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Reposted from The flash that might start a wildfire. by Bruce Webb

Hi, friends. There are, like, eight other posts that I’ve been drafting, but this is a way more pressing matter. It is a call to action and a call for help.

I mentioned in my last post that I started to assist a woman named Flora who has ALS. I knew when I signed on that I would be helping her, not as a caretaker, but with administrative tasks. Emails, finding gifts for family and friends, organizing her bills as they come in, that sort of thing.

I was also aware that Flora had hired a lawyer to help her in her fight to receive Social Security Disability benefits. One she had been fighting since October 2014, six months after she had to leave her job at Warner Brothers because she could no longer work. (If you didn’t know, that’s how Disability works–you have to be out 6 months before you qualify to receive anything.)

I started working with her in February. It’s May, and she still hasn’t received a penny of her benefits.

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Reposted from Daily Kos by Bruce Webb
Man holding Social Security sign

Here's why Social Security needs to be front and center in the 2016 campaign and why Democrats need to embrace the idea of not just protecting Social Security but expanding it. It's from Gallup and it's sobering.
Although the Social Security program continues to face long-term funding challenges, U.S. nonretirees are more likely to say Social Security will be a major source of income in their retirement than they have been at any point in the last 15 years. The current 36% of nonretirees expecting to heavily rely on Social Security is roughly 10 percentage points higher than a decade ago.
Chart showing percentage on non-retirees who expect Social Security to be the major portion of their retirements
In addition to the 36 percent who say they will have to rely primarily on Social Security, 48 percent say it will be a minor but necessary source. But then there's the reality of actual rather than future retirement: "This year, 59% of retirees say Social Security is a major income source for them. Though the percentage has varied in any given year, a majority have said this each time Gallup has asked the question."

What does it mean to say Social Security is the primary income source for the majority of retirees? It means those retirees are living at about 30 percent over the poverty level. The average benefit for retired workers, disabled workers, and aged widows and widowers on Social Security in December 2014 was  $1,300 a month, or $15,500 a year. That's not very much, and that's why the discussion has to shift from cutting Social Security to expanding it. The big demographic shift we're facing with more babyboomers retiring makes it even more critical. As a nation, we can't morally or economically afford to have that whole segment of our population living in near-poverty.

Reposted from Joan McCarter by Bruce Webb
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a news conference after he announced his candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington April 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  - RTX1B0A5

Entitlements, John Harwood says, are a key element in 2016 politics, mostly focusing on the Republican side and who can win the austerity race. There's a larger question he's not getting though. Here's the core of his piece.

Social Security and Medicare consume more than 40 percent of federal spending. The trustees of the programs, beseeching lawmakers to shore up their finances, project that they will swell to 11.5 percent of the entire economy within 20 years, compared with 8.4 percent in 2013. Yet the debate in Washington has been frozen since President Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, failed to strike a “grand bargain” on tax and spending levels.

The pressures of the presidential campaign have revived the conversation. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, badly wounded by scandal, chose the entitlement issue as a way to jump-start his prospects among conservative Republican primary voters. “It’s time to tell the truth about what we need to do,” he said in New Hampshire last month. His bracing proposal: Raise the retirement age, increase Medicare premiums for affluent retirees and eliminate Social Security payments to beneficiaries with $200,000 of other annual income.

Meanwhile, he sniffs, "Democrats, with an entirely different constituency, have begun talking about increasing benefits," pointing out that it's central to Sen. Bernie Sanders' platform, and that Hillary Clinton is sure to jump on board. Oh, those pandering Democrats. Even President Obama, he points out, "like Mr. Christie […] has proposed higher Medicare premiums for the affluent; like Mr. Cruz, he has expressed a willingness to accept curbs on inflation increases in Social Security benefits." There you go, your Beltway media platonic ideal of bipartisanship: the willingness to screw over the olds.

Maybe Sanders and Clinton do have a "different constituency" but there's more to this than the horserace. There's the growing realization among Democrats—finally!—that they don't have go along with the austerity fetish and deficit peacockery. It's a reflection that they've come to the realization that the middle class is endangered, and that along with that, retirement security is becoming a thing of the past. But they're also seeing that it can be regained. They're finally getting that there are ways to address the deficit that don't involve hurting the vulnerable even more, and that there's a pretty straightforward solution in just making the tax system more equitable and save and strengthen these key programs, and that includes lifting the cap on payroll taxes that fund Social Security.

Now, Sanders and (hopefully) Clinton and Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen certainly all recognize that there's a real political advantage in this for them, too. But there's real debate here to be had, where good politics and good policy converge. Maybe the traditional media will even get in on it eventually.

Reposted from Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. by Bruce Webb

How about this for some super-charged "grassroots" support?

Already, one super-PAC pledging to promote Sanders' candidacy, "Ready for Bernie Sanders 2016" [their Facebook Page] is ramping up its visibility now that Sanders is in, and renaming itself "Bet on Bernie." The founder, a man named Cary Lee Peterson, said he expects to spend about $50,000 on a Times Square billboard supporting Sanders. Peterson, in a telephone interview, said he doesn't actually know Sanders but admires his background and positions, and that, with Sanders now an official candidate, he's been contacted by about 5,000 volunteers and received about $58 million in pledges -- but so far has only about $2,000 in hand.

