The answer is to use it to fund personal accounts for Social Security. Allow workers the freedom to choose to use some of their tax money for savings and investment in the accounts, which would then take over responsibility for paying an equivalent portion of their future retirement benefits.
With personal accounts expanded to their full potential, average income families would reach retirement with roughly a million dollars or more. Two low-income spouses earning little more than the minimum wage over their entire careers would retire with close to half a million. Congress won't be able to raid these personal accounts.
Linkletter writes: "The original intent of Social Security ... was to secure the poorest, weakest and underserved of our society. Today, we have shut those 40 million families out of the American dream because FICA takes so much from American workers and returns so little, foreclosing better alternatives."
Workers would receive much higher benefits through these accounts than Social Security even promises, let alone what it can pay -- two to three times more. With the accounts paying so much of future promised benefits, long-term Social Security deficits would be permanently eliminated, as the chief actuary of Social Security has confirmed. There is no need to add "pain caucus" Social Security benefit cuts or tax increases to the reform, which just counterproductively short-circuits political success.
These accounts would be directly owned by each worker. Retirees can choose to leave some or all of the funds to their families and children. The authors also rightly recognize that the Social Security safety net can and should be maintained in full, with the government guaranteeing that workers with accounts would receive at least as much as promised by Social Security under current law. This is "win-win" for America's workers.
Smith and Ferrara are committed to sparking a national grassroots movement for personal retirement accounts through a new Social Security Foundation, and Linkletter has set a standard for the rest of us in joining to help a cause bigger than the status quo.
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