NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 20, 2013

Shribman: Social security, 21st-century style

(Continued)

Ironies abound in the Social Security debate, none of them redounding to the credit of those at the center of the dispute.

Consider the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, who described the Obama plan as a “shocking attack on seniors.” That was a beaut; chairmen of the National Republican Congressional Committee have grown accustomed since 1982 of defending themselves against charges that they were mounting shocking attacks against seniors. In fairness to the GOP, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio praised the Obama plan, which bore remarkable similarities to the speaker’s own initiatives.

Now, consider some of the Democrats who rushed to criticize the president’s proposal, many of whom would be the very first to criticize as monstrously regressive any taxation scheme like the very one that underwrites Social Security, which exempts income above $113,700 from taxation. Where are the cries of outrage over that?

Otherwise, the usual suspects are behaving in the usual ways. The AARP is complaining that applying the chained CPI would cut $146 billion in benefits, which if you think about it is the whole point. “AARP believes that Americans deserve better than shortsighted cuts to their hard-earned benefits,” the group says.

It used to be that Social Security was one of the great bargains in American life. Back in the early Reagan years, when a bipartisan committee set out to create the first comprehensive overhaul of Social Security, a two-earner couple making an average wage would pay an estimated $192,000 in lifetime taxes and reap $452,000 in lifetime benefits. The situation is reversed now. That couple today would pay more than $611,000 in taxes in exchange for $560,000 in benefits, according to the Urban Institute.

So any plan to rein in benefits is going to increase that imbalance. But this whole subject is an exercise in colliding fairnesses. Is it fair for the rich to pay so much less proportionately than the poor? Is it fair for the payroll taxes of the poor to underwrite as much as $37,000 a year in Social Security benefits for a wealthy family?

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans