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Dean Baker: Leave Social Security Alone

Friday, 01 Apr 2011 09:06 AM

Economist Dean Baker says Social Security benefits don't belong in the same budget category as Medicare and Medicaid because medical costs are expected to spiral upward while retirement benefits are not.

"It is hard to argue that Social Security benefits are too generous, or that retirees enjoy extravagant lifestyles," Baker writes in the Financial Times.

"The average benefit is just over $1,100 a month, while the median income for a household headed by someone over the age of 65 in 2009 was $31,400," he wrote.

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Social Security supporters at a rally. (Getty photo)

"The vast majority of benefits also go to the genuinely needy, with more than three-quarters going to individuals whose income would otherwise be less than $20,000 a year."

Deficit hawks now like to show off charts in which the costs of Social Security – along with Medicare and Medicaid, which provide healthcare to the elderly and poor – are projected to go through the roof in the decades ahead, Baker notes.

“These charts show the cost of everything else more or less under control,” he says. “This looks ominous. But it is also a trick.”

“If Social Security is pulled out from the group with Medicare and Medicaid, and instead placed in the category with everything else, the charts look almost exactly the same.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has launched a national publicity campaign to demand an overhaul of Social Security and Medicare to keep the programs solvent and ease the national debt.

"I want those programs to exist when I retire. I want them to exist when my children retire," Rubio, 39, told Florida reporters at his Capitol Hill office. "I don't want them to bankrupt themselves or our country."

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Economist Dean Baker says Social Security benefits don't belong in the same budget category as Medicare and Medicaid because medical costs are expected to spiral upward while retirement benefits are not. It is hard to argue that Social Security benefits are too generous,...
Dean,Baker,Leave,Social,Security,Alone
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2011-06-01
Friday, 01 Apr 2011 09:06 AM
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