According to the American Association of Retired People, Social Security serves more than 1 in 5 people who call the Granite State home, injecting nearly $6 billion into the state’s economy annually. This impact rises every year.
Back in March, the trustees of the program’s trust funds released their financial report, which pushed the expected insolvency of the program forward a year to 2034. This means that absent legislation action, people who are 79 and younger can expect to outlive the system’s ability to pay scheduled benefits.
Sadly, that projection isn’t a guarantee. It is a warning about what might happen even in a good economy.
Most pundits and media experts tend to express the possibility of benefit reductions within the vacuum of seniors, where the only person hurt is the beneficiaries whose check shrinks. In terms of the state economy, an unplanned reduction to checks from Social Security would reduce the buying power in the state by more than a billion dollars. The scaleback of benefits would flow through to banks, the business community, and the state services as seniors adjust to life on smaller checks.
For younger residents of the Granite State, the substantive concern isn’t whether they will or won’t collect benefits when they retire. The immediate issue is how will those workers adjust to a larger role in providing care to parents and maybe even grandparents.
Any crisis that forms in Social Security will affect you whether you are young or old, whether you have saved or not, and whether you are Republican or Democrat. In 2024, Social Security should be at the top of your voting priorities.
It’s not. In fact, Newsweek published a poll showing Social Security was not even in the top 18 priorities on the minds of voters.
The one fact that all voters need to understand is the longer we wait, the harder it gets. According to the Social Security Administration, congressional inaction accounts for two-thirds of the problem we face today. Just last year, the program generated roughly $800 billion in unfunded liabilities because we moved the valuation date forward by a year.
That is the cost of doing nothing. It gets bigger every year that Congress can’t find the courage to step in with changes to stabilize the program.
The program is where it is because of the politics of the status quo. Politicians say as little as possible about the program during the campaigns to get elected and then do nothing about the issue once they are settled in Washington.
Voters in New Hampshire can set the stage for change in 2024. Forget waiting until the general elections; voters across the state need to ask the hard questions now. By the time we elect the next president, the cost to fix the system will have risen by more than $1.5 trillion.
At this point, Democrats are more than $20 trillion apart on what the program should do. Republicans, on the other hand, promise to ‘save Social Security,’ but no one really knows what a saved Social Security might do.
Amid the uncertainty over the program’s long-term prospects, there is only one Republican candidate with a stated position on Social Security. Former president Donald Trump has promised to do nothing. He is essentially promising to make the situation worse.
If you want to gauge how that will work, just look back to 2016. At the time, Trump promised a growing economy would stabilize the program. While he was in office, the program added more than $7 trillion in unfunded liabilities under his watch. That is roughly double any other four-year span in the program’s history.
So, before anyone votes for any candidate, someone needs to ask him or her: What happened?
The solution for Social Security starts with us, the people willing to tell their friends and families that Social Security is a voting priority. Until voters start asking questions, those in Congress are unlikely to provide answers.