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View Diary: AFL-CIO policy director: 'No cover' for politicians on Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid cuts (162 comments)

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  •  I hear what you are saying but I disagree (1+ / 0-)
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    with your framing especially of the bolded parts.

    Assuming that you trust scientists and you accept their viewpoint on climate change, perhaps you can see the flaw in your argument by this analogy.

    If you go on any thread about climate change you will see arguments from the right that are very similar to your bolded part.  They will say something along the lines of "liberals have been claiming that our fossil fuel usage will cause out of control global warming.  Now, 30 years later, we still don't see out of control global warming or our coasts flooded as they predicted.  In fact, temperatures have flat lined for the last 15 years.  The liberals are still wrong."

    So I think we should take into consideration when the effects were supposed to take place.  On top of that, when SS was first in place in the 30's the total tax rate to fund it was 2 percent (total between employee and employer).  Now, nearly 8 decades later, in order for it not to go "bankrupt" we have increased the rate to 12.4 percent (6.2 percent for both employer and employee) and we have raised the retirement age.  And just for the record, I do think the "bankrupt" talk is overplayed.  When the Trustees say it will be bankrupt it doesn't mean that nobody will be getting SS checks.  It's just that it is estimated that the system will only generate enough revenue to pay approximately 75 percent of promised benefits.

    Now, the truth, at least as I can discern, is that neither SS, Medicare or Global Warming is a "crisis" in the sense that none of the really nasty effects are going to happen next year or even a decade from now.  But I think it would be wiser and easier to address these issues now rather than later.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 12:07:21 PM PDT

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    •  You equate Climate Deniers and SS Crisis Skeptics (1+ / 0-)
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      But clearly have never done the minimum due diligence to check out the numbers being used by the Social Security crisis mongers that like to present themselves as reluctant, we got to take our medicine 'Reformers'.

      Their math is crap. Self-serving deliberately designed to deceive crap based on a specific marketing strategy adopted by the Right back in Fall 1983. Short history lesson. In the wake of the 1983 Greenspan Commission that saved SS for a generation (and was never really supposed to do more than that) the Cato Institute gathered all the anti-SS warriors in a conference in NYC in June to make sure that this 'fiasco' (their term for the fix) would not be repeated the next time. The papers from that conference were published in the Fall 1983 issue of the Cato Journal under the joint title: Social Security: Continuing Crisis or Real Reform. Prominant among those papers was one by Stuart Butler and Peter Germanis called 'Achieving a Leninist Strategy' which spelled out a multi-decade plan specifically to undermine faith in Social Security among the generation not then yet known as 'Gen-X'. In retrospect the Right carried out the Leninist Strategy with precision going right through Bush's 2001 CSSS Commission to the latest publications by Kick the Can. And that strategy can be summed up simply and accurately as follows:

      Reassure Silents, Scare Gen-X, Blame Boomers. And it worked.

      The Cato issue is available online as v.3:2 as is the Butler and Germanis paper separately. Makes for fascinating reading, not least for us Boomers who have been beaten around the head and shoulders by tragically underinformed and deliberately misled Gen-Xers like our friend here.

      Can you say "Took the hook, the line AND the sinker"? I know I can. You only IMAGINE you have the SS 'science' on your side. There is in fact no equation working here at all.

      SocSec dot.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders Group

      by Bruce Webb on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 04:30:06 PM PDT

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      •  Bruce, (0+ / 0-)

        I am neither a climate scientist nor an actuarial.  So what I have to do is heavily rely on the experts in those respective fields.  You and I obviously disagree but let's see if we can have an honest moment between the two of us.

        I rely on the SS Trustees and I would like to think that you would agree that their ranks are not filled with CATO staff.  I agree that there isn't a "crisis" but the Trustees have been giving the same advice for the greater part of the last two decades.  In their words from this years' report:  

        "Lawmakers should address the financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible. Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."
        They also say things like SS, as a share of GDP, will grow from 4.2 to 6.2 percent over the next quarter century.  Likewise with Medicare which will grow from 3.6 percent to 5.6 percent.

        The far left says that these costs should all be born by the tax payers.  The far right says that these programs should just be cut (or eliminated) so that we don't incur these costs.  I am with neither of those sides.  I'm with the SS Trustees when they say we should deal with the issue sooner rather than later and I further add that we should do so in a way that is fair to seniors, boomers and their posterity.

        But as I said, like climate change, there are plenty of people who choose to deny what the experts in the field say because it doesn't sit well with their ideology.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 05:23:44 PM PDT

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        •  That is boilerplate (1+ / 0-)
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          As you yourself point out.

          If you read the Reports in sequence over the last 20 years are there really any signs that delay has actually limited options? Because I started reading them in detail starting with the 1997 Report and that same language appeared year after year even though in the face of inaction the actuarial outlook for Social Security improved every year until 2004. Yet there was nary of hint of this in the Summary (which is where the conclusion you cite appears). And in fact the options today are much the same as they would have been in 1997, start phasing in a tiny increase in FICA rates that would equal about 6% of the projected increase in Real Wage over the projection period. Or pretty much in line with the changes in rates since program inception.

          As to share of GDP. Currently Social Security pays benefits to around 17% of the population at a cost of just under 5% (I believe it is higher than 4.2%). Over the course of the next couple of decades the Social Security beneficiary population projects to increase to 25% of the population and take up (s you note) around 6.2% of GDP. Meaning that if we examine the amount of future productivity devoted to future retirees, their survivors and the disabled that their per capita share will remain pretty constant. In what world is this sharing of wealth, which after all their lifetime labor productivity contributed to, in the same proportions as retirees get today some sort of intergenerational outrage? Should we really keep the same share of the pie devoted to this population static even as their numbers increase? Sorry son (and you are young enough by your account to be such) the idea that my generation should not be expected to share in future wealth so that your kids can have extra whatever gadgets are 'necessary' in 2040 is the opposite of fairness.

          Medicare is a different story. But as Social Security Defenders like Dean Baker have been pointing out for  years now the growth in medical costs is almost entirely driven by the outsized compensation demanded by providers. And not just by the actual doctors and nurses but even more by the suppliers of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals that demand that preservation of their profit margins is paramount even if that means rationing care to the elderly and the poor. If instead we accepted returns to the medical industry across the board in line with those of every other developed country than every single bit of our future deficits just melts away.

          So once again you have fallen into a messaging trap that conflates two very different concerns into one SocialSecurityMedicareMedicaid monster.

          Plus your faith in the Trustees is touching. Because as you may or may not know all the Trustees are actually Presidential appointees and three of the six are Cabinet members serving ex officio. And of the three others two are the socalled 'Public Trustees' who in practice are the representatives of the leadership of Congress and by law have to be drawn from separate parties. And of the two current ones we have Charles Blahous, Bush's point man for Social Security Privatization for the Republicans  and known Deficit Hawk/Entitlements Skeptic and Peter G Peterson acolyte Robert Reichshouer for the other. With the last spot being held by the Bush era Deputy Commissioner in place of the departed Michael Astrue.

          That is the idea that the Trustees and the Summary section of the annual SS Report that is effectively their work product are some neutral technocrats is just the same PGP Leninist Strategy bullshit you have been slurping down all your life. Mostly because you have never known better. Because all 'serious' people agree. Kind of like 'efficient market hypothesis' and 'Iraqi WMD'.

          Maybe you might try some independent analysis of the work of actual 'experts in the field' rather than rote repetion of the work product of six political appointees. Because when you move beyond the Summary you are quoting and dig into the actual data tables the "sooner is better than later" conclusion just falls apart. It just ain't so, basically 20 years of inaction has left us with the same 2% 75year gap. Which makes nonsense of "sooner is better than later". Because if we had actually acted on the basis of the 1997 Report we would have had a massive impact on either payroll taxes or future benefits that in retrospect would have been pure overkill.

          Now the story is a little different with the last couple of Reports. Because a world wide employment recession did leave a mark on Social Security. As how could it not. But people were using the same lazy "I listen to the Trustees" messaging even when it made no numerical sense at all.

          Because Boilerplate. And speaking of 'fairness' what is YOUR proposal? Because you seem to have bought into "Feed Grandma Catfood to save my Kids Playstation 2033" messaging being sold by the billionaires todayl

          SocSec dot.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders Group

          by Bruce Webb on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 06:24:22 PM PDT

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          •  Right on! Smart organizing woman I worked with (1+ / 0-)
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            Bruce Webb

            yesterday stated the painfully typical "SS won't be there for me when I need it" line as fact.

            Ugh, another trusting, unknowing slurpee of said Cato bullshit. They do know how to get a message out   :o(

            As of 9pm 8/30/13: RETIRED Pie Warrior. Substance over Sh*t Flinging (as best as I am able) ~ JV

            by JVolvo on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 10:48:53 PM PDT

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            •  Cato actually offers the Free Lunch (1+ / 0-)
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              or Privatization

              While the "It Won't Be There For Me" messaging is mostly the product of the Peterson Nexus. Which is what I call the overlapping combo of organizations founded or funded by PGP including the Concord Coalition, CRFB (Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget), its offshoots the Rivlin-Domenici Commission and Fix the Debt and of course the paymaster the (with I shit you not $1 billion total committed endowment) Peter G Peterson Foundation.

              The Peterson folk push the line that we just have no choice but to feed Grandma Fancy Feast cat food. While Cato's Project for Social Security Choice (formally the Project for Social Security Privatization) insists that if Grandma just parks all her retirement money with Wall Street she will be dining on Beluga Caviar courtesy of the Magic of the Free Market and the Rule of Twelve.

              Do NOT confuse your Soulless Hard Libertarians and your Soulless Plutocrats. Even though both sides believe FDR was History's Greatest Monster and Social Security formerly the World's Most Dangerous Social Experiment. Now of course second to the Real WMDSE of Obamacare.

              More seriously there are distinctions in the broad front of Social Security haters, though of course much overlap as well. The Plutocrats like Peterson are not particularly adverse to taxation. As long as that taxation only falls on worker wages and worker consumption (in the end the same thing) and not on returns on capital. Give them a zero rate on that (like the full Ryan Roadmap would do) and BOOM you would find a bunch of social liberals. On the other hand the Hard Libertarians who Cato ostensibly speaks for are more Randite Sociopaths who hate moochers and looters on principle and want to see the Social Welfare State DEAD, DEAD, DEAD.

              You wouldn't find the same kind of "Think of the Children" messaging from Cato as you do from Kick the Can. Different messaging for different audiences.

              SocSec dot.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders Group

              by Bruce Webb on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 03:55:14 AM PDT

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              •  You rock. I see an awesome diary in your near (0+ / 0-)


                In my mind, they are all overlapping greedy bastards. However it is important to know which distinct sect is pushing which particular lie/policy.  And where the money comes from (PGP).  Well done, Bruce!

                * Was Concord Coalition evil/fake concern from the start? I remember - as a wet behind the ears mid-20s General Election only Dem - that "CC seemed like a good idea. It's got Tsongas and a Repub so it must be valid..." or whatever my uninformed mushbrain came up with.

                As of 9pm 8/30/13: RETIRED Pie Warrior. Substance over Sh*t Flinging (as best as I am able) ~ JV

                by JVolvo on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 07:06:36 AM PDT

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                •  Well my awesome DK diaries (0+ / 0-)

                  are mostly in my past these days. Mostly I just admin the Social Security Group here while blogging elsewhere.

                  Yes the Concord Coalition was evil to start with. It was the proto-type for Peterson's 'Bi-Partisan' group/commission/etc. In every case Peterson has found a deficit hawk Dem to balance out a mainstream conservative Republican to serve as the titular heads even as day to day direction mostly remains in the hands of his actual designees. This isn't particularly a secret, here is how Concord describes itself and its origins today


                  The Concord Coalition is a nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots organization advocating generationally responsible fiscal policy. The Concord Coalition was founded in 1992 by the late former Senator Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.), late former Senator Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson. Former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) serves as co-chair of the Concord Coalition.
                  While Tsongas was always a pretty good social liberal, he like Nunn have always been firmly in the DLC Sensible Centrist Business Friendly Camp.

                  And the key to understanding Concord and its followup organizations is to examine its figure-head Board of Directors and then the guy who actually runs the show, in this case Robert Bixby. Who reports to the guy that actually pays the bills, in this case the third 'co-founder' Pete Peterson.

                  Don't strain your eyes looking for a true left-progressive Dem anywhere on that list. Because such are simply not welcome at PGP funded groups.

                  SocSec dot.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders Group

                  by Bruce Webb on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 09:03:39 AM PDT

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