Readers Respond

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Social Security is fixable, but how about health care?

In these times of concern about government spending, why is our President hung up on Social Security? Currently, each worker in the United States contributes 6.2% of their earnings up to the maximum of earnings of $90,000 (I don't make that and most of the people in Iowa don't either). From everything I've seen, a .3% increase in Social Security would make it 6.5% instead of 6.2% and that would make a world of difference in the solvency of the program. That seems reasonable to me. A small increase for employee and employer (even if I made $90,000 a year, my increase would only be $270) and we haven't had an increase since 1990. Every generation will have to make adjustments to cover the areas they feel are necessary at that time (ie: in 1983, an Amendment was passed gradually increasing the retirement age to 67, in 1999 we removed the earnings barrier, making those retirees reaching full retirement eligible to continue working and still draw full benefits). This costs us extra money - but we've chosen to accept that. In addition, Social Security benefits are currently figured by averaging the highest 35 years of earnings. If that was changed to average the highest 37 or 38 years for people who are now 55 or younger, I suspect that would also make a big difference. These two actions alone would probably add 30 years (or another generation) of solvency to the Social Security Program. I'll urge our president and congress to hurry up and pass sensible (virtually painless) approaches such as these and get on to the real problems.

REAL is the health care crisis that everyone talked about during the presidential campaign and we've heard nothing about since. REAL are all the people that voted their conscience based upon what the candidates were saying about health care. REAL are the people that still don't have health care insurance. REAL are hospitals and other providers that have patients without a way to pay for the services they need to sustain health. REAL are the cuts proposed by some in Medicaid funding from the federal level down being voted upon as this is written. REAL is the problem with funding Medicare in the near future. These programs have no clear answers unless people lose the safety net our society promised we were able to provide for those in need. These are the REAL issues I want our president and congress to address today. It will take many great minds to find the answers and they need all their attention focused here.

So, to our elected officials - Please address the REAL problems ahead of us. Don't bother with the little problems that have an easy fix with a small tax increase. Stop scaring our seniors and get on with the REAL work of saving a nation in need of health care. Use that national tour to address a REAL problem.

- Sue Morrow, Storm Lake