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May 4th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

What should be done to fix Social Security?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans need to accept the fact that Social Security is already broke.

That's the sobering bottom line in an article on AOL news. The piece suggests that the Social Security crisis - that's been talked about for years - is already upon us. This year Social Security will pay out more in benefits than it collects in contributions.

Experts have been warning that the annual surpluses for the trust fund would eventually shrink to zero. A deficit was inevitable - in part because of the growing number of retirees and the fact that relatively fewer workers now support them.

But, because of the nation's high unemployment rate and people retiring earlier than expected... the system is already in the red.

And things could get worse... much worse. If the economy suffers a "double dip" recession like some fear... Social Security may never be in the black again.

There's also the whole issue of the "trust fund" - which is nothing more than an accounting gimmick. Defenders of the system say there's no emergency because of this $2.5 trillion fund... they say the system will be solvent until 2037.

But that's a joke... you see this fund is filled with nothing more than IOUs... Instead of investing the money from the years of surplus, the government raided the fund and spent it elsewhere. Which means we, the taxpayers, are on the hook once again.

Of course, at the end of the day... there aren't many options. This crisis calls for our gutless politicians to make the tough decisions to either raise taxes or cut benefits. Don't hold your breath.

Here’s my question to you: What should be done to fix Social Security?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Don writes:
I am in my 70s and still working because I am fortunate enough to be healthy and have no reason not to work. Why should I receive Social Security until I do retire? Since age of 70, I have received a check I never asked for and could easily do without. The Social Security age limits were determined when people did not have the access to medical care that allows them to be productive much longer. Raise the benefit age to 72. That will go a long way to solving the problem.

Mike in Millersville, Pennsylvania writes:
Jack, Go to your local Social Security office. It will be crowded with people well below retirement age signing up for Social Security disability benefits. They claim to have bad backs or they are simply depressed. I work for a social service agency. The case workers send them there and tell them how to qualify for benefits like it's welfare. Fix it? Stop robbing it first.

Allen writes:
We should have the choice of opting out. I'm self-employed and I have to pay in double and I have to match my employees. I won't get any extra. This is a huge loser for me.

D.K. writes:
Let's face it: We cannot now afford government health care, Social Security, Medicare, and all the other programs that Washington provides. With state and federal deficits and proposed increased spending for other programs, there simply isn't enough tax money. We either go to a value added tax (national sales tax) or do surgery with a fiscal scalpel that most Americans will not tolerate and accept.

D. writes:
Once again, I am left less intelligent than before I read one of your articles, Jack. This is because of your people. Why don't you stick to writing about how infatuated you are with Michelle Obama? You are better at that.


Filed under: Social Security
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. Sunny, Denver, CO

    How can it be paying out more in benefits than it takes in? I reviewed my Social Security statement and I won't get 100% back of what I paid in unless I live to be 93 (assuming I retire at age 67) or 97 (assuming I retire at age 70). And that's assuming benefits remain as promised (unlikely).

    Social Security should be abolished. I can do better putting the money into a savings account which is earning a mere .4% interest rate (at todays rates).

    May 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  2. Jerry Place

    KC, MO

    Social Security solution is very simple. Extend eligibility age and reduce benefits.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  3. Jim Wilcox

    Completely eliminate the governments role in ss taxes and turn them over to private investment companies. Only allow investments to be placed in somewhat secure areas. Continue to make the ss contributions mandatory.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  4. DKJones

    Let's face it. We cannot now afford government health care, social security, medicare, and all the other programs that Washington provides. With state and federal deficits and proposed increased spending for other programs, there simply isn't enough tax money. We either go to a value added tax (national sales tax) or do surgery with a fiscal scapel that most Americans will not tolerate and accept.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  5. Lori - PA

    Jack,

    We could insist that those who raided the Social Security fund pay it back. I said could because we know it won't be paid back, so I don't see any point with insisting. As for raising taxes or cutting benefits, why? Too many people are either unemployed or trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Would things even be as bad as they are had companies been strongly discouraged from shipping jobs oversees? Or hiring illegal immigrants? Give the jobs that have been taken away from American citizens back. Imagine how many more people the government would have paying taxes. Millions.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  6. James W

    Allow workers entering the work force, or up to say, 35 years of age 'opt out' of Social Security. (agree to never receive benefits). They, and the company they work for, would only have to pay at half-rates (3.1% for OASDI), with the other 3.1% going into a IRA or other qualified plan that they control. This would lessen the every growing potential social security roles, benefit individuals and businesses. Question is if the reduced would be able to cover near to middle term costs.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  7. Jason

    I'm not sure there is a politically acceptable answer; as politicians almost never want to do what is right.

    But the real answer is to tighten Social Security's figurative belt. Start cutting benefits until they equal what is coming in. I am 38 an never expect to receive SS benefits though I've been pay into them since I was 16. Let's do the hard thing, the tough thing and get it over with. Social Security has either no future or a scaled down future so let's start it now and begin the inevitable adjustment.

    Maybe that's naive of me expecting any politician to commit political suicide by cutting SS. But someone will have to bite that bullet at some point and Obama seems to be a leader who could actually come out on top in spite of the fall out from such a move.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  8. Brandon

    You answered your own question, Jack.

    The problem is the majority of government agencies abide by the "spend it or lose it" principle. More government funding needs to be pooled together while funds such as social security need to be kept completely out of reach.

    Brandon in Anchorage

    May 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  9. Mchael in Phoenix

    Remove the special retirement plan for our government officials and put them on the same plan we are on. They will fix it overnight.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  10. Kim Henderson

    Show the American people a list of how much we are spending in which countries for what purposes. Then let the American people decide which of those out of country money drains can be shut off.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  11. Eric

    Cut off social security to a certain year. Example. those who are born after 1970 will have to contribute but will recieve no retirement benefit. So when they get to retirement age in 2035 or later, They will be responsible for their own retirement after having paid taxes for those before them. This gives them 25 years to put away and invest for them to live on. Those that do not save and invest will need to rely on family or continue to work.

    I chose 1970 as the year because that cuts off before the solvent time. It might need to be earlier but that gets people prepared and planning for the future.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  12. Duwayne Anderson

    Social Security is working just fine. The problem is that it's not the sugar daddy anymore; it can no longer pay retirement benefits *and* float the military industrial complex, corporate welfare, and the trillions in tax breaks Republicans have given to the wealthiest Americans.

    For years the right wingers have been raiding Social Security in ways that would get ordinary pension managers jailed.

    Well, now it's time to *pay* the money *back.*

    Of course the Republicans don't want to pay the money back. They'd rather bleat the right-wing talking points and run around like a bunch of crooks and liars saying the system is broken.

    There's a place for crooks like that: Jail.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  13. John Wayne 1907

    Dismantle it. 55 and up still get Soc Sec. 40 to 55 get half of what they'd get. 39 and below you're on your own. It was a progressive socialist idea to begin with and like most progressive socialist ideas they don't work in the real world especially when the governments in charge of them. It was originally called Social Security Insurance, it was supposed to augment your own retirement not totally replace it. We cannot trust the government to take care of us. We cannot trust the government with our money. We cannot trust the government to ever be responsible or do the right thing. They are like drunken teenagers and the time for discipline has arrived.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  14. Jim

    Retirement age must be raised to median life expectancy (77 years old), and eligibility for benefits must be based upon current income levels (ie, if you've got substantial income when you retire from investments, etc, you aren't eligible for social security).

    May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  15. ysadora

    Pensions for the rich should be discontinued. Those for people in the middle should be just enough to add to their other resources so that they can get along. The full pension amount should be paid only to people who do not have another pension coming. Disability payments should be treated the same way: someone like John McCain, who is perfectly able to pursue his chosen career in spite of his impairments, should not be receiving a pension from the taxpayers (whether SSA or DOD).

