Rodriguez for Congress campaign
Social Security

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[October 07, 2016]  Social Security has infamously been described by some as “the third rail of American politics,” implying that it is a potentially deadly issue that politicians should broach with extreme caution or not at all. As such, it has been famously ignored during a generation of congressional do-nothingism because the concern of perpetuating careers by many is greater than their willingness to tackle an issue that is laden with controversy. Since we know that the Social Security Trust Fund will become insolvent down the line unless we find the courage to act now, it is imperative that the next Congress begins the challenging work of guaranteeing the life of Social Security for future generations.

I believe that the U.S. Congress should begin the process in 2017 of raising the retirement age from 67 to 70 within a decade. This can be achieved by incrementally raising the retirement age and the clear expression of the timetable can allow for those who are approaching the age of retirement to plan accordingly and determine the point at which they would choose to retire. Americans experience a longer life-expectancy today than they did when retirement cohorts were originally set, and pushing the retirement age back ever so slightly does contribute to the greater life of the Social Security Trust Fund.

Today, regardless of the salary that one might earn, no worker in the U.S. pays FICA taxes (for Social Security and Medicare) on any salary above $122,000. I would propose that the upper limit of this be raised to a $200,000 cap over the next decade. This too will provide additional revenue that will extend the life of Social Security well into the future. Although some will object to this proposal, we must inculcate a sense of inter-generational responsibility here. We are supporting our parents and grandparents generation with the assurance that our own age cohort will be treated equitably in due course.

A multi-faceted approach to Social Security reform must include implementation of a means-testing system for the most wealthy among us. Those individuals among the millionaire class who do not need to receive monthly Social Security checks in order to make ends meet should not be receiving them. Any use of means testing must be indexed to inflation on a regular basis so that no one is unfairly penalized by this system; individuals who fell below the means testing threshold would again be eligible for benefits. This reform will also add life to the Social Security Trust Fund.

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The U.S. Congress must also rise to the occasion and prove itself to be fiscally responsible. It is critical that the Congress makes it a priority to make Social Security a program that is fully funded so that expenditures do not consistently outpace revenues to fund it. Reform cannot simply be a stopgap measure because that is essentially passing the problem on to future generations.

Most importantly, we must keep in mind that the most effective means of strengthening Social Security for years to come is the creation of good jobs at good wages in the coming decade. We should set as a target the creation of at least 25 million new jobs in the coming decade and work to ensure that these are jobs that provide living wages and beyond to a new generation of American workers. Individuals who are working at good jobs with good wages will have the ability to save money—something that is all too often an unavailable luxury to many who today work from paycheck-to-paycheck. We must also do as much as we can to incentivize savings in the rising generation of American workers—not as a means of moving toward privatization of Social Security, but as a means of encouraging savings to supplement future Social Security payments.

[Text from file received]

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