Roundtable: What's Next for Social Security
(Aging & Retirement)

Thursday, November 8, 2012: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Poe (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizers:  Virginia Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance
Speakers:  Wilhelmina Leigh, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Shawn Fremstad, Center for Economic and Policy Research and Melissa Favreault, The Urban Institute
Moderators:  Virginia Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance

The last few years of economic uncertainty have left policymakers struggling with the best way to address the effects of a slow economic recovery. Meanwhile, Americans have seen sources of their retirement income security– home equity, defined benefit pension plans, 401(k)s, personal savings –weakening in recent years, particularly in the wake of the housing finance crisis and the Great Recession. Social Security, the bedrock of most American’s retirement security, finds itself at the center of public debate about how to address its long-term revenue shortfall. But even before the economic downturn, policymakers often discussed Social Security’s long-term solvency through the lens of what cuts needed to be made, despite the fact many Americans found themselves increasingly reliant on the program during the Great Recession. The average monthly Social Security benefit is modest, coming in at $1,177, or just over $14,000 a year. Perhaps the question should not be how much to cut, but whether we need to cut at all. The 2012 presidential election will be just past when this roundtable convenes. The timing provides an opportunity to consider Social Security from a fresh perspective. What would it take to improve modest benefits? The program faces a manageable revenue shortfall; what would it take to manage it? Is there a viable alternative to cutting benefits? This roundtable will explore provocative questions such as these – seeking fresh ways to bring inside-the-Beltway thinking and policymaking more into line with public support for Social Security by discussing and developing realistic options to improve benefits and pay for the improvements.

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