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By Staff | Mar 18, 2020

To the editor:

A lot of politicians and others keep referring to Social Security as an “entitlement” program, when actually it is funded by users and potential future users. Calling them beneficiaries is not appropriate either. It is supposed to be in a “trust” for the purpose of paying old age pensions and other benefits as the program is designed to do. (Maybe too many designs).

Career politicians have made it what it is today. They take no responsibility as a group (that I’ve heard about) but still there are many who wish it to be dismantled and/or “reconstituted.” It seems to be one of those Federal Programs that many want to take “pot shots” at but no one has an alternative plan (that I’ve heard about) ready for proposal.

It seems to me that if there are representatives in Washington, D.C., who are ready to “gut” Social Security, after being there for many consecutive terms in office, and all the while criticizing Social Security, and without a plan for reconstructing it, they should re-consider their position on re-election.

“Tagging” it as an “entitlement” in the truest sense of the word is inaccurate as pointed out by former Gov. Huckabee this morning on Fox News. The program is funded by the recipients in trust for the future. If we can’t trust the people we’ve elected to represent us in the Congress, who can we trust with this most precious idea of being self sufficient in the elder part of our lives. Individual retirement accounts based on markets, commodities and bonds have served some people well but the average person may not have enough money and perhaps not enough time to educate themselves on the nuances of investing. Trusting to luck with one’s limited, hard earned cash is not for the faint of heart. Besides, all you need is one pandemic to wipe out your nest egg.

Just a side note, payroll Medicare deductions have not gone up since 1986. Still at 2.9 percent, shared 50/50 between employers and employees. Small wonder that the Supplemental Medicare Insurance Trust Fund (SMI) has an annual shortfall in funding. Less than approximately 5 percent of Medicare claims are audited, even though government budget assessments suggest there is about $50B in Medicare fraud, waste and abuse each year. That would go a long way in reducing the amount SMI needs from the Treasury each year. That coupled with a one point increase in Medicare tax could help relieve the tension.

Also, after looking at a graph from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2018, it looks like the graph lines representing cost and income almost converged in 2017. But the projections out to 2087 maintain a high degree of relative variability. C’mon, career politicians, where are your suggestions now? If we can see it coming we should be able to do something about it. This didn’t just happen in the past 2 years, and we didn’t just find out it was happening either.

John Norton

St. James City