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Warren writes: "Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for the majority of their income in retirement, and for 14 million seniors - 14 million - this is the safety net that keeps them out of poverty."

Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images)
Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images)

Make No Mistake - There Is a Crisis

By Elizabeth Warren, Reader Supported

20 November 13


spent most of my career studying the economic pressures on families - people who worked hard, played by the rules, but still found themselves hanging on by their fingernails to a place in the middle class.

A generation ago, middle class families could put away enough money during their working years to make it through their later years with dignity. But since that time, the retirement landscape has shifted dramatically against our families.

A third of working families on the verge of retirement have no savings of any kind. Another third have total savings less than their annual income. Just as people need to rely more than ever on pensions, employers have replaced guaranteed retirement income with 401(k) plans that leave retirees at the mercy of the market. And 44 million workers don't even have access to that sort of plan.

Add all of this up, and we're left with a retirement crisis - a crisis that is as real and as frightening as any policy problem facing the United States today.

Today, there is a $6.6 trillion gap between what Americans under 65 are currently saving and what they will need to maintain their current standard of living when they hit retirement.

Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for the majority of their income in retirement, and for 14 million seniors - 14 million - this is the safety net that keeps them out of poverty. God bless Social Security.

And yet, instead of taking on the retirement crisis, instead of strengthening Social Security, some in Washington are actually fighting to cut benefits.

Let's look at the facts: Social Security will be safe for the next 20 years and even after that will continue to pay most benefits. With some modest adjustments, we can keep the system solvent for many more years - and could even increase benefits.

The absolute last thing we should do in 2013 - at the very moment that Social Security has become the principal lifeline for millions of our seniors to keep their heads above water -- is allow the program to begin to be dismantled inch by inch.

The conversation about retirement and Social Security benefits is not just a conversation about math. At its core, this is a conversation about our values.

I believe we honor our promises, we make good on a system that millions of people paid into faithfully throughout their working years, and we support the right of every person to retire with dignity.

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+94 # tswhiskers 2013-11-20 13:54
Thank you, Ms. Warren. I'm one of those who live on Soc. Sec. If I'm lucky I'll get a little part-time work this next year. But I'm handicapped and of course people immediately think I'm not capable of typing or God knows what else. I have never been on the govt. dole except for 4 mos. of food stamps when my business was so slow I had trouble paying bills and now with SS. Honestly you'd think we hadn't paid half the bill to hear Reps. talk about takers and makers. Yes, there probably some cheats, but tell me when there aren't a few who try to get something for nothing whenever there's money in the offing. I'm so disgusted with all this "charitable giving" to the rich when so many can't pay their bills or must choose between prescriptions or food. When will Rep. voters realize what patsies they are for believing the lies on Fox News. 2014 and 2016 are going to be d***** interesting elections. We'll see in 2014 if Americans have come to their senses about Scott Walker and Rick Scott et al. If they haven't, we'll all be stuck in a boatload of *******.
-39 # indian weaver 2013-11-20 13:54
Contrast Warren's honesty with the constant lies and cowardice of Obama, no comparison in quality of human being. Obama is one of the worst while Warren one of our best congress people. Obama has done absolutely nothing good in his years in politics. I never want to hear or see Obama again because he is only bad to worse news, everything he does and every lie he speaks. Just a big hot mouth of b.s. is Obama, at best. I resented his taking over the TV spotlight when The Price is Right is displaced by this liar. And for what? More lies and deception when discussing his failed aca, or at least incompetently designed aca. Price is Right is far more enlightening than Obama will or can ever be. That is how I compare our president to Drew Carey's Price Is Right. Drew Carey is a great guy by comparison. I'd watch Price is Right any time. I'll never again watch or listen to Obama. Why waste my time with a lying vicious cowardly War Criminals when I can have a few laughs, even with Obama's destruction of my life, country and planet going on every second. We need laughs and poverty relief when our president is committing war crimes worldwide daily, and domestic crimes against We The People daily - who are also victimized by this horrible subhuman, frightened, despicable, delusional so-called president. I wonder if we can ever again have an actual decent human being elected to the presidency such as Warren? I fear not. Please let's prove me wrong next time.
+42 # James38 2013-11-20 18:41
Indian, while there is plenty to criticize President Obama for, you are over the top. I think if you try to put yourself in his shoes, you might understand why he has made some hard choices you don't like.

