For 6 in 10 seniors, Social Security provides the majority of their income. Yet, the benefits are modest. The average Social Security benefit for a retiree is just $14,000 a year.
Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Early Pomeroy, July 15, 2010 
You should have the peace of mind of knowing that after meeting your responsibilities and paying into the system all your lives, you’ll get the benefits you deserve.
President Barack Obama, August 14, 2010 
Social Security’s 75th anniversary arrived with nearly as much fanfare as news that the fund’s outlays have finally exceeded its income. Although there is nothing new about Social Security’s deterioration, leaders of both parties have seized on the issue, making self-righteous pledges to protect the integrity of the trust, as in this statement by Harry Reid:
Throughout my career, I have fought to strengthen and preserve Social Security, and I will continue to fight to make sure that our parents, grandparents and loved ones can enjoy their golden years with well-deserved peace of mind. 
A $14,000 annual income will not bring much peace of mind, but preserving benefits for seniors is a safe campaign issue in any year, particularly one that finds Democrats bereft of ideas to salvage the economy, Republicans focusing squarely on their opponents’ failings, and both parties reviving old issues to maintain the comfort level of their candidates, many of whom have been doing this for far too many terms.
In a June 2010 interview, John Boehner suggested that the Social Security retirement age could be raised to 70 as a means of preserving the trust‘s dwindling resources. The retirement age issue is not new, as evidenced by this 2002 statement from Nancy Pelosi:
But the Republican majority does not want the American people to know, before the 2002 elections, that their plan to privatize Social Security would increase the age of retirement. They don’t want voters to know the enormous cost of diverting resources to private accounts. 
Democrats are feigning outrage at Boehner’s remark, ignoring their own complicity in plotting to raise the retirement bar. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer made the following comment in the same month as the Boehner interview:
On the spending side, we could and should consider a higher retirement age, or one pegged to lifespan; more progressive Social Security and Medicare benefits; and a stronger safety net for the Americans who need it most. 
By way of retraction, Hoyer’s Senate website posted an undated, uncredited editorial clarifying the Senator’s remark to mean that he was only in favor of punishing the rich:
He said — correctly but controversially — that lawmakers should consider raising the retirement age and making Social Security and Medicare more progressive. (Translation: lower benefits for wealthier seniors.) 
Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) accused Republicans of plotting to cut Social Security:
The House Republican Leader John Boehner and his GOP colleagues want to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 and cut benefits in order to pay for George Bush’s war and their failed policies of the past. 
Clyburn neglected to mention that he also advocates raising the retirement age:
With minor changes to the program such as raising the salary cap and raising the retirement age by one month every year, the program could become solvent for the next 75 years. 
The Congressional Budget Office analyzed various options to bring the trust back to actuarial balance, and concluded that taxing all earnings at the payroll tax rate, or indexing benefits, could practically eliminate the fund’s financial woes. Raising the retirement age would have much less of an impact , but legislators probably never read the report, and proposing tax increases on the campaign trail is not a popular strategy. From the Social Security recipient’s perspective, the cost for each year the retirement age is raised is 5%-8% of monthly benefits.  Perhaps the best solution would be to revive the economy, create jobs for the unemployed, and give everyone back their depleted 401(k)s.
Instead of lying awake at night, worrying how we are going to survive after we lose our jobs and Congress cuts Social Security, we should consider indexing the retirement benefits we fund for legislators to the private sector, where only 65% of employees even have access to a retirement plan.  Members of Congress receive starting pensions of up to 80% of their final averaged incomes, exclusive of cost-of-living adjustments, and can retire at age 50 with as little as 20 years of public service. Annual Congressional salaries for the rank and file are $174,000, so if legislators can stay in office long enough, they can retire on a pension that starts well above the $14,000 benchmark the president believes we deserve. One cannot help but wonder whether candidates go to bed happily smirking at how they gained our votes by promising to toss us what must, to them, seem like table scraps.
1....Ways and Means. Chairman Pomeroy’s Opening Statement at Hearing on Social Security at 75 Years: More Necessary Now Than Ever. July 15, 2010.
2....Weekly Address: President Obama Promises to Protect Social Security from Republican Plans to Privatize It. August 14, 2010.
3....United States Senator for Nevada Harry Reid. Reid Statement Recognizing 75th Anniversary of Social Security. August 13, 2010.
4....Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. House Democrats Push for Open Debate on Social Security Reform. June 19, 2002.
5....Office of the Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Majority Leader Hoyer Delivers Speech on Deficit Reduction at Third Way Event. June 22, 2010.
6....Congressman Steny Hoyer. Editorial: Time for touch economic choices. Undated, from Congressional website.
7....House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn. Press Releases. Boehner Proposes Cutting Social Security Benefits to Pay for War. June 29, 2010.
8....United States Congressman James E. Clyburn. Social Security. The Future of Social Security for Today’s Young People. Undated, from Congressional Website.
9....Congressional Budget Office. Social Security Policy Options. July 2010. p. 31.
10..Congressional Budget Office. Social Security Policy Options. July 2010. p. 14.
11..Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employee Benefits in the United States – March 2010. July 27, 2010. p. 2.