    Nobody has a "right" to be rich. Everybody has a right to food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and opprtunities for advancement. All of the elderly should have their needs met. None of them need to live on a golf course or have a cruising yacht.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  16. MB2010a

    Social Security would have plenty of money if the feds would just pay back all the IOU's they owe to the fund and not allow any more raiding of same. The whole operation needs to be tightened up to eliminate Welfare from coming out of Social Security and all the fraud involved with that. Social Security was originally set up for the older people and it should go back to just doing that and that alone. I am turning 62 in December and plan to start collecting in January 2011 so I will at least receive something of the money I have been paying in all these years since I was 16 years old. Dallas, Texas.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  17. Annie, Atlanta

    Raise the maximum cap. If you make $200,000, or a million, or a billion, you pay 6.2% on the first $106,800. Why? We could even lower the percentage after the $106,000, but pay something. Otherwise, it will fail. And then our elderly will live in abject poverty without family to care for them. That’s simply not acceptable.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  18. Pruitt Holcombe

    I would be in favor of cutting some Social Security benefits, if not the entire program. A person can make more money by placing the money taken from their paychecks for Social Security in the right bank account then they will ever get from SS payments. If we don't cut something soon, we;ll end up like Greece, where people have gotten so used to their handouts they riot without them.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  19. Rich McKinney, Texas

    Well the first thing we need to do is lock the Social Security Box up so that politicians can not get their greedy fingers on it. Those IOU'S are just as worthless as the politicians that stole the money in the first place.

    The next thing we need to do is offer people a different retirement alternative instead of forcing them to pay into a system that may be worthless by the time they can use it if they ever make it to retirement age in the first place.

    Last but not least we need to raise the retirement age by 2 years right now just to make payments that are already owed to those on Social Security.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  20. ryan

    Q:What should be done to fix Social Security?
    A: Cash everyone out and end it.
    I'm 34 and it makes me sick to think I have to pay into a system that will be bankrupt well before my retirement age. I'd rather save for my own golden years than pay for yours.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  21. Chad from Los Angeles

    I thought the new "Death Panels" would 'take care' of the elderly, leaving more for the rest of us. Palin said it, so it must be true.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  22. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Sending some illegal's back home would be a starter and repaying the funds borrowed from the till would also help .

    May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  23. Mariposa

    It would be very easy to "fix" Social Security. Just take everything out, that is o-u-t, of it that is not for the retirement of people who paid into it. Too many side issues are being included, like unemployable people and people who will not work, everyone know's who they are. Social Security was planned for retired people for income to live on, with funds taken from their pay checks, while they were working. That's all!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  24. Joseph T. Suste

    If the Federal Government borrowed the money, you can't penalize social security recipients by reducing benefits to make up for it.

    My suggestion is that we tax the banks that have been robbing the middle class with astronomic credit card interest rates and tax the oil companies that are taking our natural resources out of the ground for free and selling them back to us at enormous profit. Then lets have a single payer health care system and take the money that we are now paying to the health insurance industry (for no value added) and use the savings to cure the social security and medicare crisis.

    Thanks for asking.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  25. Brian

    Probably not much can be done with respect to those in retirement or nearing retirement. They relied on these payments as part of their retirement planning, and it would be unfair to take them away. On the other hand, anyone under the age of 40-50 years old should plan for retirement without this benefit. Those of us in the younger generation sadly need to face up to the fact that we will not receive a dime of what we pay in. We should just make it all official and phase out social security benefits for those starting with people aged 50, with a complete phase-out for those under 40 years old. Moreover, a minimum age increase should be phased in as well at some point because people are now living longer than the plan accounted for.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  26. William Rash

    If funds were taken to pay for other programs, then these funds should be obligated to reimburse the Social Security fund. This should be a line item expense in that department's annual budget. No rob Peter to pay Paul.

    Bill
    Hampton VA

    May 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  27. Dave F.

    What should be done? LIFT THE CAP. Need some details? Okay.

    Well, let's see: The wealthiest 10% of Americans own 71% of the wealth in America. That's gone more and more in that direction since Reagan was in office, back when the average CEO's pay was 20x that of the average worker (it's now about 350x to 400x the average workers salary). And since FICA taxes aren't paid on income above about... what, $100,000 a year now? – just lift the cap.

    If 10% of the wealthiest Americans own 71% of the the wealth, I think they'll survive JUST FINE if they have to pay FICA tax on ALL of their income like the rest of us already do who make under $100K a year. Problem solved! Stop redistributing income UP the ladder like we have the past 30 years or so... time to redistribute it back down for a change.

    And the good thing about doing that is, the beneficiaries of this money are very likely to SPEND IT, putting it right back into the economy and boosting GDP, just when we need a good shot in the collective arm.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  28. Tim Zukas

    Raise the retirement age
    Privitize a potion for younger workers (under 40)
    Fire Obama

    May 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  29. Steve

    My idea is any area of government that used the social security money for funding should have to pay that money back out of their existing funding and going forward. If those areas of government are left in a deficit then the government should have raise taxes to pay for those areas and let the voters decide if they really want to spend on them. For example, all "pork" projects should be put on hold until this money has been repaid. According to consumer watchdog groups, Congress stuffed 10,160 projects into the 12 appropriations bills worth $19.6 billion in the fiscal year of 2009. $19.6B would be a good start in replenishing SS.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  30. MDDon

    I am in my 70s and still working because I am fortunate enough to be healthy and have no reason not to work. Why should I receive social security until I do retire.? Since age 70 I have received a check I never asked for and could easily do without. The social security ages limits were determined when people did not have the access to medical care that allows them to be productive much longer. Raise the benefit age to 72. That will go a long way to solving the problem.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  31. Scott - Texas

    Jack, the only clear cut way is to cut benefits. But not to those on (or about to) recieve Social Security. Cut out all other entitlement programs. As you stated Congress – has raided this fund for years all the while we have been paying into it. I am sick and tired of everyone saying "well we can't cut benefits to those on " because they need it. Well wake up you bonehead fools Social Security – I paid for it! You paid for it! We all paid (those of us who actually worked) for it!
    But you know this conversation is all for nothing! We know what will happen. No politician is going to reduce welfare benefits, especially a Democrat. That's his or hers voting base. So what will happenn – is what has been happening for the past past decades – the money will be raided until which point there are no funds. Then the "OLD DOGS OF DC" will will simply looking into the nearest media outlet and say with those sad pathetic faces "It's not my fault"! Then they will raise taxes and reduce benefits to 10% of the original.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  32. oxbobend

    Jack, The Social Security System is the largest ponzi game in the world. We must immediately take away congress's ability to use these trusts and funds. Then we must do away with the fancy retirement system that congress has perked themselves with, and make them (the congressmen and women) come into the Social Security System just like the rest of us. We will never have true reform of the system unless congress is personally affected by their own decisions.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  33. Jim

    A truly wrong-headed commentary. The Trust is not "Just IOU'S"; they are US Treasury Bonds. For more than 30 years we have used the payroll taxes collected to fund a seemingly endless string of foreign occupations and to cut taxes for the country's "Haves" at the expense of everyone else. But unless the US Government refuses to pay it's debts (the government version of Chapter 13 bankruptcy), the Trust has the strength of the US Government behind it. Whatever you think, I doubt that those who have purchased Savings Bonds (sold at your neighborhood bank) would take kindly to our glorious leaders absconding with the cash.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  34. Steve Abney

    All it would take to fix Social Security for the next 75 years is to eliminate the cap on earnings that are covered by the Socials Security tax.

    We can fix Social Security for decades and not cut anyone's pension, not make anyone work years longer, not increase taxes on anyone with a five-figure income.

    Don't take my word for it – ask the actuaries.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  35. Patricia Vanderpol

    Cut benefits to spouses (yes, mostly women) who have not earned their own Social Security. OK, in my mom's generation, a lot of wives stayed home. But today? No excuse for everyone not contributing to the household income and their own retirement. Cut off those spousal benefits for anyone under 45.
    –Patricia from Alabama

    May 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  36. Richard Wee

    Simple the people need to be in control of their own retirement. We need to up the contributions to 10% on each side with it going to your own retirement fund. Inside each fund would be insurance to pay depends and disability.

    The government wouldn’t have a chance to spend it and we would get a better return and retire with a better standard of living.

