Repeat After Me: There’s No Such Thing as Socialsecurityandmedicare


You may see some headlines today that report on a new study showing that boomer retirees will receive way more in Social Security and Medicare benefits than they pay in taxes. But be careful. Technically, that’s true, but it’s like saying the combined population of China and Vietnam is 1.4 billion. It’s true, but all the heavy lifting is being done by China.

In this case, all the heavy lifting is being done by Medicare. According to the latest estimates from the Urban Institute, current workers are paying far less in Medicare payroll taxes than they’ll eventually receive in health benefits when they retire. (Just as current retirees are receiving more benefits today than they paid in taxes during their working lives.) That’s a problem, and it’s the reason we need to focus so much attention on rising health care costs.

But Social Security? It varies a bit depending on whether you’re single or married, but generally speaking taxes and benefits are pretty similar. The chart below shows the Urban Institute’s estimates for workers who will retire in 2030, and it’s pretty obvious that future retirees aren’t getting an especially sweet deal here. They’re just getting back what they put in.

Generally speaking, you’re always being conned when people talk about “entitlements.” That usually means Social Security and Medicare, but they’re very different things. Social Security is fine, and will stay fine with nothing more than tweaks. Medicare is a bigger problem, and it’s the one that needs the most attention.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate