Increasing the retirement age and reducing benefits is one Republican’s answer for “saving social security. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-TX, said “Americans want, need, and deserve for us to finally come up with a solution to saving this important program,” At the same time, however, the plan would cost the program money by increasing benefits for the poorest retirees and taking away the income taxes on Social Security benefits.

Social Security is solvent until 2034, at which time a 21 percent decrease in benefits would be needed to keep the plan alive. The decrease would be followed by another decrease in 2050, when even deeper cuts would apply.

While people who averaged under $22,000 a year over their lifetime could see a slight increase, those who averaged more than that would see their benefits slashed. For those who averaged $85,000 a year over their lifetime, they would see their benefits cut by a third. All the changes would begin in 2018. So, a large portion of the of those who are currently receiving benefits would see cuts beginning next year. Johnson’s plan also eliminates cost of living increases.

Under the plan, the retirement age would increase to 69, beginning with those born in 1968, which according to the author of the plan, reflects American’s longer life expectancy.

The plan is not favored by all Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WIS, told 60 Minutes earlier this month that he has no plans to make changes in Social Security. Donald Trump has also been silent on the issue, however, during his campaign he promised Social Security and Medicare would not be touched. Many Republican lawmakers are nervous about tinkering with Social Security. After former President George W. Bush proposed a change during his second term, his party suffered sweeping loses in the mid-term elections in 2006 – the same could happen in 2018 when 435 seats are up for grabs.

The Democrats denounced Johnson’s bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they would fight against Johnson’s bill “tooth and nail,” and “they (the GOP) will lose, he said. Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman, Texas Republican Kevin Brady, have both refused to support the measure.

Johnson calls his bill a “commonsense plan,” but it’s unlikely that millions of seniors, or their counterparts, still paying into the system, will agree. Instead of punishing seniors now and in the near future, why not increase payroll taxes slightly to increase the likelihood the system would be solvent longer. The Republicans do not want to be seen as tax raisers, but they don’t seem to mind taking from those who need it most, in an effort to save their jobs.

The Social Security Act was signed into law on Aug. 14, 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The act was to be funded through a payroll tax, with employers contributing to the fund.

After the stock market crash in 1929, most American’s retirement money vanished. In the 1930s poverty rates for seniors passed the 50 percent mark, and a need to help was born. Roosevelt was the first president to advocate federal assistance to the elderly.

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