At the very least, you might find a more constructive way to offer suggestions and criticisms.

Read the book "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward to get a feel of being in the President's shoes. Sure he is far from perfect, but he is a far more decent person than Mutt Wrongmoney ever was.

I would be delighted with Warren as President, and it is up to us to make it possible. We need to organize and vote wisely on the local level. Elect a sane Congress as a first step.
+1 # bmiluski 2013-11-21 11:50
Fine, you don't like President Obama. You think he's the devil incarnate. WE GET IT. Now either contribute something that's thoughtful or go trolling somewhere else.
+2 # Jiovanna 2013-11-22 10:08
Many folks may find indian weaver's passionate words harsh but this individual has a right to expression that's albeit hard to swallow but has great ounces of truth within it. Obama, indeed, has failed as a president but it's not surprising since he was duped and wooed by the elite and had no real convictions from the get go. He was marketed to us and that had profound, negative implications. I'm certain he has and will continue to suffer emotionally from his own error in judgment and choice to seek the highest office in the land. Actually, I feel sorry for Obama. Tragic for him and us.
-3 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-23 16:24
You forgot to use the "N" word. Come on. you know this word is stuck in your throat.
0 # karenvista 2013-11-23 22:49
Fortunately, Elizabeth Warren is not likely to get the JFK treatment if she does something good for the people.
+55 # reiverpacific 2013-11-20 18:15
It's true!
I'm a fiercely independent small business type who prides themselves on their work and still does their best, after being bankrupted by a near-death illness under the jackbooted heel of the appalling US medical non-system -with insurance to boot!
We were forced to fall back on S.S. -in fact we both took it early to save our arses whilst trying to climb out of that hole with savings and investments swallowed up, badly damaged credit attempting to rebuild at least one of our shattered businesses fueled by the "Great Recession".
Without that basic monthly S.S. payment (paid for during our US working lives) and a small every four-weekly UK pension, we'd have been out on the street four years ago.
It's really tough to "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" as the reactionaries and Re-pigs like to mockingly trot out to the needy and trod upon, when your very boots are whipped away.
Notice how it's all related in a vicious circle of no-outs for the victims, including the credit bureaus!
Medical bankruptcy = 1/2 of all the bankruptcies in the Fragmented States.
Those who would threaten and privatize S.S. are the same who would drive as many people as they can herd into penury without the right of protest or redress, in their feudalist push for a totalitarian corporate/milit ary state.
I wish that there were many more voices like Ms Warren's, Sanders, Merkley and a few others speaking out! More such might just spark the flame of a critical mass push-back leftwards.
+30 # gcaranchini 2013-11-20 19:37
This is definitely my gripe--about medical bankruptcy. I had almost no insurance because i had preexisting conditions and my real estate company although they tried to get insurance for us because most of us were women over 50 with preexissting conditions could not get it. To make matters worse the so called experts in Kansas City at the allegedly best hospital in the city could not diagnose my problem after seeing six specialists, been in the ER for 12 times and having 22 major tests. I think I owe about $40.000. Meanwhile I finally got kicked out of a medical group because I could not pay the bills and went to a DO in the same hospital. After looking at everything he was able to diagnose me, send me to the right docs and after a year I am on my way to recovery. If I had decent health care I would not be in this fix. However, when I complained to the hospital they threw me out the door and would not let me see the only doc who could fix it--that's the american medical system. I just turned 65 and i can finally get the care I need but this has nearly bankrupted me. Only because i have a good diagnosis and can work again will i be able to stay out of bankruptcy. Savings? What's that? My husband died ten years ago and it emptied out my savings accounts totally. I went to looking forward to a nice retirement with a $2m investment to being nearly broke now. Disgusting.
+4 # bmiluski 2013-11-21 11:55
gcarnichini.... .I know what you mean. I've given a lot of thought to what I would do should I have a life threatening disease. My conclusion: Nothing. If (and that's a 40% cure rate) I should get cancer I would do nothing. Because by the time the health care system got through with me I would be broke and my standard of living would be around the poverty level. That to me is not living. So I would do nothing and die. At least I'd be dying with some dignity.
+53 # jdd 2013-11-20 18:23
In her speech, Sen. Warren also identified the "Chained CPI," supported by many Republicans and by President Obama, as another name for cutbacks. Her sentiments were echoed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
+66 # soularddave 2013-11-20 18:34
Who's after MY Social Security funds? Certainly not anyone who has MY welfare in mind.

