Social Security is inarguably one of the most effective government programs in the history of the United States. Today, approximately 10% of all seniors live in poverty. Without the benefit of Social Security, that number would increase to nearly 50% of all seniors.
While there are real challenges affecting the future of the Social Security Trust Fund, Congress must keep in mind that with no changes made Social Security would still remain solvent for the next quarter century. Therefore only modest adjustments to the program in the long term are necessary to keep the promise of Social Security for future generations.
As an example of a solution that will not strip seniors of benefits, as recommended by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles budget commission, Congress could consider raising the cap on income that is subject to the Social Security portion of the payroll tax (annual income above $106,800 is currently not taxed). The amount of revenue generated from the payroll tax as a percentage of income is well below the historical average. Raising the cap even a modest amount would be an important step helping Social Security remain sustainable.