- Two-thirds of Americans over age 65, a cohort totaling about 40 million and growing -- depend on an average Social Security income of $15,168.36 a year -- which represents at least half of their yearly retirement income.
- The 5.2% of Americans who have earned income over $113,700 are exempt from the 6.2% payroll tax that, added to the 6.2% employers pay, funds Social Security benefits. To fix any shortfall in the Social Security system, all Congress would have to do is remove that cap, ending the regressive exemption for the top 5.2% of earners.
- Most Americans have no problem with wealthier people paying higher Social Security taxes. In one recent poll, 71% of Republicans and 97% of Democrats said they were fine with it.
- FICA -- or payroll -- taxes (Medicare + Social Security) are highly regressive, with the poorest 1/5 of Americans paying at a rate of 7.3% and the wealthiest 1/5 paying at 6.8%. Medicare is financed by a flat tax of 1.45% on the first $200,000 of a single person's income and $250,000 of a married couple's income. That rate goes up by only 0.9% on income above those levels.
While Washington plays Russian Roulette with our Social Security and Medicare benefits, the richest Americans have hogged the economic recovery -- with the top 1% taking 121% of the income gains. They got richer while the rest of us got poorer.
Why have members of Congress been so quick to axe Social Security while refusing to even consider raising taxes on the super-rich? Who do they represent?