We the People do what Congress can’t: come to a consensus on how to fix Social Security’s funding shortfall

It’s 2018 and we’re another year closer to the date Social Security won’t be able to pay 100% of scheduled benefits to seniors–a date that should be a surprise to no one at this point, least of all, our legislators.

Advocacy groups, economists, and federal agencies have repeated entreaties to Congress for swift decisive action on Social Security until blue in the face, but apart from occasionally introducing a bill or putting forth an idea, Social Security restoration stays tabled.

Apparently no one taught our Congresspeople that it’s far easier to wash dishes while you’re cooking than scrub a stack of pans that sat so long they might as well have been used to mix concrete.

The longer we stall on dealing with this, the harder it’s going to be to fix.

But no one wants to risk touching a program the public supports so emphatically. And with partisan tensions at maximum, those who would address the issue may find trouble garnering support or even getting an ear from their colleagues in this climate.

So, it occurred to Voices of the People, a nonpartisan group using technology to design fair policymaking simulations for the public, a challenging issue like Social Security reform might be best addressed by ordinary Americans instead of legislators.

Consulting with Republican and Democratic congressional staff, respected Social Security experts, like the National Academy of Social Insurance, and closely vetted for fairness, truthfulness, and accuracy, Voices of the People created a simulation that places a select “citizen cabinet” of legal voters from each state into the shoes of a Congressman.

The simulation offers a range of real strategies and data Congress is considering to fix the shortfall and allows the user to consider every angle and effect each proposal would have on our benefits. Each proposal lists arguments for and against and is as close as possible to what an actual legislator would consider before voting or supporting legislation.

While Congress may not have the wherewithal to come up with a list of recommendations for a problem we’ve seen coming for DECADES, the American public most certainly does.

After being presented with background information on the issue and several options and proposals to restore solvency, a large majority of the citizen cabinet came to a bipartisan agreement on four strategies that would actually fix most of the shortfall:

  • Reduce benefits to the top 25% earners
  • Gradually raise the retirement age to 68
  • Raise the FICA payroll tax to 6.6% for both workers and employers (currently it is 6.2%)
  • Raise or eliminate the payroll cap

There. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Now, we’re not saying these choices are the best possible choices. We’re not saying these ideas are wholly without problems or downsides.

And we’re definitely not saying Social Security reform shouldn’t or doesn’t need to include a discussion about why dedicated Social Security funds are being siphoned off for general use.

But an exercise like this is incredibly valuable–and not just because it shows our legislators what the actual American public wants to see happen.

It also shows there’s no excuse for a roomful of informed adults to fail to come up with a bipartisan solution to a problem we’ve known about for years–not when thousands of voters from all walks and both parties were able to do the same thing with very similar information.


We the People have walked in your shoes and told you what works for us.

So why aren’t you doing anything?