By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.
Well 2011 is upon us and if the 2011 Payroll Tax holiday affects your paycheck’s figures then I honestly hope you take full advantage of the “extra dough” in your pocket or purse. Just make sure you keep in mind the extra money you may be receiving due to this “holiday” was originally meant to continue to be stored away in a Social Security trust account specifically meant for safeguarding your Social Security funds until you may need them later in your life. Sure you will get a small boost in pay, emphasis on small, but politicians have failed to inform the masses that it is the Payroll Tax that funds the tax payers Social Security Trust. The Politicians also failed to mention that this “holiday” is our government’s first recorded case of altering our Social Security system.
The current political spectrum includes many Washington voices that are quick to volunteer a dismantling of our Social Security program in order to contribute a “quick fix” for the debate concerning our nation’s debt. The US Social Security program is funded for the people, by the people, and was designed to be self-sufficient. It is a government program that has a surplus, yes a surplus. It is a government program that has brought dignity and decency to the lives of older Americans. It is a government program that both republicans and democrats will bicker, squabble, even conspire over all year and come November they will all tell you they would never want to take it away from you. Once the cameras and voice recorders have exited, they’ll return to legislatively “eating away” at one of our governments only efficient and self-funded programs. Unfortunately the answer is simple. The term “government program”, in today’s political climate, allows Social Security to be scapegoated into being seen as a burden on our nation’s debt while in reality it remains as solid as it was the year it was founded.
Democrats and republicans, mostly republicans, have shown deep interest in altering or phasing out the program. President Obama’s deficit commission seems to be in favor of deep benefit cuts, in particular a sharp rise in the retirement age.
The main Congressional and Senate proponents of Social Security cuts claim their efforts are genuine and have been bought about through fears for the program’s financial future. Since Social Security has its own funding via the Payroll tax (FICA) and the program has been running surpluses for the last 25 years, banking those surpluses in a special loosely termed “trust fund”, one is hard-pressed to give actual data that supports the Social Security program’s status of being supposedly “in danger”.
Without any hard facts to stand upon, these politicians who wish to see your Social Security become a thing of the past will be unable to affect current retirees and those soon to retire. They did however achieve a small victory for this subtle yet powerful violation that was forcefully thrust upon our Social Security policy and referred to as the “Payroll Tax holiday”. This “small win” will encourage these political figures to propose cutting benefits to future retirees and maybe even a gradual phasing out of the program all together. I am not over-reacting.
By law, the retirement age will be raised to 67 and there is already news out of Washington stating some in our nation’s capital would like to see a rise of the retirement age to 70. Supporters of this idea are quick to note the rise in life expectancy we have witnessed in our country. What they fail to mention is the fact that this rise is true in more affluent and “well to-do” lifestyles, those who need Social Security the least. Those engaging in manual labor, those whose lives are an everyday struggle whether physically or mentally do not have the pleasure of being entitled to a greener pasture.
For some, the Social Security program will be and is the only support system they will have in the later years of their life. Not only is this a just and rightful program, it is a just and rightful program that the American people have paid for themselves and no one, but the American people will hold the right to chip or strike at its foundation. The question that must be asked… When your Congressman or Congresswoman speaks, is it the people’s voice that is heard?