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Our declining benefit called Social Security

By Staff | Dec 27, 2017

To the editor:

As I understand it, this program was implemented in 1935 by President F.D. Roosevelt as a means of reducing poverty and suffering by a large majority of the U.S. citizens, a few years after the onset of the Great Depression.

According to a report issued in June 2017, by the Center On Budget & Policy Priorities, about 61 million people, or more than one in every six U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in June 2017. While older Americans make up about four in five beneficiaries, another 1/5, (20 percent), of beneficiaries received Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or were young survivors of deceased workers.

President Donald Trump and Congress should take note of the fact that 61 million Social Security recipients, their friends and relatives, represent a very large block of voters. Continuation of the present policy of continually shrinking their benefits will most certainly be noticed at the ballot boxes in all 50 states. You are continually reducing their standard of living, while you are growing the government, wasting our tax dollars abroad and increasing the national debt at the rate of $1 million every 80 seconds. This is stupidity on a grand scale!

The same report states that Social Security benefits are much more modest than most people realize. The average Social Security retirement benefit in June 2017 was about $1,322 a month, or a bit less than $16,000 per year. Disabled workers and widows receive less.

When a comparison was made between the USA retirement benefits and 34 other advanced countries, the USA was near the bottom of the list. Number 29 to be exact. A very low rating indeed.

Also noted was that 61 percent of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security provides the majority of their cash income. For 33 percent of them, it provides 90 percent or more of their income. In spite of the available facts on senior citizen poverty and neediness, our elected officials continue to slowly but surely reduce this benefit.

G.W. Bush (2001 to 2009) implemented a serious Social Security reduction during his term as president that continues to this day. He decided it was fitting to change the method of calculating the annual cost of living rate for Social Security checks. Previous to his “stroke of genius,” increases were the same as the rise in the cost of living annual increases. GWB decided to change that to “core inflation.” This is the cost of living minus all food and energy cost increases. This was merely a maneuver to reduce the Social Security benefits on an annual basis. Even a moron knows that most inflation takes place in food and energy items. The result of this maneuver has been a steady reduction in the standard of living of ALL Social Security recipients.

GWB’s final gift was a serious gaffe. According to an AP report issued at that point in time, his final proposed budget will: include substantial increases in the Defense Department’s budget (Sound familiar?), protect his tax cuts for the most wealthy citizens by making the tax cuts permanent, reduce Medicare and Medicaid by $200 million over the next five years, freeze medical payments to hospitals and health care providers, hire more diplomats at the State Department, eliminate 47 educational programs that he deemed unnecessary and scale back 15 targeted to preferable be eliminated. GWB also made a serious pitch to totally eliminate the Social Security program by allowing the citizens to invest their Social Security payroll deductions themselves for their retirement. Does this suggestion contain shades of “weapons of mass destruction?”

Worth noting. I recently received my annual statement from the Social Security administration. One part of the statement predicted an increase of 2 percent for FY 2018. It goes on to state that my monthly increase will be a mere $3. A 2 percent increase would be considerably more than 3 bucks. No wonder the budget is way out of whack!

Let us consider a most wise previous president. Enough about incompetents, connivers and prevaricators. In a speech of April 16, 1953, a mere 3 months after becoming president, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower said: “Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” This most powerful and moving statement was made by one who had dedicated most of his life to an outstanding military career. A very wise person.

Why does this type of wisdom no longer exist? The only “winners” of any war, past, present and future, are the arms manufacturers and their lobbyists. Everyone else loses. Better wake up, politicians and American citizens. Start thinking of the future. If not, there will be no future. White House and Congress: Fix this lousy mess!

Robert E. Workman

Cape Coral