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View Diary: Social Security and David Plouffe: An Action Diary (Updated) (123 comments)

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  •  we already means test it (18+ / 0-)

    You have to pay tax on up to 50% of your social security income if you make over a certain level of other income.

    That is the easiest way to means test it and it's already in place. Done. Take it off your list.

    So what we are really taking about is COLA and retirement age. And they should be left alone. Tweak  FICA to take care of the problem in 2037.

    •  Only earned income (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jakbeau, OLinda, akeitz, divineorder

      you can have any amount of unearned income and still get full social security benefits

      •  well then that can be addressed (9+ / 0-)

        I have always felt all income should be taxed the same anyway, so open the tax to all income over a certain amount. Yeah, I bet the conservatives will jump on taxing unearned income, their favorite kind of income.

        But face it, the real target is retirement age and COLA. That's where they can really gut the fish.

        Hands off those.

        •  I'm an optomist (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I don't think they can raise it higher than 67 (already there for those born in 60 or later) and really hope this will be about addressing the inequities, raising the cap, maybe even exempting the first 10k of income . . .

          •  That's not being optomistic. That's ignoring (6+ / 0-)

            who's on the Commission, and their public records.

            Ask the CPC why they're not trying to defund the Catfood Commission.

            by JesseCW on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 06:49:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No I think many are ignoring (0+ / 0-)

              who is on the commission except for Simpson
              for whatever reason he's the only one getting attention

              •  He is not the only one who has a history (4+ / 0-)

                of hostility.  Bowlesis almost as bad.  In terms of people who are relatively reliable liberals, Becerra, Durbin, Schakowsky, and Stern.  Two are strong Obama allies from Illinois.  It only takes fourteen votes to get their recommendations passed.

                •  Add Spratt and Rivlin, and that's six (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  akeitz, yella dawg

                  on the commission who are unlikely to vote for SS benefit cuts. Rep. Spratt's voting record is good and Alice Rivlin's blog indicates she does not favor raising the age eligibility, and does favor raising the income cap. Ann Fudge's views are not public, but she's a Democrat.

                  Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                  by SoCalSal on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 07:21:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Don't add Spratt and Rivlin (4+ / 0-)

                    Probably not Fudge either.  "She's a Democrat."  So is Ben Nelson.

                    Some reading here.  RJ Eskow on Rivlin. And this:

                    In 2004 Rivlin co-authored (with Obama's current Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, among others) a 138-page Brookings report titled "Restoring Fiscal Sanity" advocating $47 billion in entitlement cuts, including an "increase in the retirement age under Social Security" and "more accurate inflation adjustments to Social Security benefits."

                    Keep in mind that she supported this plan before most of Bush's military expenditures, before the Great Recession, and before the financial bailouts. If that's not enough, Rivlin, who gave roughly $10,000 to Obama's 2008 campaign, was also on the board of Public Agenda Foundation with Peter Peterson, the private equity kingpin who has devoted literally billions to destroying Social Security during his lifetime. Public Agenda has organized research and events to refine elite strategies for pushing deficit reduction, including entitlement reform.

                    Obama's fifth pick is Ann Fudge, a major campaign bundler who already spends a bit of time around tables with the American banking elite. Fudge was chairman of the board of advertising firm Young & Rubicam Brands, which includes former Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz, until 2006. She's now on the boards of Brookings and Rockefeller Foundation, both teeming with top Wall Street elites (including Prince, Parsons, Gupta, Hutchins, Johnson, Rubenstein and Wolstencroft, to name a few), as well as GE and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.


                    The Peterson Foundation is joined by leading "blue dog" (anti-deficit) Democrats such as House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina and his counterpart in the Senate, Kent Conrad of North Dakota. The deficit hawks are promoting a "grand bargain" in which a bipartisan commission enacts spending caps on social insurance as the offset for current deficits.

                    More here on Spratt.

                    •  Give me some direct and recent quotes (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      and I could change my perception, because I find nothing in Hamsher's opinion article meaningful (no surprise to me there, Hamsher goes through contortions in attempts to support her preconceptions). I don't know Spratt, but did my own research. His voting record is solidly D and he's been rated in favor of senior issues by the ARA. Spratt is not listed on the roster of "blue dog" Democrats, so Hamsher's describing him as blue dog doesn't make him one. Spratt is on the House budget committee, so of course he participates in budget related discussions. As Hamsher admits, it's not known what Spratt's opinions were in some of the 1990s discussions. Hamsher cites Spratt's fight against Bush's SS privatization plan, cites Spratt's interest in an attractive supplemental retirement savings plan, and then she concludes  with, "Put Spratt down as "open to Social Security benefit cuts" and a history of support for some type of privatization." Really, I don't know how anyone can take Hamsher seriously.

