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View Diary: The President will Soon Attempt to Cut Social Security & Medicare: It's Up to Us to Stop Him (110 comments)

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  •  This administration has already publicly floated (8+ / 0-)

    several ideas to reign in Social Security costs in it's previous efforts to achieve "bipartisan" compromise during the various budget fights, including, but not limited to adversly adusting the COLA, to chain-adjustments, and raising the starting age -- each year of which constitutes an approximate 5% reduction of lifetime benefits, given current expected lifetimes.

    What makes this unecessary cuts even more poignant is that the Social Security Trust Fund was (and may still be) solvent and fully funded through 2037.  Although, if we keep haveing payroll Social Security Tax holidays, the Republicans are only too happy to agree to, we could undermine this.)

    And, the small percentage shortfalls that start in 2037 can be easily solved by raising the income cap on deductions which is currently just over $100,000.

    Terms like "Zombie Lies" are a bit harsh, and invalid, given the facts, and our administrations proven history of a willingness to accomadate policy to politics.  

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:19:46 AM PST

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    •  Butthe payroll holidays don't come out of the fund (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      so they don't affect solvency, and the Repubs are sure not "happy to agree" with them.  They're stimulus for the economy, which the Repubs hate in their efforts to discredit the President.  It's a fight every time.  How did this Rove talking point get accepted by liberals?

      Agree of course with raising the cap on the payroll tax, as I'd guess most of us do, but how do we pass this with the Tea Party House?  We don't know, but this could even be one of Obama's fixes.  It'd be one of mine.

      Yet another FDL-style preemptive hysteria diary.  Wonder why it was posted by schemp?  Even the poll is propagandistic.

      •  Hooper, does the tax holiday not affect what goes (1+ / 0-)
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        into the Trust Fund?  What other fund is substituting for the reduced tax contributions?

        After we've heard grossly falsified reports from Democrats, even here, that the $500 billion taken out of Medicare to fund the APA, was only Medicare excess, everyone here, and every one who cares about the integrity of these funds has reason to be vigilant, skeptical, and suspicious.

        Some of the  "useless" Medicare Advantage plans, Democrats agreed to reduce were funding the only dental care, preventative health programs, and others that Seniors felt were sufficiently useful they contributed an extra $175/month of their own money to get.  

        I support, and supported our health care bill, but let's be honest that is going to require greater funding not less to Medicaid to states, many of which are nearly bankrupt.

        During the so called "bipartisan" negotiation over the budget, there were widely reported "trial balloons" purportedly coming from highly placed admininstration exploring GOP interest in changing the COLA, to the chained adjustments, and changing the starting age, which is an equivalant to a 5% reduction of lifetime benefits per year.

        After FISA reversals, and other policy "accomadations" I do not beleive we should castigate the canaries in the coal mine, and also believe it is prudent, and only fair to warn any waivering Democratic leaders of the shitstorm that will erupt if they betray the trust to Social Security and Medicare recipients, and the damage that will accrue to the Democratic Party if we pursue this direction of balancing the budget, under the false premise that it will be politically easier than raising taxes on the wealthiest, and trimming the defense budget back to Clintonian, and historical percentages of GNP.

        Although, I do not know the details well enough to know if they are true, I've read a few exit poll analyses of the 2010 elections suggesting that one of the main demograpic groups that cost of the House was the 15% or so loss of seniors, especially women, who may have been confused by GOP propogada that the Republicans were more trustable than the Democrats on Social Security and Medicare issue, because of the $500 billion Medicare reduction in the APA.  I know it seems bizairre to us, but as a party we are treading on very thin ice thinking we can cooperate with the Republicans on this dangerous issues -- every time we've tried they've used it against us later.

        Perhaps, this post is "preemptive hysteria" (I like this term), and the poll propagandistic, but as long as we're hearing as much murmering and propoganda from the opposite direction from Democrats, about "inefficient" Medigap program, and the great potential to eliminate enormous sources of fraud from Medicare, as a cover story for not completely fix the "Doctors Fix" reimbursement gap, we should support any offsetting post that give us the oppotunity to raise the discussion to a higher level.