    Even at just 10% a person making 25,000 a year would put in 2,500 and assuming just a 5% return in 49 years that person would have over 520,000 assuming they took out 20,000 per year they would have enough money to last over 26 years. So if they retired at 67 that would mean they would have enough money to last until they are 93. If we were to require the employer to match that 10 percent that would mean there would be 5,000 put into YOUR retirement fund each year, and if we assume that insurance would be 500 per year that would give you 4,500 per year and assuming the 5% return that would give you over 930,000 or enough money to last you over 37 years or until you are 104.

    Richard

    Devils Lake ND

    May 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  37. rich

    As an individual with an MBA, some experience at analysis and a 50 year old who does not expect to see half the benefits (if any) that my parents are getting, here is the things I see as obvious needs.

    1. Benefits need to be frozen – COLA becomes a soft drink again, unless the cost of living rises over 3% in a given year, then the marginal difference between the inflation rate and 3% can be applied.
    2. Eligibility age needs to be increased immediately. Partial benefits at 65, full at 68 and the scale should increase to 70 and 73 by 2020.
    3. Employee/Employer contributions should be increased by .1% of an employee's elligible wages every year for the next 30 years.
    4. Benefits should be means tested; if you are wealthy enough to have sufficient income to live your pre-retirement lifestyle (as a back of the napkin calculation), then SSI is not meant for you.
    5. Medicare obviously needs even more draconian measures; but I just don't have the time to figure this out over a cup of coffee.
    6. As I said above, I am helping to support people , but I don't expect to get nearly as much as they are. It seems unrealistic to expect otherwise.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  38. Robert Dunn

    The fix is easy ! Use Social Security only for the pupose that it was intended for. Retirement for those that worked their entire lives.
    Stop paying everybody with a backache more money than they earned while the worked ( which in many cases is only a couple of years )
    It's not rocket science that you can't spend more than you earn.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  39. Hickspah

    Cleveland OH10

    Drop people who never paid in ( i.e. supposed disabled ). Get funding from another pot to cover the people who never paid in but are collecting disability.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  40. Robert

    Go to the SSA website. They have trustee's reports for public viewing. The reports provide a laundry list of options and how they help or don't help keep SSA solvent. For example a 5 percent cut in benefits and increasing the age to 70 when you can collect SS keeps it in the black.

    The much bigger problem is Medicare. It was never adequately funded (I think it's a 2.4 percent payroll tax). Now you know why health care reform is such a big deal.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  41. Doms

    There is no sustainable way to run a system that's purpose has become a type of perverse safety net for not just the poor and unfortunate but also for a spoiled middle-class that spends beyond its means almost as a rule. Tax increases, benefit changes and accounting methods can only postpone the problem.

    The only way is to raise the requirements. A recipient of social security should have to be much older and more in need than they currently are on average.

    Young people need to internalize a morality of self-control and self-responsbility before they repeat this same mistake. Ofcourse the safety net should remain but a person should have to fall much farther and harder than they currently have to – to receive money from the public.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  42. Steve

    First, the age to collect checks must be raised (people live a lot longer today). Second, politicians have to stop using this money for other expenses. Third, there will have to be a drop in benefits – people won't be getting back as much as they thought they would. That's tough, but it's either that or we bleed the system and nobody will get anything. Finally, the younger generation (everyone under 40) will have to create their own retirement savings (IRA's, 401k, etc.) and not depend on SS (the well will be empty by the time they retire).

    May 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  43. Bob Duncan

    To fix Social Security, everything has to be done. We are going to have to raise taxes on everybody, cut the benefits by raising the retirement age to 70, and let everybody know who is under 50 they have better start saving and saving now. The longer we wait in fixing the problem, the worse it is going to get. The longer people think that the government is going to be able to provide for them when they are of retirement age, then more pain those people (like myself) will experience in their golden years.

    Bob Duncan
    Dallas Texas

    May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  44. Anita Flower Mound TX

    How about we get our of Iraq & Afganistan? They don't want us there, and we can fund SS, instead of war. Or we can use that money to fund jobs, wich accomplishes the same thing.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  45. Observer

    Wish the US had the lock box now. Everyone was making fun of the lock out in 2000. I wonder who had the last laugh.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  46. Robert Dunn

    The fix is easy ! Use Social Security only for the pupose that it was intended for. Retirement for those that worked their entire lives.
    Stop paying everybody with a backache more money than they earned while the worked ( which in many cases is only a couple of years )
    It's not rocket science that you can't spend more than you earn.
    The abuse to our Social Security system absolutely disgusts me !!!!!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  47. Pat Blakely

    Let's be realistic. What they have to do is one of three things (or all of them)
    #1. Raise Social Security taxes. Unpopular but with a higher percentage of people retiring, this is needed.
    #2. Make all income subject to social security, not just for the first $120,000 or so a year. People who make $10k a year pay over 6 percent of their check in social security and people who make $1 million a year pay less than 1 percent of their income on social security
    3,. Raise the retirement age. Again political suicide but with more and more people living longer, this needs to change.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  48. Jim S

    Move full retirement age closer to life expectancy. Also, if healthcare is right, then it is also a responsibility. It is up to "we the people".

    May 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  49. george Howard

    We worry about social security running out of funds, but why? The government finds money to carry on two wars at the same time it says we have no money. If we have money to fight wars and bail out big banks, we will have money to pay social security. Just keep those presses running and bingo we have the money. That's what we do with all the other problems we have, isn't it? George, Ft Myers, FL.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  50. Chuck

    This is the topic that has me so fired up. We pass stimulus bills, major health care reform because it was SUCH a crisis, when the real crisis is the Social Security system. I am 49 years old. I am self employeed, which means that I have to pay my 7.045% and then as my own employer, match that. What torques me is that, under the current system, it won't be there when I get to be 65 or 67 or 70. So all of this money that I am paying in is just lost. I would be much better off putting that 14+% into some other retirement investment. I remember when there was a notion to allow us taxpayers to take 10% of our FICA withholding and invest it privately but the Congress at the time pooh poohed the whole thing as a bad idea, saying that most American's wouldn't be disciplined enough to actually invest that part. The harsh reality is that they didn't want to give up that income into the federal coffers. Now these boneheads have passed more and more spending to push us further into a black financial hole and it looks like they are just going to keep pushing further and further. Thank You Jack for bringing up this topic. It is super important and constantly ignored.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  51. Percy in Texas

    This would be an ideal place for the Federal government to make Social Security solvent again. It's not my fault that the past 8 yers used my Social Security taxes for wars that I didn't support.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  52. Jack Barker

    Start taking social security tax out on everyone no matter how much they make. End of problem. Jack in Florissant,Mo.63031

    May 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  53. George

    Jack,
    Maybe we need to tie any retirement benefit for our Congress folks to solvency in the Social Security? If SS goes broke any and all of their benefits should go to Zero! How about going after what we've paid them for years of mismanaging these programs? And exactly what is this "Good War" in Afghanistan accomplishing?

    May 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  54. Fred Bowker

    The Soc. Sec. money was used to balance the budget in 1993 under Clinton, as you know. It was balanced, and the eficit was being paid off. Then we got Bush and the republicans 8 trillion dollars later they spent it, We really have to go back to Regan and his freezes, then all the de-regulation to find out what happened! Every one of these schemes caused the middle class to sink further to the 10% of total (or so) it enjoys today. So you have to raise taxes, and not reduce anything, it should be increased to REAL inflation, not the figure the T reasury dept. bandies about. 85% of all income lies with 15% of the people, these are the stock and bond people and money manipulaters. This is where the money IS going to come from. Dont worry about SS, its fine!!!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  55. Lisa Stone

    Just as with the overall federal deficit, it will require a little pain all the way around. The age for Social Security will need to be gradually raised. Means testing should be required. Slightly raise S.S. taxes on high income earners. Implement jobs programs and incentives to hire seniors for those that are healthy and want to continue working.

    With almost no companies offering a pension these days, and our economy relying on consumers (spenders) not savers, Social Security is and will continue to be more important as our population ages. We don't want to go back to the days without Social Security when most of the senior population was in poverty. If taking care of old people is important, then we need to find a way to pay for it.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  56. JoJo

    Cold turkey. Nobody pays anything in, ever again, and nobody gets anything out. We never should have gotten away from the idea that people can take care of themselves.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  57. Observer? REALLY?

