America’s elderly have not received much attention throughout the recent presidential primary debates and candidate town halls, interviews and soundbites.
Maybe the candidates believe that older Americans have little in common with the rest of our nation. In reality, the topmost concern of the elderly is identical to those facing all Americans: economic security.
For seniors, the key is maintaining a healthy Social Security system. It faces the challenges of beneficiaries expanding more rapidly than the pool of workers supporting it and the stagnation of workers’ wages.
The most direct way to shore up funding is to adjust the withholding cap. It requires only a simple vote by Congress.
Today, any personal earned income more than $118,500 does not add to the Social Security Trust Fund. When Ronald Reagan implemented this inflation-indexed cap, it excluded only 10 percent of all wages and only 6 percent of workers. Today, this “tax max” covers 17 percent of wages, a 70 percent increase. This reflects the continuing concentration of wealth at the very top.
Unfortunately, Sen. Pat Toomey only sees privatizing the system, which puts seniors at the mercy of the market. Former admiral and congressman Joe Sestak sees it differently and is for adjusting the cap.
In Pennsylvania’s contest for the U.S. Senate, we have a blunt choice. We can re-elect Toomey, who would throw our seniors’ financial security to the whims of the market, or we can elect Sestak, who wants to work for real policies and long-term solutions.
Mark Lafer, State College