They use false logic and twisted facts to promote their notions, but I'm not buying their selfish nonsense. My employers and I have paid into the fund for 50+ years, and those payments were made with certain, well-known "understandings ".

Those understandings were part of my life strategy of wealth building for myself - and for everyone else. The law has always been clear, and has been tweaked over the years to strengthen and build everyone's "position" in retirement.

To those who decide to alter and degrade MY position are in for a fight; there are MILLIONS of "me" out here who know very well what your devious scheme is, and I say:

+19 # jky1291 2013-11-20 19:06

Or, your hands will be donated to someone who knows better how to appropriately use them.
+19 # reiverpacific 2013-11-20 19:13
Quoting jky1291:

Or, your hands will be donated to someone who knows better how to appropriately use them.

Funny -no disrespect to you BTW- but remember several Tea-thug ignoramuses chanting "Keep Government's hand off my Medicare!", one of them sitting on a government-supp lied electric wheelchair
That's tha mass-mentality you are dealing with!
+8 # hannibal 2013-11-21 07:52
Do you truly believe they care? They are disconnected from our reality and have found that with enough money being given to them, they can run enough ads to make most Americans believe that falsehoods are the truth.
Just look at how effective the republican party has been with that as their mantra.
+33 # Sweet Pea 2013-11-20 18:42
Some of these people that are so selfish should spend a night in an inner city hospital emergency room and see how many people are "in need of heakthcare" and see how many they could turn away. My grandmother often said, It says in the Bible that we are to care for the sick and dying. Did they throw away that part of the Bible?
+1 # karenvista 2013-11-23 23:00
Quoting Sweet Pea:
Some of these people that are so selfish should spend a night in an inner city hospital emergency room and see how many people are "in need of healthcare" and see how many they could turn away.

First of all, if you go to an "Emergency Room" you can wait for many hours without seeing a doctor unless you have obvious injuries or critical symptoms.

And they say that the reason "Medicare is going broke" is because too many people go to the doctor or the hospital when they aren't really sick."

Yeah, if I had a choice of staying home and doing whatever I want or lying in a cold room with bad food and someone sticking me full of needles and running tests or doing operations I would certainly prefer the latter!

What the hell are they saying??
+28 # gcaranchini 2013-11-20 19:31
so when is Elizabeth Warren going to run for president? Someone who recognizes the problems, tells it like it is, and most of all is holding the banks and the government to the wall. Go Elizabeth!!!!
+20 # Yakpsyche 2013-11-20 20:01
She will do better in what she is doing, not trying to be president. That would be an example of the Peter Principle, and she'd get burned out. Let her be excellent at this, not mediocre at that.
+4 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-11-20 22:26
How do you achieve such intimate knowledge of Warren's capability?
0 # tigerlille 2013-11-22 23:01
I don't understand your derrogatory remark. Warren specialized in economics for her entire academic caree. Let her do what she does best. An uncorrupted senator is worth her weight in gold. I doubt that a anyone elected to be president of the U.S. will be allowed to be effective within our lufetime, if ever. Remember what they did to the last president who tried to be effective? There is a very disturbing trend to idealize this woman and see her qs the solution to all that ails this country, which id very unfair to Warren.
+19 # Vardoz 2013-11-20 20:46
This is the kind of person we need as president. An experienced fights with backbone who is on our side.
+24 # Vardoz 2013-11-20 20:52
Back in 2009, Prince William -- who serves as the patron for UK homeless charity Centrepoint –- slept in a frigid alley in central London for a night, the Associated Press reported.

