When President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to discuss ways we can support and strengthen the middle class—and bring more people into it—many were disappointed that Social Security, and the critical role it plays for most Americans, was mentioned only in passing.
For millions of middle class Americans, it represents their only real retirement asset. But the program does more then provide income for the retired. In doing so, it makes it possible for middle class workers to go to work knowing their parents have shelter and food. Retirement security for our parents allows us to put our money into mortgages, student loan payments and savings accounts for our kids.
But Social Security is more than that. It’s our disability insurance. It’s our life insurance. If a worker can’t work, Social Security provides insurance benefits to replace some of the lost wages.
Millions of American children have been kept out of poverty by wage replacement insurance for disability and the death of a worker. Middle class workers are strapped and their resources are pulled in dozens of directions.
Social Security is just that: security for America’s workers. If strengthened and expanded, Social Security can be the backbone of “middle class economics.”