     Ready for Bernie Sanders 2016 -- Political Organization

What's good for the geese, just may be good enough for the gander ...

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Reposted from OutOnALimb by Bruce Webb
America is going through great changes. We always have done so -- it is the nature of our nation, and the nature of the times. But this is a recent phenomenon. In ancient eras, it could be millennia between great social transformations -- the discovery of fire, the invention of hunting or agriculture, the creation of the nation-state. Today, changes of comparable scale happen at least every generation, perhaps every decade.

How do Americans feel about where we are, where we've been, and where we are going? How accurate are their perceptions? America was built on the concept of giving one's descendents a better world than one inherited. Is that idea still possible?

Let's start with an overview of where we are, and how we feel about it. Gallup polling furnishes a wealth of data we can draw upon to form some idea of how Americans feel about our present, our recent past, and our future. In another article, I'll present some long-term objective data about where we have been and where we are likely to end up. For now, let's take a snapshot of how Americans are feeling.

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Wed May 06, 2015 at 01:24 PM PDT

Will this make you angry?

by Vet63

Reposted from Vet 65 by Bruce Webb

Economic Security for Seniors: Fact Sheet via @NCOAging
Earlier this week, I wrote about Bernie Sanders, a few read it. I want you to know the pain
happening now in the neighborhood where you live by many senior citizens.

Do any of you know a senior citizen over 70 working because they have to?

I know an 80-year-old woman who just got hired at an arts and crafts store. She has a small mobile home with a beautiful garden Her husband has passed, and she lives on $800 a month. Her mobile home park just raised monthly dues that all must pay to live
in the park.

She has a bad back, poor eyesight, and goes to the food bank. The ACA gives her medical care.The quality of medical care is poor because the clinic is overflowing with customers and too few caregivers.

The food bank helps with her food. She can sew and is a great cook. She reminds me of
my Grandmother.

Over 20 million senior citizens live in poverty in America right now. Millions of seniors have to go to a food bank or get charity care. My 68-year-old friend cleans two houses a day. She scrubs toilets, cleans shit, waxes floors by hand sometimes.

I've now met a senior citizen with a sign. Her eyes stare at the ground. She seems so ashamed.

I'm ashamed that people over 70 are treated with such little respect. I'm ashamed I live
In a country that cares so little for the elderly poor. I'm ashamed we are not expanding
Social security payments to at least equal the amount of money that defines a person as
poor.If you earn less than $1,000 a month as a single person you are poor( source
Government charts).

I hope you're saving money, planning for "the golden years. Bernie will never be president, and Social Security will probably go up less than 2 percent a year. I get Social Security disability.

Get angry, fight for your grandparents, fight for you so life will be better when you get old. Expand Social Security payments to $1.500 a month for every Senior and let them have special rates for everything. Give all Social Security people the same as I have on disability. Make these
new benefits begin at age 70.

Your grandparents should not have to beg or want. We owe them that



Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 11:12 AM PDT

The Failure of Privatization

by T C Gibian

Reposted from TCG by Bruce Webb

Sell Yosemite! Dump the Post Office, the prison system, education, Social Security!!  Conservatives have been pushing this agenda for decades, insisting that private ownership would increase efficiency, but would it?

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Reposted from Phoenix Woman by Bruce Webb

Most publications geared towards Federal employees are pretty honest, straightforward, and trustworthy.  

Then there's "FedSmith".

FedSmith seems to be run by and stuffed with writings from people who think that Feds are the scum of the earth.  It's so bad that half the time, the main reason to read FedSmith is for its comments sections, which often have better and truer information than the articles to which they're attached.

Case in point: Their mendacious attack on Elizabeth Warren, who they accuse of "throwing seniors under the bus" with her Social Security legislation.

Follow me past the orange smoke for more.


Social Security is:

2%1 votes
87%35 votes
10%4 votes

| 40 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from john s mill by Bruce Webb

In between the Benghazi attacks/ hearings and the Clinton Foundation throwing in a little email controversy, you will see and hear “tired old ideas”, “yesterday’s news”. A not so subtle way to point to Hillary’s age.

Rather than talk about Nation Inquirer gotcha stories or naming calling, let’s talk about one of those “tired old ideas” – Social Security.

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Reposted from Joan McCarter by elenacarlena
U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with local residents as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at the Tremont Grille in Marshalltown, Iowa April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking  - RTR4X

Here's a good place for Hillary Clinton to start making that contrast with the potential Republican nominee in 2016:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't quite lay out a detailed proposal for Social Security, but in remarks at a roundtable event in New Hampshire on Monday, she did suggest that Republican proposals to "privatize" or "undermine" the program are "just wrong." […]

"My only question to everybody who thinks we can privatize Social Security or undermine it in some way is, so then what's going to happen to all these people like you who worked 27 years at this other company? What's going to happen? It's just wrong," Clinton said.

