If that amount were $45 a week, the windfall would be $352,389. (The IRA has a $5 per week minimum and $100 maximum.)
The IRA element is a sweetener that makes easier one major change in the program that, while not cutting benefits, does push back the retirement age. The good news is that this is not a political deal-breaker. Democrats and Republicans have already agreed on a three-year push back.
Even the politicians have had to acknowledge that in contrast to the 16-to-1 worker-to-retiree ratio at its inception in 1936, Social Security now has only three employees paying for every retiree. Additionally, the average life span is now 20 years longer. (Not to mention those credible predictions that someone born today has a 50-50 chance to live to 100.)
Some Capitol Hill staffers who are also economists think this program could well burgeon beyond expectations and have long-term collateral benefits such as encouragement of sound national habits of thrift and reinvigoration of the investment culture.
Most important, though, the plan transcends old arguments about Social Security reform and builds on what some Senators have earlier proposed. Thus, it provides a rare chance for Congress to show grumpy constituents they aren’t wholly incapable of bipartisan agreement, even on that seemingly intractable problem of Social Security.
That is something Members of Congress can discuss with their constituents without feeling the need to apologize.
Dan Weber is president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.