    Observer – The "lock box"? it was the DEMOCRATS who have been raiding the Social Security fund any chance they had.

    Here's a thought. Solve the illegal immigration problem and the "every job gets shipped to India" problem. Then we'll have more LEGAL workers paying in again.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  58. Julnor

    First we must invalidate the so-called SS trust fund. As stated in the article, it consists of IOUs that old people expect their children and grandchildren to pay. The old folks have been in charge of the govt and have squandered the money. It is wrong to ask the next generations to repay. With that said, it's very simple: what comes in one year for SS taxes is what goes out the next year in payments. Anything left over should be saved as hard cash and used for later shortfalls. Some years you get more than others, but last I read the Constitution, you aren't entitled to any money from the govt.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  59. The no-longer-silent majority

    Social Security – the biggest ponzie scheme in the history of humanity. Surprised that the same people that are engaging in class warfare these days against things like "big oil" , "big banks" , "big retail" etc. aren't as pissed off about the 100 years of public abuse caused by "big government". The hypocracy is sickening.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  60. Barrry

    An initial move should be to force all government employees including congress, mail service and yes, military personnel to pay into social security! No one should be exempt from the system!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  61. Bill Balmer

    I, also, have an MBA, and also a BSEE, and am used to analysis. I am also 73 and have been living with Social Security for a few years. The solution is not to stop COLA increases. The COLA used for seniors needs to be adjusted to include their typical needs, not the needs of the younger generations. The major part of the solution is to take the cap off of the income to which Social Security taxes are applied. It now applied to only a little over $100,000 of income. Apply it to ALL income. The problem would disappear!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  62. Sam

    One thing I did not see mentioned was to stop payments to aliens that have not paid a cent into it.... and actually I generally am a liberal.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  63. Gordon Thompson

    I used to work with people who made enough money each year that they quit taking SS out of their paycheck. Is this still going on? if so, why stop?
    I know of 2 people who were educated at community college after their fathers had died. I don't think SS money should be used in this manner.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  64. richard underwood

    congress should take soc.sec taxes off the table as far as useing it for part of the budget, as they are the ones that have created the shortage ! and it has been going on for many years , but since the money is owed , what do they do now ! steal the money ?

    May 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  65. Tom M

    As long as there are people abusing the system (I mean has anyone not seen some law firm promising to get people SS money? Or seen someone on SSI driving a Mercedes?), the system will never work. You don't pay the taxes, you don't get the money (this isn't about the genuinely disabled). Until it's that black and white, SS will be in the red!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  66. Joe in Kent Island, MD

    Wait until we have a congress that is smart enough, and less worried about election before attempting anything as complex and over their heads as Social Security.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  67. Shirley

    You know what Jack, if someone would have reported what was going on with Social Security about a century ago, over cable TV, while Obama was a teenager, then maybe it would not be in trouble as it is now. Now that Obama is in office, things are going to get fixed as they should be or at least he will do some things to start to fix it. Tell Palin that hopey changy thing is actually happening before her eyes.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  68. Alex Grayson

    Ha! Just wrote my thesis about this. People defending the system need to realize that it's long gone. Although there are many ideas out there claim to be the "savior" plan of Social Securty, there really isn't one that fixes the system cleanly. Raise taxes or cut benefits? And that there is just another political argument waiting to happen. I personally think that benefits should be cut and the retirement age should be raised higher. It sounds harsh on both ends, but it's probably the best shot we have at restoring the system...although some argue that the U.S. should wipe it out completely and start from scratch.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  69. pesach kremen

    The income cap on paying in to social security must be eliminated. the rich need to pay in their share as they can more easily afford to do so.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  70. Roy Bean

    "We the idiots" were stupid enough to believe that we could get something for not much of anything and so agreed to give our earnings freely in perpetuity to a goverment system that has no incentive to provide anything to its citizens other than what is requiered to get re-elected for another term.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  71. Martec Washington

    Well Jack I belive we should tackle thin & the growing debt @ the same time. How by legalizing pot. People say that itz this awful drug yet u don't ever hear any major stories about people crashing while smoking or robbing people. Its amost 2 trillion bucks a year witcj would turn in to hundreds of millions of dollars that would turn this country around. Not even speaking about how much would be saved locally. jails would be less full & people would be more chill. Either legalize pot or watch all government programs come to an end. Because no one in congress will make cutbacks!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  72. Steve Etzel

    Jack: I don't see how you can talk about Social Security without discussing Medicare and Medicaid. I retired at age 65, but to receive full benefits I would have to retired at age 67. I believe retirement age will go higher, possibly 70 or more, and I believe there will be co-pays for medicare and medicaid. I think people my age will be grandfathered, but my kids and grandchildren will have to pay the price by working longer, co-pays for medical care and receive lower SSC monthly benefits. The IOUs are about as valuable as a three day old Big Mac.

    Steve

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  73. Josh

    Cut public sector workers pensions completely and put them on social security. I have a feeling social security will be fine then.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  74. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Improve the tax code to get better revenue from the use of your natural resources.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  75. Lee

    I find it very interesting that every time reporters or commentators report on this issue they do exactly what you did – completely ignore the real fix to the Social Security system – make everyone, including the rich, pay their fair share of Social Security taxes on ALL income. In other words, the rich would pay 4.5% on all of their income, not just the first $106,000. The current systems allows someone that earns hundreds of millions in a year to get away with paying less than $5,000 in Social Security taxes, while the poor all have to pay the required 4.5% on all of their income. Let's put a stop to the injustice of the 'rich don't have to pay' system, and change the law to make all individuals pay 4.5% on ALL of their income, including politicians and Congress persons.
    Lee

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  76. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Social security funds should be put in receivership and handled and disbursed by the State in which that individual is employed.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  77. ctbeckyw - Las Vegas

    How about not allowing anyone from collecting who hasn't contributed ? Seems pretty simple to me.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  78. rey

    That is simple just call in the iou's with 27% int. then they will think twice about taking a loan from the American people.Maybe they will ask the Mexican gov. for a loan.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  79. Jeanne

    If I'm not mistaken, it was a democratic president that authorized dipping into the social security funds. Jimmy Carter gave away the security of the American workers to the democrats when he was in office and it looks like the dems have spent it all right down to the last penny. How to fix it? Great question. Good luck coming up with an answer to this one.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  80. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – Social Security is no more nor less broke than the United States government itself. That is what you get with tax cuts coupled wit spending increases. Reaganomics was WRONG! Since benefits are already marginal, compared to the cost of living, what we must do, unpopular though it may be, is to raise taxes – higher marginal income taxes on the rich, higher income levels subject to Social Security taxes, and higher fees for mineral extraction from Federal lands. When we are truly out of the recession, next year, we need to cut spending too – farm subsidies, corporate welfare, and Defense contract abuse. Eventually, we need to stop taxing incomes altogether and switch to taxing expenditures, with national value added taxes, the highest on luxury goods only the rich can afford to buy. BTW – the ignorant electorate is actually to blame, because Congress merely does their bidding in order to get re-elected, and Congress controls taxing and spending, not the President. It is like Pogo Possum said – we have met the enemy, and he is us!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  81. Sean, St. Louis

    Stop passing ridiculous immigration laws and encourage immigration. Allow the immigrants to get their citizenship so the working-age immigrants can pay into the system. We have to accommodate exponential population growth to keep social security running.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  82. Brandon

    We can fix Social Security by ending our overseas empire and reallocating much of the money that goes into making war and holding bases in 130+ countries and put it into Social Security, but give young people the an opt out option and let them start paying into their own retirement. The idea is to ween ourselves off of it and eventually eliminate it. It's unfixable.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  83. Marti Norton

    If I borrow from someone, I have to pay it back. Shouldn't the Government also be bound by the same ethical principals that the average American citizen believes in and lives by? They need to re fund the trust at no cost to the American's who put the money there in the first place.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  84. Jan from NC

    Push the retirement age up to 70 & if you didnt pay in you don't draw out.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  85. Dan P.

