We Need to Increase Social Security Benefits By 20%

Duncan Black nails it in USA Today:

We need an across the board increase in Social Security retirement benefits of 20% or more. We need it to happen right now, even if that means raising taxes on high incomes or removing the salary cap in Social Security taxes.

The 401(k) experiment has been a disaster, a disaster which threatens to doom millions to economic misery during the later years of their lives. Proposals to improve our system of private retirement savings — even good ones — will offer little to no help for the baby boomers who are currently nearing retirement, and are also unlikely to be of sufficient help for current younger workers. We need to increase Social Security benefits, now and in the future. It’s the only realistic way to provide people with guaranteed economic security and comfort post-retirement.


  1. I just knew this was going to be your next post regarding social security. 401 K vehicles are not the problem, the problem is that the boomers were more concerned with their self daily gratification and not putting any money into their 401 K. The generational savings rates among boomers were some of the worst saving rates in this country’s history/

    This has nothing to do with helping individuals retire and everything to do with the government wanting to finance their own deficit 16+ trillion with the approx 19+ trillion held in private/public retirement accounts.. You are seeing this in other countries right now such as argentina which nationalized their pension program (for the good of the people. how did that work out Jon?) and you are seeing the beginning of it in Europe with their capital controls. What is the easiest way to finance government’s deficit when lending gets too expensive and you cant print anymore? You nationalize assets.

    Social Security IS a ponzi scheme and a failed governmental system, and yet you are advocating increasing the benefits for a generation who did a piss poor job taking care of itself to start with, while robbing their children and grandchildren.

    I said this before and ill say it again, as a younger person Jon (like me believe it or not) it blows my mind how naive you are when it comes to the generational fucking that our generation is getting from the older generation. You have no problem allowing them to run up debts WE have to pay, or increasing middle class taxes that WE have to pay to fund their retirement when we can barely fund our own now.

    • Agree. Generational f*cking big time.

      • Jon Geeting says:

        How so? It’s only a generational conflict if you think you won’t get your Social Security benefits, but you definitely will.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Read the op-ed. How do you expect Boomers or Millenials to save enough for retirement? The problem is 401(k). People are not reliable savers. That has nothing to do with the Boomers in particular, it’s a human trait. We’re myopic by nature. You can moralize about it until you’re blue in the face, but there’ll never be a day where everyone or even most people save enough for retirement on their own. It’s why we had to create Social Security in the first place. Elites want to try all these complicated workarounds that amount to forced saving, or tax breaks for saving, but they never work! Anywhere! The only option that we definitely know works is for the government to tax your current earnings and then give you back the money later when you’re old. Social Security works just fine. It is not in crisis. It does not need major changes, only about 1% of GDP more in revenue to get us through 2035. If we dedicated around 2-3% more of our GDP to more generous Social Security benefits I would see no problem with that.

      And what do you mean “can’t print anymore?” Of course we can print as much money as we want to. The only check on that is inflation, and there are so far no signs that we are running up against the limits of our capacity to produce.

    • Re: Printing money: Jon is on target here.

      See Stephanie Kelton. An entity which actually creates money cannot itself ever be indebted. Not all printed money is actual circulation – that’s a different metric. Understanding fiat currency even modestly, you can always print more money. Most money is not in a ‘physical’ form and what is physical is always in an ‘owed’ status. Most ‘wealth’ is indeed created out of ‘thin air’ (which is why housing became so hard to value 2007/2008).

      Governments are not households – nothing like them. Our government doesn’t work like our home ‘kitchen table’ budgets (money in / money out).

  2. Oh please, spare me the nanny state bullshit that people cannot take care of themselves without Uncle Sammy holding their hands. How did people save for their old age before social security? They saved their money and families helped each other out.

    The problem is the lack of personal responsibility and accountability here. People’s myopic view of their own retirement is a recent phenomenon from the last boomer generation forward. Historic savings rates among generations shown that the boomer’s parents and their grandparents saved well in excess of 20+% of their take, meanwhile the boomers are probably around sub 5 if that. The boomer’s being unprepared at retirement has more to do with their own personal financial decisions than the failure of 401Ks and the myriad of other retirement vehicles out there.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Shit happens man. You need those safety net programs. People making losing investments. Just because you do your best to prepare is no guarantee that you won’t end up penniless at the end of life. What’s the use in being the richest country in the world if we can’t guarantee our old people some decent minimum living standards in old age?

    • Jon Geeting says:

      I also seriously doubt that 20% statistic, can you provide a link?

    • Re: The boomer’s being unprepared at retirement has more to do with their own personal financial decisions than the failure of 401Ks and the myriad of other retirement vehicles out there.

      @Mitchell. I disagree. 401ks were a way to turn what used to be private pension funds of companies over to ‘the street’ under the guise of official govenment tax oversight. Those mavericks and fund managers who trade your retirement account don’t know you, care not one iota for you, don’t care about your community, don’t care about your world or how you make out in your eventual ‘retirement’. They get to make years of commission income today (in today’s dollars!) while you’ll cash out some point in the future (at dollars of vastly reduced worth). By the time you cash out, they’ve already made a lifetime of income on all of us and we’ll be paying $8/gal for gas (or what’s left of it). 401ks removed us even further from the concept of local saving and investment and continued to abstract us from a savings and thrift culture (’30s depression and pre WW2) to a culture of credit and consumption (post WW2 and Cold War).

      The fact is, many Boomers DO have personal savings, it’s just that it’s not in dollars in a bank. It’s tied up in goods. It’s in ‘stuff’. In oversized houses, lake cabins or time shares and multiple cars. No where else in the world do they have the grotesque ‘storage yard’ culture we have here in America (a $22b industry). If we’re not savers, how and why do have such a thriving ‘hoarder’ and ‘collectables’ fixation in this country?


  1. […] I keep pointing out, the correct Democratic position is expanding Social Security, not cutting it. It makes no sense on the policy or the politics for a Democrat to propose cutting […]

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