Our current Social Security system is in trouble. Analysts predict that Social Security will be bankrupt by 2042. That may seem far off, but in reality it means Social Security won't be around when today's 20-year olds retire.
We have to make Social Security sustainable for current and future beneficiaries. In 1935, the average life expectancy was 63. Today it is 77. That means people are collecting benefits for much longer. In 1940, there were 40 workers supporting every one retiree drawing Social Security benefits. Today, there are only 3 workers per beneficiary. Three people can't do the work of 40.
Once we understand the challenges facing Social Security, we can start working on the solutions, keeping the following facts in mind:
*** Strengthening Social Security will not impact today's retirees and near retirees in any way. If you are over the age of 55, Social Security will not change for you. I will only support proposals that uphold this promise.
*** While Social Security won't change for today's seniors, we have to fix the system for tomorrow's seniors. If we do nothing, today's 30-year olds will see a 27% cut in benefits, and today's 20-year olds might never see a penny of Social Security benefits.
*** We need to fix Social Security. Each year we fail to act costs American taxpayers $600 billion. Thankfully, there are many options to examine. I will only consider proposals that do not raise the payroll tax on hard working Americans and do not change benefits for today's seniors.
*** One such proposal is the creation of voluntary personal accounts. This is not "privatization" as critics have charged. Personal accounts would give future retirees the option of investing a small portion of their Social Security money in certain bond and stock funds, letting younger workers build a nest egg within the Social Security system. Currently, federal employees - from my staff to your postman - have a similar savings program. Letting younger workers participate in this type of plan could be part - but not all - of the solution to strengthen Social Security.
I believe one of the greatest legacies we can leave our grandchildren is a strong Social Security program that will still be here when they retire. To keep this promise of Social Security in the future, we have to strengthen the program today.