    I frankly don't care what they do with Social Security; however, if I am not going to be eligible for an annuity, then give me back my contributions. I will be 60 this year and have paid a lot of bucks into the system. So if we shut it down, give me my money back – I'm okay with that.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  86. J. M. Mortenson

    The Social Security Trust Fund Bonds have the full faith and credit of the United States Government, just like any other bond the government sells, such as to China or to the public for U. S. Savings Bonds. To say that they are worthless is saying the United States is bankrupt. The United States CANNOT refuse to redeem the Bonds. So Social Security is not in trouble. We paid in more money than was needed over the years in order to prepare for the Baby Boomer generation's reaching retirement. The Bonds will carry us for at least 37 more years. What other government entity can say that? The statements you are making are simply a ploy used by those who have wanted to destroy the Social Security system since it was formed in 1936. Any budget cuts clearly must come from the military, which is the most wasteful organization on the planet.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  87. From VA

    What really needs to be done, and has not been mentioned: abolish Social Security. For those who have paid in, refund their contributions, along with interest due, and end the system that enables the Ponzi scheme. Make people responsible for saving, and working, for their own retirement.

    For people near retirement, this would mean little to no change from what they've been expecting, and younger people (of which I am one) will be able to keep the money they earn and spend or save as they choose.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  88. Lucy, from Texas

    The money "borrowed" from the social security funds need to be returned with interest. Second, there needs to be a cap on retirement income of those who draw social secuirtiy...say you make more than $50,000. to $75,000 for the tax year, then your social secuirty will be stopped until you income falls below the maximum allowed income . Third, there needs to be a stop to fraud and non-citizens from collecting social security funds and if you live out of the country you shouldn't be allowed to collecting social security as it too expensive to enforce the rule and requirements to receive Social Security in foreign countries. Fourth, pass a law so that 1/2 of all lobby money taken by Congress needs to be added to the social security fund. That alone ought to fill up the social security fund to pay for several more generations.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  89. al

    Both of my parents have excellent retirements from working in higher education. They both have excellent health care and disposable income, yet they also each receive full SSI benefits as well. Lucky them. They use the SSi as play money, to take vacations, get a new car every couple years , etc. Lots of people with plenty of money demand their free money from the taxpayers every month. It is going to run out. The way the system works now, Warren Buffet could collect SSI entitlement. All income should have SS tax on it and the fund should be hands off even in times of war. And no SSI for millionaires. Save it for those who need it, not those who want it and feel entitled.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  90. Richard Casson

    Jack – I have seen numerous studies that show that if the ceiling of $105,000 (after which NO social security or medicare payments are withheld) is removed, both Social Security and Medicare would the funded indefinitely. Why should someone making $50,000 be taxed on his entire salary for SS and Medcare, while someone making $1 million dollars is not taxed past the first $105,000?

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  91. Betty H

    What we are owed by Congress' of the past and present should be repaid by taking the money we hand out to other countries who either hate us or depend on us too much! We could then have enough to last 100 years! And in that time improve our method of providing for our elderly who physically and mentally depend on the generation behind them.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  92. E. Keith Owens

    Raise the level for benefits to 70 years and permit workers that work to this age pay no taxes after age 65.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  93. Richard

    When Social Security started,. people lived shorter lives and so made less demand on the system. The easiest way to fix it is to raise the retirement age. This has the benefit of being non-discriminatory as well, since it will affect all people who are getting older and none who are not.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  94. Rodney Dahleen

    Quite simple really. put back everything that has been taken over the Years. if the trust fund in insolvent, It's no ones fault except the congress. Congress has used the funds as their own private slush fund for decades-Maybe even illegally.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  95. Mike Phelps

    Jack: Fixing social security is simple:

    Put the politicians on social security and medacare and it will be fixed over night. as long as they stay on a retirement program that gives them big pay checks and takes care of thier medical needs while the rest of us work all our lives to pay into a fund that is raided by these same politicians to take care of thier pork barrel programs to keep them in office (as they say nobody is going to shoot santa clause @ christmas) we will never see anything done to help the common man.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  96. Mike W

    I don't know everything but a good start would be immediately, right now, to take all FICA contributions and put them into an interest bearing account that is totally untouchable for anything but paying SS benefits. No tricks, no fancy accounting. A real 'lock box' whose money cannot be lent to anyone. Only real money, not IOU's are allowed.

    Then make it a crime punishable by death for any politician to suggest or cause any of that money to be used for anything but SS payments to individuals. That includes everyone in government from the President down to the lowest, scummiest Congressman.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  97. Marvin

    Cut the Cap. Those making over $100,000 don't pay anymore but still able to collect SS

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  98. Gail California

    Stop giving our Social Security money to illegals. Give it to the people that it was intended for.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  99. Sunshine

    Stop allowing benefits to those who have not contributed to it. Everyone, regardless of how much they make should contribute. If they don't, no benefits. The Government should repay what they took out of the trust fund. It should be used only for social security, not for wars or for whatever the Governmet wants to do. Lastly, no one receiving benefits should be taxed on it. It was never mean to be a pension but a benefit to retirees. When Reagan gave amnesty to millions of illegals, benefits were given to thenn without having contributed. NO CONTRIBUTION, NO BENEFITS.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  100. Keith

    Jack, let's be honest here, we need to take back our country from a corrupt congress, corrupt supreme court and an enemy far more dangerous to this once great land. Our government. We need a revolution!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  101. Matt

    Hi Jack,

    You're right, the SS Trust Fund is nothing more than IOU's. Well, our own MONEY is nothing more than IOU's to the Fed. The Fed prints money, and our government gives them IOU's in return. Money represents nothing. So, to fix Social Security, simply tell the fed: Print more money for Social Security's trust fund, deposit it, and sleep knowing that you have higher numbers in the account. Magic. Since our entire monetary system is based on debt to the National Bank (a 3rd party entity), money is already less than worthless except to those who believe in it's purchasing power. It's not rocket science...

    -Matt, San Diego CA

    May 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  102. Doug Daly

    Nonsense. Those IOUs he talks about are government bonds that the whole world feels is a perfectly acceptable way to invest money.

    Now our debt is large compared to GDP, which means we have to address our taxing and spending as a country. That is different from pretending Social Security is broken because there is a vault of IOUs.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  103. RickFromDetroit

    Raise the pay role deduction and pay in limit is the solution to salvaging Social Security.

    Cutting Social Security benefits will accomplish nothing except reduce consumer spending and this will result in job losses.

    Raising the retirement age will mean more workers than we have jobs and our savings will be spent on unemployment compensation and other entitlement programs.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  104. Jay Foster

    It's too late!!! All we can do currently is to cut benefits (or delay eligibility to age 70) and increase FICA taxes on high income (?) families and individuals. Another "fix" - not heretofore proposed - is to deny benefits to anyone who has not qualified strictly on age requirements. During the year 2008 (the last report from the trustees of the fund), the "sick, lame and lazy" under age 65 are drawing 17.43% of the combined OASDI benefits paid-out. This has got to stop - it was never intended to fund these people. Make a trip to your local social security office and you'll find that 80-90% of the people there filing for (or checking-on) benefits are age 25 and under and are minorities.

    Jay A. Foster
    Tahlequah, OK

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  105. Beverly Hope

    Jack:

    The United States Government should pay back everything they took out (every penny) and stop giving the Social Security Money to people who are not citizens of this country. My entire immediate family have died, and they all paid into Social Security. Some of them have been dead a long time. Where does their Social Security Money go–to people who are having babies out of wedlock????

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  106. Julnor

    The best solution would be for the money that I earn that comes out of my paycheck to go into an account with my name that I own and I control. They matching dollars from my employer would go into a general fund. The mess we are in now is what happens when you give the govt money.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  107. Cory Seattle

    In my opinion what needs to be done with Social Security is:

    1. Raise the taxes to make up the difference temporarily.

    2. Tax all income not just $100,000 . Everyone needs to be taxed fair, and since this is a program designed for all, everyone should contribute equally.

