Today is the anniversary of the implementation of the Social Security program, first implemented in 1935 in an effort to provide security for the elderly as the moved out of the workforce and into retirement. In the intervening years, there has been much debate over both the wisdom and the efficacy of the program, yet throughout it has remained the metaphorical “third rail” of politics, something you simply don’t touch.
Today, however, the future of the program is in doubt, as rising deficits and a lower birth rate threatening to drive Social Security into bankruptcy. In light of this, many have argued that the program needs reform, with reduced benefits, means testing and even privatization being offered as solutions to preserve benefits for future generations.
From the other side of the political spectrum, Social Security garners high praise, and attempts to limit benefits are viewed as mere partisan politicking. Instead of cutting Social Security, these analysts argue, it should be expanded by removing the income cap and increasing contribution rates.
It is good that reform is at least being talked about, although neither side can agree on which path to take. The one thing we can all agree on is that the status quo is unsustainable, and without some sort of reform in the near future, Social Security is in serious danger of collapsing under its own weight.