        We will find vastly more fraud reduction opportunities in the defense budget, and Medicare patients already face documented difficulty, and delays, in getting appointment.

        The Mayo Clinics of Arizona stopped seeing new Medicare patients last January, and as one personal example here, after I was diagnosed with diabetes type 2 in April, the first appointment I could get from my medical center to see a nutritionist was in December.

        We face 20% copays on all medical expenses that are covered but optholology, and dental care are not covered.
        My doctor ordered an annual opthomological exam so she could compare my retenae for diabetes related degeneration of the micro-capillaries, and it turns out this is not covered by Medicare.

        We need to be expanding these programs not cutting them back, and although it might appear to us, that we can't do this until we get rid of the Tea-Baggers, many of them have convinced substantial numbers of seniors that Democrats are more of a threat to these programs than are Republicans, so if we do not back off of discussion about COLA adjustments, and raising the qualification ages, we may never get the House back.

        "So heads up folks!" messages all around are useful, IMO.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:01:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Payroll holiday dollars ARE being replaced (3+ / 0-)
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          Sylv, HoundDog, NCPSSM

          By General Fund transfers each month. You can confirm this by examination of the Monthly Trust Fund Reports releasedby Treasury.

          Now the Payroll Tax Holiday was a truly shitty idea that presents two different potential dangers to Social Security, and by partially paying for it by not pushing for an extension of Make Work Pay, Obama threw the working poor under the bus so as to give  a disproportionate tax holiday for people making between median household and the cap ($50,000 household to $110,000 per individual worker). Many working poor came out dollars behind even as two income professional households, admittedly a prime source of votes, got a nice car downpayment.

          So there is no reason for Progressives to applaud this move. Still the cold hard numbers show that the Trust Funds have to date been held harmless, the transfers are happening and can be tracked on a monthly basis.

          •  Well, this much is good news. (0+ / 0-)

            Ronald Reagan and Lee Atwater publically announced long ago the strategy of raising defense spending, and cutting taxes as low as possible to create budget deficits, and high debt, that would cripple future Democratic plans to expand social programs, such as health care, and improved Medicaid, education, transportation, and other public services.

            And, how well this strategy has worked.  President Clinton turn over an economy cranking on four cylinders and creating budget surpluses that were reducing the debt.

            President Bush, promptly increased defense spending, and cut taxes, including bigger breaks for the richest 2%.  He flirted briefly with the idea of privatizing Social Security but backed off when receiving an overwhelming backlash.

            But, now Republicans seemed to have hypnotized even traditional mainstream media that we have a terrible unsupportable, urgent crisis in all the social programs.

            I learned from you that the Social Security Trust Fund is solvent until 2037, or there abouts, and the small percentage shortfalls that start to emerge then can easily be fixed, numerous ways, but one easy big contribution would be to raise, or eliminate the income cap.

            This discussion here is primarily about the Medicare Funds, which I am not as familiar with, but, my personal opinion is that we should be focusing the primary thrust of our budget balancing efforts on returning to Clinton era ratios of defense spending relative to GNP, or even lower historic averages over the last 50 years, and increasing taxes of the wealthiest 2%.

            This will not sovle all the problems if the economy continues at such an anemic level, as the Clinton era economic growth was stronger.  So we do need additional adjustment.

            My primary points and intention, which I remain steadfastly convinced of, and committed to is to make sure we in the Democratic Party keep the full biggest picture in mind, and do not unconsciously, or opportunistically buy into or support the Republican Reagan-Atewater-Rove-Bush-GOP strategy of exploiting an unnecessarily urgent obsession with budget defits, debt, and emergency crises in the various Trust Funds to support Republican solutions, rather than Democratic approaches that remain true to our core Party committment to the social welfare of our citizens.

            I do not see the New Deal and Great Society programs as radical socialist intrusions into our pure free market capitalist system, but rather are proud of these as great accomplishment of our nation, and our Party, that we should be proud of and continue to fiercly defend.

            Thanks for your continued work protecting Social Security.  I intend to continue to support and defend Medicare, Medicaid, and other great Democratic Party achievements and aspirations.

            Cheers my friend, and keep on truckin'

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:22:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for your good thoughtful reply, Hounddog. (0+ / 0-)

          I agree with you onjust about all your points.  We do need to hold the line on Medicare, Medicaid, & SS (I'm trying not to use the Luntzian "entitlements"), and we do need to take back the House, which I don't think can happen otherwise.

          I believe President Obama knows this, and also knows (now, maybe more than before) the depth of the Republican obstructionism and treachery.  Pelosi has made the urgency of holding the line totally clear concerning our chances in the House.  I don't think he'll trade away his best chips.

          What I'm speaking up about is the tone of "betrayal" that permeates so many of these diaries.  These "betrayals" include most all compromises, backing down when we don't have the votes, even outright losses.  It's as if some actually believe that just because something might be a good idea, we can pass it, and if we can't it's a betrayal.  This is not politically astute reasoning like yours.  To me it seems pretty politically immature.

          On the question of the payroll tax holidays affecting the funding of the fund, I believe Bruce Webb has it right below, and you both have it right on the uncertainty of an exit plan.

          But (this to Bruce, mainly) let's remember that FDR wasn't FDR either, during much of his time in office. And Obama's made no claims to be another FDR, though he does aspire to be as transformational as Reagan, in the opposite direction.  For me that'd be plenty.

          We won't know what's really gonna happen till it does.  Hence my objections when people cry betrayal when nothing's really happened.


      •  The Social Security payroll tax is the inflow (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to the Social Security Trust Fund, is it not?  So how can you say  suspending it for a year does not affect solvency.

        Where else will this several years of payments come from?  Why else would the Republicans have agreed to this?  Later, when we try to resume the payroll tax, they will scream we are "raising taxes," the same way they did, and are about the Bush "temporary" tax reductions."

        Returning to previous percentages is now denounced as a Democratic plan to raise taxes.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:33:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good sentiment. But poor fact checking. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, NCPSSM

          Social Security solvency was not placed at risk by this plan.

          Yet. Still The money is being replaced. For the time being.

          But you are perfectly correct that there is no viable exit strategy that will not be presented as a tax increase. Except one which will actually put traditional Social Security even more at risk. I'd give details but don't want to encourage the bad guys.

          Obama is not reliable on Social Security. One of his first three economic hires to his campaign team in 2007 was an avowed privatizer, Jeff Liebman co-author of the hideously anti-worker Liebman-MacGuineas-Samwick Non-Partisan Social Security Reform Plan (aka LMS). Whether the Liebmani hire was a cause or an effect of Obama's clear ambivalent, Neo-lib views of Social Security is an open question, all Iknow is that I started squealing about this here at DKOS and elsewhere even before the election.

          I support Obama, certainly as compared to J.S. McLame McSame or the current Clown Car Crew, but anyone who defends him as a consistent protector of traditional Social Security needs to take the admiration blinders off. Obama and still more his advisors have from the beginning subscribed to Neo-Lib economic theory and rejected New Deal/Great Society Social Democracy. As do both Clintons and all Climtonista/Rubinistas. In the current political climate maybe a Neo-Lib with a heart is the best we can get, that at least is my view. But Obama is not the Second Coming of FDR nor the heir of the New Deal. And certain supporters need to stop pretending he is.

          •  Thanks for the info Bruce, how are the reduced (0+ / 0-)

            Social Security payroll tax contributions being replaced to the Trust Fund.  

            I am an ardent supporter of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as you know, and would like to know all the details so I can defend it more effectively.


            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:03:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Simple transfer from the General Fund (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Tracked under its own line and fund number in Treasury's Monthly Trust Fund Reports. And as Nancy Altman (who along with being a top leader as co-director of Social Security Works is also by training a lawyer) and some othe top policy people have pointed out the legislative language is clear as to the hold harmless piece.

              Now the accounting and finance of the transfer on the General fund side is a little more murky but the FACTof the transfer is clear.

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