"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
On Wednesday, the co-chairmen of the White House Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, released their ideas for dealing with the country’s massive debt. The recommendations are from Simpson and Bowles only, and do not represent the opinions of the full commission. The proposals include a reduction in Social Security cost-of-living increases for current retirees; a reduction in Social Security benefits for most future retirees; and a hike in the Social Security retirement age to 69 by 2075. In response, Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, said, “The Bowles-Simpson proposal is not a package we can support. In fact, it is a package we will strongly oppose. While seniors are more than willing to pay their fair share to reduce the nation’s debt, we must not turn to them to pay off such a huge portion of what was accumulated by the entire country.” He also said that raising the retirement age to 69 is not a viable solution, when so many older workers in difficult jobs are already struggling.
He added, “The Social Security cuts would hit current retirees, contrary to what was promised, since the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) seems to take effect immediately. This will lower seniors’ benefits by about 3% after they have been retired for 10 years, and by about 6 % after 20 years.” He said that changing the CPI is an attack on the middle class, since today’s 20-year old workers who retire at age 65 would see their benefits cut by 17% if their wages average $43,000 over their working lives. He also called it “ridiculous” that billionaires pay the same amount into the system as someone earning $106,800, the current cap. He stressed that a better proposal would be requiring employees (and their employers) who make more than $106,800 a year to pay Social Security taxes on all their wages, not the 90% in the proposal. Coyle concluded, “We must not bully seniors into shouldering such a massive percentage of the debt while Wall Street millionaires once again just skate on through scot-free.” To see the co-chairs’ proposal, go to http://bit.ly/ajfG8p. To see “Ten Reasons the Social Security Proposal of the Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs Should be DOA (Dead on Arrival)” from Social Security Works, where the Alliance is a member of the Steering Committee, go to http://bit.ly/bLN4Q1. To see Mr. Coyle’s full statement, go to http://bit.ly/by0k67.