    3. Instill a law designed to prohibit any Congressman, or Head of State, from taking from Medicare, Social Security, and education funds. Far too often one side takes away from all three of these funds ( you know who you are) and we end up paying dearly for it. It is time to replenish the funds for all three and ensure they cannot be tampered with.

    Those are the only three rules you need to apply. Raising the retirement age is ludicrous. The entire reason to retire isn't so you can die a year or two after. It is to enjoy the end of your life, but not right away. Suggesting people be forced to work longer is one of the most horrible ideas I have seen.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  108. Jerry C.

    Remove those that don't belong (age-wise) on Social Security. Put them back on the welfare rolls where they belong. Also, take a very long look at those that are on Soc.Sec, Disability. I see so many that lift weights, play golf, work strenuosly under the table and so on and they get away with it because they had a lawyer work the system for them.

    It really needs some heavy-duty scrutiny.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  109. Joe - Utah

    As a civilized nation, we will always have people who need finanical assistance. This includes the elderly, the disabled, the poor, retirees, and those who no longer can support themselves. We have a duty and an obligation to help them with their basic needs. This assistance can come from a variety of sources such as pensions, personal investments, retirement systems, or government programs such as social security and medicare. If we get rid of social security, something else will have to replace it (a rose by any other name). I think we just have to stick with social security and ride it out. Eventually, the ratio of retirees to workers with even out. In the meantime, it will require higher withholding rates and taxes, but we can't just pull the plug.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  110. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    Social Security has been 'broke' ever since Congress concocted the 'consolidated revenue' Ponzi scheme to conceal huge fiscal deficits. Our real deb has been much greater.

    This did not happen overnight. According to what I've read, it happened when Lyndon Johnson was Senate majority leader, so it's been almost 50 years.

    Fifty years of 'juggling the books' cannot be overcome in any short term, if ever.

    Economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have warned us for quite a while of a much bigger problem – we're in the same 'boat' as the auto makers were with not setting aside funds for 'legacy' costs, too.

    This 'pay as you go' has its alias as Ponzi. It hasn't been 'overnight', but we're in for a big shock. The 'free trade' shock is a crime, too.

    We need to scrap 'free trade', impose high import tariffs and bring our jobs back here, Jack..

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  111. Luis Teixeira

    Im go to be serius on this....the SSa is not going to work in soon time...the retirement people are going to start to receive less and less money each time, because the live is raising the cost of live, and in not the same raising the income of the retired people, so you have Two option the is going to work on this matter....first separate the retiremen from the health care, they are diferent and increase the tax for more revenue....second forget the health care that part have already their income and a new law, 3 stop to give money to the people that don't work, that is not the way to help to the country....push the companies to increase the payeoll for the poeple..in that way we create more work...is not part of the goverment hold people that not work is to much weigth for support.....other countries do it why not us....

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  112. Rose A West

    I think, for a start, we should sue the wall street creeps. They caused our economic crisis and should make up for the loss we incurred from those who lost their jobs and are no longer paying in. Then, we can elect a new Congress and Senate. . . Well, maybe your right Jack. It maybe just as easy if we held our breath!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  113. vickie

    the money people had taken out for social security has already been taxed....it should NOT be taxed again....Seniors are living on fixed incomes while their health declines ...not fair to our seniors....

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  114. PK California

    It's fine to say raise the retirement age, if you work at a desk. I'd hate to see a 70 year old man walking on a steel girder, building a skyscraper, just because he can't retire yet.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  115. GeraldMcDonnell

    Saving Social Security, is very easy; Stop Foreign Aid.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  116. Tom

    Jack, Social Security is NOT BROKE! The absolute worst case scenario is that 30 years from now, if nothing is done in the meantime, the system will only be able to pay out 78% of promised benefits. While that is not acceptable, it is better than nothing. We need only make small changes now, small cuts in benefits, small increases in taxes, lift the cap on which the tax applies, to ensure that
    SS will be able to pay indefinitely.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  117. Chad from Los Angeles

    Make it a progressive tax, not regressive. Take away the capped % the wealthy get to pay.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  118. Michael Roepke - Dallas

    Some people depend on Social Security and some folks never need to spend it. Some people want to work until they are 70 and others are not able to at 62. There is a solution but there is not a "one size fits all" solution.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  119. Edmund

    Jack,
    It is simple. If I will not get my SS checks, I will file a law suit (hope it will be a class action) against everybody involved in defrauding the money I and others paid to SS. That will include presidents congressmen ans senators.
    Edmund,
    South Carrolina

    May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  120. GWF

    The social security system is going broke because of the the greed of americans and politicains. The requirements to collect social security should be limited on people that have outrageous pensions that dont need soscial security. Another problem is spouses collecting benefits from there spouse because there benefit rate is lower, Senators and Congressman making outrageous pay that are still working are collecting so this will not be solve because its their lost too

    May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  121. Jerry K

    Jack, If the congress would stop raiding the trust fund for it's special pork barrel profects it would not be insolvent. Remove the cap on earned income that is set at $106,700.00 and make everyone pay on all their earnings. If executive CEO's, wall street brokers and professional athletes are paid millions every year make them pay social security tax on all of it! No exception! That could have the fund back in the black in a few years. Also, no more raises in salaries for congress until social security is solvent again.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  122. rod from NC

    Raise the current earnings limit for those making over $250. Add a millionaire tax of 3-5%. Increase corporate contribution rate by 5% for businesses making less than 5 Million. Raise the rates if you want to fund it faster. Put new rules in place that do not allow usurping trust funds, unless in times national emergency. And do all this NOW. Problem solved.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  123. Pat from Connecticut

    If the government offered an option to decline your social security monthly payment for an attractive tax deduction, perhaps people that have comfortable incomes, from other sources of retirement income, might take advantage of it. This would keep that money in the soc. sec. fund for people that truly live on it month to month.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  124. Mac McDobol

    I've worked for almost fifty years, was laid off last fall and will be 62 soon. I'd like to wait to full retirment age but there are no jobs for 61 year-old white guys in or beyond my neck of the woods.

    Stop blaming the baby boomers. The powers-to-be have known about our march toward social security for more than fifty years. We're earned and our due our social security benefits as much as any generation.

    Social security will be my lone salvation out of a financial debacle that has so unduly penalized so many of us at the most fragile point of our careers and lives.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  125. Janet Bagley

    It's pretty clear to me that if it were more difficult to obtain social security disability the system would not be going broke. It's common knowledge that once denied by social security all one needs to do is hire one of those hawker lawyers and bingo you're on disability which pays more than normal retirement benefits. How many of us have a bad back and still go to work every day? How many of us have a bad back combined with a lazy butt? We all know what true and deserving disability means and we also know who is milking the system.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  126. Shari

    !: use it as it was intended.

    2: Make those who make more, pay more for it.

    3: Make congress pay SS tax also.

    4: Don't blame Obama, he didn't create this mess!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  127. Tom Keller

    I have been receiving SS benefits for a year now, and am amazed at how much the checks are for me and my wife. It will take less than 3 years for my benefit to exceed the entire amount I paid into the system in 36 years.

    Two things would help delay the day of reckoning – 1) Make benefits fully taxable so well-to-do recipients effectively give some of them back, and 2) Reduce benefits 10 or 20 percent for people with significant other income.

    If people knew the choice is between a little sacrifice and watching inflation balloon and the economy permanently decline, they might feel a little more generous.

    Henderson, NV

    May 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  128. Mike

    1. Index benefits to age. No full benefits until 70
    2. Reduce or freeze other benefits like death, children of parents, disability
    These were never meant to be covered.
    3. Increase taxes over 10 year period and index to income level
    4. Eliminated for those with average earnings over $250,000
    5. Raise minimum benefits

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  129. Julnor

    One more note, any changes made apply to EVERYONE. You can't say that these people get to retire at this age and those people get to retire at that age. If it's good enough for the grandchildren, it's good enough for the grandparents.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  130. Gary Bruneske

    Dear Jack,
    My take on SSI is to keep Congress from raiding the fund immediately. Also, I'm not against a small tempory tax to get tthe fund back in the black. I'm getting close to retirement so I need to have this fund to my income which has seen some big hits as my 401 K, home values, and savings has taken enough hits in recent days.

    Gary A. Bruneske
    Gilbert, AZ

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  131. Lawrence

    Raise the Social Security upper limit tax. A person stops paying social security after about $100,000. A person who makes $200,000 only pays taxes on the first $100,000.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  132. Robert Dunn

    In theory ...as the population grows , there should be more and more people paying into the system every year compared to the number of people entitled to recieve it.
    Our politicians have taken our expanding nest egg, and like everything else they touch.........they turn it into VOTES !!!
    And who may I ask benefits from the votes???
    You guessed it !!
    And who gets to pay for all of their little luxuries???
    You guessed it again !!! ( Only now.......it's up to my grandchildren )
    Keep up the good work Washington !!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  133. Joe P

    One thing's fairly certain - if you've never paid a dime into but live off the system, you need not worry about losing a government handout. But if you're paying into Social Security year after year, you'll continue to be reminded that you may not have eny benefits when the time comes to collect what's yours.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  134. Danielle

    I think that everyone in office has to also help contribute to SS and Medicare. y are they exempt from having to pay in when they too get a good heafty retirement plan. Also if you don't pay taxes in a normal paycheck than you shouldn't qualify for any type of assistance period. it's not fair that we have to pay into something our whole life's just to have some one who hasn't paid that can take it all away.. i know there are people that can't work that are born us citizens ( I am not talking about them)........

    If we get half of those in office to pay a portion of their monthly pay we would be able to support a few more on retirement right now that are not able to work anymore...

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  135. Aaron Jones

    What should be done to fix Social Security?

    Well, its takes two things for a monetary system to work.
    Jobs and workers , the exchange of labor for geen back.
    In return laborers become consumers and purchase
    products.
    Unless the system function this way , I dont see how Social Security would survive.
    The Government has to borrow money everyday, if it didnt the system would collapse.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  136. Steve from Hot Springs Ar.

    In my opinion the key to keeping social security solvent is the same as the cure for the nations economy problems. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.....
    I wanted to keep working but I'm one of the tens of thousands forced into early retirement after 32 years of working for a fortune 500 company. In the interest of maximizing GP the fortune 500 companies have led a forced march to outsource any and all jobs possible. These jobs are going to India, Brazil, Argentina, Slovakia and other countries. I wonder if anyone on the hill has calculated how much payroll and social security tax we're losing not to mention the unemployment costs and loss of health insurance for folks losing their jobs to outsourcing.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  137. Keith - Twinsburg, Ohio

    Simple Jack. Just collect the IOUs.

    Congress broke the rule (FDR said these funds were to NOT be touched), but have borrowed on it several times.

    Call in the IOUs from congress... They seem to be in the mood to 'bail out just about every other entity...

    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  138. RickFromDetroit

    Invest the Social Security Trust Fund in wall street then we can loose the whole thing in one day.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  139. Joe De la Garma

    We need to value our senior citizens. Our values towards the people that educate, raise and care for us should be at the forefront of our culture... not money.

    If the 45% of the nations wealth is controlled by only 1% of the population, then would it not make sense that they should contribute the most in order to sustain social services such as S.S.?

    In 2010, the highest tax bracket was 35% for an income of over $372,950+.... why does the government not increase brackets?

    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  140. Terry

    The best way to fix is to make the politicians part of it. We all know they will not do anything unless they have a vested interest in it. Roll all of their govt pension funds into social security and it will get fixed in a month!!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  141. Nancy Tally

    No, Jack there are alot of options,, 1:We must stop spending billions our illegal wars, 2: WE must repeal the tax cuts to the rich NOW!
    3: We must send the bankers to jail who destroyed our economy. These 3 our just over the top of my head,, the people need to rise up and stop the biggest transfer from the middle class to the rich NOW!
    They will never get our SS!!!!!!!!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  142. Will from San Jose, CA

    There are lots of little things that will extend it's life.

    – Removing the cap so that everyone pays the same percentage of their income into the system. No more free rides for the wea
    – Shift the eligibility age up a couple of years. Then link the retirement age to life expectancy, so as we get older it continues to move up.
    – Keep congress out of the funds. Otherwise it's just a treasure chest to raid for pet projects at home.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  143. Jim Bob

    Fixing Social Security is glaringly simple & easy. Just don't give it out to anyone with a retirement income of $100 Grand or more, and there will be plenty for retirees who have to eat dogfood & can't afford heat in winter.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  144. Al

    By the way, starting with the new generation, life expectancy is calculated to go down, not up. So, how do you make the next pay-out adjustment?

    May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  145. james wolff

    Social Security:
    I am past 65 and work. I make a good wage. I normally stop paying FICA tax in November or early in December.

    Along with Warren Buffet, I believe that everyone who is working should continue to pay the tax. Warren probally pays off his share in January.
    This would not be a means test as our lame brained politicians are talking about.

    Jim Wolff

    May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  146. steffan

    In New Zealand, we all get the same amount at retirement. Those who dedicated their lives to charity, family, or good deeds, yet made little money in their lifetime, are just as valuable as well paid capitalists. Universal health care supports our elderly. Our tax money is invested in a super-annuation fund that is managed responsibly by the goverment with an eye on security over returns. Lastly, we have our Kiwi Saver programme that allows us to save and supplement our retirement with up to 8% of our lifetime earnings taxed at a lower rate. The government contributes to this account as well.
    No Wall Street collapse or crisis here.
    The American for-profit system left millions with retirement accounts and pensions that are gone. Those who saved for retirement in the USA now find themselves broke and old.
    The capitalist system failed and government regulation fo greedy portfolio managers was insufficient. Your poverty rate for seniors is appalling. Good Luck.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  147. Rhonda

    And we want the same government who botched up our SS benefits to take over health care?????

    May 4, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  148. John Berg

    if you didn't pay into it you don't get it

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  149. ann perry

    Cut lot of people that on disable,don't pay people until 65 years of age.They can work just like the rest of us.Let senators and congress go on the same plan as the american people.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  150. MARCIA

    How about the politicians not squandering and wasting our money on their own raises and worthless projects for their cronies!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  151. steve- virginia beach

    Maybe we should do as our politicians have taught us and simply change the rhetoric. Instead of saying that entitlements for our elderly are broke we could start saying that entitlements for able-bodied parasites and illegal aliens are broke.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  152. RickH

    1) Raise the percentage withheld from workers' pay;
    2) Raise the base amount that the tax is levied against;
    3) If first two items are implemented, do not cut benefits. It would undfairly "tax" people again (pay higher amounts for less benefits);
    4) Leave retirement age brackets as they are. People are tired of trying to hit the "moving target". The last time that the retirement age brackets were raised resulted in a spike in early disability retirement applications and wiped out any gain that could have been realized.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  153. Susan

    Stop all foreign aid until the US is out of debt!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  154. Peter in Canada

    There are no really good options left unless someone very persuasive goes back in a time machine.

    What will really happen: minor benefit cutbacks, minor increases in eligibility age, and moderate increases in premiums. Anything more than that is political suicide. Instead, the government is going to resort to the same fix that they will use for the debt in general: create lots of money out of thin air to pay for things but don't tell anyone. This will eventually create plenty of inflation and drive down people buying power, but hey, then they an blame it on market forces, or China, or the bogeyman. And even better: they can kick the can even further down the road to be somebody else's problem.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  155. steve

    OH COME ON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    just ask any teaparty person... no more gov. involved with telling me how to handle my retirement funds. How about this...
    everyone takes the same amount of ssn tax and has to put it in a account that they can't touch until they are of retirement age. That way there is no govt. involvement... hence.. smaller govt. thats what everyone wants. I don't want to pay for those folks now.. and did I mention that it would also take away money that congress steals from that account. Heck it's the oldest welfare socialist program we have get rid of it. All those kids under 18 now won't have to pay into it all. they will have to pay into their own retirement account. How about that ??? why not?

    LESS GOVT> HANDS OFF MY RETIREMENT MONEY> its simple the tea party could get those same folks that dont like health care and give them new signs.....

