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Social Security is beginning to pay out more than it takes in, but Robert Reich says there's an...

Social Security is beginning to pay out more than it takes in, but Robert Reich says there's an easy fix: Raise the ceiling on earnings that apply to the payroll tax. There’s no reason even to consider reducing Social Security benefits or raising the age of eligibility.
Comments (31)
  • The entire frigging government pays out more then it takes in.
    These phonies always pick on SS because its such an easy target.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:33 AM Reply Like
  • Heres a fix,
    Let me opt out its money money.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:37 AM Reply Like
  • I've been thinking the same thing.


    Why not to a structured opt out based on age group. The gov. should come up with some proposed plans that will keep SS solvent for those who have paid into it for decades. Then, do a statistically accurate survey to see people feel about the various plans. The most attractive and solvent plan should be used.


    For example, I would surely opt out of any future potential SS benefits by reducing my contribution by about 65%. The 35% I would still pay would help keep it solvent and would be a "contribution to society" in a sense. I don't know how many others would have the same feelings about it, but most people in their 20's like myself are probably not relying on any SS benefits in the future anyhow.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:44 AM Reply Like
  • Never gunna happen.. Do you really think the government will give up taking your money?
    17 Feb 2011, 10:50 AM Reply Like
  • Yes yes I know.... wishful thinking.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:59 AM Reply Like
  • I think the math won't work. Can't opt out today when it goes to present retirees and not to future. I will repeat myself. SS was a great program to keep the elderly out of the poorhouse, but many people retiring now are not the elderly. 65 used to be old, it isn't anymore. If the retirement age was allowed to rise over all these years, the poor would be paying a heck of a lot less in payroll taxes, by far their highest tax.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:12 AM Reply Like
  • I agree with your comments OptionManiac...


    My thinking is those that decide to opt-out will still contribute a percentage towards future retirees who do not opt-out, but also understanding those that opt-out will not receive any benefits. Anyone under the age of say 18 will no longer have the option to receive social security, but still may need to contribute a small percentage for those future retirees. Over time it would gradually phase out to no cash inflows or outflows.


    Of course, figuring out the math on how that would work is quite the challenge, and sticking to it over the decades would be even harder.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:23 AM Reply Like
  • The philisophical argument as to what role the government should have in our lives, from no role to cradle to grave involvement, because of the breadth, is one that will be argued to a never ending point. Obamacare, I think you should be able to opt out of any health insurance, but cannot get care unless you pay in full before treatment, because it will add to the cost of my healthcare. Deny anyone who doesn't have the means for payment. Here you can opt in or out of government involvement, and can opt your babies out of involvement. Just an example.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:47 AM Reply Like
  • Why is this KNOT surprising coming from the Reich man? Is the SS fund even there to count? Or has it been raided for so long that it is only the credit and faith in the US that makes it so?
    17 Feb 2011, 10:38 AM Reply Like
  • You are right on....there is no actual SS bank balance. The government (Both parties BTW) have been raiding the kitty for decades. There is a small office in West Virginia (not kidding here) that is the official keeper of the SS trust funds. It consists of a filing cabinet full of IOU vouchers from the US Treasury dept.....again..not kidding here !
    17 Feb 2011, 10:44 AM Reply Like
  • Well its time we demand the collection of the IOUs from every other government program.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:51 AM Reply Like
  • Another DEM answer......We must continue to tax and they like everyone and he teaches at the universty level.... Be sure and mortgage your house to send your children to listen to him...... Every since Pres Johnson. who had his fingers in his ears before Pres. Kennedy was shot, melded SOcial Security with welfare we don't know where we stand.. Give us separate accounting and you will see it is welfare who is eating our SS taco.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:44 AM Reply Like
  • The government has stolen our social security (I'm a boomer) to pay for votes. Its time we set the record straight, the Democrats have no one except themselves in mind to benefit from government programs. The Republican's seeing the Dems success can only try to emulate them. Its time for the Tea Party.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:49 AM Reply Like
  • Raising the ceiling turns Social Security into just another income redistributing welfare handout program.
    17 Feb 2011, 10:54 AM Reply Like
  • It already is.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:00 AM Reply Like
  • Reagon raised SS taxes, one of 7 tax increases.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:14 AM Reply Like
  • "Reagon raised SS taxes, one of 7 tax increases." and if so, we now know that it did not work. Lets not repeat the same mistake.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:16 AM Reply Like
  • OM:
    No my friend the democratic house run by Tip Oneil raised SS taxes as a demand of giving Reagon the other tax reductions they passed.
    Remember, all tax bills originate in the house and the Dems controlled the house.
    Isn't bipartisenship great?.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:20 AM Reply Like
  • Too scared to use the veto, or pragmatic. Listen, government is goverment, and we have the worst, except for all the others.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:37 AM Reply Like
  • Robert Reich and all his Demoncrat pals always have "an easy fix" and it's always raise taxes and kick the can of responsibility down the road. At some point it becomes immoral to be in positions of responsibility and govern irresponsibly. Raising income limits or rates will simply postpone the inevitable day of reckoning.
    17 Feb 2011, 11:51 AM Reply Like
  • Wow a lot of commenters appear not to have read the linked article...


    Here is the crux of it:


    "Remember, the Social Security payroll tax applies only to earnings up to a certain ceiling. (That ceiling is now $106,800.) The ceiling rises every year according to a formula roughly matching inflation.


    Back in 1983, the ceiling was set so the Social Security payroll tax would hit 90 percent of all wages covered by Social Security... Today, though, the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 84 percent of total income.


    It went from 90 percent to 84 percent because a larger and larger portion of total income has gone to the top. In 1983, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 11.6 percent of total income. Today the top 1 percent takes in more than 20 percent."
    17 Feb 2011, 12:00 PM Reply Like
  • And this is another philosophical problem. Many would say, especially on this site, so what, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. That's life. Not government's role to tinker with it. So what if the gap widens. So what if the poor get poorer, and there are more of them.
    Well, at some point, the economy tanks or there is an uprising.
    Do we tinker with the system to alleviate the wealth gap?
    17 Feb 2011, 12:13 PM Reply Like
  • and why was there ever a ceiling in place to SS contribution to begin with????
    17 Feb 2011, 12:42 PM Reply Like
  • Good historical question. Maybe because there would be too much money in it? If there were no limit, the amounts taken out would be much much smaller and the working poor could then pay a little in Fed taxes so they would have a monetary stake in all this.
    17 Feb 2011, 12:55 PM Reply Like
  • For the same reason you don't pay 100% of your earnings in taxes.
    Then we could add on state and local taxes and maybe, Mikey, you'd enjoy paying 120% of all your earnings in taxes. Oh, nothing left to live on? Too bad, go on welfare.
    17 Feb 2011, 12:56 PM Reply Like
  • He meant why don't people pay the same rate for their entire salary, not just up to $100+K, whatever the cutoff is. Actually, depending on your philosophy, wouldn't have been a bad idea, the over-all rates could be much lower than they are today. Keep in mind, no SS on your financial earnings, just labor. Kinda sucks in a way, pay taxes for laying brick but not for winning the options lottery.
    17 Feb 2011, 01:12 PM Reply Like
  • I think I understood Mikey's point.
    Your point is a good one but if the Pols had us pay on all income, do you really think they'd reduce the rate? You can bet they wouldn't.
    Another problem with SS is that most think it is all about retirement money. It is not. There is a huge death and disability portion to SS that was added after the initional law was enacted.
    17 Feb 2011, 01:43 PM Reply Like
  • Oh, I premise all my fixes that they will be implemented by intelligent, practical, and honest men and women.
    17 Feb 2011, 02:14 PM Reply Like
  • OM:
    "intelligent, practical, and honest men and women."


    Solutions will be implemented by congress and the president and I have never before seen any politician referred to by the above quote.
    Therefore, I don't hold out as much hope as you do. I hope your are right and I'm wrong but I won't bet on it.
    17 Feb 2011, 02:26 PM Reply Like
  • wyostocks:


    Between you and me, I'm not betting on it either.
    17 Feb 2011, 02:33 PM Reply Like
  • They've already cut social security benefits by tinkering with the CPI adjustment. Even though prices are going up there's no inflation? By the way, do federal government employees use the same CPI table as is used for social security to determine annual adjustments?
    17 Feb 2011, 01:35 PM Reply Like
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