Social Security Reform: Increasing Taxes and the Retirement Age

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Social Security Reform: Increasing Taxes and the Retirement Age

Social Security reform is one of the leading topics of an ongoing discussion amongst our government leaders today. Among the many tasks up for considerations are: Personal saving accounts, Privatizing Social Security, Early retirement, Funding the Social Security trust fund, Funding the Medicare trust fund, Drug benefits, Disability benefits, Tax increases, Raising the retirement age and Steady GDP growth. The list is endless. How can keep Social Security solvent for future generations? For consideration, this discussion will be focused on the pros and cons of increasing social security taxes, increasing the retirement age and the potential effects on gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. economy.

Social security was created in 1935 as one of most costly item in the federal budget. The program provides old age, survivors' and disability insurance to a healthy portion of Americans. Workers and their employers fund the system by each paying payroll taxes. The Internal Revenue Service collects the taxes and deposits the money in government-administrated accounts known as the Old Age and Survivors and Disability Insurance Trust Funds (OASDI). The payroll tax revenues are used to pay benefits to those people currently collecting Social Security pensions. Social Security taxes also pay for Medicare, the national health program for the elderly.

The gross domestic product is defined as the value of final goods and services produced in a specific time period. GDP values reflect the final market products. For example, GDP does not take into account the farmer who grew the wheat, but rather the consumer who purchased the final product of bread.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that President Bush and his Social Security trustees will see a .65 percent shortfall of the GDP over the next 75 years. This figure in today's dollars value amounts to an estimated $3.7 trillion in deficit. (Greenstein, Kogan, February 11, 2005).

Social Security trustees each year forecast social security benefits 75 years in advance. The economist, for example in 1930 had to consider social security forecast benefits in 2005 and the effect on our current economy and GDP. Things that the economist could not possibly have been able to consider in his predictions 75 years later: The event of 9/11, computers, the internet, cell phones, The Vietnam War, polio vaccine, NASA and the space program, AIDS, oil, Iran, Iraq, and terrorism just to name a few. (Hiltzik, 2005).

The trustees have projected 75 years into the future that a $10.4 trillion figure that would be needed to sustain Social Security. Currently, this is a 1.2% increase of GDP. This 1.2% growth has been an increase in "funding for defense, homeland security and international affairs". This figure should not be considered as a variable into Social Security solvency. (Greenstein, Kogan, February 11, 2005). The Agency's actuaries poll statistics from the economy and deliver their forecasts to the Trustees yearly in March. The statistician's best guesses consider: fertility, mortality, productivity, unemployment, disability, interest rates and immigration. This sample list for consideration is quite lengthy. The projections are that social security benefits will increase $8 to $10 trillion within the next 50 years and stay there. Currently social security is at $1.5 trillion. The U.S. overall economic growth has remained steady; therefore the input to the current system remains steady. (Hiltzik, 2005).

The U.S. government uses excess social security reserves to purchase U.S. Treasury Bonds. In the future, these bonds will be cashed to pay for the baby boomer's retirement benefits. This will allow the system to pay the promised benefits until 2042 to 2052. (Wessel, 2005, February 1). The FED, to control the money supply, issues U.S. Treasury bonds. The money supply in turn,...
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