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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Contributions or Taxes? Two Social Security Funding Paradigms

Benjamin Veghte

April 15th is a day we contemplate our financial relationship to government. It thus provides a suitable occasion to reflect on the distinction between Social Security contributions and income taxes. In discussions of Social Security, many disagreements stem from the fact that we view its funding from within different paradigms, namely some of us see these payments as insurance contributions, others as just another form of income tax.  On this year’s Tax Day, this post considers the historical origins of this conceptual distinction, arguments for each of the two paradigms, and their implications for strategies of fiscal reform.

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Posted on April 15, 2010  |  Write the first comment
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Steve Goss, SSA's Chief Actuary, on the Death of Robert J. Myers

Stephen C. Goss

Robert "Bob" Myers was indeed the father of all actuaries who have worked on Social Insurance. As a junior actuary he was deeply involved in the development of the Social Security program even before its inception in 1935. As Chief Actuary at SSA he later did the development work and estimates for Medicare. Although contentious at times in the past, his relationship with Bob Ball reflected mutual respect and principles that now seem far closer together than they believed at the time. Bob was active, engaged, and advising to those who followed to the end. He is singularly responsible for the strength and principles now cherished and guarded at the office he formed. But he will be best remembered by many of us for his simple and modest disclaimer at the beginning of public comments for decades where he proclaimed himself "a lifelong student of Social Security."
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Posted on February 17, 2010  |  5 comments  |  Add your comment
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New PEW Survey Reinforces Findings of NASI Report on “Americans’ Views on Social Security”

Deric Joyner

According to a new PEW Research Center For the People and the Press survey report, “Public’s Priorities For 2010: Economy, Jobs, Terrorism,” Social Security ranks fourth in Americans’ top priorities for President Obama and the Congress for 2010, ranked just below the Economy, Jobs and Terrorism. The PEW poll shows that six-in-ten Americans (66%) say that securing the Social Security system should be a top priority. Near uniformity in opinion between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — (Dem. 68) (Rep. 62) (Ind. 66) — on Social Security provides further context on Americans overall opinion on the subject.

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Posted on January 27, 2010  |  Write the first comment
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Characterization of Social Security Trust Funds

A. Haeworth Robertson
Former Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration, 1975-78

The nature and significance of Social Security trust funds is sometimes misrepresented to the public. This appears to be the case in Social Security Brief #30 issued on May 12, 2009 by the National Academy of Social Insurance. The section of this brief entitled “Where does the Social Security surplus go?” states essentially the following:

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Posted on June 19, 2009  |  6 comments  |  Add your comment
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Strengthening Social Security Wage Reporting For Farm Workers

Barbara Robles
Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Arizona State University

Farm workers are at risk of not having their work count toward Social Security benefits because their employers may erroneously classify them as independent contractors or simply fail to pay Social Security taxes and report wages. Strengthening Social Security for Farm Workers: The Fragile Retirement Prospects for Hispanic Farm Worker Families supports legislation introduced in the 110th Congress, along with stronger enforcement of existing laws, to strengthen wage reporting. The proposal also notes that the changes would increase tax receipts and benefit the Latino farm worker population by increasing their Social Security benefits, providing better access to the Earned Income Tax Credit, and easing the burden on adult children of farm workers who have the triple burden of school debt, raising children and supporting aging parents.

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