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  156. Nancy in Michigan

    Ouch, such doom and gloom. We do need changes made and many people have made good suggestions. I have paid into the system for 30 years and I do have resentments with some, not all, people who claim SS disability. I met a couple of young women who were both on it and I was astonished...they looked healthy and able to work. We need much stricter guidelines and please, I have been in 12 step recovery for 15 years so I know how addicts/alcoholics conduct themselves at times. Stop giving money to them via SS disability. It enables irresponsibility!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  157. AlphaPoe

    Eliminate payments to the wealthy. They are many retired doctors, lawyers, judges, etc. getting a check every month because they "contributed to it" but don't need the money, while other seniors only live on their social security. Also, get rid of all the illegals and send them back where they came from, so they don't continue to be a burden on the country.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  158. mary macvicar

    stop increasing payments, and hold down the disability payments – at least require a verification of the disability, raise taxes, pass a law that requires congressmen/women and all federal employees to pay into ss, get out of the bush war, and restrict ss taxes to ss payouts – not bailing out the government for its' reckless antics.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  159. John J

    Employer contributions should stop at todays rate. ALL employees no matter what there income should continue paying at same rate as now and not have a cutoff point. If you make $500,000 a year or no matter what you make you will pay on that amount! This is fair to all.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  160. Ryan from Wisconsin

    The way to increase the funds would be to pay out benefits on a need scale. Those who have made enough to live comfortably during their retirement should not receive any extra money. Whether they have saved that money will be up to them and those who have not made that much over their working lifetime should get what they need to survive.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  161. Lisa

    I've been contributing into the system for the last 18 years, and if I'm not going to be partaking in it when the time comes, and I'm expected to fend for myself when I retire, I'd like to stop paying into it immediately. Unfortunately, 401Ks are "white-collar" versions of gambling, you invest, but depending on how the market performs, your 401K could either grow or diminsh. I think the intent of Social Security is great, but when you have greedy politicians in DC raiding it unnecessarily, of course it's going to go bust. I hope to die before I retire, because this country is headed for a major socio-economic crisis!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  162. larry wi

    I read a lot about move up the retirement age up to 77, I am 61, and I have been paying into SS for 45 yrs. I maxed out years ago, and I still contribute knowing there is no way I will ever even out once I go on it. I too paid fgor those hwo didn't pay into it. Let's make it simple reimburse me for what I have paid into it, and end the dam thing!!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  163. Fran

    We're going to have to raise taxes - period. We US citizens pay far less in taxes than other First World countries and yet we expect all of our basic needs (and a lot of our wants) to be taken care by our government. The inevitable reality, which is coming soon, is going to be a big shock.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  164. Robert in Seattle

    ALL Federal and government Employees who do not contribute to the system DO NOT receive SS when they retire.

    Eliminate ALL double and Triple dippers in Congress.

    NON-CITIZENS should NOT receive any type of SS benefits.

    ENFORCE the laws with regards to off-shore bank accounts and make Big Biz PAY their FAIR SHARE in taxes owed to the United States.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  165. buckaroo

    This is actually a no brainer. People who make over $106,000 pay miniscule payroll taxes above that amount while the rest of us, who make less than that, are stuck paying on the whole sum. Just take the current payroll taxes and apply them fairly. If you don't want to saddle business with their share at this point because of the economy, just have the individual pay their share. When somebody making 6 million pays basically the same amount as someone making $106,000 fairness dictates that something be done. See Pat above – it's hardly a secret idea.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  166. Kelly

    Social Security? Surely you jest. It's a ponzi scheme that will end with the same fate as the Madoff ponzi; all ponzies end the same way.

    Discussing potential fixes is just another way to kick the can further down the street.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  167. Gary H. Boyd

    Simple Jack. Just do what we've been doing for years - crank up the printing press. What comes after trillions?

    Gary in Arizona

    May 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  168. Virginia from Lansdowne, Virginia

    Fixing Social Security is easy. Reduce our outrageous, extravagant, wasteful, bloated military expenditures. Reduce those hundreds of foreign bases, reduce the number of military personnel, stop the billion dollar costs of weaponry and related apparatus. Use those billions of dollars now spent on death and destruction to support life-giving issues.
    Social Security means secure in our support of each other.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  169. Mike S., New Orleans

    I'm just glad we didn't hand George Bush Jr. the keys to the Social Security safe, as he requested. Look what he did to our economy with his other powers. Imagine how his friends would have divided up the social security pie.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  170. William P.

    End Social Security and the false promise for which the American people paid into the system. Once the program is ended have all people who were on Social Security and who need assistance apply to their local welfare program where regulations, laws, means testing, etc would be applied. Benefits would be adjusted up or down for all who qualify on a yearly basis, based on the taxes collected to fund the program.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  171. W. Bostick

    This is not brain surgery , it's easy to fix . . . .
    All it takes , is what all of our politicians lack . . . .
    The integrity to do what's right , as opposed , to what's politically advantageous .

    Remove the income cap , tax ALL income .

    Raise the contribution rates . . . .

    7% for employers
    8% for employees

    Between the two , it's fixed , and inflation in the future is addressed .

    Presidential line item veto.

    And vote any politician who raids the funds out of office . . . .

    May 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  172. Stan

    Get rid of the current system and set up a vat tax. No one should be exempt. make the fat cats and their charitable trusts pay too. That will make it fair to all and get the country out of debt. If there is a surplus, then lower the vat.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  173. Dave M

    There is a need to remove folks that currently collect, that never put a dime into the system. There are tens of thousands of individuals that collect a small amount of SS funds. This is a result of a loop hole in the SS regulations that allows elderly individuals from another country to come here with their working age children(with visa) and get a ss number and thus collect. Additionally once you have a SS number you can put your name on waiting list for section 8 waiting list for a housing voucher. The US tax payer is paying for tens of thousands to retire in the US. I have seen whole section 8 complexes, where not one person living there was born in the USA, all came here when they were elderly, and collect some amount of SSI.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  174. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Review and Improve the tax code to get better revenues from the various use of all your natural resources; put in measures for people to contribute earlier while clearing the system of any abuse as I read more about them!:)

    May 4, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  175. Jim Rudd

    First of all stop stealing from SS. Remember when Welfare was going under? Bet you have heard much about Welfare in a very long time. Now our President says he'll help pay for the new Health Care with $32 Billion out of SS. Ever wonder how much the Military is taking from the SS bank. I agree with Robert Dunn. I truly believer that every President after the Korean war has rob SS. Ask all those US Peace negotiators how much those treaties costs in free US greenbacks. Let's not forget all the college educations/benefits paid out of SS . The robbery goes on!

    May 4, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  176. Frank

    If they would stop helping every other country and help our own, then maybe the money would be there

    May 4, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  177. Kevin of San Diego

    For starters we still need to erase all government entitlements and pensions to all local, state, and federal employs and officials. The money we save from this process can go to social security and give the politicians a reason to fix it.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  178. Bob L.

    Means test the benefits.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  179. Jason

    Social Security is just a big Ponzi scheme. I would prefer that they let me keep my money and I will take care of my own retirement. I accept the responsibility to care for myself, my spouse, and extended family as needed. The government should let us take care of ourselves.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  180. Rod

    Jack;
    If the Federal Government had the same rules as Empolyer sponsered Pensions and 401K's They would have to live by the Employer Retirement Income Security Acy ERISA which was inacted by Congress in 1974, in addition they would have fiduciary duty to be sure it was managed properly or face possible criminal charges over misuse of Funds, they should play by the same rules. Las Vegas and the misuse of Pension Funds is one of the main reasons for ERISA.

    Rod

    May 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  181. Mike

    To all you that want to tax income over 100K – go get a job that pays you over 100K. Why should I pay your retirement when I am working hard to fund my own retirement? Everyone has the opportunity in this country to make more than 100K – not everyone is motivated to do so.

    To fix the system – stop raiding the cookie jar, decrease benefits, chase those down abusing the system while "disabled", increase the retirement age.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  182. Bjorn Stenberg

    Three major changes to make SS solvent
    1. Increase retirement age 70 or 72
    2. Take away the cap on when SS payments stop.
    3. Change COL expense calculation.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm |