Painless fixes for Social Security

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Via Atrios, the Social Security Trustees’ report lets us know how we can easily correct the 75-year slight shortfall, so that the program can continue paying full benefits:

Assuming the Trustees’ intermediate assumptions are realized, the deficit of 1.92 percent of payroll indicates that financial adequacy of the program for the next 75 years could be restored if the Social Security payroll tax were immediately and permanently increased from its current level of 12.4 percent (combined employee-employer shares) to 14.32 percent.

Put this in people terms. Assuming we hiked taxes to that level, a young person making $30,000 today would have to pay an extra $288 a year, and his or her employer an extra $288. That’s a bit of a chafe, and many would prefer not to lose that money to taxes (count me as one), but it’s hardly the sort of thing that cripples an entire economy. Indeed, odds are Congress wouldn’t even need to hike taxes by that much. For starters, there’s good reason to think that Social Security’s 75-year outlook is less bleak than the report thinks. Moreover, we could fix the slight imbalance through a combination of tax hikes and progressive benefit cuts for high-earners. Or we could decide not to raise the tax rate but instead levy payroll taxes on income above $90,000. Or we could boost immigration to improve the system’s fiscal health. So in the end, maybe that young person would have to pay an extra $200, or $100, or less, to keep Grandma from eating garbage. Some catastrophe.

Keep all that in mind when the president gets on TV and starts talking about a looming “crisis” that magically requires Congress to privatize the entire system, rocket up the federal debt, slash benefits by up to 40 percent, and leave all retirees at the mercy of the stock market.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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