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Lift the taxable income cap and fix Social Security -- until 2070

To the editor: Andrew G. Biggs suggests that getting rid of the $118,500 Social Security income-tax cap would not solve the long-term funding problem. He fails to mention that it would help for a while. ("We can't afford to expand social security – and we don't need to," Opinion, Jan. 22)

The Social Security Trust Fund is scheduled to run out of money by 2034, meaning that beneficiaries would get 78% of their scheduled benefits. Getting rid of the cap would curtail the problem until 2070.

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Instead of acknowledging that eliminating the cap would help, Biggs complains that it would raise taxes to "Scandinavian levels." Instead of offering suggestions for solving the funding problem, he exacerbates it by suggesting adding more people to the system through guaranteeing minimum payments.

Alan Ungar, Thousand Oaks

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To the editor: Biggs' implied insult of Scandinavian countries for their high taxes is misplaced. The citizens of those three nations consistently rank among the happiest on Earth.

Biggs implies that eliminating the cap on taxable income isn't a good idea because it won't single-handedly solve the problem. Since when does every good idea need to be a panacea?

Indeed, the ceiling on contributions should be revoked if for no other reason than to promote a less regressive tax system. It simply isn't fair that a person earning low wages pays a much higher percentage of that income in Social Security taxes than a person earning more than $118,500.

Biggs also argues that Social Security shouldn't be expanded because "75% of all private sector workers were offered a retirement plan by their employers and 61% participated." What about the 39% of the 75% and the remaining 25%? Do they matter?

Sooner or later, unjust societies collapse. Conservatives who seek to promulgate long-run strategies to maintain the status quo should endorse a stronger Social Security system as one method of postponing the inevitable.

Ronald P. Wolff, Claremont

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