Social Security: The Generational Betrayal


Nearly 25 years ago those running the federal government made my generation, and those after, a promise: pay a vastly higher payroll tax throughout your lives and accept a later retirement age, and Social Security will be there to keep you out of poverty in your later years. That promise was made by the eight Republicans and seven Democrats, appointed by President Reagan, who made up the 1982 National Commission on Social Security Reform, by the Congress that adopted its recommendations, and by the President who signed them into law in 1983. That Commission, now long forgotten, was headed by Alan Greenspan. The payroll tax increase has been especially burdensome, since this is a tax that hits you harder the less you earn, and the higher rate has coincided with an era in which the distribution of income has become more unequal in any event. Those my age know they will not be allowed to collect Social Security until age 67, rather than age 65. Yet despite all the additional money that has been paid, and the benefit reductions imposed, to “save Social Security,” the truth is that Social Security was not saved. What has happened is a generational betrayal.