Some 12 to 13 million Texans should pay particular attention now that all major presidential candidates have come forward with their plans to keep Social Security strong and solvent for current and future generations.
That’s approximately the number of Texans who are now paying Social Security taxes -- both salary and wage earners as well as the self-employed. The July issue of AARP Bulletin will feature the candidates’ responses.
But laying out a plan and making sure it works as intended are two separate matters. Each one of us will get a chance to judge their plans as we go to the ballot box in November to decide who will lead our country next. The stakes are high particularly since, according to the Social Security Trustees, benefits will be cut by nearly 25 percent by 2034 if no action is taken.
Today, with millions of families having precious little savings set aside as they near retirement, pensions becoming a rare commodity and health care costs on the upswing, the stakes are higher than ever. There’s a reservoir of distrust, particularly among the younger generations, that Social Security may be an empty promise for them.
We, of course, do not subscribe to a Social Security doomsday scenario. However, we do feel a sense of urgency that the system’s long-term health must be addressed before current trends become an insurmountable problem.
Regardless of who occupies the White House, Congress also has a key role to play on Social Security. Two members of the Texas delegation currently occupy key leadership posts with particular say in the future of this program: Rep. Kevin Brady of Conroe is chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano is chair of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee.
In November, Texans will elect or re-elect 36 men and women to represent them in Washington. As they campaign in their home districts over the next few months and you have the power of the voting machine lever in your hands this fall, it’s a great time to question them about the future of Social Security. A key question to ask them is this: Will you take action to update Social Security so it is financially sound and provides adequate income for current and future generations?
Elections have consequences. Amidst the noise and the insults that will fill the airwaves in the weeks and months ahead, take the time to think of those issues that really are important to you. Since 1935 when the law was passed, Social Security has been one of them, lifting millions out of poverty and allowing them to retire with dignity. We have a duty to do our part to keep it strong for us, our children and grandchildren.