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View Diary: Lawrence O'Donnell : EPIC comments on Obama v FDR on SocSec (118 comments)

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  •  asdf (9+ / 0-)
    because they believed it was a necessary and prudent thing to do for the continued solvency of Social Security
    Solvency os SS is not at stake here.


    I hear the argument that a Dem should never reduce SS all the time but rarely if ever the one that claims that Obama is the first to do so. In other words we have a bit of a strawman in play here.

    •  Be fair... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, gramofsam1, Onomastic

      You have not seen the rage on his site about Obama being the first Democratic President to break FDR's pact?  

      I'd link you a dozen comments just from yesterday but all that would happen is I'd go through the trouble of searching and cut pasting and you would say "Well, those are just some people; not everyone is saying that."

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:02:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What's funny about your comment is (4+ / 0-)

        there has been tons of discussion of how the 1983 deal was supposed to fix Social Security forever.

        The irony is that Obama is arguing that we need to do this now to keep Paul Ryan from doing it.

        You are proving that Obama's claim is bullshit.

        •  Im not even touching Obama's claim (0+ / 0-)

          The We-first-before-Ryan is some bungled sounding defense. I forget the staffer that got quoted on saying that.  I don't know what point he was making but he made it poorly.

          But if you want to argue that this was not the best tactical move to counter the House GOP's budgetary goals, okay.. I agree a political discussion could be had there.  Bad negotiation tactic, bad timing on putting this on the table, the optics of how this will play, and plenty of other angles of nuance.

          But.. when someone rights a Front Page diary called "Failing to Respect the Third Rail", I think you need to recognize that many other politicians (including notable Democrats like Carter, Tip O'Neil(twice), and Bill Clinton have done MORE to cut Social Security then 0.3% reduction of an annual increase to retirement benefits and yet have not been utterly ruined and forever remembered as party-traitors that touched the 3rd rail at their peril.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:16:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Two things (4+ / 0-)

            It was not a FP diary and the point stands.

            Let's look at the 1983 reforms.

            The cut was in the raising of the retirement age and it was done by Reagan, Tip O'Neill and a Republican Senate.

            It's main component was RAISING the FICA tax. (I am actually surprised more people do not mention the real problem with that - which was the regressive nature of the tax.)

            There actually was a REAL crisis on Social Security at that time - the huge baby boomer bulge.

            By contrast, Obama does not face a baby boomer bulge, does and does not propose increasing FICA taxes.

            It is just a stupid proposal and I am absolutely sure FDR would never propose this.

            As for the 1977 cuts, Jimmy Carter is hardly the political model to follow I would say.

            As for the 1990s cuts, Clinton "President Clinton taxed benefits for higher-income Social Security beneficiaries, which had the practical effect of cutting benefits for quite a few retirees."

            Clinton raised taxes on higher income benficiaries.

            Let Obama propose THAT and I'll be the first one in line supporting him.

            I do not see that as a Social Security benefits cut. I see that as raising taxes on wealthy Americans.

            •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Onomastic, delphine

              Now we're talking policy

              I want to answer your points, but I do have one question:

              By contrast, Obama does not face a baby boomer bulge,
              How can you say this?  The definition of Baby-Boomer is those born from 1946 until about 1964 (the end date sometimes varies).  Full retirement age for SocSec is 67; so the first baby boomers born in 1946 start retiring in 2013.  .. though obviously many have already entered SocSec by retiring early, but their full benefits are only now kicking in.  And the spike of the Baby Boom was 47-48 with a long high plateau stretching from '53-'58.

              One could argue that Reagan was benefiting most from this large swath of the populace nearing their prime earning years; it is Obama that will face the retirements.

              I don't think FICA taxes should be raised again as this tax is more regressive anyway given the cap, and if we raise the cap then we either need to raise proportionate benefits (and I don't want to be paying retired millionaires $200K/year on SocSec) or openly convert SS to a welfare system.

              Also, yes Tip O'Neill brokered it but a majority of Dems in the Senate voted for it as well.

              You dismiss the Carter thing out of hand, yet that is precisely the most relevant.  We had an automatic COLA model in place from a previous administration that was deemed to be increasing too fast so we cut it.  That is exactly what Obama is proposing here.  Carter's argument was that it was just out of hand and would grow to fast and eventually bankrupt SS.  Obama's seems to be more that C-CPI is a more accurate measure of consumer costs.  I don't know if I agree with that because of the media pearl-clutching and horse-race shit I can't find hard enough numbers on these calculations, specifically on how fuel and energy costs are or are not included in these models.

              For Clinton though, I'm glad that you would support another approach like this.  I think further means testing on SS is an option that should have been on the table before fiddling around the edges of COLA formulas.

              Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

              by Wisper on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 08:13:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Trust fund baby boomers (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                To wit, even under the worst assumptions, Social Security is funded for 20 years  BECAUSE of the 1983 reform.

                Obama clearly does not face the Baby Boomer problem and his changes are not intended to address that.

                As for Clinton, you call it means testing, I call it taxation.

                Means testing would change benefits, not tax rates.

                Here's what I would do, I would make Soc Sec benefits fully taxable but exempt all income from income tax for the first 50k.

                I would also lift the cap on FICA taxes for incomes over 400k.

                •  I'll happily call it taxation (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  and still support it.

                  I would stand right with you on the Soc Sec benefits fully taxable with a $50k exemption.  $50k would be on my high side but with full taxation I wouldn't quibble.

                  But raising the cap?  To be clear, would you still keep the rate at 6.2%?  Still allow cap-gains to remain exempt?  ...and would you allow the payment formula to scale up accordingly so the people that contributed on their years of $400k earnings would receive proportionately higher payments?

                  For me, I think that would have to be the case out of fairness, but the idea of that level of SocSec benefits really undermines the concept of this being an anti-poverty wage insurance program.  That's where I struggle.

                  Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

                  by Wisper on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 08:47:56 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  More horse shit. (0+ / 0-)
                We had an automatic COLA model in place from a previous administration that was deemed to be increasing too fast so we cut it.  That is exactly what Obama is proposing here.
                Maybe that COLA model actually was increasing benefits too fast. The finances of Social Security were certainly perilous. In 1977, Carter wrote:
                Today, the Board of Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds is submitting its 1977 report to the Congress. The report tells us that the system critically needs financial support in the short term. The high unemployment of recent years has curtailed Social Security's revenues, while benefits have risen with inflation. Since 1975 expenditures have exceeded income; and existing reserves will soon be exhausted.

                Unless we act now, the Disability Insurance Trust (DI) Fund will be exhausted in 1979 and the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund will run out in 1983.


                So the DI trust fund was going to run out in two years and OASI was going to run out in six. Not in 20 years, as the situation is now.

                The fact remains that the current COLA model does not increase benefits fast enough to keep up with seniors' rising costs and Obama is proposing to cut it.

                What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

                by expatjourno on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 01:07:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  So, you are presumably OK with Chained CPI (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Armando, penguins4peace, expatjourno

        and are entitled to that opinion but this does seem a bit like clutching at straws.

        Personally I'd rather just have the argument on its own merits, i.e. that  a solution to a non existent problem is being used to redirect money up the food chain.

        This is an abomination for two reasons:
        The money belongs to those at the bottom
        Those at the top have enough anyway.

        That is the discussion we should be having and I have yet to see a good argument from the pro chainers.

        •  Im not pro-chain (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I would have rather seen more means testing if we wanted to reduce benefits.  I'm not crazy anti-chain though, or at least not anti-chain enough to fit in around here lately; I just don't see it as that big of a policy thing and have been viewing it more as a political tactic at this point since it seems to be going nowhere legislatively.

          But I am very much anti-pouty outrage coupled with an absence of facts.

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 08:15:29 AM PDT

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      •  The rage is about the cut, not its originality (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Armando, Lady Libertine, leonard145b

        You might find a comment or two making the claim O'Donnell is debunking, but it's classic diversion.  He's avoiding the controversy on the merits of the policy by arguing a completely different question.  A lousy lawyer could come up with a better trick than that.

        If you want to cut Social Security, you're not a real Democrat.

        by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:22:59 AM PDT

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        •  And to be clear (3+ / 0-)

          The one previous "reform" that is like this one was Jimmy Carter's.

          But a title "Jimmy Carter would support Chained CPI" is not quite as compelling is it?

          •  O'Donnell is infatuated with Frances Perkins (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Armando, leonard145b

            He's been singing her praises the last two nights, which is a wonderful history lesson.  But he's threatened to apparently hold a seance to ask her ghost to justify chained-CPI tonight, or so I inferred from his remarks last night.  You might watch it if you can stomach him.

            It might be the most comical thing since Antonin Scalia acting as a medium to tell us all the Founding Fathers agree with him, yet again.

            If you want to cut Social Security, you're not a real Democrat.

            by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:34:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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