As corporate media outlets predictably trumpeted the right-wing narrative that Social Security is in dire financial straits after the Social Security Trustees' annual report was released on Tuesday, advocacy groups and experts were quick to denounce the fearmongering and correct the record, arguing that the new analysis shows the program is "stronger than ever."
"The right question is not how can we afford to expand Social Security, but, rather, how can we afford not to expand it."
—Nancy Altman, Social Security Works
"Each year, the release of the trustees report provides an occasion for Social Security scaremongering by those wanting to shrink our social insurance system," Monique Morrissey, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, noted in a blog post on Tuesday. "But not only can we afford current benefits, we can afford to expand them."
In addition to demonstrating that "there is sufficient revenue to pay for all benefits until 2034" even if Congress does nothing, Social Security Works president Nancy Altman said the Trustees' report clearly demonstrates that an ambitious expansion of Social Security benefits is also both affordable and desirable.
"Poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly support expanding the program's benefits," Altman noted in a statement. "Social Security is a solution to our looming retirement income crisis, the increasing economic squeeze on middle-class families, and the perilous and growing income and wealth inequality."
"In light of these challenges and Social Security's important role in addressing them, the right question is not how can we afford to expand Social Security, but, rather, how can we afford not to expand it," Altman concluded.
"Insolvent" misleads and scares people into thinking benefits will be gone.
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In fact, Social Security will still be able to pay 79% of benefits even if Congress does nothing.
We should require the wealthy to pay their fair share so we can protect + expand benefits. https://t.co/u6eHYYPvOO
— SocialSecurityWorks (@SSWorks) June 5, 2018
The Trustees' annual report comes amid a relentless push by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration to slash Social Security benefits—along with Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps—after delivering $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.
In a petition demanding immediate congressional action to expand Social Security benefits, SSW communications director Linda Benesch noted that "all we need is for the wealthy to pay their fair share and we can afford to not only extend the lifespan of the trust fund, but expand benefits for millions of Americans."
"We can afford to protect and expand Social Security when millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as the rest of us," the petition concludes.