits. These are strategies of the ideologues to bring about a slow death of the programs. They know the public would not tolerate their immediate cessation, but if the value of the programs can be reduced over time, it will be easier to kill them.

    To save these programs, the place to start is with an option ignored thus far by the nat6ional media: Call in the IOU's from the US Treasury Department for all the money that it has borrowed from the fund to finance the other operations of the government. This is a practice that goes back at least to the '60's under every president and congress since the LBJ Administration. Billions, and perhaps trillions, of dollars are available there.

    May 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  75. Carla

    Blitzer,you detruised the families the militaires, in Iraq with W.B.

    May 13, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  76. Dana

    the conservatives are agaienst the reform Health care it's protest .

    May 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  77. Carla

    Blitzer,you detruised the families the militaires, in Iraq with W.B. Freedom,for the soldier prison for W. B. and Cheney. and U.S.

    May 13, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  78. Kelly

    A good start would be to freeze the pensions and pay of our goverment representatives (Senate, Congress ect). No longer allow them to vote for their own raises (the people should get to vote on that issue). This would most likely save quite a bit of money. However; if the goverment insist that we should increase our taxes, or take way ,our benfits, and lower our pay our goverment should also enjoy the same frustrations as the rest of us.

    May 13, 2009 at 7:25 pm |
  79. Candy

    is republican, searsh a sewing thier head in hole.with the distraction interrogation, or with the photo this prisoniers for forget thier crise economy, with the support the media. Dana Bash,Ed Henry, ANderson ,Candy C, Blitzer, and Lou Dobbs, for forget the pain, the familie the soldiers.

    May 13, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  80. Charles Thornton

    Increase payroll taxes. This can be done by maintaining the same rate but increase the cutoff as was done with medicare.

    I have a difficult time understaning those who believe there is no benefit to Social Security for them, even at a younger age. I started collecting SSDI for my disability at the age of 44. I never considered disability. But the benefit was there for me when I needed it.

    Those who work should stop bad mouthing Social Security. They may be one serious car accident away from needing those benefits.

    May 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  81. Darrell Barker

    Keep the SS dollar amount exactly the same but require all restaurants to eliminate their silly "senior citizen discount" at the cash register.
    Instead, in return, have the restaurants pay that bottom line increased amount back into the SS coffers and all is good. Fixed.

    May 13, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  82. Robert

    the first question that come to mind is:
    The US Government has spent BILLIONS of dollars to bail out companies that were, plainly and simply, mismanaged. Why can it not find a way to save Social Security?

    May 13, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  83. Sue Sloan

    * Increase payroll taxes - this is the "normal" way it has been done in the past and should be included in the solution

    * Reduce benefits - benefits are already lagging behind inflation so further reducing them is nutty. Who can live on the avgof about $700 a month today?

    * Allow private savings accounts - we already have them with 401Ks, etc. How is a person who invests poorly to be rescued if his account is not enough to live on?

    * Raise the retirement age - this one is only ok if companies no longer discriminate against older workers.

    * Base benefits on income - this one is unfair to those who have an income, like from bonds or dividends. It should remain based on what you paid into the system.

    * Base benefits on inflation - they try to do this today, but it is not keeping up.

    Overall, Congress can fix this if they want to do so by raising the income cap taxed for FICA and bumping out the retirement age a year or two over time.


    May 14, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  84. Phyllis Jones

    Years ago the federal government "borrowed" a LOT of money from the Social Security trust fund. To my knowledge it has never been paid back. Maybe after the banks start to pay back the TARP money and other bail out money the government could use some of it to pay back the funds to Social Security.
    Thanks, Phyllis

    May 14, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  85. R Tyson

    Stop giving Social Security to those who don't pay into it. That is a simple fix. Stop giving it to immirants....if you don't pay into it, you don't get anything WHEN YOU RETIRE.

    May 19, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  86. Grace from Ocala

    Why can a husband, who has paid into the system , collect full benefits, and the wife who has not paid into the system, receive a separate check for 47%? One person pays in, two people collect. How can SS survive.

    July 26, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  87. kelly

    i am 50 years old and have put into social security for 36 years. can i take my out now.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  88. kelly

    sorry can i take my money out now?

    August 13, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  89. Gretchen

    The government Dems or Repubs will have you believe this is an entitlement program for the tax payer when it is the GOVERNMENT who has entitled itself to the surpluses of social security every year and that is why we are in a mess. They have to pay back all the money they took ;they have to stop using SS money for foster kids who are deemed learning disabled and their foster parents get more money. That is a serious racket. There are many government workers who go out on phony disabilities and collect SS early and we all know who is doing that. I'm not talking about workers who are TRULY disabled. Then there are those lazy people who get themselves labeled by crazy shrinks as disabled because they suffer from depression and can't work ;we all know a few who do that and the illegals who are now entitled? The anchor babies whose parents don't contribute are entitled . Please put the government on SS benefits ONLY , not pensions for life when they work a few years in congress or the senate and you will see how protective they will be of Social security benefits. Everyone who contributes should get SS , the age should not go up and the illegal use by many has to be stopped. The government should have to reinvest the surplus and not BORROW any of it plus pay back what they owe SS. Take it out of every government person assets who worked in the senate and congress in the last 70 years. You will soon how soon the coffers of SS will be not be in the red.

    February 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  90. Donna Williams

    1. Government should stop borrowing from SS.
    2. Current limit on income taxable for SS should be raised.
    3. There should be NO change on age eligibility. Poorer people who have had to work at hard jobs, sometimes without adequate healthcare are not living longer.
    4. There should be either a means test, or a cap on amount of SS that can be drawn. People who have income of $250,000 do not need that money.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

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