Issue Position: Fighting for Wisconsin Families - Social Security Reform
Recently, the issue of Social Security has been pushed to the top of the national agenda, with the President promoting his proposal to set up private accounts within Social Security to address a long-term funding shortfall.
I want to make very clear that while Social Security faces financial challenges in the future, it is not broke. Even using the most conservative estimates of economic growth, for the next 40 years, Social Security will continue to be able to pay the benefits that seniors have earned and deserve.
As we debate this issue, it's important to remember that Social Security has been one of the most successful programs in our nation's history. This program reduced poverty among the elderly from almost 50 percent in the 1930s to 10 percent today. It has helped seniors live out their retirement years in more comfort and security. As we work to strengthen Social Security, we need to be careful to mend it - not break it.
We have all heard the arguments that Social Security will be broke, bankrupt, and unable to pay benefits to future retirees. But factually, even if we did nothing to shore up the program - which of course is not an option - Social Security would be able to pay 78 percent of benefits in the year 2052.
We need to take steps to strengthen and mend Social Security so that its promise of a secure retirement is just as real for seniors in the future as it is today. But those who want to radically change Social Security need to clearly explain why we should alter a program that has been so successful and has kept so many seniors out of poverty.
I have concerns about the President's proposal to set up private accounts. I'm concerned that taking the money for those accounts from Social Security will require either a cut in current benefits or massive borrowing from foreign investors. We should be working toward a sensible way to increase retirement savings, but in a manner that also protects the integrity of Social Security and guarantees that recipients will have sufficient retirement income.
One point must be paramount in our deliberations: Social Security is a sacred contract between the American people and our government. Recipients must have a sufficient safety net to protect them. The American public must have confidence that Social Security will be there for them when they retire, despite the financial challenges ahead of us.