Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Pols have always lied to seniors

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By Ray Hanania

Seniors are the most important vote in Illinois and in the United States, and yet they are taken for granted, marginalized and misled by everyone.

Seniors have been co-opted nationally and in Springfield by lobbyist lowlifes who determine policy by funding campaigns of elected officials.

When an elected official leaves office, most are hired by the lobbyists they helped. Lobbyist salaries and benefits soar in the hundreds and millions of dollars.

Social Security was originally excluded from taxation, regardless of whether you continued to work.

But in 1982, lobbyists convinced then U.S. Congressman Dan Rostenkowski to change the law and tax Social Security.

RayHanania

Ray Hanania

Lobbyists were told if they wanted federal funds to underwrite their programs, they had to come up with new funding sources. Lobbyists and Rostenkowski fear-mongered, asserting Social Security was collapsing. Congress went along with the lie to tax Social Security “for the wealthy” to save it.

How can this be when every senior paid thousands of dollars over a lifetime of earnings to fund Social Security? Interest on that money should have been more than enough to cover the annuity system forever.

But the federal government looked at the Social Security trust fund like wolves in a chicken coop, and used the money to underwrite lobbyist projects.

In 1983, pushed by Rostenkowski, the law was passed to tax all kinds of things, including Social Security.

They said, and it remains until today, that if you earned “total income” of between $24,000 and $34,000 as a single person or $24,000 and $44,000 as a couple, you would pay taxes on 50% of your Social Security. If you made more than $34,000 as a single person or $44,000 as a couple, you would pay taxes on 85% of your Social Security income.

Do the math. In 1980, the typical Social Security payment was about $700 a year or $8,400. You could earn $16,000 more before they hit your Social Security with taxes.

That has not changed in 40 years and applies to today, except that the highest level of Social Security is $48,000 a year, which is more than the highest limit.

Instead of adjusting the ceilings upwards before you have to pay taxes, they have left them the same. The ceiling should have gone up. An income of $24,000 in 1983 is the equivalent to about $72,000 today. So, it should be that if you collect the highest level of Social Security of $48,000 and earn an additional $24,000 in outside supplemental income, you shouldn’t have to pay any taxes on your Social Security.

In fact, the amount of money seniors receive through Social Security has never kept up with inflation. The only time you hear about big Social Security adjustments is when the elected officials need your votes. After elections, those increases disappear.

They have been lying to seniors since Day One.

They have been lying about the weakness of the Social Security system, failing to tell you it is crippled because they borrowed from it and failed to pay it back.

They have been lying about the need to tax your Social Security income by failing to adjust the “tax levels” for cost of living along with everything else. No one earning a total of $100,000 should have to pay taxes on Social Security.

As seniors, we need to fight for our rights.

AARP (The American Association of Retired Persons) does a terrible job of fighting for our rights. I joined one year and all I got were ad promotions from health providers who paid AARP to advertise. They used me to earn their money. AARP executives earn more than $230,000 a year.

Medicare was intentionally made to be a complicated process so that the government could minimize actual benefits while falsely claiming they were providing healthcare to seniors.

The prescription “Donut Hole” should be a holiday for seniors. Instead, it’s a money holiday for the pharmaceutical companies that squeeze senior incomes to death each year.

The senior citizens are the most vulnerable. As we get older, we become easy targets for scams—both from the criminals and from those who want our votes.

Gov. JB Pritzker hasn’t done a damn thing for seniors in Illinois, and neither has any president including my favorite, Ronald Reagan.

You can give them all your votes. Or, you can put your interests as seniors at the front of the line, and tell them all to shove it until they do something to protect Social Security.

We need a senior revolution!

Check out Ray Hanania’s columns and political podcasts at hanania.com.

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