                      As for Rivlin, I got her position from her own recent blog, which specifically discussed the various SS options under discussion by the fiscal commission, and her conclusion about raising caps. Rivlin cites the pitfalls of raising SS age eligibility and states that "the proponents" of raising the age would find that doesn't save much money for SS.

                      As for Ann Fudge, that a CEO sits on various boards is not a reliable predictor of her party affiliation or position on protecting SS. I'm highly, highly skeptical of "guilt by association" predictions, and find much of fdl's assertions are based on nothing more substantial than that.

                      Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                      by SoCalSal on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 09:12:34 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Did you note that there were four sources (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        cited?  Unreal how a url with FDL in it seems to cause so much angst among some.  There were direct quotes with links in the FDL piece if you didn't want to take it from the hated Hamsher.  I notice you did't link to the supposedly contrary statements in Rivlin's blog.

                        •  Rivlin's blog is linked in Eskow's article (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          that you included in your previous post. I recommend reading Rivlin's own writing instead of the interpretation by free-lance reporter Eskow, then form your own opinion.

                          I do appreciate that you took time to link all those articles in your previous post. I don't hate Hamsher, I have no respect for her work. Her writing is sub-par, biased, sloppy, inaccurate, frequently self-contradictory and illogical.

                          Hamsher's article on Rivlin (also linked in your earlier post) is as shoddy as the article she wrote on Spratt. Hamsher begins that article with the claim that Rivlin wants to cut SS "so John Boehner can spend it on wars." Not only is that laughably false -- Rivlin is a true deficit hawk, Boehner is just a political hack -- but Hamsher's only apparent basis for her claim is that Rivlin has described some of the same scenarios that Boehner proposes. Rivlin is an economist who describes many scenarios, which gives Hamsher and friends lots of opportunities to misrepresent Rivlin's views.

                          Personally, I wish Rivlin was more hawkish about reducing the Pentagon budget, but she has written scenarios for cuts there, too.  

                          Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                          by SoCalSal on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 08:19:23 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I have read that article in the past (0+ / 0-)

                            and bookmarked it.  When you were talking about a blog I thought it was something I hadn't seen and couldn't find any references to it.  I reread it now, all the way to the end.  I still see her as being in the camp of wanting to raise the retirement age, in spite of the fancy footwork.

                            US News has her on audio talking about how entitlement programs are the reason for the deficit.  I think it hurts her credibility that she doesn't mention the defense budget, war costs, or the Bush tax cuts.  

                            On thing about the Commission that is troubling (among many) is that it has budget experts like Rivlin, but no Social Security experts.  Krugmanmakes the point that you can think of Social Security as a stand-alone entity that should keep its own fiscal house in order, or as part of the budget.  But you shouldn't switch the frame to serve a desired result.  

                            By that I mean, most people think you could close the 22% gap in 2037 by lifting the cap on income subject to withholding, or increasing the amount of the tax, or some combination.  If SS is a stand-along program and a small fix will "save" it to use Rivlin's words, then why not do that?  

                            And if it is part of the budget, then the status of the trust funds is of less interest than the over-all health of the budget, and there is no "crisis" specific to SS.  

                            If we are going for long-term deficit reduction then it should not be at the expense of entitlement programs that people have paid into with the promise of a return when they turn 65.  Especially given the leaks out of the commission about what they are considering, ie, no defense cuts (except making military pay for their own benefits), no tax hikes, and cuts to SS and Medicare.

                            The irony of cutting benefits now to avoid cutting them in 2037 is lost on Alice Rivlin, as far as I can tell.  The SS Commissioner says:

                               [A]t a press conference Thursday, Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, one of the government trustees releasing the report, begged reporters not to scare the public by exaggerating the significance of trust fund exhaustion

                               "That does not mean that there will be no money left," Astrue said. At that point, even if Congress took no action, Social Security could still pay out 78 percent of expected benefits from annual revenues. "That would be a bad result, but it is a far cry from having no benefits at all," he said.

                            Raising the retirement age is a 15 or 20% cut depending who is arguing it and I'm not going to look for those links now.  If the Commission recommends doing that now, the dreaded shortfall of 2037 will come to seniors decades early.  Maybe I'm missing something, but I just think: how stupid is that?

                            Or maybe it's intentional to satisfy other objectives.  Rivlin raises the spectre of Greece, which Eskow and Krugman have derided.  She does say we should want to look good for the markets and demonstrated how tough and responsible we are by taking care of our deficit problems now.  And she keeps coming back to entitlements as the only answer.

                            I might be donating $10 to charity, but I don't think it will be on account of my friendly wager.

                        •  about direct quotes (0+ / 0-)

                          There were direct quotes with links in the FDL piece if you didn't want to take it from the hated Hamsher.  I notice you did't link to the supposedly contrary statements in Rivlin's blog.

                          As usual, Hamsher selectively uses a direct quote or two to bolster her suppositions; Eskow did the same thing in his article. Quotes are all too frequently misleading and out of context, don't reveal the truth of the person being quoted. Everyone should be wary of taking much meaning from a selective direct quote. Shirley Sherrod anyone?

                          If I were to quote from Rivlin's blog, I'd probably have to quote the entirety of the first paragraph and the last two or three paragraphs, and you'd still not have the benefit of Rivlin's own thinking.

                          Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                          by SoCalSal on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 11:14:35 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  Nah, its up to you now to provide links support (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        your rw arguments. Waiting for those links please, to show support for your opinion.

                        •  my *rw* arguments? that's funny. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          If you had asked nicely, I'd happily give you the link to the Rivlin blog. Instead, you can go to your comments section and Parent up to 2laneIA's post to me with all the links. Rivlin's piece is linked near the top of the Eskow disaster. Rivlin's piece is long and needs reading to conclusion.

                          Or you can do a web search yourself. Either way, it's far better to read original writing and make up your own mind than to accept Hamsher's second hand blather as truth.

                          Hope you enjoy yourself.

                          Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                          by SoCalSal on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 10:56:02 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Ok, I do apologize. However, IMHO you really (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            have made no strong case, just speculation and wishful thinking.

                            Whereas the diarist has done his homework and has his experience in a face to face with a senior Democratic Party advisor.

                          •  His as in third person general, but thanks for (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            the info :)  Could have written 'his/her' !

                            FYI, I am a his.


                          •  good to know (0+ / 0-)

                            although the divine order includes Her as well...

                          •  Aha. I first wrote s/he and changed to he after (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            reading divineorder's post. I'll try to remember your gender.

                            Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                            by SoCalSal on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 11:45:34 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You don't need to. (0+ / 0-)

                            It always seems as though people assume I'm a boy.   Maybe I should be sweeter.  Or not.

                          •  I made no criticism of the diarist or diary. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            2laneIA, divineorder

                            And I think it's great that he took the opportunity to speak with Plouffe and is active with OFA, then diaried his experience.

                            I criticize Hamsher. The diarist and I are discussing members of the fiscal commission. The diarist didn't get any insights on commission members from Plouffe.

                            I do my own homework, and my homework tells me that Hamsher's writing is wrong. Anyone can get Spratt's bio and voting record, find the Blue Dog roster, and the ARA ratings. Hamsher didn't do that. BTW, is a valuable resource. Spratt is ranked as anti-business by the Chamber of Commerce, I didn't mention that.

                            Rivlin's blog is here. I hope you read the entire memo and make up your own mind.

                            Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                            by SoCalSal on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 11:41:50 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Will do thks for sharing the links! (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            2laneIA, SoCalSal

                            Now I have homework  so I will have a better grip on your point of view.

                            My skepticism over the intentions of the Obama Admin and the Dem Leadership existed before this diary, and after the Transparency President made closed door deals with Big Pharma hospitals I want to see more than just nice speeches.

                            BTW, though Jane herself is not my favorite,  I don't accept the wholesale rejection of FDL as some do here, and see FDL as a valuable addition to blogdom, even when I disagree.

                          •  If you or SoCalSal write a diary (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            about this, which I endorse, I hope you will leave Jane Hamsher out of it.  You'll get a pack of flying monkeys screeching at each other instead of a discussion.  FWIW

                          •  Homework done. Still not seeing it though.. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            2laneIA, SoCalSal

                            Rifkin says, among other things:

                            Many insist that Social Security, because of its separate funding, plays no part in projected federal deficits (also wrong), and therefore should be exempt from the deficit-cutting exercise.

                            The 'friends' he alludes to are mostly of a certain political stripe it appears.

                            Nice job of folksy writing as 'perception management.'

                            Perhapshe/she not Brookings conservative in residence, but its clear to me that is part of the deficit 'must be cut' and 'lets cut entitlements and help the markets' set who write as if to promote fairness and economic strength. Fail.

                            In this piece he promotes several of the 5 myths of Social Security (with footnotes)
                            Top 5 Social Security Myths

                            Rumors of Social Security's demise are greatly exaggerated. But some powerful people keep spreading lies about the program to scare people into accepting benefit cuts. Can you check out this list of Social Security myths and share it with your friends, family and coworkers?

                            In addition, he is wrongheaded in his emphasis on deficits vis a vis our economic problems and reform--see Galbraith remarks to the Def Commish

                            James K. Galbraith, "There Is No Economic Justification for Deficit Reduction":

                            Thanks for contributing to the dialogue at Dkos.

                          •  It's Alice Rivlin ;-) (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            2laneIA, divineorder

                            and she has been pushing for deficit reduction for years.

                            Can't write more now, out of time, gotta run. If okay with you I might comment tomorrow.Thanks for reading Rivlin's memo.

                            Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                            by SoCalSal on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 01:23:45 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  apologies (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            apologies for leaving the conversation yesterday, I had to leave to pick someone up. Now I'm not sure that you'll even see this reply.

                            Alice Rivlin was CBO director in the Clinton administration and she probably has a sense of ownership in the deficit reduction accomplished during those years. She's a centrist Democrat who has been hawkish about deficits throughout her long career. I'm not attempting to start a Rivlin fan club, just want to put her beliefs in some context.

                            Alice Rivlin served as the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office, as director of the Office of Management and Budget, as vice-chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and as chair of the District of Columbia Control Board. She is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and is director of the Greater Washington Research Program. She is the author or editor of several books, including Systematic Thinking for Social Action: H. Rowan Gaither Lectures in Systems Science and Restoring Fiscal Sanity: How to Balance the Budget (co-edited with Isabel V. Sawhill). Her most recent work, co-edited with Joseph R. Antos, is Restoring Fiscal Sanity 2007: The Health Spending Challenge.

                            My personal preference would be to improve social safety nets and reduce Pentagon spending and corporate welfare.

                            Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                            by SoCalSal on Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 01:14:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I used to think of her as one of the good (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            "guys."  But she has led a comfortable life surrounded by people who also lead comfortable lives.  That is also her context.  Out here in rural Iowa, there are people who lives their lives in a very different context, and for whom Social Security is truly the safety net.  For her to be grand bargaining around with their welfare so the bond markets won't think we're Greece shows her obliviousness to the reality of what Social Security does.

                            We should be lowering the retirement age and expanding benefits.

                          •  then we read her differently (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            which is okay.

                            I read her memo as shooting down proposals to raise the SS age eligibility, and to protect SS in future by making small adjustments now to reduce SS benefits to the wealthy, raise the income cap, possibly increase FICA. I support all of those, don't want SS benefits reduced in 2037 or ever. So make small adjustments now or take a chance on painful adjustments later.

                            And I definitely agree with you on this:

                            We should be lowering the retirement age and expanding benefits.

                            Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                            by SoCalSal on Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 03:06:58 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

          •  I am just frustrated (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            akeitz, 2laneIA, Kitsap River, kurt, yella dawg

            We should own this issue, especially in an election year like this. We shouldn't have to guess what will be proposed. And every Democratic politician should  say emphatically, "no cuts to COLA, no increase in retirement age," when a constituent who is active in the party asks a straight forward question about those issues.  

            Hope your optimism is warranted.

          •  I wish I could share your optimism. (5+ / 0-)

            But the available evidence is that you're wrong.  Steny Hoyer is the House Majority leader and he has openly said that raising the retirement age should be considered.  Ditto James Clyburn.  70 is the number that keeps being mentioned by the Great Mentioners.

          •  There is no need to do any of these things. The (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            system is working just fine, thanks.

      •  But if your income is over the threshold, your (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Social Security is still subject to income tax.  You get paid your benefit, but your tax liability goes up if your income is over the cutoff.  The net result is that the amount of money that you can keep to spend on yourself is reduced.  

        Renewable energy brings national security.

        by Calamity Jean on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 12:47:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Of course I knew that. But (0+ / 0-)

      that doesn't change the fact that there are plenty of people receiving after tax dollars, lots of them, every month when they are basically rich. That just isn't right, they (at some point) shouldn't get ANY after-tax dollars.

      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

      by doc2 on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 06:31:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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