Social Security was enacted in 1935 by thirty-second President Franklin D Roosevelt as a means to provide financial security to retirees. Over time, additional amendments were added to cover such hardships as disability, unemployment, and poverty.
Republicans claim that Social Security-which has been successful for over 75 years-is in a crisis, but democrats say otherwise. Let’s assume for a moment that it is indeed in a crisis. Republicans contend that there are only two ways to undo this crisis: cut “entitlements,” or privatize Social Security by allowing Wall Street brokers to invest it in the stock market.
If Social Security is actually in a crisis, then it makes sense that we must adjust the way it functions. However, privatizing it is not a valid option. Though the chance of earning amazingly high rates of return sounds peachy, the risk involved is absolutely unacceptable. What would happen if the stock market were to crash like it did in 2008? Any workers who reached the retirement age immediately after the crash would lose all their savings.
That said, I will now examine Social Security’s seven sub-programs, and provide my opinion on what adjustments, if any, would be okay to make:
Federal Old-Age (Retirement), Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Health Insurance for Aged and Disabled (Medicare)
Grants to States for Medical Assistance Programs (Medicaid)
State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The first one, OASDI, relies on dedicated payroll taxes to provide monetary benefits to workers who retire, become disabled, or die, in which case the survivors get the benefits. Since the benefits received are based strictly on how much one pays into the system, this program is not an ‘entitlement.’ Therefore, it should not be touched.
Unemployment Benefits, on the other hand, are based on federal unemployment taxes (FUTA). It just so happens that employers, not employees, pay this tax. Therefore, it is an entitlement. As such, republicans have the right to cut it if necessary. I urge them, however, to please consider the enormous unemployment rate before making any rash decisions.
TANF is a bit more complicated. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, “The total amount of time the parent or relative can receive TANF ranges from 12 to 36 months and is based on his or her education, work experience, and personal or economic situation. There are no time limits for children.” This is partly an entitlement, yet it’s not. Though reducing this program could potentially save money, I greatly urge republicans to look elsewhere for cuts.
The next one, Medicare, was enacted in 1965 by thirty-sixth President Lyndon B. Johnson. Partially funded by payroll taxes, Medicare provides health insurance coverage for up to 80% of costs to the elderly, and those individuals who were either born disabled or became permanently disabled. Since it is, at most, only “partially” an entitlement, only a partial amount of it should be subject to adjustment. Once again, I urge republicans to think wisely, lest they screw over a lot of needy Americans.
The most controversial program, Medicaid, provides health coverage to low-income U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are old, disabled, or just poor. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is a full entitlement, in that the state and federal government pays for all of it. Unfortunately, many people abuse it, including Yours Truly; I receive free psychiatric care and prescription medication, though I could afford insurance if I merely gave up a few bad habits. With this in mind, I see no reason why Medicaid should be exempt from adjustment.
Next up is SCHIP, which uses federal funds to cover uninsured children from low-income families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid. It’s an entitlement, but it’s one geared toward children, which is why I’m hesitant to recommend cutting it. However, I don’t appreciate financially insecure women getting pregnant, and subsequently applying for SCHIP. It’s sad that children have to suffer, but the issue of parental responsibility does play a role, so I’m at a loss here.
The last one, SSI, uses money from the U.S. Treasury general funds to assist low-income individuals who are old, blind, or disabled. This is obviously an entitlement, but it’s a deserved entitlement-or at least for the first two. The disability clause disturbs me because I once knew a more-than-capable fellow who used his undeserved SSI benefits to pay his rent, and subsequently panhandled on the streets for alcohol & dope money. I want elderly, blind, and truly disabled persons to receive the entitlements they are due, but I also want stricter regulations to be enforced, so that individuals of a darker breed cannot take advantage of the system.
Social Security has been with us as a nation for almost an entire century. It’s a powerful and much-needed program that has provided a sense of security to countless Americans-the elderly, the disabled, the temporarily unemployed, and even those blessed individuals trying their hardest to escape poverty. Unfortunately, Social Security has also become a tool for lazy, sinister individuals who prefer to ask what their country can do for them, versus what they can do for their country.
It’s obvious to me that certain parts of Social Security should be modified for the purpose of wringing out the leeches. As for the purpose of reducing our national debt, I, as an American citizen, will only allow Agent Orange, 4-Eyes the No-Good, and their crew of flunkies to adjust Social Security if and only if they give up the tax break for the rich that they cried their hearts out to achieve. If they want the most needy Americans to sacrifice, then they themselves must be prepared to sacrifice as well.
And if they don’t want to do that, then they can…………