"I cannot, after one night, even begin to imagine what it must be like to sleep rough on London's streets night after night," Will told the AP. "I hope that by deepening my understanding of the issue, I can help do my...See More And we have tens of millions of men, women and children and our vets who have fallen into poverty because big money and corporations simply do not care if people die. We are just disposable nothings to them and now they want total control!!!! Shouldn't we make sure this doesn't happen?
+2 # bingers 2013-11-21 03:36
Yeah, and you can be sure he was well protected by palace security and didn't have to worry about all his meager possessions being stolen or some idiot politician taking a cudgel to his shopping cart and possessions.

It's always nice to see someone of privilege understanding what the underclass suffers with and feeling empathy for them.
+10 # shraeve 2013-11-22 06:55
I hope your last sentence is not intended to be sarcastic. Prince William is a lot better than anyone we have in high office.

No American Congressperson or President has slept in an alley.
+2 # tigerlille 2013-11-22 22:56
Both William and Harry are decent young men...who I suspect would be delighted if the monarchy were abolished in the UK.
+17 # futhark 2013-11-20 21:56
Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein are both saying pretty much the same things as Senator Warren. Maybe there really will be hope for a change. We just have to stop compromising with evil and corruption and start supporting politicians who show courage and intelligence. I'll only support candidates who are willing to transcend party discipline and speak out clearly on the issues. I look on denigration and marginalization by the mainstream media as a kind of endorsement, as I hope other will.
-6 # MidwesTom 2013-11-20 22:10
The USA is currently in default on interest due the Chinese. The Chinese have given the US until November 21, to pay up, or they want our gold (which is stored in various places around the world). If we do not pay, the Chinese will introduce a gold backed worldwide currency for international trade; thus forcing us to immediately balance our budget.

On Monday a member of the Russian Duma stated that the whole US economy is a house of cards, and introduced a bill to forbid Russians from doing business in dollars.

Yesterday the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ordered that commodity trades can no longer use Treasury Notes and Bills as collateral , only cash.

On Monday the Chinese orders the IMF to revalue the Iranian Dinar, a much rumored event. Yesterday the IMF officially declared the value of the Dinar to be $3.45. Thus making Bush's plan to pay for the war complete, since we own more than 2 Trillin in Dinars. The Chinese will now purchase their oil from Iraq in US Dollars, and we will use our Dinars to buy back the US Dollars that collect in Iraq.

The stock market dropped in the last hour as a result of the demand for interest payment. We will probably 'print' a bunch more dollars and avoid the crisis; but this cannot go on forever.
+15 # kitster 2013-11-21 00:12
killing social security has always been the cause of the conservative reactionaries in congress (read most teapachys and supporters). and wouldn't the banksters and greedsters in the financial axis of evil love to get their hands on everybody's retirement accounts so they can invest them? and then it's "oops, we're sorry" when the bubble de jour bursts.

but we the people are too busy watching faux news and voting against our own best interests.

will progressives finally entice independents and the youth away from the spineless dumbocrats and stand up to the koch brother et al bullies? not so far, rsn crybabies.

