Charles Lane: A Social Security fix that fixes nothing
Although some Democrats — including, at times, President Obama — have spoken of reining in future transfer payments to the elderly as part of a long-term fiscal stabilization plan, defenders of the faith, led by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., are promoting a bill to expand benefits.
If the country needs more revenue to meet pressing financial needs, the rich should pay their fair share. Broadening the Social Security tax base, which hits 83 percent of national payroll, is one option.
Some 15 percent of youths ages 16 to 24 are neither employed nor attending school, according to a recent study by Opportunity Nation. For middle-class youths, college tuition costs are a constant source of insecurity.
What about that "retirement crisis"? It's said to result from the decline of defined-benefit corporate pensions and their partial replacement with comparatively meager "defined-contribution" programs, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs. The "gigantic failure" of 401(k)s, Krugman writes, threatens "tens of millions" with a "sharp" decline in living standards and makes a "sharp" increase in poverty among the aged "highly likely."
Charles Lane is a member of The Washington Post's editorial board.
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