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Protect our seniors and social security

Social Security ranks as one of the most important programs in our country. Many conservatives denounce it as an unearned entitlement. The reality is Social Security takes care of senior citizens. Prior to the creation of the Social Security Administration, the only factor in whether a person could retire was if they were rich. It is also important to recognize that Social Security is a macroeconomic driver that keeps younger people, especially women, able to remain part of the workforce instead of caring for elderly relatives. This program is incredibly important to our community in Southwest Florida with 38% of our population in Congressional District 19 over 65. I do not believe Social Security should be changed – neither by raising the age for access nor by changing individual contributions.

Contrary to popular belief, Social Security is not broken, and it is not going broke. As we saw with the trillions of dollars of public investment as part of the CARES Act to support our country through the economic fallout from the COVID19 pandemic, the federal government has the capacity to pay for what is needed as long as the bones of our economy - productive resources technology, workers, and resources – remain strong. As economist Stephanie Kelton has made clear, the American economy does not function like a household budget with a simple cash flow and expenditure. The US government creates money and the people’s productive capacity gives it value and it circulates back and around. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan. When pressed testifying before Congress by a young Paul Ryan, Greenspan calmly explained that the Social Security can never face a solvency crisis because the US government can never go broke. “There is nothing to prevent the federal government from creating as much money as it wants and giving it to someone.” The real economic constraint for Social Security, he continues, is not affordability but rather price stability, which requires foresight and productive investment. “The question is,” Greenspan concludes, “How do you set up a system which assures that the real assets are created with which those benefits are employed to purchase?” To build a hearty and secure Social Security system, all it takes is a simple act of Congress to mandate funding, just as it has done for every other government expenditure from education to the military.

Funding, once allocated for a specific purpose, cannot be redirected without Congressional authorization. This separation of powers is enshrined in our Constitution. Any shifting of funds away from Social Security without Congressional approval is unconstitutional.

Funding Social Security is a political choice. President Trump and his political allies want to destroy our Social Security system, weakening our already vulnerable economy. As the people’s representative for Southwest Florida, by contrast, I see it as my duty to advocate for a robust Social Security system that at once supports and energizes economic activity during and beyond the pandemic crisis.

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