A new report predicts more doom about the longevity of the nation’s Social Security program, but Iowa Senator Tom Harkin indicates it’s not a pressing concern. The congressional projections say Social Security will take in 45-billion fewer dollars this year than it pays out in benefits, but Harkin says there’s plenty of time to get the ailing system fixed.
“They said beginning in 2037, the trust fund will only be able to pay out 75% of projected outlays right now,” Harkin says. “That’s 2037. Let’s see. How many years is that from now? That’s 26 years from now. We have 26 years in which to make the changes necessary.” Still, millions of baby boomers are nearing retirement age now and Social Security is posting deficits. Harkin, a Democrat, says there are short-term solutions to patching up the safety net.
“The biggest change would come about if we get unemployment down,” Harkin says. “The more people going to work, the more people paying in to Social Security. That’s the reason you’re having the trust fund go down right now, it’s high unemployment.” Harkin suggests other solutions could be on the horizon that would require congressional action, like pushing up the current cap on how payroll taxes are deducted from the paychecks of the ultra-wealthy.
“It’s just unfair that someone making $106-million dollars a year pays the same into Social Security as someone making $106,000 dollars a year,” Harkin says. “That doesn’t make sense. It’s just not fair. We need to raise that cap.” Without changes, the report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Social Security deficits would total $547-billion over the next decade.
The C-B-O report also projected at the current rate, the part of the Social Security program that provides disability payments would be drained in 2017.