WHY WE MUST FIX SOCIAL SECURITY
Tuesday March 01, 2005
You hear a lot of talk in Washington these days about Social Security reform. There are a lot of strong opinions coming from all directions. My personal philosophy is that the best ideas don't come from Washington; they come from places like the Fifth District of North Carolina. I happen to think that there is more common sense to be found any morning in the Bojangles in Jonesville than the entire city of Washington, D.C. That is why I commute to Washington to vote, but return home every chance I get. The more time I spend in the district, the better I can represent the people I serve.
Just last week, I stopped by Bojangles to have breakfast. While I was there, I discussed Social Security reform with several of my constituents. I explained to them that all Americans have a right to a safe and secure retirement. Our current retirees and those near retirement deserve the peace of mind of knowing that they will get full Social Security benefits for their entire retirement. And I am absolutely committed to making sure they receive these benefits.
But what about our children and grandchildren?
Sadly, Social Security is financially broken. Back in 1950, 16 workers paid into Social Security for each beneficiary. Today, just over three workers pay for each person receiving benefits. And within two decades, only two people will support each retiree.
To make matters more complicated, life expectancy is much longer today than it was when Social Security was created. Back in 1929, people were only expected to live 57 years. Today, most people live to be 80. And who knows how long people will live to be in the future?
The fact of the matter is that Social Security will start going bankrupt in just 13 years and will be completely bankrupt in a matter of decades. For the millions of Americans who depend on Social Security, this is unacceptable.
Without reform, Social Security taxes would have to be doubled or tripled in order for the system to keep its promises to future retirees. This means that in less than 40 years, the government will have to take at least 30 to 40 percent of every worker's wages just to pay for Social Security benefits. Compare that to 1940 when workers paid only one percent of their salary into the system.
This is a major problem and something must be done.
President Bush recently called on Congress to help fix the Social Security system. I agree with him that we must take action. However, at this time, there is no detailed plan on how to solve the problem. In fact, there are many different proposals floating around the halls of Congress.
Nevertheless, I support the concept of protecting Social Security benefits for our retirees and near-retirees while giving younger workers more ownership and control over their Social Security taxes. I like the idea of giving workers the option of placing a portion of their taxes into personal accounts. This would give them more control over their money and the government less opportunity to misuse it.
I am confident that once people focus on the facts and study this issue, they will realize that Social Security reform is essential. Many people have been misled about the need for reform. However, once they have the facts they agree that something must be done to protect the retirements of our future generations. We have a responsibility to save Social Security so that our children and grandchildren can receive the benefits we have enjoyed.
I invite you to contact my office with your thoughts on this very important issue.