Liberal women’s groups are calling on Congress to pass a couple of bills to reform Social Security. Naturally, they aren’t recommending anything that would actually help control entitlement programs’ exploding costs. Instead, they propose making those costs grow faster and tacking yet another enormous tax hike on the back of the Left’s go-to target: “the rich,” or those making more than $250,000.
The “Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act” (S.1558) and “No Loop Holes in Social Security Taxes Act” would slap the entire 12.4 percent payroll tax on earnings over $250,000, a massive tax increase on these earners. This would provide the Social Security Administration with a significant source of revenue, no doubt, though probably less than the bill’s supporters estimate, since at some point the marginal taxes on this group are going to be high enough that they’ll cut back on work. However, part of those new revenues will be necessary to cover costs from the other legislation championed by liberal feminist groups (“The Preserving Our Promise to Seniors Act”), which would change Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment so that benefits grow more quickly than inflation.
Today, Social Security already accounts for more than 22 percent of the federal budget. If the National Organization for Women has its way, that’s a percentage that’s going to balloon. Women should ask themselves if this is really the best use of government’s finite resources. In particular, why does the Left solely advance soak-the-rich tax increases while recoiling from any conversation about trimming benefits for the well-off elderly?
NOW’s letter includes boiler-plate language about how important Social Security is to keeping women out of poverty. This is a red herring in the discussion about Social Security’s future. No one is proposing changes to the system that would cut benefits to low-income seniors. Serious reform proposals focus on bringing down the program’s costs by slowing the growth of future benefits for high- and moderate-income seniors. Many of these proposals actually increase benefit payments to seniors with the lowest incomes.
Given our current financial crisis and our increasingly alarming deficit and debt, we need a serious discussion about Social Security’s future and how to make changes so that the program continues to serve those who depend on it — without crippling the economy with exorbitant taxes. This latest missive from liberal feminists groups doesn’t advance that goal either.
— Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum.