Marianne Williamson: The Retirement Survey
Yahoo Finance and the Funding our Future campaign (an alliance of organizations dedicated to making a secure retirement possible for all Americans) teamed up to get more details on where the 2020 candidates for president stand on retirement. According to a recent Gallup poll , “Not having enough money for retirement” is a top financial worry among Americans yet the issue has received minimal attention thus far on the campaign trail. During the September debate, the words “Social Security” or “Retirement” weren’t uttered, according to ABC’s transcript .
The following are the responses from author Marianne Williamson.
Democratic presidential candidate and author Marianne Williamson. REUTERS/Scott Morgan More Will you address the coming insolvency of Social Security’s Old-Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund in your first term as president? If so, what specific policies will you advance? Yes, strengthening the solvency of Social Security is a top priority and I will address it in my first term.
We must recognize that the current economic system works well for the top 10% but not really for the rest of the people. Three groups that are too often disregarded in our society are children (who are not yet working), women (whose labor is often undervalued), and seniors (whose working years are largely or entirely behind them).
I want to shift our thinking and our priorities back to how our country was originally designed. Our Constitution intended for all to be respected and encouraged to develop their potential and pursue their dreams. Our children are our future, and we should give each one of them quality nutrition, loving care, and an excellent education so they can thrive when they mature. Women are often underpaid for the same work as men, and often unpaid for their work raising children and taking care of family members. Lower wages and time out of the workforce to care for family (average 9 years) means lower income to live on, less savings, and lower Social Security payments when they retire. Moreover, women generally live longer than men, so they are living longer on less money and often alone which results in living in poverty by age 80-85. This particularly affects many women who are single, divorced and widowed who become poor for the first time in their lives when their health is most vulnerable and costly.
Too many women seniors are struggling financially. Consider this from a Fidelity report:
Women age 65 or older have an average annual Social Security income of $12,587, compared with $16,590 for men.
Almost 49% of elderly unmarried women rely on Social Security benefits for 90% or more of their income. In contrast, Social Security benefits provide only 35% of the income of unmarried elderly men, and only 30% of the income of elderly couples.
To strengthen economic security and well-being for seniors including women, I will take the following actions:
Work to close the gender pay gap.
Support paid Family and Medical Leave through the FAMILY Act.
Expand benefits in both Social Security and Medicare, including a bump up in Social Security over age 80 which would help keep many women & men out of severe poverty in old age.
Allow part-time workers to access retirement plans at the workplace. (Women are twice as likely to work part-time.)
Provide access for all Americans to retirement savings plans. (Half the workforce does not have access.)
Support the Savers Tax Credit, a bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate which allows a credit for saving in a tax-qualified retirement plan – free money and enormously helpful to workers
Pass a revised Elder Justice Act with funding to build prevention programs against financial exploitation and other forms of elder abuse. (Nearly 20% of all older adults will suffer some type of abuse in their lifetime. Lives are upended with no time to recover. There was an Elder Justice Act of 2009, part of the ACA, but no reauthorization and no money.)
Spearhead partnerships with medical and financial services industries to build protections and interventions to sustain healthy long lives with financial security.
Provide financial education in every community – through the library system– to help people understand the complicated decisions around enrolling in Social Security and Medicare, so they can avoid incurring lifelong penalties and running out of money in old age.
To strengthen the Social Security trust fund, I will repeal the 2016 tax cuts where 83 cents on every $1 cut when to the top 1% and redirect those funds to Social Security. I will also Scrap the Cap on the Social Security payroll tax which is now capped at $132,900, so that earnings over that amount will be included in the payroll tax.
Should every person who pays into Social Security be eligible for full benefits, regardless of their socioeconomic status? In other words, will your plan include means testing?
• Will your plan include raising the retirement age or other benefit reductions? Yes, every person who pays into Social Security should be eligible for full benefits. I oppose means testing which undermines support for Social Security among more wealthy citizens. I will not raise the retirement age or reduce benefits.
Should Social Security be funded primarily through payroll taxes, as it is currently, or should other revenue be used to shore up the program’s funding? If so, what revenue source(s) do you propose using? Yes, Social Security should continue to be funded through payroll taxes, although I would eliminate the cap on earnings over $132,900.
Should Social Security benefits be increased for any beneficiaries? If so, how do you propose increasing them, and how will your plan pay for any increase in benefits?