TPM had previously asked the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign about her position on Social Security—whether she supported expanding it as liberal Democrats have been arguing recently or what she thought of proposals like some of the likely Republican 2016 field.

Spokesman Jesse Ferguson responded, "Hillary has a record of fighting against privatizing Social Security and opposing cuts to seniors benefits and, as she said yesterday, dealing with challenges facing older Americans is a top priority for her."

That's good as far as it goes, though no Democrat should ever be on record as supporting privatization. But it sure sounds like she's going to run against the kinds of cuts—means testing, raising the retirement age—that Republican contenders like Gov. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or Gov. Scott Walker have championed.

We'll take that for now, but since 43 Democratic senators (Barbara Mikulski missed the vote, but tweeted her support) are on the record as wanting to expand Social Security, the debate has moved beyond just fighting privatization. What do you say, Secretary Clinton? How about joining the mainstream of the party and running on a stronger Social Security?

Reposted from Southern Liberal by Bruce Webb

First of all beware of any politician who says "let's be honest" and especially beware of this politician who hasn't uttered an honest word in decades, if ever.  The right wing approach to Social Security just astounds me.  They constantly lie that it adds to the deficit and debt when that is absolutely not true.  I think this is why they lumped it in with the general funds some years ago, back when Reagan was President or maybe before, but I believe it was a ploy then and it still is to use that tactic to attack SS and then they pit the old and young against each other saying the elderly are stealing the futures of the young, like we're all rich out here.  Maybe the idiots that cleave to every word uttered from this liar's mouth believe that, but take a look at your paycheck once in a while and you'll see a Federal withholding tax and then a FICA tax.  FICA meaning Federal Insurance Contribution Act.  Withholding goes into the government's general fund and the FICA is your contribution to the SS trust fund, much like paying into an annuity or any other retirement account from which you expect a return when you retire.  To means test it, as Christie suggests, is to put SS into the category of a welfare program and then the GOP will attack it from that angle.  I am constantly astounded that they can come right out and attack SS, suggest raising retirement age, telling lies about it taking over the entire government budget when it's a separate tax and then hoping people will elect them?  They know it's important to those who vote Republican as well as Democratic and Independent so they have to phrase it carefully, crafting lies that are palatable to the hard right base.  But, I am telling you people that they are up to no good here and if you let them get a toehold into SS, they will kill it like every other social welfare program bit by bit.  They will continue to manufacture crisis that can only be resolved by budget cuts, or cutting benefits or increasing the age to qualify.  It will not end until SS ceases to exist.
If anything is gobbling up the entire Federal budget a little more each year it's the defense budget.  After all, the more of the military that becomes privatized, the more they lobby for more war and more contracts, so more war.  It is actually a bit scary that more and more of our military is private and out from under the control of the President.  They certainly are not held to the same standards of conduct that our military is and do horrific things which reflect negatively on our country.  I hadn't thought of the fact that as more and more of government is privatized it hands over more control to corporations who in turn, thanks to SCOTUS,  fill the ever expanding campaign coffers of the Republican/Libertarian Party.  I added Libertarian because that's the platform it seems they are campaigning on, not Conservatism.


Do you think social security adds to the deficit?

| 0 votes | Vote | Results

Reposted from StewartAcuff by Bruce Webb
Senator Bernie Sanders is a friend of mine. After all he wrote the foreword to my second book, Playing Bigger Than You Are. I have the utmost respect for Elizabeth Warren.

But I also have a lot of respect for the last two term governor of Maryland where I’ve lived for 15 years, Martin O’Malley.

He governed as a progressive, worked to protect the Chesapeake Bay, worked with the unions. He was responsive to the people.

When he was mayor of Baltimore, he still was front man for an Irish rock’roll band. This is a man who knows who he is and likes who he is. He is comfortable in his own skin, as are both Bernie and Warren.

And like my friend Bernie, it looks like O’Malley is trying to put together a presidential run.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a full half-page puff piece on O’Malley. He and his staff couldn’t have asked for a better article from the campaign trail in Iowa. They played up his progressive credentials, which are so important.

And the progressive issues the Journal highlighted were not the soft, easy, non-offensive-to-the-rich issues.

The issues they highlighted are what we’ve talked about in this space for years now–getting tough and cracking down on Wall Street, raising taxes on the rich to meet the needs of our people, raising wages, and more.

The WSJ said about O’Malley:

“Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s biggest applause line during a speech here this week came as he listed ways the US could pay for a higher minimum wage, an EXPANSION of Social Security and more spending on infrastructure and education. ‘We do it by asking the wealthiest among us to believe enough in their country to actually make the sort of investments we made in other generations instead of off shoring their profits and off shoring their wealth.’  Another crowd-pleasing idea from the 52 year old Democrat: insisting that the federal government actually REGULATE risky financial behavior on Wall Street that threatens to run over our economy.’”

We must elect a president committed to raising wages, taxing the rich, expanding Social Security, reducing inequality, investing in infrastructure and sustainable energy. These are fundamental issues that will chart the course of America.

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