Category Archives: Social Security

About those Social Security insolvency lies- Read this first.

 This op-ed was distributed by McClatchy Tribune Information Services on December 1, 2010 and published by the Sacramento Bee (CA) and other newspapers. I am reprinting Mark Weisbrot’s OpEd with permission from cepr.net because I believe it to be timely and on-the-mark: Don’t Touch Social Security: Drive for Cuts Based on Deception.

According to a recent CNN poll, 60 percent of Americans under 60 and 70 percent of those under 50 believed that Social Security will not be able to pay them a benefit when they retire.

In reality, the likelihood that any living American’s Social Security benefits will not be paid to them when they retire is about the same as the probability that there will be no U.S. government at that time. Is anybody banking on that?

Of course if you are going to take something away from people, the first step is to convince them that it wasn’t really there in the first place.

What makes the whole deception even more fascinating is that everyone is using the same assumptions about the future and the same numbers.

The common source for everyone writing and talking about Social Security is the annual Social Security Trustees Report. This shows that the program can pay all promised benefits for the next 27 years, without any changes at all. If nothing is done over the next 27 years, only about 75 percent of scheduled benefits would be payable in 2037; but that would still be more than what retirees receive today, after adjusting for inflation.

So, according to the assumptions and facts that everyone who writes or talks about Social Security is using, there is no basis for the belief that the majority of Americans under 60 hold. Since this deception is not about Afghanistan or some country on the other side of the world, but about a program that nearly a quarter of American adults receive a check from each month, it is all the more amazing. The enemies of Social Security have pulled off one of the greatest public relations scams in U.S. history.

What makes this subterfuge unique is that it is all based on verbal and accounting trickery. For example, it is common to combine Social Security and Medicare spending and say that their costs will become unsustainable. The trick here is that it is Medicare, not Social Security that leads to the explosion in public spending. And perhaps more importantly: it is not the aging population or Medicare itself that is the problem, but the United States’ private sector health care costs. If these were in line with any other high-income country such as Germany or Canada, our long-term budget deficit would turn into a surplus.

Not that Social Security has contributed anything to the budget deficit – the program is still running a surplus. The granny-bashers try to weasel their away around this too by pretending that the Social Security Trust Fund, currently at more than $2.5 trillion, doesn’t exist. But the Treasury obligations held by the Trust Fund are as real as the U.S. government bonds held by any private mutual or pension fund, or the ten-dollar bill in your wallet.

Of course all this deception would not be possible if the media did its job and reported the basic facts. As when someone says President Obama is a Muslim, they note that he is a Christian. Of course some people will still believe whatever, but we wouldn’t have a majority lost in the fog on this issue.

This huge scam is the most obvious reason to reject any benefit cuts to Social Security, which includes raising the retirement age. This is a very regressive cut that hurts lower-income workers the most, since many have jobs that are too physically demanding to work longer; and since their life expectancy has not increased along with that of higher-income employees.

We need at least a decade just to inform the public of the basic facts, before we can decide how to make the relatively small adjustments that Social Security may need to maintain long-term solvency.

Do not buy into the negative and outright bs about Social Security’s insolvency. Mr. Weisbrot knows what he is talking about

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Deficit panel plan defeated…and this is a surprise?

I just want to know who the 7 assholes were that voted for it. The title of the damn plan was enough to make me gag: Moment of Truth. From The Hill:

In an 11-7 vote, President Obama’s fiscal commission on Friday failed to adopt a sweeping plan for reining in the federal budget deficit.

The panel had been working since February on a plan that would cut nearly $4 trillion in deficit spending over the next nine years and reduce the federal debt to 40 percent of gross domestic product by 2035.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had agreed to bring the deficit recommendations up for a floor vote in Congress, but only if the proposal had the support of 14 members. The commission came up three votes short.

Voting in favor of the plan were the commission’s co-chairmen Sen. Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, who served as chief of staff to President Clinton.

Among the Senate members of the panel, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) voted “yes,” while Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) voted “no.”

From the House, Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), David Camp (R-Mich.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) all voted against the plan. Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee who lost his reelection bid in November, was the only House vote in favor.

Of the non-congressional members, David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell International, Ann Fudge, the former CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands and Alice Rivlin, the former director of the Office of Management & Budget, voted “yes.” Former Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern voted “no.”

Ah yes, the thugs that voted for the heavily flawed plan were either Blue Dogs like Conrad, Corporation heads and of course the hardcore/neocon R’s on the panel. Hopefully this ends that worthless panel of backwards thinkers who were willing to fuck American’s at every turn without even looking hard and long at the bloated Defense Budget…or gawd forbid…raising taxes! I like this explanation of what went wrong:

Why? Because three decades of neoliberal market ideology have persuaded Republicans and Democrats alike that government is our enemy and that the public purposes it pursues are illegitimate; and that, Q.E.D, collecting taxes to pay for such purposes is a form of theft. Americans don’t just oppose high taxes (high taxes were when the rich paid 85 percent or more back in the Eisenhower era), they oppose taxation per se. In principle. Which principle? The principle that government is illegitimate, politicians are outlaws so taxes are (literally) highway robbery.

We thus frame the “hard choices” as choices between which expenditures to cut rather than between which taxes to raise. But the really hard choice is surely about whether or not we want to pay for the society we want to live in.

If you want a lifestyle that includes taking care of Veterans, the elderly, educate the masses and care for the disabled, it’s going to cost money. If you want a country where the infrastructure isn’t falling down around us, it costs money. And if you want to fund two friggin endless wars…yes, it costs money.

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