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NC Budget and Tax Center, Poverty and Income Data 2013

Social SecurityAccording to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2013 the percentage of older adults (65+) whose incomes fall below the federal poverty threshold is lower than it is for children and non-elderly adults. 1 in 10 (10% exactly) older adults in North Carolina lived in poverty in 2013, compared to 17.9% of the state’s population overall and 25.2% of children. The percentage of North Carolina’s older adults living in poverty in 2013 is one percentage point higher than it was in 2007 when the recession hit.

The reason for the comparatively low rate of poverty amongst older adults is plain and simple – Social Security. Established in 1935, this relatively simple and universal public program continues to accomplish its primary purpose of providing basic economic security for older Americans. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Today is the 78th birthday for Social Security, the flagship safety net initiative for our nation’s seniors, surviving spouses and children, and disabled workers.  Since first created in 1935, Social Security has kept millions of working Americans out of poverty, allowing them to live with dignity in difficult times of old age or the loss of spouses and parents.

As a new report from the Alliance of Retired Americans makes clear, the benefits of Social Security for North Carolinians in particular are obvious. Perhaps most notably, Social Security provided benefits to 1.2 million of our state’s seniors in 2012, effectively keeping almost 500,000 of them out of poverty. Almost 1 million of these recipients were women.

As Congress debates the future of the federal budget, it remains vitally important that seniors, children, and those with disabilities be protected from unnecessary and damaging cuts to the benefits provided by Social Security. Instead, Social Security needs to be protected and strengthened for future generations, and the best way to accomplish that goal is take a balanced approach to the federal budget, one that increases new revenues by closing the tax loopholes and special giveaways that allow corporations to evade paying taxes. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, more than $1 trillion in new revenues can be raised by closing these loopholes.

So on Social Security’s birthday, it’s important to remember: rather than ask Seniors and our most vulnerable to bear the brunt of reducing the federal budget deficit, it makes far more sense to take a balanced approach that raises new revenues through the elimination of these corporate loopholes.

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Dean BakerOne of the country’s keenest economic policy observers, Dean Baker, has an excellent take down of Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson’s latest demands that the U.S. slash social spending this morning at the Center for Economic and Policy Research website. His message: America’s obsession with near-term deficits remains utterly illogical and counterproductive: 

“First, the budget is only constrained at the moment by superstition. There is no obstacle to the government borrowing more money to meet needs and put people back to work. We are not spending more money because we have superstitious people with large amounts of power who are making claims about the dangers of deficits that they cannot support with evidence. Rather than lecturing seniors, who have a median income of $20,000, on the need for lower Social Security and Medicare benefits, Obama could try to confront the people spreading superstitions about deficits….

…In fact, according to the Social Security Trustees projections, Read More

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New (2011) Census data reveal that almost a half-million North Carolinians are kept from living in poverty by Social Security. This is from a new report by the numbers experts at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

“Social Security benefits play a vital role in reducing poverty.  Without Social Security, 21.4 million more Americans would be poor, according to the latest available Census data (for 2011).  Although most of those whom Social Security keeps out of poverty are elderly, nearly a third are under age 65, including 1.1 million children.  Depending on their design, reductions in Social Security benefits could significantly increase poverty, particularly among the elderly.”

 Here are the numbers for North Carolina: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Across North Carolina and the nation at large, we’re seeing a fundamental policy debate playing itself out, which boiled down to its essence asks a single, critical question: Do government benefits promote dependency among those who receive those benefits, or do they promote personal responsibility and a common baseline opportunity for all Americans?

The big picture answer is that everyone benefits from our government’s spending on things like schools, roads, public health.  But the narrower part of this debate focuses on entitlement spending who receives it and what is required in exchange for these supports.  As a recent study makes clear, over 90% of entitlement spending benefits like Medicare, Social Security, and SNAP go to Americans who are either working, paying into the system, have paid into the system in the past, or have disabilities.  This spending provides a critical support that promotes the ideal that we’re all in this together.

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