Should Social Security Be Expanded?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said benefits to seniors must be increased to avoid a retirement crisis.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D- Mass.
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Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren argued Monday that rather than cutting Social Security benefits, the government retirement program should actually be expanded. In a statement on the Senate floor, she said the country is facing a retirement crisis where seniors will be unable to survive at their current benefit levels.

"With tens of millions of people more financially stressed as they approach retirement, with more and more people left out of the private retirement security system, and with the economic security of our families unraveling, Social Security is rapidly becoming the only lifeline that millions of seniors have to keep their heads above water," Warren said on the Senate floor Monday. "And yet, instead of taking on the retirement crisis, instead of strengthening Social Security, some in Washington are actually fighting to cut benefits."

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She called Social Security "the principal lifeline for millions of our seniors" and said cutting benefits would contribute even more to the dismantling of the middle class. Warren opposes the idea that government benefits should be calculated using so-called "chained CPI." Under that proposed formula, cost of living adjustments for Social Security would be smaller, which Warren argues is damaging for seniors relying solely on that income.

Many other members of Congress, however, argue that cutting back Social Security is necessary to address the country’s budget deficit. They say spending on entitlement programs must be reduced to bring down the debt, a point of disagreement that has rendered budget negotiations between Democrats and Republicans essentially futile.

A recent Washington Post editorial criticized a bill proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. Linda Sanchez of California, both Democrats, that would increase Social Security benefits. It would do so by changing the formulas used to calculate how much seniors receive and would increase benefits by an average of $60 a month, plus a larger inflation adjustment each year.

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"It’s a massive transfer of income from upper-income Americans to the retired. A tax increase is not, in itself, objectionable," wrote the Washington Post. "Yet even the rich have finite resources; government can only go to that well so many times. Why spend this gob of revenue on the elderly, who are already heavily protected by the federal government?"

The editorial argues that statistics show the Social Security program is already keeping seniors above the poverty rate, so resources are better spent on the young.

What do you think? Is Elizabeth Warren right that Social Security should be expanded? Take the poll and comment below.

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