+1 # kitster 2013-11-21 00:16
...neither can your yelling through your tin foil hat.
+6 # BKnowswhitt 2013-11-21 01:15
you forget one thing. That debt is irrelevant it will never be paid in the traditional sense - back that is. We and the World has been off the Gold Standard since Nixon in '72. In many practices the good ole usa is just as corrupt as China around the world. You think they will 'call the loan' and if so they will effect the current model ... i say no way .. today it's the Oil Standard . or the 'Free Market' Standard .. the big wigs keep transmuting it .. only answer is a third party to call out both of ours ... as we are already bankrupt as a society ...which i think at least hits more to the core ....
+8 # ericlipps 2013-11-21 05:34
But none of the above has anything to do with Social Security, which is separately financed--excep t that presidents since Reagan have been embezzling the Social Security trust fund to hold down the general revenues deficit.
+6 # RLF 2013-11-21 06:53
If the Chinese demand their money...we will simply default, ruin the economy of the world and the Chinese's market, ruining the Chinese and probably causing a revolution ain't going to happen...
+1 # rockieball 2013-11-22 08:41
In a way you are right and then again wrong. To make social Security they have to remove the cap on what one pays. A person making over I think 120 thousand a year pays the same amount as a person under. Which means on Jan. one of each year people like The Koch brothers and Walton's write a check for a the total amount of what they have to pay for Social Security while the average American depending on it has that amount taken out all year. To the rich it's like giving the government a tip. As for house of cards in a way yes. Today this country bases it's economy on that house of card know as Wall Street and not on what we produce because outside of war and violence we product little else.So until the manufactures bring the factories back and until we once more stop free trade and have tariffs the USA will have a shaky low wage 3rd rate economy where only the 1% make investments world wide will make a profit. As the base this is also the key for the violence we have in this country. Violence cause by disrepair, desperation and depression. On seeing no future no matter what they do because out leaders kow-tow to the rich, the banks, Wall Street and blame all the problems on the working class not working hard enough or doing their share.
+2 # BKnowswhitt 2013-11-21 00:51
It's the very same thing as the 'healthcare' for all affordable debate. The question is what will the 'Great Compromiser' (Obama) Do? Warren did a lot of lip service to Wall Street but when in a leadership position to do so she got nothing done. Maybe because it was that difficult or No? The argument should be this: The economic decline and crash in '08 was Reagonomics on Steroids. So why should people who did their time in the 'Private Sector' and had nothing to do with the quick cycles that make todays millions even more .. be at all responsible for any of it and should have to suck it up and pay back their fare share in the current day spirit of cuts .... when they no longer work or can't? Reason is. When eco is down you hit children and the old ... because neither party can effectively fight back .. and it is good political fodder and the good Ole 'Reagan the so called eco-genious of todays short sided small minded money making model that is taking this country down since 1980 . What a sorry Joke ..........
+6 # RLF 2013-11-21 06:57
What is shocking to me is how many economists are still stroking this bankrupt supply side model. Welcome back to company town america!
+6 # gwenyo 2013-11-21 06:11
This is not a new problem. Companies should not be able to use pension funds as an asset. Retirement funds should be kept in separate account and not accessable. The company that I worked for for 13 years went bankrupt. Fortunately the pension was controled by the union. If the union had not be in control of the monies we would have totally lost all of our pension money.
+4 # RLF 2013-11-21 06:59
Union investors are incredibly corrupt! My wife's union...put a dollar in and in 20 years get a dollar out...but the investors...6-8 of them are all making $250K plus. If I was running that year of that performance and you're out.
+3 # hannibal 2013-11-21 07:58
Elizabeth Warren is a strong and fresh wind in the storms created by the obstructionist politicians. The track record of these winds seem to find them not allowed to blow very often.

I truly hope she is strong enough to blow all those heathens and dysfunctional legislators down the tubes to non-re-election s. As a kid I believed in Santa Claus but that changed when I learned how to read. Unfortunately, I saw what our world was like and wished I was a kid again believing in Santa Claus. Life was simpler that way.
+1 # BKnowswhitt 2013-11-21 12:27
Hey don't give up on Santa! If we fantasmagorical ly can still do that then maybe the so called Christians would start believing in the teachings of Jesus .. and then practicing and standing up for what is right no matter how painful ..
+1 # BKnowswhitt 2013-11-21 12:49
Strength in politics is numbers and a number of one or two get nothing done. Lets go back 6 years Obama running on change. How come the minority party the Repukes have been so able to drive the message and get the Great Compromiser Obama to yield so? Do you think Bush and Cheney would do the same? So our Dempuke/Repuke model is broken. Only a third party would make today's Blue (Dog) Dems honest and deal with the old issues they used to stand up for. Instead of all the screwing with same lobbyists and leaving the electorate with nothing but a case of 'Blue Balls'
+2 # Beenie 2013-11-23 06:16
And it is WOMEN who will be suffering the most. Women are consistently underpaid so they don't have as much available to them in Social Security benefits and women live longer. The government will HAVE to step in or be a nation of retired women living in poverty. Remember, if you are a poor employee, you will be a poor retiree. I have been talking to my state representatives about this and they just nod their heads. I am from MA so I am glad - and not at all surprised - that Sen. Warren is addressing this issue. She is AWESOME!
0 # medusa 2013-11-23 10:30
If you look at it by asking What are we buying? rather than, What number of dollars are involved, the question is whether our national resources should be spent on food, medicine, and their chains of supply--from farmers and chemists to cooks, nurses, and doctors.

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