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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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Today is a day to be celebrated: the 77th anniversary of the day, August 14 1935,  on which President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law. 

Appropriately, the good people at the Roosevelt Institute are out with a pair of worth-your-time essays on the subject.

Mark Schmitt has a nice piece on the  program’s enduring adaptability:

“The point of this history is a reminder that Social Security is not a fixed, unchanging thing, a jewel of the New Deal to be worshipped. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

The big news for long-term Federal fiscal policy this week came with Monday’s release of the Trustees Report on the Social Security Trust Fund.  Based on the media coverage in the days since the report’s release, you could be forgiven for believing that Social Security—the primary income support program for the nation’s elderly—faces a profound fiscal crisis, with the program’s Trust Fund approaching insolvency sooner than expected and the irreversible loss of benefits for future retirees.

Fortunately, the truth about the program’s future is significantly less dire than reported—as long as officials in the White House and Congress make the necessary policy changes to address the challenges that actually face the program.  In short, Social Security is not “going broke” now, and can avoid going broke far into the future in one simple step that doesn’t involve cuts to beneficiaries—increase program revenues through lifting the cap on the amount of income subject to the Social Security payroll tax from $100,100 to include all wage income earned by the worker.

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