Social Security has not contributed to the deficit or to the national debt, the senators said. The program that benefits more than 50 million retirees, widows, widowers, orphans and disabled Americans has a $2.7 trillion surplus and, according to actuaries, will be able to pay every benefit owed to every eligible recipient for the next 21 years.
“Contrary to some claims, Social Security is not the cause of our nation’s deficit problem. Not only does the program operate independently, but it is prohibited from borrowing,” the letter said. “Even though Social Security operates in a fiscally responsible manner, some still advocate deep benefit cuts and seem convinced that Social Security hands out lavish welfare checks. But Social Security is not welfare. Seniors earned their benefits by working and paying into the system,” the letter added.
Social Security has not contributed to deficits because it has a dedicated funding stream. Workers and employers each pay half of a 12.4 percent payroll tax on the first $110,100 of a worker’s wages. The tax rate for employees was reduced to 4.2 percent in 2011 and 2012, but is scheduled to return to 6.2 percent in January.
According to many observers, one of the reasons the Republicans were the overall losers in the election a few weeks ago was because of their continual threats to cut or even eliminate so-called “entitlements,” which is the code word for the highly-popular Social Security and Medicare programs which have lifted several generations of elderly Americans out of the poverty the majority of them used to endure in their old age before these “safety net” insurance schemes were enacted into law in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively.