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Bink's Diary last Thursday highlighting Ben Bernanke's comments that "Social Security is where the money is" (and is thereby logical fodder for the chainsaw) seems to confirm William Greider's warning written this February for The Nation magazine:

Governing elites in Washington and Wall Street have devised a fiendishly clever "grand bargain" they want President Obama to embrace in the name of "fiscal responsibility." The government, they argue, having spent billions on bailing out the banks, can recover its costs by looting the Social Security system. They are also targeting Medicare and Medicaid. The pitch sounds preposterous to millions of ordinary working people anxious about their economic security and worried about their retirement years. But an impressive armada is lined up to push the idea--Washington's leading think tanks, the prestige media, tax-exempt foundations, skillful propagandists posing as economic experts and a self-righteous billionaire spending his fortune to save the nation from the elderly.

This is ...The Plan our Overlords have devised to ensnare our President into taking more from the middle class to accomodate the continued comforts of the Gulfstream Guard.  And sadly, it looks like Obama may be giving them a hearing, which Chris Bowers aptly describes as a "national suicide pact"(Bowers might also have termed it a "political suicide pact," given the fact that Seniors are already being demagogued on Health Care reform):

Congress and the president enact explicit long-term budgets for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that are sustainable, set limits on automatic spending growth, and reduce the relatively favorable budgetary treatment of these programs compared with other types of expenditures.
The programs be reviewed on a regular schedule by the Social Security and Medicare Trustees or the Congressional Budget Office to determine whether they will remain within budgeted amounts.
Significant long-term deviations from budgeted amounts trigger automatic adjustments in benefits, premiums, provider payments, or other revenues. These adjustments could only be over-ridden by an explicit vote of Congress and acceptance by the president.

By way of explanation, the outsize Federal budget deficits under Reagan necessitated hiking the FICA tax substantially in order to fund Social Security. Most of you see that deduction on your paychecks. The idea was to provide for the baby boomer generation when its massive ranks began to retire.

As result of these taxes, Social Security accumulated a vast, 2.5 trillion dollar surplus.  Good news for a generation of retirees, right? Well, sorta. That money has been spent.  When you hear someone talking about "Social Security in Crisis," that's what they're talking about. That's the "crisis." They're talking about the fact that Uncle Sam owes back that vast amount of money it has already spent.

Every year the Treasury has borrowed the surplus revenue collected by Social Security and spent the money on other purposes--whatever presidents and Congress decide, including more tax cuts for monied interests. The Social Security surplus thus makes the federal deficits seem smaller than they are--around $200 billion a year smaller. Each time the government dipped into the Social Security trust fund this way, it issued a legal obligation to pay back the money with interest whenever Social Security needed it to pay benefits.

                           *   *   *  

That moment of reckoning is approaching. Uncle Sam owes these trillions to Social Security retirees and has to pay it back or look like just another deadbeat.

So, what to do? Ah, there's the rub!

But if the government cuts the benefits first, it can push off repayment far into the future, and possibly forever. Otherwise, government has to borrow the money by selling government bonds or extend the Social Security tax to cover incomes above the current $107,000 ceiling

That is what these "concerned" foundations and think-tanks, apparently now joined by the head of the Federal Reserve, are proposing. Cutting ordinary Americans' Benefits to pay for what the government already spent.  And they're pressuring Obama to buy into it.

Obama is also playing footsie with the conservative advocates of "entitlement reform" (their euphemism for cutting benefits). The president wants the corporate establishment's support on many other important matters, and he recently promised to hold a "fiscal responsibility summit" to examine the long-term costs of entitlements. That forum could set the trap for a "bipartisan compromise" that may become difficult for Obama to resist, given the burgeoning deficit. If he resists, he will be denounced as an old-fashioned free-spending liberal.

Obama did in fact hold a Fiscal Responsibility Summit, by the way. Remember
that? Me neither.

So,who are the authors of this enterprise?

The authors of this plan are sixteen economists from Brookings and Heritage, joined by the American Enterprise Institute, the Concord Coalition, the New America Foundation, the Progressive Policy Institute and the Urban Institute. "Our group covers the ideological spectrum," they claim

Not exactly, as Greider points out.

All these organizations are corporate-friendly and dependent on big-money contributors. No liberal or labor thinkers need apply, though the group includes some formerly liberal economists like Robert Reischauer, Alice Rivlin and Isabel Sawhill


And who is its point man? A concerned billionaire  named Pete Peterson.  We're so lucky to have those concerned billionaires! Why, Newsweek just printed a heartwarming piece of self-adulation authored by Mr. Peterson, filled with such wondrous quotes as:

But immediately I began wondering: what do I do with $1 billion? The idea of trying to make the money grow felt empty to me.

He gave the "billion" to his own "foundation." What a soulful individual. The tender billionaire.... Oops? Not so tender?

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, is against nationalizing health care in the US.  Health care is one of the single biggest holes in the US social safety net today with record numbers of Americans going bankrupt to pay for essential medical care.  The foundation is also against clean energy incentives, social security expansion, and extended unemployment benefits.  Basically, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation is against some of President Obama's most socially relevant reforms.

Step back and conceptualize this for for  a minute. This is your money. It came out of your paycheck. It will continue to come out of your paycheck. Your money, that you've faithfully let slide into the government's pocket with the assumption that it was going to pay for the Social Security you get when you retire. This is WHAT THEY WANT TO LOOT to pay off their DEFICIT.  Not by raising taxes on billionaires like Mr. Peterson. Not by raising taxes on behemoth corporations offshoring their grunt work to farmers in India. You. They want YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY.  To pay for Bush's Trillion Dollar Iraq Fiasco, among other Bailouts of AIG, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, to name just a few.

Who exactly are the Greedy Bastards pushing this?

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is a conservative think tank founded in 1943. Its stated mission is "to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate."

They're the same people who caused the Economic Disaster to begin with:

AEI scholars are considered to be some of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy.[2] More than twenty AEI scholars and fellows served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions.[3] Among the prominent former government officials now affiliated with AEI are former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, now an AEI senior fellow; former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities Lynne Cheney, a longtime AEI senior fellow; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Well that's the AEI. How about the "New America Foundation"?

The New America Foundation is a Washington D.C.-headquartered think tank which states that it "invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States ... With an emphasis on big ideas, impartial analysis and pragmatic solutions, New America invests in outstanding individuals whose ability to communicate to wide and influential audiences can change the country's policy discourse in critical areas, bringing promising new ideas and debates to the fore

Isn't it reassuring that we have our Billionaire class looking after our interests? The New America Foundation contains such luminaries as Eric Schmidt as its Chairman of the Board of Directors. Schmidt is the CEO of Google. It also boasts such ideologically diverse names as Laura Tyson and Francis Fukuyama, the repentant neocon and utterly clueless historian.  And last but not least among its members is multimillionaire Christine Todd Whitman , she of EPA fame, whose last notable achievement was lying about the toxic air quality at Ground Zero so Wall Street could remain open for business while the firemen and police involved in the recovery effort continued to breathe fumes in a potentially toxic cauldron.

Aren't you glad these people are looking out for your Social Security money?

To be fair, New America also tolerates folks like Michael Lind who recognizes this bogus sleight of hand for what it is.  Recognizing the argument that rather than our tax dollars, the Trust Fund contains

government bonds that are simply IOUs, a measure of how much the government owes the system." So government bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, a government that has never defaulted on its obligations in its entire existence since 1776, are not actual assets? Really?

Here's Peterson again, back in 2000, telling us it's time to tell the elderly they need to "adjust and prepare." So rich coming from a Billionaire:

"Our leaders face a choice. They can address the question of entitlements for the elderly while the economy is still booming and the budget is in the black, and before most baby boomers retire. Or they can delay until the window of opportunity closes. Either way, America will change course. If we act now, everyone, young and old, will have time to adjust and prepare."

Read the rest of the article and you'll see the "choice" is between cutting benefits or raising taxes, presumably on folks like Pete Peterson.

I have a Modest Proposal for Mr. Peterson. How about we nationalize 2 (just 2!) of your purported 2.8 Billion in Net Worth, and give 2 million Americans a check for $1000 each? It may not solve the deficit you folks created with your laissez-faire economic theories, but it might help out with the heating bills during this supposedly mild winter.

And I'm happy to give you time to "adjust and prepare."

And then we'll tap the folks who who make up the American Enterprise Institute, and so on. Because that's pretty much what you're proposing to do to us.

But let's let our Fed Chairman have the last word, shall we?

Bernanke worked to assure the committee he had nothing against old people. "I’m not in any way advocating unfair treatment of the elderly, who have worked all their lives and certainly deserve our support and help, but if there are ways to restructure or strengthen these programs that reduce costs, I think that’s extraordinarily important for us to try to achieve," he said.

Here it comes...

Originally posted to Dartagnan on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:02 AM PST.

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  •  I've heard that Billionaires (358+ / 0-)
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    jbou, Renee, Sharon, Alumbrados, Ed in Montana, Angie in WA State, northsylvania, Yosef 52, LeislerNYC, Chi, hester, lapin, grollen, Rayne, XOVER, irmaly, badger, Gooserock, pHunbalanced, DebtorsPrison, wu ming, LynChi, mntleo2, meg, akeitz, eeff, x, acuppajo, RFK Lives, Jerome a Paris, hubcap, bara, opinionated, bronte17, magnetics, MD patriot, highacidity, bluesteel, chuckvw, Dont Just Stand There, buckhorn okie, otto, MisterOpus1, chimpy, JuliaAnn, Ignacio Magaloni, ornerydad, jjhalpin, TampaCPA, evelette, fumie, ctsteve, Jesterfox, drmls, splashy, Cedwyn, Getreal1246, psnyder, figbash, wordene, grannyhelen, waf8868, GN1927, Bluehawk, TX Scotia, Catte Nappe, betson08, RebeccaG, Wayward Wind, inclusiveheart, barbwires, Diana in NoVa, side pocket, Silverbird, Kitsap River, randallt, Lefty Mama, Marcus L Salyer, Deward Hastings, bablhous, Josiah Bartlett, rmx2630, Sybil Liberty, Julie Gulden, Big Tex, chumley, jabney, historys mysteries, sandblaster, radarlady, 3goldens, salmo, NoMoreLies, tle, Jeffersonian Democrat, denise b, greycat, el dorado gal, CTPatriot, socks, disrael, PBen, KnotIookin, electricgrendel, panicbean, Simplify, truong son traveler, ChemBob, kaye, drewfromct, TigerMom, reflectionsv37, ratzo, fixxit, bleeding blue, LNK, Heartcutter, Pam from Calif, Sun Tzu, CarolynC967, jimreyn, where4art, GreyHawk, blue jersey mom, SheriffBart, johnrhoffman, FightTheFuture, neroden, deepsouthdoug, dsteffen, bunsk, JanL, Jim R, Jim P, debedb, martini, third Party please, Showman, mary4, Hirodog, Crazy like a fox, sierrartist, vigilant meerkat, tobendaro, quotemstr, whitewidow, HoundDog, ruleoflaw, dykester, buckstop, fromer, kck, greenearth, blueoasis, KozmoD, NBBooks, MJ via Chicago, nonnie9999, Glorfindel, Libby Shaw, imabluemerkin, tapestry, real world chick, PapaChach, bleeding heart, el cid, gabriella, sceptical observer, ER Doc, Pilgrim X, 5x5, profh, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, fiddlingnero, Dreaming of Better Days, blueoregon, kurt, PhilW, CharlieHipHop, markthshark, mapman, illusionmajik, Aaa T Tudeattack, NonnyO, Bobjack23, DBunn, tegrat, One Pissed Off Liberal, J Royce, Noor B, RWood, dotdot, lightfoot, xaxado, Ken in MN, dotsright, miamiboats, blue armadillo, dmh44, milkbone, leema, DocbytheBay, Margfh, yoduuuh do or do not, karmsy, DvCM, yowsta, chigh, HeartlandLiberal, terabytes, newpioneer, Drowning Wave, jgtidd, manwithnoname, snowshoeblue, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, jhop7, carpunder, OIL GUY, cloudbustingkid, Assaf, South Park Democrat, TomP, GANJA, Michael91, edg, gfv6800, scooter in brooklyn, OleHippieChick, Thomas Twinnings, SmedleyButlerUSMC, VA gentlewoman, Cat Servant, minerva1157, dewley notid, pickandshovel, MsWings, mofembot, Seamus D, Gemina13, pragprogress, Ruff Limblog, luckylizard, Karl Rover, lenzy1000, Athenocles, allie123, priceman, sydneyluv, revelwoodie, DavidW, shortgirl, squarewheel, LaFeminista, maggiejean, cameoanne, SciMathGuy, enemy of the people, multilee, Florene, rubyclaire, nippersdad, cybrestrike, soarbird, smellybeast, driftwood, Texanomaly, ARS, snackdoodle, greengemini, RenMin, An Affirming Flame, Michael James, Carol in San Antonio, CanyonWren, i know, Zotz, h bridges, BlueInRedCincy, mkor7, Daily Activist, moonheart, bfitzinAR, scotths, kevinpdx, The BBQ Chicken Madness, strangedemocracy, northernlights, jfromga, loveendures, Leftcandid, Words In Action, ozarkspark, calibrit, grassrootsnm, KroneckerD, roadbear, Areopagitica, LaughingPlanet, amk for obama, iBlue, Crabby Abbey, polar bear, melpomene1, TKO333, NY brit expat, SoCalHobbit, paradise50, Puddytat, scarlet slipper, DrFitz, Egalitare, cai, quagmiremonkey, addisnana, Betty Pinson, orlbucfan, roystah, MsGrin, Floande, alamacTHC, science nerd, cany, nampa45, BrowniesAreGood, QuestionAuthority, Late Spring, Haf2Read, marleycat, Cinnamon Rollover, bamabikeguy, tardis10, Sark Svemes, enhydra lutris, MuskokaGord, EdgedInBlue, Faroutman, Aquagranny911, VTCC73, curtisgrahamduff, jeffrey789, happenstance, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Logical Fallacy Contraption, Sunspots, Ezekial 23 20, weinerschnauzer, DRo, Davui, PrometheusUnbound, too young to give up, Azazello, James Robinson, Liberal Granny, CuriousBoston, sabo53

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  •  "Lockbox" on Social Security (24+ / 0-)

    I remember that being the "Joe the Plumber" of the 1999 Presidential debates.

    Alabama hammered Florida like Tiger's Escalade ramming into the neighbor's crepe myrtle.

    by bamabikeguy on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:04:26 AM PST

  •  Billions for corporate welfare (47+ / 0-)

    It's socialism when you establish a safety net...for average Americans. However, when your tax dollars go to tax breaks for Halliburton or for a Wall St. it is a fine example of the free market system — except that it isn't. Anyone who has ever read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, can understand that once the government starts meddling in the economy, it's not capitalism, or at least not as the founder of the free market principle defined it in 1776. IMO, these people are talking about a worse economic philosophy: Randism.

  •  The Final Campaign Against the Boomers (37+ / 0-)

    in the war that began June 1967. The biggest mother lode in the economy.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:18:12 AM PST

  •  Obama should cut SS tax to equal current costs. (6+ / 0-)

    And then propose increasing SS tax to keep pace with rising costs.

    The SS surplus is used to finance Afghan war, crop subsidides, Halliburton no bid contracts, bank bailouts etc.  

    SS is pay as you go so no need to run surpluses as hidden tax incresaes which is really what Reagan and Bush both did.

  •  Not a boomer... (6+ / 0-)

    I have no expectation that the money I'm paying in now will ever be available. I get my social security estimates in the mail and just laugh.

    At this point, I guess the boomers fall into the generation that is "too big to fail" (to reuse a phrase).

    The perfect plan, Is not the man Who tells you, You are wrong

    by dss on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:19:48 AM PST

    •  Excuse please (42+ / 0-)

      I'm a boomer, and now a good chunk of my retirement money is all gone. Without social security, I'm on the streets. And look out, cause I'll be really pissed off.

      "The individual mandate is 'just one part of the bill' - its not worth losing everything else in the bill just to get it through." BruceMcF

      by irmaly on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:30:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would expect you to be pissed off... (15+ / 0-)

        I think that we are working from the same place here.

        Although, your retirement money is gone and you will have social security (didn't mean to imply that you shouldn't be getting it), I know I'll have no social security at this rate and it is a crap shoot as far as having retirement money available (just like you).

        The perfect plan, Is not the man Who tells you, You are wrong

        by dss on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:36:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (6+ / 0-)

          We're all screwed.

          "The individual mandate is 'just one part of the bill' - its not worth losing everything else in the bill just to get it through." BruceMcF

          by irmaly on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:38:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You are believing the stupid Republican meme (14+ / 0-)

          that SS is going to go broke. It is extremely financially well grounded. ven the pesimists don't see any problems for another 40 years. Most economists, Paul Krugman for example, don't see any need to make changes now or in the near future. SS has never really been pay as you go - the surplus will offset the benefit bubble created by the large number of folks retiring over the next ten years and our steadily increasing life expectancy.

          There will be plenty of money there when you need to retire, unless these assholes get their way - which they won't. If they try to pull this off their will be an explosion of protest. Social Security is indeed the third rail of American politics, now more than ever.

          God has no religion. - Gandhi

          by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:31:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is not plenty of money...there are plenty (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cameoanne, J M F

            of IOU's in the the diarist is right...we paid the money into the system and theoretically it's there(owed) but they will have to borrow to pay the benefits because they spent the money on crap.

            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:19:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  More stupid Peterson propaganda (12+ / 0-)

              You give the government money for one purpose, say retirement. They spend the money on something else, say defense, and give you an IOU.

              To some people that is some sort of theft. To the Chinese Central Bank it is called buying a U.S. Treasury Bond, widely considered the safest investment in the world.

              There is a line of argument that the Special Treasuries in the Trust Fund are not real assets based on a whole set of legalistic nonsense. That is a bunch of crap successful sold by the crap mongers. There is no difference legally between bonds held in trust in the Trust Fund for future retirees and bonds held by the Chinese Banks or some offshore tax-shelter in the Channel Islands. You have just bought it the con represented by the "Phony IOU" narrative.

              The money is there just as it would be if you had a portfolio or regular Treasuries, don't fall for the special pleading of the would be thieves who want to convince you they already stole it. They didn't and won't unless you fall for the bluff.

              The numbers needed to redeem Trust Fund bonds in any future year are just not that big even in current dollars. Adjust them for inflation and compare them to things like wars of choice and bank bailouts and they are very minor. All the rest is a bunch of bullshit and bluster, cut through it and examine the numbers for yourselves.
              The key tables here are VI.F7 and VI.F8.

              Remember those people who lied you into the Iraq War? They are the same people who are lying you into Social Security crisis. If you haven't examined the numbers first hand chances are that the vast majority of what you think you know about Social Security finance is on a par with what the majority of Americans 'knew' about Iraqi WMD. How does that go? "Fool me once---"

              •  I am not buying to their bs. They can stop (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                OIL GUY

                funding the military as far as I am concerned.  Hell...we can go without Congress for a few much good as they have done us. They must think that they have an out of paying these Treasuries and it may be that they know we have to pay the Chinese and in order to make them feel better they are serving up our Special Treasuries as the flexibility in the system.  They can delay these if they run into a problem.  If they can pay for Iraq and Afghanistan, they can pay the SS as promised.  No disucssion.

                "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:11:05 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  You ARE RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (5+ / 0-)

                "The money is there just as it would be if you had a portfolio or regular Treasuries, don't fall for the special pleading of the would be thieves who want to convince you they already stole it. They didn't and won't unless you fall for the bluff."

                You are right. SS special bonds are like the Savings Bonds. They are money.

                SS has a problem though; EVERY time the Republicons have taken power since Ronald(The Crook) Raygone. They have decided to offset the cost of their taxcuts to the rich by NOT depositing incoming SS funds into the Trust Fund which is why there is a problem with SS everytime they hold office. It is their policy to kill/murder SS whatever it takes.

                •  Let me try to work this out (0+ / 0-)

                  Let's say we have a country with just 10 people. Each of us pays a thousand dollars in social security taxes. We have a little government and it's run by the biggest bozo among us. This bozo tells us he can cut taxes, and instead borrows the $10,000 from our trust fund. He uses it to buy a government motorcycle and then he crashes the motorcycle so the money is gone. But the government still ows us our $10,000 back! We have bonds! Since the government doesn't have the money, we then have to tax ourselves. In fact, we are each due $1000. To raise the $10,000, our government has to tax us each $1000. Uh oh.

                  That's basically what's happened. We can talk about how richer people should pay more of that tax, or how younger people should pay it, but in the aggregate, that's where we are right now. The money's gone. Gone.

          •  you are misreading Krugman (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Betty Pinson

            He has stated that changes (but not drastic changes) are needed to SS.

            The problems are not insurmountable, but they are real.

        •  We need to fix this. We need to raise the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Betty Pinson

          tax rates on the Jesse James once said...that is where the money is.  Congress has an obligation to pay down the deficit and it is the only way to do it and once we do it...we need to allocate the retirement and Medicare as first priority not the last.  

          "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

          by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:17:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  So what do you plan on doing? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Lying down in the gutter and dying?

          Your generation will need Social Security just as much, or more, as we do. You HAVE TO HAVE IT, or you will starve. Shrugging your shoulders and letting it be destroyed is exactly what they want you to do. You must find a way to make it work, and fight for it.

          "There -- it's -- you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --GWB

          by denise b on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 02:47:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Ditto I have (7+ / 0-)

        no retirement, and I've been busting my ass just to get by, I have no extra income to save, I'm lucky if I can by a new shirt. Social security is my retirement, if it goes lots of us are screwed.

        "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

        by dotdot on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:53:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  WAIT (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, phonegery, orlbucfan

        Social Security is there if you become disabled.

        It may not be much but it is something and after 18 months, it comes with Medicare Coverage as well.

        -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

        by MarciaJ720 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:16:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  make it count (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b

        if you find yourself out on the streets as an elderly person, do the right thing:

        scrounge up the money it costs to buy a gallon or two of gasoline, and self-immolate on the steps of capitol hill, preferably during lunch when there are hundreds of people to witness.

        bring a sign explaining why.

        •  Occasionally one hears................ (0+ / 0-)

          ............. some MSM mouthpeice say that suicides are significantly up from previous years. But noone has bothered to put a number on it or make an explination.

          Corporate money for campaigns does not equal free speach, it is legalized bribery.

          by socks on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:18:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It will be if you fight for it (20+ / 0-)

      I used to feel the same way when in my 20's, but the system has been working so far and will provide retirement if they keep their hands off the SS Trust Fund.

      Your money will be there, too, but you're really going to have to fight for it.

      Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:06:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Way to buy into the fear... (10+ / 0-)

      promulgated by those who want to destroy SS. That's exactly what they want you to believe so you'll just shrug when they dismantle the program.

      Just another socialist fuckstick homosinner!

      by Ian S on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:17:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Think man (7+ / 0-)

      "I have no expectation that the money I'm paying in now will ever be available"

      Well frankly that is because you are a victim of propaganda which uses the words 'bankrupt' and 'flat broke'.

      As long as they collect FICA Social Security can pay out some level of benefits, it can't go 'bankrupt' in the sense of 'no check at all'. Under current law initial benefits go up in alignment with Real Wage increases over a workers lifetime meaning that retirees more or less share equally in overall economic growth. Since by and large each generation of Americans has been materially richer than previous ones the basket of goods represented by a Social Security check's purchasing power has gone up as well.

      Under the current projections the scheduled benefit in 2040 is set to be in real terms 160% of that received by a current recipient like my mom. Under Intermediate Cost projections total revenues will fall short of that scheduled benefit sometime after 2037 meaning as much as a 25% cut to that scheduled benefit. But as Professor Rosser of JMU pointed out to me long ago in what I call 'Rosser's Equation' 75% of 160% = 120%. Meaning that if we do nothing to increase Social Security revenues, (and the best way to do that is to grow the economy in ways that increase Real Wage) the pretty much the worst case scenario for Gen-X retirees in 2040 is that there retirement check will be only 20% better than the one my mom gets today.

      You my friend are the victim of a marketing plan explicitly laid out in a conference paper in 1983. The paper is known as Butler-Germanis but is better understood by the title they gave to it: Social Security Reform: Achieving a "Leninist" Strategy . That strategy rested explicitly on convincing workers just entering the work force starting in the 1980s that the recent Greenspan Commission fix was designed to pull Boomers out of the fire while depositing younger workers squarely into it when their time came. It was a plan openly and explicitly designed to present Boomers as the villains and Gen-X as victims.

      And it worked perfectly. As demonstrated by you right here. You bought the con 100%, you were flim-flammed by the Leninist Strategy. Read it and weep.

      75% of 160% = 120% and that only if Gen-X doesn't get off the couch and grow the economy like Boomers and our parents did. Yet all you guys can do is whine about the injustice of it all. Pawned.

  •  Let's see what Fearless Leader has to say (5+ / 0-)

    about all this. I wonder if he'll come out all gangbusters about not touching SS like he did the Public Option.


  •  This has been coming for a long time (20+ / 0-)

    People we are in trouble.  Do you think we can get help from a foreign country?  Maybe China will take care of us???

    Our leaders are not going to stop until the middle class is ruined.  Neither is big business.

    Starve the beast.  The only way we can hurt them is not buying and therefore not making them richer.

    •  I keep trying to tell the few people who still (21+ / 0-)

      buy me Christmas presents - I don't want any knicknacks, nothing made of plastic, nothing made in China...

      Just good old American things of wood, metal, glass, that I'll actually use.  Tools, gardening supplies, etc.  Things that help me cut my external expenditures.

      Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

      by Ezekial 23 20 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:45:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This meme is going around (8+ / 0-)

        in the UK as well among the f*cked over class. Since it's so hard to find stuff made in the UK, everyone I know is giving baked goodies.

        If nothing is very different from you, what is a little different from you is very different from you. Ursula K. Le Guin

        by northsylvania on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:22:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (6+ / 0-)

          and 'made in China'  is lazy shorthand, really.  I just use it to mean shoddily produced goods, or ones that serve very little purpose.  Figurines that sit on shelves, Goofy picture frames, etc.  Things that have no real use, and will probably either get broken or thrown away once the very temporary amusement value has gone away.

          I've stopped even buying DVD's, because I so rarely take the time to watch a movie more than once every few months, if that.

          Taking control of my own consumption has to be my first step towards not relying on things that might not actually exist, such as Social Security when I get that old.  If I can drop my expenses to a bare minimum, then I'll be much better positioned to keep my income ahead of my expenses.

          And hooray for baked goods :)  I'll be giving out cookies and homemade jam this year from my own garden.

          Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

          by Ezekial 23 20 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:30:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Ironic that the few things I find really useful (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phonegery, J M F

        such as the computer I'm typing on, you know, are all made overseas. Well, okay, my car was assembled in this country, but it was designed in Japan; the computer was designed in this country but assembled in China; my camera, which doubles as scanner for insurance documents, and my phone, are both assembled in China. The radio with which I listen to music and news? Made in China. The music I tend to listen to? Well, okay... it's probably burned to disc in this country, but it's written, arranged and recorded in the UK and then burned onto discs made in China.

        Grooming products? Made in the USA... of "US or imported ingredients". Shoes? Same thing.

        The professors I learn from? My academic advisor? The people running the grad program I'm in? Mostly made (well, born and raised) overseas, mainly in China and India. Not that they aren't good at what they do, but this might be another reason why academic STEM positions are hard to find for damnyankee postdocs.

        I wish "Buy American" were simpler. But hey - the barriers have largely broken down, and there's not much effective homegrown competition to the heavily outsourced or entirely foreign manufacturers or providers of the goods and services we need. Food and high-quality furniture are the only things I can think of that aren't generally made or at least designed overseas, and I'm not so sure about the food.

        Take a moment each day to appreciate how amazing the mere fact of your existence is.

        by Shaviv on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:50:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Go to a Craft faire to buy gifts.....all things (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          made locally.

          "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

          by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:22:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  If they're making those products in ways that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shaviv, Ezekial 23 20

          are environmentally harmful and with a slave labor like workforce, tariff the hell out of them and make sure the governments involved know the reason.

          Then if prices go up, companies will stark looking for areas of depressed, cheap labor here which will be a good start to reviving the economy. Or in the long term will drive wages higher in other countries making a viable, consumer capable middle class over there, a middle class that our middle class can then compete fairly with.

          The race to the bottom has to be met and challenged, and only governments can implement the regulations and other methods necessary to stop it.

          Suddenly it's Christmas The longest holiday. When they say 'Season's Greetings, They mean just what they say It's a season, it's a marathon Retail eternity

          by Pescadero Bill on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:26:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  True, which is why (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I then threw in the 'lazy shorthand' caveat.  A lot of electronics are made, and made well, overseas.  Pretty sure all of my Western Digital hard drives are made in Thailand, for instance.

          More of my emphasis has to be on differentiating between needs and desires.  Most, if not all, of my needs can be accommodated domestically.  It's my desires that generally lead me to imports.  And I'm happy enough (when I can afford it) to buy German beer or Mexican mole or Japanese kit kats.  (Kit kats supplied in Japan come in dozens of flavours not available in the States, things like blood orange, green tea, adzuki bean, etc.)  So I'm not against imports.  But I think every country ought to be able to be self-sufficient to the basic needs of its citizenry as a matter of national defense.

          Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

          by Ezekial 23 20 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:30:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Why do we not take to the streets? (14+ / 0-)

      Yes, it's Monday and I'm cranky but have we really tried a national strike?  Too many people seem too afraid to miss a day of work...

      *this space available for lease if you have something appropriately witty for me to share*

      by xysea on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:26:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's the boiling frog syndrome, (10+ / 0-)

        which I know is a myth but rxplains the basic point well, which is why everyone knows it by now.

        The plutocratic takeover, like global warming, has been developing for decades. We know its happening, we know its really bad, we know there are tipping points and points of no return, but todday seems about like yesterday, which means tomorrow cannot really be too bad...

        You're right, if every last one of us who has a dog in this fight (and we do, it's ourselves and our loved ones) would take to the streets and camp out at our state capitols until economic and environmental justice were done, I suspect we'd get a lot more done than we would do what we're doing.

        But apparently that's the last thing anyone really wants to do. I know, I've been to a lot of stunningly small rallies, considering the importance of the topics at hand.

        If you surveyed the people who did not attend what they were doing instead, you would be appalled by  the excuses given. It would be the most banal, uncompelling To Do list ever.\

        But there you have. We will be boiled alive.

        Occam's Pacifier: Conservatives are people who blindly assume that the most simple-minded, self-serving answer is always the correct one.

        by Words In Action on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:56:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's like you said. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pescadero Bill, xysea

        The benefit of getting out and protesting visibly is distant in time, and uncertain to be realized in any case; the cost of getting out and protesting visibly is immediate and certain.

        Not until the cost of not going out becomes so clear and huge that it dwarfs the real and immediate cost of going out and protesting, will people go out and protest.

        Loss aversion, right? People are generally more interested in not losing a dollar than they are in gaining one. In the same way, I'd say people are probably more anxious about investing a known and immediate expense of personal resources now for a chance, and a small one at that, to stave off a distant, poorly-imagined cost.

        Take a moment each day to appreciate how amazing the mere fact of your existence is.

        by Shaviv on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:56:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, there are other ways to hurt them. (0+ / 0-)

      And that's all I'm going to say about that.

      The Sleep of Regulation Produces Corporate Monsters.

      by Leftcandid on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:08:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  that is a shockingly bad idea (21+ / 0-)

    It's not that Bernanke has anything against old people, it's just that he has a big old boner for rich people.

    •  Stealing the SS money (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J M F

      is better (think they) than borrowing from China, because this debt carries no interest and just recycles interior monetary exchange. Currency entirely cycled inside the nation - by whatever valuation - is just a matter of printing notes or punching in bits and bytes.

      "No nation in debt to itself is in any danger of collapse." J.K. Galbraith

      •  well (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        socks, ChemBob, J M F

        I guess if it's a choice between bilking people out of their SS money or letting the country collapse, I'd bilk the people too.

        But if it's a choice between, say, raising taxes on the ultra-rich or stealing people's SS, I'd tax the rich.

        •  The point is (0+ / 0-)

          they've no need to bilk the people's SS trust fund. All they have to do is print some money - it's all internal exchange. They've printed (or programmed) 12 trillion plus to bail out Wall Street and the crooked bankers. Who have no problem at all passing it out to each other as reward for tanking the economy.

          Thus if they bilk the people, the people should revolt. Again, no nation in debt to itself is in any danger of collapse.

      •  Special Treasuries earn interest (5+ / 0-)

        In fact right on 50% of the current $2.5 trillion in the Trust Fund is the result of accrued interest and actually was never 'borrowed' to start with.

        The actual bonds and notes with maturities and rates in each of the Social Security Trust Funds (because there are two one for disability (DI) and one for retirement/survivors (OAS) can be seen in Tables VI.A5 and VI.A6. Actual operations of the combined Trust Funds from 1957 to 2008 including the relative contributions of tax and interest can be seen in Table VI.A4.

        The Social Security surplus number that is reported in the paper and is used to calculate the overall Unified Budget/Surplus includes interest and so overstates the actual cash borrowing from Social Security after 1997 by almost half. To see actual cash borrowings you have to subtract column 5 of VI.A4 from column 10.

        Every penny ever sent to Social Security is right where it is supposed to be, in interest earning bonds backed by Full Faith and Credit of the United States. Anyone who tells you different is either the vendor or purchaser of a brand of Snake Oil deliberately sold to the American people for more than 25 years. Lies told by Lying Liars, too many of which have been internalized by gullible progressives.

  •  Being a visionary, my retirement budget was (7+ / 0-)

    US$0 monthly Social Security when I hit 62 in 7 seven years. It is sad that I might have been right. Another possibility is that my SS payment will be what the SS calculator says it is, but a cup of coffee will cost US$100. Sucks to be us...

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:28:13 AM PST

    •  My retirement plan (5+ / 0-)

      is expecting to be dead before I retire.

      Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

      by Ezekial 23 20 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:43:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like the GOP health care plan too... (4+ / 0-)

        itworks great if you die before you need it.


        I did not ever expect to see Americans in such a terrible position in my lifetime...I am a boomer and the dreams of retirement years I thought I'd enjoy with my spouse have evaporated completely.

        And, the change I vcted for did not include selling out what was left of the middle class to the corporatists. That will be a truly bitter pill to swallow, if it is true.

      •  Wish I could write something inspirational (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JuliaAnn, quotemstr, xaxado

        to you, but can't think of anything. The Repbulican Party has led the Democratic Party into looting the USA. Neither party is going to lead the USA out of this mess. I can't put it in perspective any other way.

        I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

        by shann on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:29:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You keep repeating the same tired lines. (0+ / 0-)

          Give it a rest.

          God has no religion. - Gandhi

          by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:36:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The truth can't be repeated enough. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If this isn't the truth, any help in showing it to me?

            I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

            by shann on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:41:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Pay no attention to him he's a shill (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              quotemstr, xaxado

              The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool. George Santayana

              by Bobjack23 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:58:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  You can't stand the truth! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              denise b

              Shann current Social Security projections are already based on some pretty pessimistic assumptions about the future. Unless you can build a reasoned argument using real numbers why they are in fact too optimistic you are not in fact repeating the truth, you are repeating stale second hand talking points.

              If you really want some help understanding the basics of Social Security and why just about everything you think you know about it is pretty much wrong then follow the link in my sig. Otherwise, and I say this just to spare you further embarrassment, you really need to take a long deep draft of STFU. Trust me, in the end you'll feel better for it.

              •  Why the hostile response? (0+ / 0-)

                I am not supporting the Republican appointees who tried to gut SS 4 years ago or the Democratic appointee now trying to raid SS funds. Note the 2 party collusion here.

                I had to guess something for calculations and zero per month in 2005 US$ seemed a safe figure. If this is low, my children have a larger inheritance. I would not be able to sleep at night if I was financially dependent on a program that the government could change whenever it wanted.

                I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

                by shann on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 05:43:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  More like... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ezekial 23 20

        "expecting to be dead before I CAN retire...."

        "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success."

        by QuestionAuthority on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:53:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Quite the cloudy visionary (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b, milkbone, WiddieDawg, Gambiteer

      Initial Social Security benefit levels are set in relation to overall Real Wage gains over a worker's lifetime, which is to say AFTER inflation. That Social Security calculator is almost certainly basing its numbers on Social Security's Intermediate Cost projections which include specific numbers for Real Wage and CPI. You can inspect those numbers and make a reasoned argument why they might have overstated wage gains and so over-estimated the dollar figure of that check or why they may have understated inflation and so over-estimated its purchasing power, but making retirement plans based on hazy generalizations isn't going to get you anywhere.

      The Tables you want are V.B1 and V.B2. It doesn't take a lot of work to double check that SS Statement.

      And as noted as long as FICA is being collected from current workers you will never have a zero check, at worst it will not be quite what is projected but even under pessimistic assumptions will be slightly larger than what a retiree gets today. The people who hate Social Security have spent decades selling psychic depression over this, and done quite well as your example shows.

    •  SS never ment to be entire retirement (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if it is, you are correct, you are screwed.

      •  No it was never meant to be. (0+ / 0-)

        That the corporatists have sold us all down the freakin' river since Ronnie the Raygun began the looting of the public's funds for tax cuts for the uber-wealthy and made sure that the wages of working stiffs are now barely sufficient to pay the mortgage/rent, utilities, food, clothing, HEALTH INSURNCE, taxes, and on and on, let alone put any aside for retirement, seems to have sailed under your radar screen.  

        I consider myself lucky.  I just turned 65 and I was able to save and still have - even after living through multiple bubbles and crashes - enough to supplement social security income for 10-15 years. Not everyone has been able to do that.  I feel for those people.  I feel for us all.  We looked around the room and couldn't see the rube.  Little did we know it was us.

        If I don't know I don't know, I think I know. If I don't know I know, I think I don't know. -- R.D. Laing

        by figbash on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:01:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm screwed because I spent (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b

        most of the Bush years (my 40s) un- or under-employed - enough to keep paying the mortgage (barely), but not enough to put any money away for retirement. I'm now throwing 15% (pretty much all I can afford) into my 401K, but those lost seven years will be almost impossible to make up.

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:13:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Never intended (0+ / 0-)

        but it is for a large number of people, and it always will be.

        "There -- it's -- you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --GWB

        by denise b on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 02:57:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  also (5+ / 0-)

    if this diary doesn't get on the rec list, that would be a cryin' shame.

  •  This is well-written (17+ / 0-)

    but where is the evidence to support the following assertion?

    And sadly, it looks like Obama may be falling into their trap,

    That link goes to a Bowers piece published in November which discusses the Commission story which has gotten a lot of attention here, IIRC starting with a New Deal Democrat piece in which he and bobswern were in agreement about the dangerousness of this idea:

    Well, Bobswern published a pretty nice diary earlier this morning on an important issue, that failed to make the Rec list, so I am republishing about it, because there is some very high stakes political kabuki going on in Washington that demands your serious attention, in the form of a deadly serious new assault against Medicare and Social Security, and the villains aren't the usual dumber-than-a-pile-of-Jurassic-rocks GOPers, it's ConservaDems.

    Is there something new which has taken place which indicates that President Obama has been persuaded by Conrad et. al.?

  •  I'm no expert, but (27+ / 0-)

    why not raise the ceiling on income that's taxed for social security? As it is, it's a regressive tax that hits the middle class more than the rich.

    •  Not holding my breath (12+ / 0-)

      You are absolutely right in your assessment of what needs to happen, but we're talking about legislators that won't even give the people a public option. I can't even imagine how unlikely it is they would ask the rich to pony up quarters.

      "The individual mandate is 'just one part of the bill' - its not worth losing everything else in the bill just to get it through." BruceMcF

      by irmaly on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:41:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd also tax the benefits like regular income. (0+ / 0-)

        Why do we assume that all old people are poor? We end up taking food out of the mouths of poor children so that the elderly get more and more. (for the record, I'm nearing retirement myself, so I'll soon be a beneficiary of these lopsided policies.)

        •  if SS didn't include the rich and the poor (15+ / 0-)

          it would have been gutted long before now. those programs that cover everyone tend to be a lot harder to politically kill. that which is percieved as only helping the poor is easier to cut outright.

          surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

          by wu ming on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:00:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  SSi benefits have been taxed for a while. n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          J M F, Steppin Razor

 the elites...actually believe that society can be destroyed by anyone except those who lead them? - John Ralston Saul -

          by Silverbird on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:11:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  but not like regular income. (0+ / 0-)
            •  Where I live, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Social Security benefits are taxed if you earn more than $6,000 in other money (i.e., savings interest or a military retirement benefit).  At that point, in my state, the Federal taxes on Social Security benefits are due and taxed at the rate of ordinary income.  The state itself does not tax SS benefits.

              You are right; there is no one system and it is confusing.  

              2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

              by Silverbird on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:50:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  This may be a little off topic, but seniors get (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                many publicly paid for percs beyond Social Security. In many places they get reduced rates for property tax and other taxes, subsidized programs at seniors' centers, including free meals, gym memberships, free or subsidized transportation...  Again, the assumption is that seniors are poor, but the reality is that as a group, seniors are wealthier than children in this country.

                •  That latest figure I read is that 69% of seniors (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  vigilant meerkat

                  live entirely on Social Security and do not have pensions and other savings.

                  I know the wealthy seniors are passing that $7,000,000 their estate is allowed to pass on untaxed to their adult children and their grandkids throught various trusts instermants, but they are the exception.  69% live only on Social Security.  Lets see, save 3.00 on a movie ticket, save $485.00 on property taxes, yeah they sould be paying full taxes alrighty, save 75 cents on a bus ticket --  don't know about the gym as this senior still works full time.

                  Though I do agree that people need to pay the taxes they owe, there won't be enought to pay for Afghanistan or repay Social Security without taxing the middle and rich classesmore than they currently pay.

                  2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

                  by Silverbird on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:19:49 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I see different stats (0+ / 0-)

                    According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, only 22% of seniors rely on Social Security for their entire income. A majority (66%) rely on SS for more than half their income.

                    •  Quite Different. (0+ / 0-)

                      22% is quite wrong.  It is well more than half of seniors.  I distinctly remember that figure from when Bush was planning to try and 'privatize' Social Security and have us all risk that benefit in the stock market.  (Aren't you glad THAT did not happen.)

                      2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

                      by Silverbird on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 11:39:11 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

    •  raise taxes? (9+ / 0-)

      but then doesn't something unspeakably awful happen? mushroom clouds of socialism?

      •  I'm tired of taxophobia (11+ / 0-)

        Especially from high-income people. Going back to about a 90% rate on them sounds about right.

        •  When I was born during the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Eisenhauer administration, I think it was MORE than 90%.  I'm sure it puts a dent in greed when they have to pay most of their ill-gotten loot in taxes.

          We know you've got to blame someone For your own confusion But we're on guard this time Against your final solution

          by minerva1157 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:12:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't mind high tax-rates either, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            keirdubois, J M F

            despite that I'd like some day to make a lot of money; but painting the income of everyone who makes a lot of money as "ill-gotten loot" sounds a bit unfair.

            Let me fix that: it sounds tremendously unfair.

            There's nothing wrong with being rich.
            There's nothing wrong with making loads of money.

            The question is, do you seek to step on those less fortunate than you, or do you seek to help them (or at least, do you seek ways to avoid stepping on them)?

            The problem isn't money. The problem isn't even greed, by itself. The problem is that greed is often allowed to run wild.

            Take a moment each day to appreciate how amazing the mere fact of your existence is.

            by Shaviv on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:02:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Point taken (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              My mind is stuck on the Wall Street CEOs and Health Insurance CEOs and the pirates who are currently looting the public for all they can take, with no limits to their avarice.  I should have been more specific.  My bad.

              We know you've got to blame someone For your own confusion But we're on guard this time Against your final solution

              by minerva1157 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 02:28:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  The problem with the 90% (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Eisenhower-era rates is that they were riddled with loopholes, so very few if any actually ended up paying nearly that much.

          Hell, if we just went back to Clinton-era rates we could pay for Medicare-for-all. Clinton + 1.5%? We'd eliminate the deficit in less then a decade, and start chopping the debt in a meaningful way.

          Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

          by milkbone on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:19:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I've been arguing for tax increases... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          keirdubois, Silverbird

          ... for a decade. (And hell, I'm 25!)

          It's strange to suddenly see everyone agree with me.

    •  This suggestion began in the 80's (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b, blue armadillo, J M F

      and the uber wealthy have successfully fought it since then.  

      The problem is the gradual inclination since then of more Democrats who are falling for their sales pitch of privatization as a solution.  It used to be a small minority, but since the Bush years (and the rapid increase in campaign contributions), the idea has become more mainstream with Dems in Congress.

      Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:16:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's designed so that we are each paying for what (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silverbird, denise b

      we will get back. The benefits max out at that $107,000 level. I'm not terribly against this proposal, but I don't think it is at all necessary. It is a myth that SS is in any financial bind.

      God has no religion. - Gandhi

      by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:41:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because that would make the diversion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of FICA funds into general revenues a permanent feature.

      The correct response is to raise income taxes the same amount on the same people; that gives general revenues the money it needs to pay back the SS T-bills as it redeems them.

  •  They just think people are mad now. (21+ / 0-)

    When word gets out to the public that a committee is going to be given carte blanche to fix SS,

    These adjustments could only be over-ridden by an explicit vote of Congress and acceptance by the president.

    and realizing that their futures will lie at the whim of politicians behind closed doors, all hell will break loose.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:38:52 AM PST

  •  Bastards! (22+ / 0-)

    2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back.

    "Let's remember, we should care about people even after they are born." Representative Alan Grayson

    by irate on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:41:24 AM PST

  •  I'm reccing, think this needs seen (8+ / 0-)

    Even though I'm praying things aren't as grim as you seem to be explaining them.

    Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:42:15 AM PST

  •  Very important diary. (16+ / 0-)

    We need to stop this.

    "Free your mind & your ass will follow" Parliament Funkadelics

    by TomP on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:44:59 AM PST

  •  Oh well, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snazzzybird, kevin k

    I'll never be able to retire anyway.  And my asshole has been bleeding for so long now I've almost gotten used to it.  I don't even expect them to buy me dinner or tell me they love me anymore.

    "Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity." Dan Brown

    by Bulldawg on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:45:17 AM PST

  •  Raise the ss taxation cap (17+ / 0-)

    Raise it all the fucking way up.

    I don't think you can comprehend how much I fucking hate George W. Bush

    by slippytoad on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:50:02 AM PST

    •  Yeah. Like most simple, commonsense solutions, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      fixing this scam this gets treated as heresy. FICA goes only to $104,000. It should do as you say: go all the way up.

      This one homely FICA fact shows who doesn't own this country but just works here--the great majority of its people. When oh when will Americans tire of being buttfucked all their lives?

      When an old man dies, a library burns down. --African proverb

      by Wom Bat on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:00:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong, wrong, wrong (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b, J M F

        FICA is fine. Social Security is fine. Removing the contributions cap on a wage insurance program if you also remove the cap on benefits.

        The problem is general revenues. Increase the top marginal rate by 12%. You've raised the same money on the same people, but you've sent it where it's actually needed.

        All removing the FICA cap does is make the subsidizing of general revenues by Social Security a permanent feature of the program.

        •  Rather, "removing the contributions cap...." (0+ / 0-)

          "... only makes sense if you also remove the cap on benefits."

          •  It's intended to be a no we won't raise (0+ / 0-)

            the cap on benefits.  I have to pay for wars I don't believe in so they have to sustain 90% of the population that make their bloated lives's a bitch.

            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:43:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Once you stop indexing benefits (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              figbash, denise b, milkbone, Steppin Razor

              to contributions, it ceases being an insurance program paid for by mandatory premium contributions, and becomes another welfare program paid by taxes.

              If you want moneys to go to the general fund, do it by raising income taxes. Don't steal from Social Security through a backdoor mechanism of a permanent surplus. And don't steal from Social Security by writing off the treasuries it already holds.

              •  That rational is what FDR needed to pass SS (0+ / 0-)

                Some type of retirement or SS is now standard around the industrialized world and it needs no justification....human decency should be it's justification.

                "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 11:19:06 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Look, I get you want high tax rates (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  denise b

                  on top incomes. I agree.

                  I vehemently disagree that stealing from Social Security is the way to do it.

                  The Social Security component of FICA is for Social Security. Not a back door income tax.

                  If we want to raise income tax rates for top brackets, and we do, we do that. Treating SS as another pot to raid makes us no better than the Republican thieves - and the lies we'll tell to do it ("we're saving Social Security") just feed the Republican lie that it's bankrupt.

                  •  We do not disagree. I am more thinking of (0+ / 0-)

                    taking the cap off SS and making sure that it is solvent indefinitely.  In addition, raising peoples benefit especially at the lower levels because right now it is not enough to live on.  I in no way want to tax on SS used to pay for anything else....there is not reason that I should pay 9.5%(SS and Medicare) should pay 2% or 3% of their income in addition to paying only 15% on their passive income because they get their money from investments...that just makes no sense whatsoever and has created the mess we have today.  

                    "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

                    by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 01:40:45 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Do you want those getting incomes from (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      denise b

                      investments getting benefits based on investment income? If not, you either exclude investment income, you break the compact that is Social Security. Social Security's strength is that it is not welfare. It is wage insurance. It is ours, not theirs. They pay into it, they get out of it - unless you make it welfare, and then it's another item for the chopping block.

                      Moreover, should the cap be lifted, this creates an indefinite period of time SS is in surplus. Where do those funds go? Treasuries? If so, then SS is subsidizing general revenues forever. Commodities? Stocks? Other risky bubble-prone schemes where the vast sums generate by FICA distort the market merely by their presence?

                      Frankly, there is no mess in Social Security. There is a projected shortfall in 2041 using the SS Trustees' "mainline" economic projections, which are pessimistic by anyone else's standards (deliberately, so as to avoid the shortfall of the late '70s). The problem can be addressed in 2035 by changes in withholding.

                      SS is supposed to be pay-as-you-go, with a small rainy-day fund for when economic conditions fall below even pessimistic projections.

        •  My comment was with regard to the RW's argument (0+ / 0-)

          that because "SS is going broke" it should be privatized. FICA should go all the way up. I'd be for raising the top marginal income tax rate by at least 12%. That would put it at 47%. And because the looting of SS to subsidize general revenues could be ended by properly amending the rules, I'm unconvinced that your premise here really follows:

          All removing the FICA cap does is make the subsidizing of general revenues by Social Security a permanent feature of the program.

          When an old man dies, a library burns down. --African proverb

          by Wom Bat on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:05:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But Social Security isn't broke (0+ / 0-)

            and isn't ever likely to be. The trust fund will be paid down, as originally planned, during the boomer hump.

            The "looting" of SS to subsidize general revenues will end on its own in a decade, when SS stops providing a net influx to it (though it will remain in the black for a while after that, since it earns interest on the treasuries it holds).

            If you remove the FICA cap, you don't fix Social Security's problems, because it doesn't definitively have any.

            What you do, however, is push off the date at which SS gets off the "build surplus" model back to "pay as you go" indefinitely. And unless you have some other place to put those Social Security surpluses than treasuries, they continue subsidizing general revenues forever. And delaying or canceling the draw down of the trust fund means the moneys already in the trust fund are de facto stolen, retroactively, by general revenues.

            The only reason to talk about lifting the FICA cap is if one has no intention to allow Social Security to use its trust fund as it was intended.

  •  This is beyond infuriating (14+ / 0-)

    This is OUR FRIGGEN MONEY. These people are greedy soulless, and evil. Something needs to change, we need to be out in the streets, the time is now.

    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

    by dotdot on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 06:51:14 AM PST

  •  We've spent the money in the SS trust fund (7+ / 0-)

    Yes, I said we. Congress is we (unfortunately).

    Now the answer is not and should not be to not pay it back. When individuals do that they go bankrupt and unless the gov't is prepared to put the country into recievership, I suggest Congress reconsider not paying it back.

    Why not taxes to pay the money back? Some could be got back by raising the FICA ceiling on individual income. Some could be got by adding in a national sales tax (maybe with an instant rebate on domestically produced goods so we start to tackle our trade balance problems,too).

    •  There exist so many easy solutions.... (7+ / 0-)

      ....if only our "leadership" had the political will. At some point, we're going to be forced to accept the fact that our government has turned against us and is simply a bunch of corrupt individuals trying to stay on the top of the pile. They're either under true duress, or they're co-conspirators. Either way, they long ago deserted our founding principles and left us on our backs in the desert sun.

      "No PO, no bill, no money, no nothin' but hell on earth for these people." -SouthernDragon at FDL

      by nehark on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:01:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Political will (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, Areopagitica

        seems to be in as short supply as the trillions that have been paid by us working stiffs - and only us working stiffs into the SS (dis)trust fund for lo these many years.... and now the bastards think they've figured out a way to NOT pay back what they've "borrowed."  Well, up theirs!!!  I'm fucking sick of hearing this crap.  They try this shit now and the "revolution" I've been expecting since about 1967 could just happen.

        If I don't know I don't know, I think I know. If I don't know I know, I think I don't know. -- R.D. Laing

        by figbash on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:16:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Humanity never learns... (4+ / 0-)

          ...and history repeats itself again and again. Those rich guys had to fight off crowds with torches come to burn their houses down back in the day. That time is again upon us. They've improved their defenses since then. They're now acting like they'll use just about anything against us. They're acting with such a high level of hubris, you know they're not afraid of us. They despise us.

          "No PO, no bill, no money, no nothin' but hell on earth for these people." -SouthernDragon at FDL

          by nehark on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:42:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Clinton balanced the budget (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxado, Shaviv, orlbucfan

      without robbing SS, after inheriting a very weak economy with high unemployment.  It was a priority with him.  He did it in spite of lobbyists, a hostile news media and without a large internet-based grassroots support network.

      Clinton obviously didn't take to heart all the advice from Geithner, Rubin, et al.  He had enough sense to set some priorities of his own and stuck to them.  Obama should do the same instead of blindly following all the advice he gets from his inner circle.

      Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:26:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Congress is no longer a's a them (0+ / 0-)

      and it appears so no matter what we do.  It will not be a we again until we get the right to recall representatives at will.

      "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

      by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:44:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  we have the right, every 2 years (0+ / 0-)

        In the case of Reps, every 2 years. In the case of Sens, every 6.

        •  Never happens though...look at the rate of (0+ / 0-)

          re-election for incumbents.  The difference is that many dumb asses vote in recall an incumbent(which by the way only activists are interested in) then the dumb asses show up to vote and they can't relie on who they know(incumbent),they may actually have to research the candidates and the issues.

          "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

          by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:56:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

            I really don't think the vast majority of voters are dumb. They may have other priorities than me, but it doesn't mean they're dumb.

            Yes, Congress critters get re-elected a lot. Part of that is that to have been elected requires a certain match of candidate philosophy with the voters in that district during the first election for that incumbent. After that, they may be reelected on the basis of job performance, or on party ID (many districts tilt heavily in one direction), or maybe on seniority itself (this is part of job performance. A Senator with a lot of seniority can do a lot more for his/her state than a newbie can).

  •  I thought that SS had already been looted, (5+ / 0-)

    and that all there is in Parkersburg, WV are IOUs in a file cabinet. Therefore, doing away with SS now would reduce the revenue stream available to be looted into the pockets of the MIC.

    There's something more complicated going on here, because I doubt they would want to reduce any method of dunning our paychecks (FICA), when they are already stealing that money out of the SS trust fund. I doubt FICA would be stopped, increasing take-home pay. They'd merely keep taking that money and change the name of the tax, such as by calling it a war tax, or a 'customer convenience tax', then spend it on their rich buddies.

    •  The day Treasury notes become IOUs in a file (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cardinal96, DBunn

      cabinet is the day we have way bigger problems than Social Security.

      •  ? (0+ / 0-)

        What T-notes? The linked article states that SS monies were not used to invest in T-notes, or any other investment. The money was spent.

        AFAIC T-notes are already IOUs, seeing as the US is already bankrupt.

        •  The article was misleading (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Halcyon, DBunn

          When Social Security has a surplus, it buys US Treasury Notes with the surplus. In time, it will redeem those notes, and in the interim, it earns interest on them.

          When anyone (including the SS Trust Fund) buys a treasury, that money is transferred into the general fund to be spent, and counts as a debt on the Federal Government's ledgers. When the treasury comes due, it is redeemed, with interest, and the Federal Government pays the holder of the note its value.

          So, yes, the money has been spent, but it is NOT an IOU. It is in treasury notes, which are the same as every other treasury note.

          If the US Government defaults on treasury notes, as I said, Social Security will be the least of our problems - because at least SS will still largely self-funding through FICA even as it is redeeming those notes.

        •  You can see a list of Trust Fund assets (5+ / 0-)

          complete with maturity dates and interest rates.

          The Tables you want are VI.A5 and VI.A6

          People have some very muddled thinking going on. When you put money in the bank only a tiny fraction of it in any sense goes and sits on a shelf, and that is in a reserve account with the Fed. The rest of it is lent out, and if those loans don't pay off your only security is a Federal Government insurance plan (FDIC) itself backed in the end by Full Faith and Credit of the United States.

          When some overseas Central Bank buys a regular Treasury it doesn't believe the U.S. Government is going to tuck the dollars away, it knows the U.S. will spend that money on whatever it wants, and whether or not that spending adds to future productivity or detracts from it. The too know that their investment is backed by Full Faith and Credit, if they had any serious doubts they would be demanding a bigger risk premium in the form of interest.

          Similarly when the Managing Trustee of Social Security uses excess revenue to buy Special Treasuries from the Secretary of the Treasury at a given rate and maturity his belief in Full Faith and Credit fulfills his fiduciary responsibilities to future retirees. The confusion starts creeping in because that Managing Trustee and that Secretary stare at each other in the mirror every morning. Which fact does not mean that Full Faith and Credit means nothing.

          Since 1980 the Republican Party has played an interesting game. They have run government like a criminal operation and then sold the idea that the problem was inherently in the operation and not the operators. And part and parcel of this has been selling the idea that the Trust Fund was a hoax because all the money has already been stolen. Well that is just not true. If we examine the history of Social Security operations we can see that the bonds in the Trust Fund have always been honored even as the TF steadily went towards zero after 1971. Table VI.A4. After you deduct out interest you can see that actual cash flow to Social Security was FROM the General Fund TO Social Security every year from 1972 to 1982 and at no time did anyone in authority even hint that those securities in the TF were not real. Even in the Reagan years 'crisis' was always defined as the point of Trust Fund Depletion, that is the point AFTER all the bonds were redeemed. It was only with the Bushies of 2001 that there were people in actual power suggesting that these were just 'Phony IOUs', it was only Bushies who insisted on various dubious legal reasons that these obligations had to be subordinated to some perceived difficulty in paying them back.

          Now Reagan hated Social Security and made a couple of runs at it, but at his worst the guy never tried to cast doubt on Good Faith and Credit in the truly criminal way the Bushies and their camp followers have. We don't need to buy into that narrative, not at all.


    all the jackasses made fun of it in 2000, but that's what gore was talking about.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:01:37 AM PST

  •  These corporate funded think tanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenearth, Areopagitica

    love cutting programs that help the middle class and poor. They pretend to really care about deficits just so they can continue giving huge tax cuts to the rich that started under Reagan. We now have the most top heavy wealth distribution in the history of any advanced country. Obama, like Clinton, has the bad habit of trying to please these deficit caring frauds. If he wants to be a two term president he better completely ignore them.

    •  Not Clinton/Gore (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, denise b, 4Freedom

      They protected Social Security and did what was needed to keep it going until 2041 without hurting the middle class.  

      Clinton's gift was in being able to listen to these creatures and make them think he was doing their bidding while sticking to his original plan.

      He knew efforts in Congress to privatize and weaken SS would be incredibly unpopular with the public, and thus wasn't afraid to stand up to his opponents.

      Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:35:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clinton did shore up SS, so did Reagan. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bruce Webb, Badabing

        The system should be solvent well past that 2041 date. I don't think these idiots have a chance in hell of pulling this off. Bernanke's nomination to another term at the Fed is already being blocked by 4 Dems. He'd better shut his effing pie hole if he expects to get the job.

        God has no religion. - Gandhi

        by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:51:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would feel more confident (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          if Obama were also on board with rejecting Conrad's proposal and if he were more critical of Bernanke's assertions.

          His tendency to ignore hard questions and lend credence to the ideas of the likes of Conrad and Bernanke is unsettling.  He has nothing to lose by taking a public stand on shoring up SS without giving it away.

          Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:54:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is no need to shore up social security. (0+ / 0-)

            It's fine.

            God has no religion. - Gandhi

            by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:09:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very true (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dartagnan, OIL GUY

              It's secure until 2041.  Those "experts" who seek to conflate the issues of budget deficits with SS are either very uninformed or lying to support an agenda to rob the SS Trust Fund.

              That may sound extreme, but I'm open to hearing anyone else who can offer a fact based explanation of their motives.

              Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

              by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:07:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  No, but maybe we need to shore up (0+ / 0-)

              Obama's backbone when HIS nominee to the Federal Reserve spouts bullshit about Willie Sutton in front of the Senate Banking Committee.

              If I don't know I don't know, I think I know. If I don't know I know, I think I don't know. -- R.D. Laing

              by figbash on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:13:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I would feel a LOT more confident (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OIL GUY

            If the Obama campaign's initial troika of economic advisors (Goolsbee, Cutler, and Liebman) didn't include the lead author of the Liebman-MacGuineas-Samwick Non Partisan Social Security Reform Plan (LMS), which is egregiously anti-worker and quite explicitly designed to ease the burden of Social Security on the General Fund going forward. Note that it is still hosted at Liebman's Harvard Web-Site.
            Liebman, former McCain staffer (and strong backer of Conrad-Gregg) Maya MacGuineas, and former Bush economic advisor Samwick examined a problem then scored as 1.92% of payroll (that is could have been 100% backfilled with a tax increase of that amount) and proposed a fix that included 1.7% of payroll equivalent in benefit cuts and a whopping 2.5% of payroll tax increases all at worker expense and STILL didn't fill 100% of the gap, but did achieve something they called 'sustainable solvency', i.e. no tax increases on capital.

            So when I saw Liebman's name on that initial team alarm bells started going off. After all Goolsbee was not really a Social Security guy and Cutler was mostly on Health Care making it likely that Obama was taking Social Security advice from Jeff Liebman. I felt a little better when the campaign brought Jason Furman on board and put him mostly in charge, people I trust assure me Furman is pretty solid on this, But I was not happy at all to see Summers assume command overall or see that OMB was turned over to the co-author of the Diamond-Orszag Social Security Plan which while better than LMS is still not really worker friendly. And when I saw that Liebman was slotted in as the number two guy at OMB I got kind of distressed.

            I think Obama's instincts are sound but the only person you can really trust on this in the WH is Jared Bernstein, and he is tucked away in Biden's office. If you are not worried about the fate of Social Security in the Obama WH it is only because you are not paying attention to the players involved at the top levels of budget policy.

        •  Also, no credit to Reagan (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          orlbucfan, Steppin Razor

          Everything he did in office was detrimental to our long term economic security.

          Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:04:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  He actually raised the FICA tax which provided SS (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bruce Webb

            with long-term stability. I'm not a fan of Reagan, but this was a good thing for him to do.

            God has no religion. - Gandhi

            by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:11:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OIL GUY

              Though I have a copy of the chapter of Bob Ball's (former SS Commissioner and lead Democrat negotiator on the Greenspan Commission) as yet unpublished autobiography where Bob tells the inside story of the final negotiations between him as essentially the rep of Tip O'Neill and Dick Darman for Reagan, Darman himself backed by Jim Baker and Bob Dole. Reagan's team convinced him that the end compromise was the best he could get, and even though he was reportedly disappointed Reagan did twist the last arm he needed on Republican members of the Commission so as to bet bi-partisan cover for the ostensibly Commission recommendation.

              But however you slice it Reagan oversaw a Trust Fund that steadily but slowly was building its reserves back to the mandated ratio of 100 (one year) a task that was continued under Bush I. In fact when Clinton took office the Trust Funds were just a hair under that 100 level, in the end both Reagan and Bush I proved to be good stewards of Social Security. As of course did Clinton.

              And then----

        •  I think you're wrong. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OIL GUY

          Do not underestimate the elite picking the carcass clean of America.

          With the wars, (which enrich them), the trillions to Wall Street, (which saved and enriched them), they are looking around for the last remaining source of money.

          They spied social security. Game is on for them to take it.

          They are the ones that got wealthy off of the debt that has been run up in this country. But they are going to make sure the money to pay it back comes from us.

          Don't think for one second without EVERYONE fighting this we have a chance of stopping it.

  •  Gay marriage. (0+ / 0-)

    The wealthy are going to try and kill this in the crib.  Once Baby Boomers trigger the Social Security T-Bill time bomb, the government is going to have to start paying back those debts to Social Security.  They'll either have to cut social services, which will piss people off, or they'll have to cut military spending, which will piss people off.  Or they'll have to tax people making over 107k a year.

    It's going to be hard for wealthy people to argue that they can't pay taxes on money above 107k in order to support Social Security.

    It's a lot like gay marriage in that respect.  It has to be stopped now, in this moment with its particular dynamics, because the future that's barreling down the tracks is going to make it impossible to stop this action in 10 or so years.

    "In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick." -Barack Obama

    by electricgrendel on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:02:38 AM PST

    •  This is all BS! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, denise b

      The government has always borrowed whatever surplus was available in the SS Trust Fund. It makes sense for them to do so, it reduces the interest we have to pay. This is no crisis. This 2.5 trillion is to be payed out over many years. The system is solvent. Republicans try to scare people by inventing stories about how unstable SS is - these are all false.

      God has no religion. - Gandhi

      by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:55:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes- but is it not the case that eventually those (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        miriam, quotemstr, jennylind, Azazello

        treasury bills will have be paid back?  And when they are paid back will we not have to generate the revenue to pay them back in some manner?  And is it not the case that the government generates revenue to cover expenses either by raising taxes or cutting programs?

        There will come a time when Social Security is paying out more than it takes in.  The entire reality of the trust fund was to prepare for that day.  And we would have been prepared had we left the trust fun in a lock box, to borrow an unfortunately mocked phrase.  Instead we took that money and spent it on wars and tax cuts and shiny new weapons systems.

        Those IOU's will come due.  It is a matter of time.  And when the rest of the government has to start paying back SS for all the money we borrowed, the rest of the government will have to start making cuts or raising taxes.  The simple truth is that it's ridiculous that we do not collect the SS supporting from tax people  who make over 107k a year.  So it seems reasonable to say that those people will be the revenue source to maintain current levels of spending on top of paying back the debt to Social Security.

        People who make that kind of money want to force us to find other ways of paying back the SS debt before the situation makes it more likely that they will have to pay their fair share.  And given tax aversion/evasion by people of the upper income brackets, I do not think it is BS to point that out.

        "In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick." -Barack Obama

        by electricgrendel on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:21:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. But how much? and how fast? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          denise b

          The Peterson people like to use scary numbers but the ones they deploy are always nominal (i.e non-inflation adjusted) dollars over the God help us 'infinite future horizon'.

          If you actually examine the gap between projected cash income and projected cash cost in any given year in constant (i.e. inflation adjusted) dollars you can see that the gap starts out very small at a little under $2 billion in 2015

          By 2020 the cash gap is right at $100 billion but the Trust Fund will be earning $168 billion in interest, meaning we will be called on to pay only 2/3rds of interest earned that year. And even as late as 2025 we will only be called upon to pay down $42 billion of inflation adjusted principle.

          There is no doubt that if the economy performs down to Intermediate Cost levels (and it may not) that there will be some burden to the General Fund starting around 2026 in paying back the principle built up in the Trust Fund by that points (about $4.7 trillion in 2009 dollars). But nobody put a gun to Bush's head and insisted that he not devote the cash surpluses he was delivered to paying down public debt rather than handing a couple of trillion to the 'haves and have mores'.

          But even at that all this talk about 'raising taxes' and 'cutting programs' is a bunch of hooey, the borrowing needed to repay Social Security even at its worst approximates early Bush deficits, which didn't trigger the kind of doomsday scenarios generally associated with Social Security.

          Plus there is no way to leave real funds in some lock box. What are you going to do pile up Benjamins in a warehouse. We could have invested Social Security in equities or muni bonds or whatever but in each case the people taking the money would have spent it on something and gave us back an IOU. And that would even be true if we just put it in physical dollar bills which are themselves just another form of IOU. The idea that Special Treasuries are somehow existentially different from any other form of possible investment is just a product of (sorry) lazy acceptance of a narrative sold by the enemies of Social Security just as the idea that repayment presents us with some crushing blow. Each is a trick to get workers to surrender their rights.

          And raising the income cap on Social Security is a profoundly stupid thing to do. Not doing it is not 'ridiculous', the payroll cap was put in place for very sound reasons. It astonishes me that so many progressives think they are smarter than FDRs Brain Trust, the men and especially the women (thank you Frances Perkins) who put Social Security together in the first place. The payroll cap is our friend. And yes I know that sounds counter-intuitive.

          •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

            the cap saves it from being a welfare program but the initial limit was at the 95% income level and now its well below that. $108,600.00 is just above the upper 1/5th line. We could raise it some and stay within Frances Perkins's parameters.

            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

            by johnmorris on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:20:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Social Security is an insurance program. FICA (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mike Taylor

          is an insurance premium, not a tax. That's why FICA maxes out at $107 k, because that is the maximum benefit label. And the Social Security Trust fund is composed of Treasury bills, just like many businesses and investors hold.

          Democrats have let Republicans creat this distorted frame about FICA as a 'tax' and social security as an 'entitlement.' Both are lies and I think we would only play into them by taking more money from people on earnings over $107 k. That would relly be a tax because their SS benefits would not increase as a result.

          We should raise taxes on wealthy Americans to eliminate our budget shortfalls and national debt. I don't think that social security should come into the debate at all - it is just one of many entities that holds a large number of T-bills. Social Security is well funded and in no need of money from the Treasury beyond what is owed. So let's keep the debate on how we pay for the Federal Budget and decrease the debt.

          God has no religion. - Gandhi

          by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 01:03:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  DLC is also involved (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, GN1927, driftwood, orlbucfan

    Will Marshall's name is on the 2008 report under their Progressive Policy Institute banner.  Talk about false advertising.

    We're going to have to fight this hard, since too many members of our own party are involved in selling it.  

    Wouldn't it be great if Al Gore got involved?

    Private health insurers always manage to stay one step ahead of the sheriff - Sen. Sherrod Brown

    by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:03:05 AM PST

  •  What they NEED to do is trim the fat out of the (7+ / 0-)

    military budget.  The amount of money shoveled to the military are obscene.  I'm sure we can have 'National Security' without spending more than the rest of the planet put together.

    We know you've got to blame someone For your own confusion But we're on guard this time Against your final solution

    by minerva1157 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:04:33 AM PST

    •  What? Trim the fat? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      minerva1157, Wom Bat

      Where is the profit to the makers of the special hammers and toilet seats and so on if they're only paid the fair market value for their products? You peacenik socialist, you!

      Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

      by mofembot on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:12:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you watch this summer when (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      they tried to cut what was it 1 or 2 billion for those obsolete fighter jets?

      They acted like holy war had been declared on the 700 billion dollar budget.

      In fact, I hear over and over on the right wing media how the Democrats have slashed the military budget.

      When the truth is they increased it by 4%.

    •  Here's one of the ironic things about military (0+ / 0-)

      budget planning.

      The nominal job of the people responsible for coming up with the amount of money to ask for is to think up questions like "What military issues are we facing now, and what issues will we be facing in the next [let's say] ten years?" I believe a system manufactured ten years ago and used consistently, like an airplane, is "old". Correct me if I'm wrong here.

      So they have to come up with numbers about how much it will cost to better equip the military for current conflicts, and for any future conflicts that may arise - which is kind of hard to figure, if you think about it.

      Now, I don't know they're actually doing anything but promoting endless MIC growth... then again, didn't DoD basically say, "Stop buying us heavy-lift jets, we don't have any use for them" last year?

      Take a moment each day to appreciate how amazing the mere fact of your existence is.

      by Shaviv on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:12:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I continue to "adjust and prepare". (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, Dartagnan, smellybeast

    I determined in my 20s that Social Security was going to be in trouble and started scrimping and saving and never stopped. I was going to put myself into a position never to need Social Security in case something like this happened. At the time my main concern was that a lot of people in my age group, including me, bought into the population bomb meme and planned on less than a replacement number of children. Which despite surprise twins, I achieved. So I thought just based on demographics I couldn't count on all that much. Well, population stability went out the window to some extent, but now this other crap comes along.

    Oh, I might have achieved my saving goals except that something seems to have happened to the financial system I sort of thought would provide some kind of reasonable growth in my investments. Instead they have totally stagnated in the last decade despite my having a diversified portfolio that was, I was told, appropriately allocated among the various risk/income categories.

    So now it looks like I'll keep on adjusting and preparing as I have all this time, which these days means to figure out how to keep on living cheaper and cheaper as required by whatever resources come my way. Having signed off on my previous career as it sailed into the sunset and tried a couple of things to start a new one, I also am making do with about 1/5 the income I had back then. We'll see just how far I can get this pile of assets to go before it totally craps out. At least it keeps the brain active...

    Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

    by billmosby on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:07:17 AM PST

    •  I though I might be ok too. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      revsue, quotemstr, billmosby, orlbucfan

      My SS was going to be modest, but so were my living expenses.  But I think that they increases in my savings (402k and IRAs) dissappear about every ten years.  When the Criminal Toxic Mortgage Bubble burst, I had closed those retirement accounts and put the money in a savings in a regular bank two years before last year's crach.

      Most of the value I watched dissappear from my IRA after the 2000 internet bubble burst never has come back yet (I watch those just to have a Measuring stick).  I also read that it took a generation for the stock market to get back to the pre-1929 levels and, at age 66, I don't have a generation to wait for it to climb.  Though everybody says they have earned most of their value back that was lost in the past year.  Hmmm. . . what is going on.

      I will never go near the stock market again because I have come to feel that it is far to manipulated to be anything close to a wise place for working people's money.  Like they warn, if you cannot aford to lose it, don't invest in the stock market.

      Now, after spending my working life watching my wages be squased in the low-wage efforts of corporations, I will have to fight like hell to keep the kleptocrats from their desired course -- being allowed to fail to pay back the social security funds they took out to keep their tax low for the past thirty years. the elites...actually believe that society can be destroyed by anyone except those who lead them? - John Ralston Saul -

      by Silverbird on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:34:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, yeah, that bubble.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silverbird, quotemstr

        I actually converted all my stock holdings to cash on the day before the NASDAQ started its dive. I had made back-to-back 50 percent gains the three previous years with the majority of my money in Fidelity Select Electronics. And I had somewhere north of 400k in the stash, having started from zilch 13 years before that. Fidelity Magellan was the good part up until electronics took off. So if I had just kept it in cash reserves at 4% for the next 10 years, I would have more than twice what I have today. Instead I kept putting it in and taking it out. I think I parleyed it into about 1/3 of its peak at one point. Today it's worth significantly more than half of its peak. What a triumph, eh? I'm better off than a lot of folks my age, but it still won't last more than about 15 years at a subsistence level with the current "appreciation" rate.

        I could be worse: one of my colleagues delayed retirement until some of his funds grew back sufficiently and he could get a fuller Social Security payment. He died 18 months later, never using most of what he had delayed retirement to save up. Although he died from a sudden heart attack picking up his decoys after a pleasant afternoon of duck hunting; apparently fell where he stood and died with something like a smile on his face, according to the friend who went out looking for him. Maybe that's not worse... hard to say.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:55:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  There is no problem with social security!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steppin Razor

      God has no religion. - Gandhi

      by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:56:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope you're right. (0+ / 0-)

        Apparently, demographically, there shouldn't be. But if the gummint starts grazing too far afield for funds, as this diary suggests, it will be a different story.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:30:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That is not what the SS trustees say n/t (0+ / 0-)
        •  The SS Trustees are political appointees (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OIL GUY

          Anyone who gets all his information from the 15 page Introduction to the Reports, itself reprinted as a stand alone document called the Summary (helpfully available for download without all those pesky tables and figures that make up the body of the Report) is reading a political document. The numbers are right but they have a spin.

          People look at the name 'Trustees' and think they are some neutral body. Well they aren't. The Trustees consist of the Secretaries of Treasury, HHS and Labor, the Commissioner of Social Security and two so-called Public Trustees. But all are named by the President and there is nothing stopping him from installing Public Trustees that fully support his agenda. And in Palmer and Savings Bush certainly did that.

          The bulk of the Report is put out by the Office of the Chief Actuary who is a career professional but like all such top level political administrators responsible to a strong degree to his political masters, which in this case includes carry-over Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue. Astrue is by report of people who know him personally is very conservative, and some of those same people report that top career levels of Social Security are (like just about every other executive branch agency) largely staffed by Bush embeds. In any event the 2009 Report was largely prepared under the Bush Administration and in fact was almost certainly substantively complete before Sebelius and Solis even knew what was where in their own Departments, let alone in an independent agency. Plus the two Public Trustee positions are vacant and Giegtner was kind of busy this spring. Meaning the only Trustee even if a position to influence the 2009 Report was Astrue, there is no wonder its language strongly echoes that of the four or five Reports that preceded it.

          So I am thinking your argument needs a little more backing than 'n/t'. Like maybe a whole bunch of 't' detangling the mostly apolitical body of the Report from the spin put on it in the Intro.

    •  Same here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I doubt I will ever retire. But, if I do, I am not counting on SS being there. If it is, it will just be icing on the cake.

  •  Reaganomics again (6+ / 0-)

    Oh, this pisses me off.

    Reagan allowed corporations to raid their pensions funds.  Guess who has picked up the tab for this beginning with Bethlehem Steel?  Yes, the taxpayers.  Oh, but the CEO's got their money first.

    They need to raise the tax on Social Security and Medicare, pure and simple. Not reduce benefits.  It's this very money that goes back into the economy.  You give it all to the wealthy and they sit on it.

    Then our State, Sales and Property taxes will become much smaller....  But people aren't smart enough to see the connection.

    And I'm sorry, but do billionaires really need any more money?  Someone suffered so they could have that much, and that includes the philanthropic Bill Gates.  Somewhere, someone worked in a sweat shop, some child got paid a dime for a day's worth of work.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:09:40 AM PST

    •  Not Gates (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I go along with a lot of your rant, but Gates made his money as a marketing genius, not by robbing people's pensions. (Unless you count foisting poor code as making people suffer. But - finally - they seem to be delivering decent work.)

      FWIW, Microsoft employees do get very good wages and benefits, and I've never heard of their pension funds being raided or them working in sweatshop conditions.

      I don't much like Microsoft code, even today. And Gates was, until recently, an asocial nerd whose staff needed to remind him to bathe. But he doesn't belong on your shitlist.

      Republicans can't accept that they've lost. Democrats can't accept that they've won.

      by DanK Is Back on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:31:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They don't need to do either!!!!!!!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      God has no religion. - Gandhi

      by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:56:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Retirement is going to be an absolute crisis. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Diana in NoVa, denise b, MarciaJ720

      We've already kicked out the pension leg from the three-legged stool that middle-class retirement security was built on (at least in the private sector). If Social Security is raided, that's a severe weakening of another leg. The only thing left after that is individual savings, which as we know has been way, way, too inadequate to fund retirement for the majority of middle-class people. And that, too, is by design: our whole system has been set up to discourage saving and encourage spending. Savings accounts don't pay much, many 401(k)'s are a scam (outrageously fee-laden, or with only poor investment options). Now millions of people have lost a huge amount of home equity (though people should never have been counting on that for retirement savings).

      We really will be working like slaves until the grave if the GOP and our major corporations have anything to do with it. This retirement crisis (and its attendant issues with health care costs) is truly the elephant in the room right now: the issue that everyone is afraid to talk about.

      •  Here's the problem we have...we can raise the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b, MarciaJ720, Steppin Razor

        retirment age all we want.  The corporate sector is starting to kick people out of the workplace in their 50's.  The rest of the civilized world has a retirement age of 55.  There is a huge disconnect between our retirement age and reality.

        "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

        by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:51:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I just don't see a great solution here, unfortunately. And I seriously doubt that the middle class is going to come out on top in this crisis, the way things have been going. Rich people will win the fight for the last few crumbs, unless we have another New Deal/Progressive Era-scale reform of the whole basic premise of America.

          •  Progressives are not helping us...they hide (0+ / 0-)

            behind their less progressive counterparts to do what their corporate masters want.  I am not sure we have a solution other than an underground economy where we hide our money from them and they are forced to fish in other ponds.

            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by lakehillsliberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:04:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  My friends expect to keep working (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        since the last stock market crash.  I'm talking about the friends who are doctors, dentists, lawyers and the like.  My friends with pension plans like teachers want to work until 65.  Most of those friends already have health issues that require them to get "accomodations" to keep working.  They get these informally.  The people I know with serious health problems who ask for reasonable accomodations formally get shown the door and forced onto SSDI.  That happened to me and I am so grateful SSDI was there for me.  The friends I have with terrible health, no job and no prospect of being able to get SSDI or other public assistance are in real trouble.  Families help, but unless the families are the super rich, that even has its limits.  

        Winning without Delay.

        by ljm on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:37:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Time to invest in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Shaviv

    cat food futures.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:12:22 AM PST

  •  Won't happen to me! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've known for 10 years that there would be no social security funding left just 5 years prior to my expected retirement. So if the politicians steal from the fund, who cares? I'm going to be broke off my ass when I retire anyway, since I haven't had a 401k since the economic crash of 2002 and I don't work for a place that has pensions. My retirement plan? either suicide in a secluded place, or pull off a huge heist. maybe death by cop.

    humor: "Obama is a long-legged Mac Daddy," Pastor Manning.

    by jsepeta on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:16:28 AM PST

    •  To quote Pointy Haired Boss, (0+ / 0-)

      "We can do both!"

      Fort Knox is somewhat secluded, right?

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:28:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You don't know any such thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b

      Social Security does not in any fundamental way rely on the Trust Fund assets for funding. The Trust Fund acts as a reserve fund for those periods of time when FICA and tax on benefits don't fully cover costs. The day that cash flow stops going from Social Security to the General Fund and starts going the other way is a very minor event that does not have to effect actual benefit checks in less we allow it too.

      In fact in the terms used by Social Security alarmists, and those who like you allowed yourself to be alarmed, the DI (Disability Insurance) Trust Fund is bankrupt today, and in some formulations has been since 2006.

      In 2006 total cash revenues (FICA plus tax on benefits) flowing to DI totalled $91.2 billion. Total outlays totalled $92.9 billion. Where did the extra $1.7 billion come from? The Treasury, which simply deducted that amount from what they otherwise would have credited the TF in the form of Special Treasuries. Net result the TF balance only grew by $8.6 billion.
      In 2008 total cash revenues flowing to DI totaled $98.8 billion. Total outlays were $107.2 billion. Where did the extra $8.4 billion come from? The Treasury which deducted it from accrued interest with the result that the TF only grew by $2.4 billion.

      In Feb 2009 the DI Trust Fund officially went into negative terriroty as outlays exceeded revenues and actual principal had to be redeemed. Part of this is because interest and revenue from tax on benefits are credited irregularly to the Trust Funds and some other factors make February a down month anyway. But there is no doubt in the world that DI this year and or each of the next ten years will be dipping every more deeply into its principal. Unless something is done.

      But why didn't we see big screaming headlines in 2006 or in 2008 or in 2009 saying 'Bankrupt!" 'Flat broke!!!!!'. Because these were in the larger context non-events, fully anticipated and planned for. As are the equivalent events for Social Security. There were no need to immediately raise taxes in 2006 or start slashing benefits or closing programs and there will be no need to do any of that come 2017 or 2019, Treasury will continue to issue checks for as long as they are legally allowed to do. When DI runs up against the hard limit that would require benefit cuts then either Congress will rebalance the FICA allocation between DI and OAS (this has been done before) or perhaps address it with a revenue fix. Alternately we could fix DI permanently by increasing FICA by 0.2% in 2010, 0.1% in 2011 and an additional 0.2% in 2041, meaning a reduction in take home pay for the median income household of $1.50 per week. Similar increases for OAS from 2026 to 2036 would put THAT program back in long-term balance. Or we could let OAS go to zero in 2037 and only be able to pay out a check in real terms 20% better than similarly situated retirees get today.

      Basically anyone who tells you there will be "no social security funding left" in ANY year in the future really doesn't know anything at all about Social Security finance.

      Whatever you do don't hire this guy for your financial planning.

  •  The Great Switcheroo (8+ / 0-)

    That's what I call Reagan's tax policy. He passes huge cuts in the personal income tax and the deficit skyrockets. Then, two years later, in '83, he raises the FICA tax to "save Social Security".
    People talked about this like it was two separate things. If you look at it as two parts of the same policy, you see that it was just a swap, a switcheroo. Money lost by cuts on the top marginal rates was simply replaced by increases more regressive payroll tax.

    •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quotemstr, Azazello

      This is nothing more than an attempt to shift the burden of funding SS from progressive to regressive taxes. That's really the only possible motivation for it, if the GOP doesn't also support just cutting SS benefits.

      THAT is the whole reason the GOP wants everyone to think that there is a "crisis" for Social Security funding. There isn't; SS is guaranteed payback of its debt by law. The "crisis", instead, is that progressive income tax rates might have to be raised to maintain balanced budgets in the general treasury. I suspect the public might see that "crisis" a bit differently if they understood what the issue is.

      •  The burden of SS has always been "regressive" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b, OIL GUY

        I put "regressive" in air quotes because it is NOT a welfare program paid for by taxes, but an insurance program paid for by mandatory premiums, and where benefits are indexed to lifetime contributions.

        •  Thank you, a voice of sanity. (0+ / 0-)

          God has no religion. - Gandhi

          by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:58:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you think I'm wrong about something? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OIL GUY, Robobagpiper

            I wasn't claiming that Social Security taxes are not regressive. They are. I was saying that part of future payouts will come from progressive taxes (because the Treasury owes money to SS).

            •  I don't know that I agree with this, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OIL GUY

              or at least, agree with looking with it this way.

              Those payouts are simply a redemption of treasuries purchased by the "regressive" FICA. The payouts will be from the progressive general fund, but so will the payouts from

              I think we agree that the issue is that the Republicans and Conservadems would rather not pay back SS at all, and would like to see FICA become a true (if backdoor) regressive tax by subsidizing general revenues in perpetuity.

              •  Yes, I think we agree on this. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                OIL GUY

                What I'm saying is that if they don't pay back those treasury securities to Social Security, then not only would it become a permanent regressive tax, but it would become RETROACTIVELY a regressive tax. So, in essence, if the GOP/Conservadems are successful, then they will have succeeded in funding a lot of crap like the Iraq War partially on a regressive tax.

                •  It would have to be an odd mechanism (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  OIL GUY

                  They'd have to specifically prohibit the redemption of the serial numbers of the treasury notes currently held by the trust fund. Otherwise, the SS Trust Fund could just sell its notes to some sovereign wealth fund or the like, couldn't it?

                  •  My understanding... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    OIL GUY, Robobagpiper

                    (and take this with a grain of salt, as I could be wrong on some of the details)

                    My understanding is that the Treasury securities owned by the Social Security trust fund are a "special issue" type of security that is normally only sold to the SS Trust Fund. I don't think they are allowed to sell them on the open market (but again, I'm not sure of that). They would have to do something like invalidate all of those "special issue" bonds/bills to cancel the debt, or change the law so that Social Security itself forgives the debt. If they aren't sold on the open market, they could seemingly do this without too many repercussions for the government's "credit rating". (Actually, this structure of SS using special bonds rather than normal Treasury Securities would almost suggest to me that canceling them was the plan all along back in 1983 or whenever it was that they instituted this "reform".)

                    •  Well you're not wrong (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dartagnan, johnva

                      Although Robobagpiper on the whole is right about almost all of the Social Security bigger pieces.

                      The Special Treasuries are not marketable and there are two very good reasons for that. One we know pretty exactly when Treasury will need to start making cash transfers to pay SS benefits and for that purpose it literally has as much money as it needs, it just writes checks and debits the Trust Fund. Having a specific pool of fully callable notes and bonds is convenient for this management purpose. It has no need to launder these instruments through the public markets where after all they would require tracking in order to pay out interest payments on schedule.

                      But the second reason is a little more subtle. Special Treasuries are by design worth exactly face value and bear exactly the yields and terms on their face. Regular Treasuries after issuance are worth exactly what the bond market values them at and their actual yields vary inversely. Meaning the Social Security Trust Fund is NOT exposed to the market in the way that holders of regular Treasuries are, the Chinese could sell all their holdings tomorrow and not legally change the value of Social Security's asset portfolio. The argument against holding the TF in Regular Treasuries is at base the same reason the Trustees don't hold it in other asset classes, Social Security needs to be 100% predictable and yet can still take advantage of higher market interest rates by locking in those rates at the point of issuance.

                    •  No, that's not the scam (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      They're not going to cancel the Treasury notes or default on Social Security. That's to tricky to do and to risky.

                      More importantly they don't need to. The scam isn't to default on these loans, whether or not they could. The scam is to either raise SS taxes, as Reagan did in the 80s, or cut benefits so that they don't need to default. In fact they'll keep borrowing money from it for the general fund.

                      No fuss about defaulting. Social Security is saved. Rich people keep paying less and the working class keeps funding the government.

                      The Empire never ended.

                      by thejeff on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 01:12:21 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  I'm sorry not to respond sooner. I don't have any (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              disagreement with what you are saying. Your dialogue with Robobagpiper certainly helped clarify your position for me. You are very well informed on this issue which is all too rare - I'm amazed at the number of young people who don't believe they will ever collect what they put in. We need to do a better job of informing folks about this. The Republican lies have really sunk in.

              What attracted me to Robabagpiper's comment was the emphasis on SS as an insurance program and not a tax. I think many people don't understand this and therefore don't understand why incomes over $107,000 aren't required to pay FICA.

              God has no religion. - Gandhi

              by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:44:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  That's not the point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The SS trust fund is in surplus, they've been folding the SS surplus into the general fund. That's the only way Clinton could claim to have balanced the budget.

          •  You misunderstand; it's not in surplus for (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Steppin Razor, Azazello

            much longer. In a few years, it will cease transferring money to the general fund (but will be in the black still because of interest on the t-bills it holds). Soon after that, because of the boomer hump, it will see an anticipated shortfall, which it will make up for by redeeming the t-bills it bought while in surplus. In 2041, all the t-bills will have been redeemed, again as planned.

            And when the SS Trust Fund bought treasuries, they couldn't BUT roll the money into general revenues. That's where the money from t-bills goes. This is not a problem, because treasuries are the most secure investment out there.

            The only other option would be for SS to invest in riskier things like the stock market or commodities.

            The rolling of SS surpluses into the treasury is not the problem. The failure of political will to make sure the general fund is in a position to replace those surpluses, and then pay back the debt: that's the problem.

            •  My point was that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              counting FICA receipts is an accounting trick that makes cuts to the income tax look less irresponsible. That's why they do it. The steep top bracket income tax must be brought back, and once levied, it must be collected.

              •  Got no problem with that; I've always (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                denise b, OIL GUY, Steppin Razor, Azazello

                advocated "fixing" the general revenues shortfalls as the SS Trust Fund redeems the t-bills not by raising the FICA cap, but by raising the income tax on income over 100k by (at least) 12%. Same money, from the same people, but keeps the firewall between SS and general revenues.

              •  Numbers don't support your contentions (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Azazello you are following a very common narrative. Unfortunately it is simply wrong. The total cash surpluses to Social Security under Reagan, Bush I and Clinton simply were not big enough to have the masking effects you suggest.

                Surpluses under Reagan and Bush I were almost exactly what they needed to be to put the Trust Fund back at its legal target of Short Term Actuarial Balance. The larger surpluses enjoyed by Clinton after 1996 were neither planned for or expected. In 1992 the general consensus on the General Fund side was "Deficits as far as the eye can see" and if you examine the Social Security Reports from 1993 to 1996 you will see an outlook for Social Security that was progressively deteriorating. The major improvements in outlook for Social Security that we saw after 1996 were the result of the same factors that turned the General Fund deficit to a General Fund surplus by 1999, a combination of high employment, low inflation and real wage increases thought impossible by the NAIRU gurus of the Greenspan school. That combination put Social Security strongly in the black.

                Frankly the implied suggestion that this was all part of a Reagan/Greenspan plot in 1983 gives those guys a lot too much credit. In 1992 nobody was publicly predicting what we saw starting mostly in 1996-97.

                Counting FICA receipts as part of the Unified Budget is not a trick and in fact was put in place at a time where it actually would have had negative effects. Social Security having run cash deficits after 1972 right through to 1982.

                I am all with you on the bigger issue of progressive taxation, if I had my way I would bring back 1979's 69% top rate. But that has fuck all to do with the actual numbers of Social Security, the story didn't happen the way you need it to.

                •  I am only an amateur economist, (0+ / 0-)

                  the source for my views was a book by Allen W. Smith entitled The Looting of Social Security, that and my memories of the politics of the Reagan-Thatcher Reaction. I will re-evaluate. You're contribution to this thread has been worth reading. Have you done a simple explanatory diary on this site ?  

        •  I realize that. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Robobagpiper, Steppin Razor, Azazello

          Yes, SS is currently primarily paid for by a regressive tax (regardless of whether you want to call it a "tax" or a "premium").

          My point is that in order to maintain the current level of promised benefits, SS will have to start receiving money from the general treasury (ie, it will have to redeem some of the debt that it is owed by the Treasury). In order to do that, and not increase the deficit, regular income taxes will have to rise (the loans of the surplus from the SS trust fund were the only reason this didn't have to happen sooner). Republicans don't want that to happen (since that would tax upper tax brackets more heavily), so they are advocating that Social Security shouldn't get some or all of that money back. Basically, they are saying that it's Social Security's problem to deal with the fact that the government spent the Social Security surplus on things like wars and such, when in fact those wars and such should have been funded by taxes on the rich at the time of the spending.

          Basically, they want the rich to get their tax cuts (even while INCREASING spending), keep them, and never have to make up for their obligations to SS.

          •  So we're on the same page (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OIL GUY, Azazello

            Just laser-focusing in on slightly different aspects of the issue.

            My point is that I think the language of "regressive" is wrong because when we think of SS as "welfare".

            We don't consider life insurance premiums as "regressive", just because you get more benefits when you pay higher premiums. Indeed, SS benefits rise more slowly than contributions, so overall, the program is progressive, if we're going to use that language.

            We've got to stop using the tax/welfare/regressive language with SS. It's the wrong frame, and helps Republican arguments that it can be cut.

            We need to start using the wage insurance language. Those premiums have already been paid, so the benefits must be paid. We shouldn't raise premiums, and then just divert those premiums to the treasury. Etc.

            •  Frame-wise, I can possibly agree with that. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OIL GUY, Robobagpiper

              I was only using the term in the technical sense of "taxing lower income levels at a higher rate than higher income levels". You can certainly argue that SS is "insurance", instead, and you may be right that that's a better tactic (although I'm not sure that we really need a different tactic, considering that SS enjoys broad popularity already). I was merely using the term (accurately) to describe part of the GOP's motives for this constant desire to "restructure" Social Security. It really is that they don't want progressive income taxes to pay back that debt owed to SS. The GOP is opposed to the idea of the progressive income tax, but they're (usually) too gutless to come out and say that outright. Instead, they cloak it in stuff like this, or in "flat tax" or "fair tax" talk.

        •  It is very progressive (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          denise b, quotemstr, OIL GUY, Robobagpiper

          SS returns more to poor people than to those that make more. For example if you made $30K a year over your lifetime, you will get a higher percentage of your preretirement income than if you made $75K a year.

          Even though the person that made $75K a year will have contributed more than double to SS over their lifetime, their check will not be twice as high.

          SS is very progressive.

    •  A pretty asymmetric swap or switcheroo (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The extra Social Security dollars over and above actual current year costs raised by the 1983 hike were tiny and didn't pay for even a visible fraction of Reagan tax cuts. Actual net surpluses from 1983 to 1988 in Social Security were $85 billion. Of that $16.7 billion came from new taxes on upper income Social Security recipients, i.e. the same people getting those tax cuts, while $31.7 billion came in the form of interest credited to the Trust Funds but not actually borrowable.

      We didn't pay for the Cold War escalation or those income tax cuts on the $37 billion left over.
      Moreover a full fourth of that increase came in 1988 and was not reported until after Reagan left office.

      Reagan entered office with a Social Security Trust Fund Ratio of 15 meaning a reserve of around seven weeks. The Trustees are mandated to target a TF ratio of 100 or one year. Under the compromise worked out by Reagan and Tip O'Neill's reps (because to some degree the Greenspan Commission was a side-show) phased in tax increases were set in place that would build that ratio back to 100 over a 10 year period. That worked, by 1988 the ratio was at 41 and by the end of Bush I's term it was 96, that is just a hair under its target.

      Under current law those reserves are to be held in Special Treasuries which is exactly what Reagan and Bush I did, they built up one year of Social Security reserves in the legally prescribed form. All this talk about some Reagan switcheroo is just nonesense divorced from the actual numbers and events in question.

      BTW a similar myth is current about LBJ, Social Security and the Unified Budget. That one is bogus as well. There are myth makers on both sides of this one.

      •  You see the confusion in this thread. (0+ / 0-)

        We need a simple story, one that we can all grasp but that holds up under scrutiny. Can you do this ? Can you find a way to explain it in 500 words ? I would welcome this. I still believe that since '83, and starting slowly at first, SS surpluses have been used to reduce reported Federal Gov. deficits, and that Clinton didn't achieve an actual operating surplus, exclusive of SS, until the final year of his second term.

  •  Even More! (0+ / 0-)

    They won't stop with social security! Sometime last year, some House Committee took testimony from some economist, can't remember her name, who suggested that the Gov't CONFISCATE existing IRA's and 401k's (like Argentina)
    with a promise to reset their value to pre-crash, and put you on a forced annuity. Yes you get a monthly check, but YOUR principal is gone forever. She thought this would be popular and that the Gov't could do a better job of managing YOUR retirement funds than you do. Since only 60 million or so have these accounts, there won't be enough people to protest. You know, YOUR money needs to be available for the common good.

  •  Okay, but I'm really confused now. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There have been some recent diarists and diaries saying SS is NOT at risk at all, and then we get diaries like this that say it is.

    So, which is it?

    *this space available for lease if you have something appropriately witty for me to share*

    by xysea on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:23:19 AM PST

    •  It's not at risk as long as we don't let some (6+ / 0-)

      bunch of Republican assholes (with conserva-Dem support)pull any of their usual stunts to de-fund social security. The SS Trust Fund is perfectly stable as long as we keep their grubby mitts off of it!

      God has no religion. - Gandhi

      by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:00:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Two types of risk (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Financial and political. The confusion is the political people who want to kill Social Security know they can't do it straight out and so have to resort to ostensibly financial arguments. Which have enough superficial plausibility (because they have been working on their case for decades) that they can only be successfully attacked on their own terms.

      Peter G Peterson endowed the Peter G Peterson Foundation with a $1 billion endowment. It's goal is to roll back the Great Society and the New Deal. It's main tactic is to hire a bunch of technocratic, 'non-partisan', 'non-ideological' folk from 'across the political spectrum' to develop 'bi-partisan' solutions. Solutions that all oddly have the effect of bypassing progressives in favor of a center-right coalition.

      Which of course fits right into the Village consensus of 'sensible centrism'.

      Ten democratic senators have signed onto at least the idea of Conrad-Gregg. Do they consciously want to kill Social Security? No. Are they open to agreeing we have to put it down like a horse beyond its years, more in sorrow than in anger? Seems like it.

      I have years worth of diaries here and posts elsewhere showing conclusively that Social Security is not at systematic risk by using Social Securities own data tables. But as I said in one of my very first posts back in Nov 2004 "this isn't about the numbers, and in most ways never has been".  Because in a real sense all of those issues were conclusively settled in the course of the "There is no crisis" struggle of 2005, these people are just coming back for one more shot. And shockingly are close to getting victory on the first stage. Which is Administration buy-in.

  •  Regarding Ben Bernanke (5+ / 0-)

    The outrage is misplaced and misguided regarding Bernanke's remarks about Social Security.  

    The Republicans have been looking to dismantle Social Security since the New Deal.  After 70+ years of making that plain, why are we suprised that Republicans are acting like Republicans?  Why the outrage?

    What we should be outraged at is the fact that a Democratic president has not withdrawn Bernanke's name and that Democrats apparently support Bernanke.  How badly does one have to screw up in Washington to be called an incompetent?  How much of the taxpayer's money does one need to give away in secret sweetheart deals before this Justice Department starts an investigation.  

    We need to get our outrage priorities straight.  And the first place we should direct our outrage is towards ourselves for putting up with this crap year after sorry year.  

    Republicans acting like Republicans:  Big deal.

    Democrats acting like Republicans:  Get the pitchforks.  

  •  Workers financed rich people's tax cuts, got IOUs (7+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:30:44 AM PST

  •  This has to do with progressive taxation. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, Steppin Razor

    Part of the GOP worry is that those Social Security IOUs and possible future shortfalls are paid back from general revenues, which is in turn funded by progressive income taxes. If they can "restructure" things so that SS has to pay its own way and doesn't get some or all of its debt paid back from the government, then that would be like funding it entirely from the (regressive) Social Security tax instead. The GOP opposes the status quo primarily because it might result in the rich paying a larger portion of our future Social Security needs (since they will have to fund the debt payback via progressive taxes). Rather than have the debt be paid back by taxpayers who can afford to pay higher taxes the most, the GOP would rather that benefits be cut on those who can afford it the least.

    This is all part of the ongoing GOP struggle to "flatten" the tax system and reduce taxes on the rich. It's really that simple. Of course, funding important government programs via regressive or flat taxes isn't always the most stable thing, as state governments are now finding out.

  •  they are startting...taking money out of ssi (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silverbird, Areopagitica

    to pay for Medicaid.

    My sister in law gets SSI..She has MS.She said that this is the first year she WON'T be getting a cost of living increase..and that $200 of her SSI is now being taken out of her check to pay for Medicaid I think she said it will be for 2010.

    •  Ain't it swell, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, denise b, Areopagitica

      that claim that the cost of living did not increase this year.  I am sure it did not for Bernake and the Kleptocrats.

      Funny, we did not hear the words old people come out their mouths until they started talking about needing our social security money. the elites...actually believe that society can be destroyed by anyone except those who lead them? - John Ralston Saul -

      by Silverbird on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:38:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  SSI payments aren't from the SS trust fund. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bruce Webb
      •  Whoever chose that acronym (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        should be shot, it has caused endless confusion.

        Supplementary Security Income or SSI is a program run by SSA the Social Security Administration essentially as a supplement to OASDI which is it self a combination of OASI Old Age/Survivors Insurance and DI Disability which people consistently combine into 'SSI' meaning 'Social Security Insurance'. Well no you can refer to Social Security as SS and the Social Security insurance as OASDI but actual SSI is something totally different.

        SSI is a general fund program mostly aimed at people who for one reason or another don't qualify for DI or OAS, many times because they have a disease or disability that prevented them from acquiring enough work quarters to qualify.

        In years past the COLA for OAS and DI was a political football which itself became a proxy for attacking the very existence of Social Security. As a solution Congress some time back changed the law so that the COLA would happen automatically and be tagged to CPI. Well a funny thing happened in 2008, the CPI number used to set COLA for last year overstated energy inflation going forward. (Maybe because nobody planned for a huge fricking recession to break out in Q3 2007). The result was everyone getting a 5.8% COLA for 2008. Which was good news AT THE TIME because all Social Security recipients were getting just that much more than they 'deserved' (as if the benefit was generous to start with), and since Social Security has no way of taking an 'excess' benefit back everyone actually ended up getting their 2009 COLA a year in advance.

        But man oh man it certainly doesn't feel like that when you are struggling along mostly on a Social Security check, people are used to getting a 2-3% increase every year and explaining that this year was covered by an increase of 5.8% last year simply doesn't compute. You could work up a spreadsheet showing that all Social Security recipients except newly enrolled ones ended up dollars ahead, but frankly based on my experience trying to explain this would be a waste of time. People who have seen tens of thousands or more disappear from their home equity and their IRAs don't want to hear that Social Security was actually too generous to them last year. Tell that story and be prepared to duck. But on paper it is true.

  •  Open revolts can be EXTREMELY pragmatic.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    An Affirming Flame, Areopagitica

    Just ask Marie Antoinette about the "pragmatic" solution to her let-them-eat-cake pun---and then imagine Bernanke and his evil masters in powdered wigs and hoop-dresses....

    A wildcat strike against a recalcitrant, apologetic Party is the order of the day. Every day.

    by Liberal Panzer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:33:06 AM PST

  •  Wait a minute - who is they that spent SS if not (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul Goodman, quotemstr

    the baby boomer's generation of politicians?

    As result of these taxes, Social Security accumulated a vast, 2.5 trillion dollar surplus.  Good news for a generation of retirees, right? Well, sorta. That money has been spent.  When you hear someone talking about "Social Security in Crisis," that's what they're talking about. That's the "crisis." they're talking about the fact that Uncle Sam owes back that vast amount of money it has already spent.

    Every year the Treasury has borrowed the surplus revenue collected by Social Security and spent the money on other purposes--whatever presidents and Congress decide, including more tax cuts for monied interests.

    The diary is written as if the baby boomers are blameless victims like they never voted for the polticians who scammed the system for themselves and us.

    The diary refers to Uncle Sam, the Treasury, the Congress as the culprits. Exactly who is "Uncle Sam?" Who put the congresspeople in the Congress? Not us? Then who?

    This is self-delusional baloney. I'm not a conservative, but I'm not buying this magical thinking that some government screwed up the system and we had nothing to do with it.

    On the other hand there are people who say the system isn't broke. I don't know who to believe.

    At this point no one has established credibility on this subject.

    •  Congress does not listen to us, (6+ / 0-)

      only to their rich constituents.

      I am one person, and have already been told by the city council that I don't count becauSe I live in a district that doesn't have a high number of voters, despite the fact that I ALWAYS vote.  Mitch McConnell is my Senator!  'nuff said, since I am a person of the political left. the elites...actually believe that society can be destroyed by anyone except those who lead them? - John Ralston Saul -

      by Silverbird on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:43:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  People get the government they deserve. (0+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately, not all of us are equally deserving.

      As fun as it can be to blame them (and they certainly share the blame for many of our current problems), the Baby Boomers are mostly a fairly politically progressive generation (and I'm speaking as a person in my late 20's). Gen X and the people who are older than the Boomers and still alive are really the most conservative generations, currently.

    •  AHA! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mike Taylor

      So you're the guy that let them dump all that money into Wall St. Bonuses!

      Shame on you!  What were you thinking?

    •  To be fair to the voters in this one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      haven't you seen the budget slight of hands they have presented over the past 30 years?

      The Defense Department is unauditable. For years now no one even knows where the trillions are going and for what.

      All the wars in the last decade have be "off budget".

      What the hell is that?

      I'm sorry but I scream to my congresspeople about these corrupt budget practices but I can tell you they do not listen.

    •  The system is broken (by design) (0+ / 0-)

      but the question at hand is what is the solution?

      The answer? Unsteal the money stolen by the neocon occupiers and give it to the rightful owners; America's pensioners.

      Shorter Obama: f@#* the neocons and all they stand for.

      by Paul Goodman on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:39:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Boomer Calender (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b, quotemstr

      "Wait a minute - who is they that spent SS if not the baby boomer's generation of politicians"

      Boomers are conventionally defined as those people born during the post-war Baby Boom from 1946 to 1964. In 2009 we age from 45 to 67. In 1983 when the Greenspan Commission made its recommendation we were aged from 19 to 37 meaning that more than a third of us were not old enough to be elected to the House and two-thirds not eligible to the Senate. Not only were we not eligible, it is not like even the oldest of us actually were represented and certainly were not in positions of power. But all of us were old enough to be paying additional FICA.

      Lets flash forward to 2000. Now Boomers are aged 36 to 54 and old enough to actually be represented in Congress or serve as Governors but pretty God damn unlikely to actually be in a real position of power. Now Clinton was one of us, if barely and so were a lot of his staff but the notion that Boomers were in control of the Congress during the Clinton years is laughable and only a little less so for the Bush years. The seventies and eighties were controlled mostly by the Greatest Generation with a smattering of Depression/War Babies. The nineties and the decade now ending were mostly controlled by a remaining powerful handful of Greatest Generation folk (Byrd, Stevens, Inouye) plus a bunch of Depression/War Babies but really no Boomers to speak off, particularly on the Republican side. Even now it is only leading edge Boomers who are moving into positions of power in Congress, name a powerful appropriator or budgeter under the age of 55. Or 65 for that matter.

      Some of these politicians are our politicians in the sense that we voted for them. But the politicians themselves are overwhelmingly from earlier generations. Blaming Boomers has become the typical out for just about everything, but that is mostly because the War Babies found us a convenient whipping boy for Gen-X to whack at.

  •  LOOK OVER THERE! Another Tiger Woods mistress! (5+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:38:40 AM PST

  •  Even progressives seem all too willing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bruce Webb, miriam, denise b, quotemstr

    to treat Social Security and Medicare as if they were just two more federal budget items, to be cut or increased according to the whims of politics. I had a huge argument with my dad where he tried to convince me that the whole idea that they were in any way separate and distinct from the rest of the budget was just a fiction that we should quickly dispel people of.

    I think that's the most dangerous part of all of this. We took (and continue to take) people's money with a promise that they'll get it back in the form of benefits later in life. They are at least in part insurance programs. If we erode that concept, it erodes trust in government in general, which will lead to eroding support for any attempt by the government to construct a better safety net.

  •  it's worse than you think ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irmaly, Betty Pinson

    This is only step one.

    The next thing we'll see, sometime in the next decade, is a move to confiscate the savings of that small fraction of the boomer generation that sacrificed throughout their working lives to provide for a comfortable retirement.

    instead of buying a new car every other year they bought one and ran the wheels off it (and they saved).  instead of expensive vacations they camped or stayed home (and they saved).  instead of buying the biggest house they could "afford" they bought a nice home with lower taxes & lower maintenance (and they saved).

    There is already elements of this in place with the taxing of SS benefits for people whose retirement income level is above a set point.

    what we'll see in the future is legislation that will effectively rape people of their savings.  this will be easy enough to do by simply manipulating the tax code so that earnings from retirement savings are taxed at a level well above normal earnings.

    this will all be done in the name of providing an adequate retirement for everyone but in practice it will be penalizing that segment of the polulation that acted responsibly trhroughout their working lives.

    •  Yes, all that 401k money that (0+ / 0-)

      people who were lucky enough to be able to save and did so because they were told you will be in a lower tax bracket when you retire is going to be taxed through the roof.

      •  It was always going to be higher (0+ / 0-)

        The idea that "taxes would be lower when you retire" was always predicated on the idea that your retirement income was going to be less than your working one which would usually be the case.  Anyone that gave it serious thought would probably have concluded that actual tax rates would be higher some number of years in the future (when have taxes ever really gone down?) but since income was down the actual percentage lost to taxes would be less.

        All of that is reasonable.  However, that logic goes out the window if Congress enacts "surtaxes" on the retirement income of "well off" boomers as I believe is inevitable.  It'll be the same old claim of punishing the "rich" for their dastardly affluence while actually once again taking money from the middle class.

  •  I won't get SS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I keep payiung SS payroll tax, yet I won't get a SS check because my first job was a gov't job with its own retirement benefit. I still pay in on my second career job, but I won't get any SS benefits, if and when I can ever retire.

    •  If you have 40 quarters of participation (0+ / 0-)

      in Social Security you will get a retirement check. That is ten years. Assuming you actually were at work by age 25 you would have a total working life of 40 years prior to Social Security eligibility. If you worked 30+ of those years in a government job chances are you have a pretty good pension going, all funded by taxpayers. That you are apparently snivelling because you have to contribute in ways that go to the taxpayers that were not as fortunate as to have a lifetime job with benefits and a full pension while ignoring the fact that we have been paying taxes all our lives to fund YOUR SALARY and YOUR PENSION makes you more a bowser than a wowser.

      And if you put in less than thirty years on that government job and so don't have the typical 60% pension that many government workers get for that kind of tenure, then you clearly have had and will have more then ten years to contribute to Social Security and so will qualify for benefits.

      Something literally isn't adding up right here.

      •  hmmm (0+ / 0-)

        I suggest you reread SS regulations. Plus, I worked fairly hard for the taxpayers and my pension was part of my compensation. I also paid taxes. Any SS benefits that I receive will be reduced by my current pension, in effect, zeroing out any SS.  I, unfortunately, am not Sen. McCain, who can get triple benefits.

    •  Do a google on John McCain and Social Security (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He somehow manages to draw the Senate Salary, draw military pension for being disabled and a Social Security check.

  •  it's why rethugs, et al want to privatize (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miriam, Badabing

    Social Security.  It would be looted before the ink dried on the authorization bill!

    Never walk into a public restroom while breathing through your mouth.

    by quityurkidding on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:48:18 AM PST

  •  Pure political suicide. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miriam, MichiganGirl

    And I won't put it past the Dems to shoot themselves in the head just cause they got tired of shooting themselves in the foot.

    St. Ronnie was an asshole.

    by manwithnoname on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:59:49 AM PST

  •  Defense spending is where the money is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    600 billion a year....and counting.

  •  Damn Poor People are Poor Because They're Too (0+ / 0-)

    lazy to be blind, obedient, and unquestioning while lying, cheating, stealing, and killing for their unprincipled, corporate, greedmongering masters.  EOE-l/i/e.


  •  Carlin predicted this was the next robbery (2+ / 0-)

    attempt by the rich.

    If we don't raise hell by the millions the politicians will work for them to get it, too.

    A long time ago, men gave away their power. To other men: princes, kings, wizards, generals and high priests. -Carlin

    by gereiztkind on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:04:25 AM PST

  •  Didn't someone say something about a LOCKBOX (5+ / 0-)

    Score another one for President Gore.

    •  The implication being (0+ / 0-)

      that the money was not currently in a lock box.

      Did Bush put it in one when I wasn't looking?


      The money was pooled with the general fund AND SPENT.

      That said, a promise made is a promise kept: the seniors WILL get their money.

      The debt run up under neocon occupation (1963- 2009) is an ODIOUS DEBT, and should not be honored.

      Shorter Obama: f@#* the neocons and all they stand for.

      by Paul Goodman on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:35:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Playing into their hands (0+ / 0-)

        You buy a bond, the government spends the money. Arguing that the fact that the government spent the money they borrowed from Social Security only makes sense if they find some way not to pay it back. Which hasn't happened yet. Every penny ever sent to Social Security has been spent on benefits are is tucked away in that Lock Box called the Trust Fund.

        Only if you buy into the Phony IOU narrative is there any problem.

        Give government money. Government spends money. You get IOU.

        That is what a government bond IS.

        Bush arguably committed a foul when he put this country in a place where paying back the bonds is difficult but that doesn't mean spending the proceeds was in itself wrong.

  •  A Plot to Loot Social Security?? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul Goodman, Badabing

    The is no Social Security, the only thing left is government debt.  The government has been looting that money since DAY 1, replacing it with treasuries.  When the CBO talks about a $35 trillion defecit in 2037, what do you think they are referring to?  

    •  A totally made up figure (0+ / 0-)

      In 2003 the Social Security Trustees added a new and totally bogus measure to the Social Security Report. Under the rules in place before and since the Trustees are mandated to target Short Term Actuarial Balance, which is the state of the Trust Fund in each of the next ten years, and Long Term Actuarial Balance, which is the state of the Trust Fund in each of the next 75 years. And while you can express that balance in dollar terms, either adjusting for inflation or not it tends to give you a meaningless figure, far better to express that gap in terms of percentage of GDP or payroll.

      But what is truly crazy is to express that gap in non-inflation dollar terms over the God help us Infinite Future Horizon. Which is what they started doing in 2003 in addition to standard ten and seventy five year numbers. But even at that you don't get $35 trillion for Social Security.

      Standard 75 year window: $5.3 trillion, 1.9% of payroll, .7% of GDP
      Infinite Future: $15.1 trillion, 3.4% of payroll, 1.2% of GDP

      Infinite Future is infinite crap when it comes to economic planning, why in the hell would we be setting 2009 policy on the basis of 2109 projections? And when you take infinite crap and multiply it by more than 2X it becomes what?

      These are Social Security Trustee numbers. Because CBO does not use dollar figures for these purposes anyway and are WAY more optimistic than SSA to start with. Their figures have the 75 year gap at 1.06% of payroll and .38% of GDP which implies a 75 year unfunded liability closer to $3 trillion than $35 tn.

      Got a cite for your number?

      •  No cite for my number (0+ / 0-)

        $35 trillion was just a number I remember hearing somewhere, and Im to lazy to look it up right now lol.  What I am guessing is that the $35 Trillion number accounts for the government debt which makes up the trust fund currently.  The link you reference states that the defecits are reduced by trust fund assets.  Trust fund assets however are largely if not entirely Government bonds, meaning the government owes the money to the trust fund.  If the Government owes the money to the trust fund, would it not be considered a defecit?

  •  What's the terror threat color (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    relentless, Dartagnan

    for an impending corporate sponsored government assault of it's own people?  Crimson?

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:07:37 AM PST

  •  Calm down, folks! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Pilgrim X, Dartagnan

    Social Security will be just fine if we just leave it alone. No one is going to push this too hard. Remember when Bush tried the 'privatization' bullshit. He saw his approval numbers tank as he traveled the country getting his ass kicked by senior citizens. I remember a town hall meeting he had in Brooklyn - with an all-Republican audience - who screamed at him the whole time because he wanted to mess with their social security. This is a bi-partisan political hot potato.

    God has no religion. - Gandhi

    by OIL GUY on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:08:02 AM PST

  •  follow the money.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul Goodman, kck, Badabing, Betty Pinson

    and you'll find a lot of Democrats at the end of that line.  Jamie Dimon stands out.

    I'm jus' saying...

    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:13:49 AM PST

  •  I want to hear... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miriam, denise b, Badabing

    ...from all the Kossacks who told the rest of us who experessed reservations about the directions Obama was taking "You knew what you were voting for."

    No, No we didn't.

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    by TheOrchid on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:27:35 AM PST

  •  But I was just told (0+ / 0-)

    that Progressive and Socialist champions Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders were the bad guys (along with Ron Paul).

    Who am I to trust, the soothing words of the trolls? Or my own lying eyes?

    Shorter Obama: f@#* the neocons and all they stand for.

    by Paul Goodman on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:31:31 AM PST

  •  i think it's naive (0+ / 0-)

    to think it's not already gone.

  •  indicators already in place tho, aren't they? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miriam, MichiganGirl

    ...for the first time in 35 years we social security recipients aren't getting a "COLadjustment" (the term is laughable, in that for the past 7 years, it hasn't covered the increase in medicare supplemental premiums, much less the price of food/utilities/pharma/gas pump for anyone who relies on SS as their "safety net")  Having been raised during ww-2 when stuff was rationed for the war effort and we "did without" - even the well-off among us - contrary to CW, today's seniors are pretty good at tightening their belts - up to a point.

    The tipping point...

    Yes, "prepare and adjust" - FDR's SS fund is today's ATM, congress' ca$h cow. SS/Medicare... insurance that we paid into for our entire working lives of course, gone missing? the feds are equally as guilty of "recision" as any private health insurer we're dealing with today in an attempt at HCR. But this is nothing it?

    "entitlement programs"? who paid for them? why has "entitlement" become a dirty word?

    Suggest write-a-rant to the president. And to Diane Feinstein, of course.

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:38:41 AM PST

  •  The Next Campaign for Great White Male Dominance (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miriam, denise b, relentless, quotemstr, chigh

    These people are relentless and will never go away. Only knowledge of history, fear and loathing will sustain us to defend the country from them.

    They believe that FDR opened the gate for people, especially women and children, to depend on the state for education and welfare, taking power from the male head of household. Women at work. Men losing the ties that bind their families to them. Then, the Boomers and all hell broke loose. The Pete Petersons have been focused on one thing - remove any safety net and make people rely on their own households and churches. They're smooth and talk pretty and can make liver look like candy but they are poison.

    This is one reason why HRClinton supporters solidified for her and against Obama...when in a primary debate Obama used the precise Pete Peterson-laden language for "entitlements" and did not understand or see why Clinton was giving the standard Democratic replies (echoing Gore). When Obama even criticized her on her position, he became suspect as either being a Peterson protegee or not understanding the importance of the history.

    Why did Obama invite and respectfully call out Pete Peterson at the health care reform kick off meeting? Just to show bipartisanship?  

    When you suck up to Pete Peterson expect to lose more than a pint of blood.

    HR 676 - Health care reform we can believe in - national single-payer NOW.

    by kck on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:39:18 AM PST

  •  All our bodies count for nothing more than (0+ / 0-)

    lining the coffers.  They use us, to keep us in our place and stations.  This is the most important thing for them.

    'If we lift our voice as one, there's nothing that can't be done' MJ

    by publicv on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:41:06 AM PST

    •  I think it's less animosity and more paternalism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...a distanced, almost biblical sense of regal entitlement of a patriarch, and a belief that they know better, as evidenced by their success and riches. The notion that the banker knows better how to rule the town than the farmer. Very primitive and feudal and paternalistic and we are to accept the pain so it can be better in the future.

      HR 676 - Health care reform we can believe in - national single-payer NOW.

      by kck on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:46:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  US Treasury bonds (0+ / 0-)

    somebody has probably already mentioned this, but isn't the social security fund invested in US Treasury bonds?  And aren't those the safest investments in the world?  As I understand it, if the US defaults on US T bonds we might as well all kiss our asses goodbye.  If I'm wrong about this please let me know.

    •  That's the point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If they get rid of the social security, they also get rid of the debt the government owes to social security, so Viola! no default.

      "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

      by MichiganGirl on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 11:28:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well they are slyer than that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The promoters of the Commission fall into two overlapping camps. One is the folk that simply hate Social Security and always have. I would put Peterson and the late Uncle Miltie in that category (Friedman called Social Security 'immoral') They will need to get their way.

      Another group is the camp that wants to minimize or eliminate the need to transfer funds from the General Fund to Treasury by establishing what they call 'sustainable solvency'. This camp is represented most prominantly by some people at AEI including Andrew Biggs (who has a SS blog called Notes on Social Security Reform) and Kevin Hassett. They too would eliminate Social Security in favor of private accounts but believe the route to get there is to progressively make Social Security a worse and worse deal by changing the indexing of initial benefits from wages (which allows future retirees to share in gains in living standards over their lifetime) to prices (which essentially freezes standards of living for future retirees against that being enjoyed by their children and grandchildren). Meanwhile they would steer future workers into add on accounts/IRAs which would because of this price indexing for SS gradually outperform it. Biggs already argues that SS has a worse ROI than IRAs but bases that on some pretty crappy arguments about theoretical rates of return if only current generations hadn't had to support previous ones, but given a transformation from wage indexing to price indexing actually 'proves' his argument over time by permanently reducing the ROI (an inappropriate concept in context anyway) on SS going forward.

      Casting doubt on the security of the TF is secondary although useful to his argument.

  •  What'll these slimy bastards do to us next? (5+ / 0-)

    Excellent work on the diary Dartagnan.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Save the Internet!

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:44:08 AM PST

  •  How much would we have to raise the payroll tax?? (0+ / 0-)

    Seems like I looked it up once and it wasn't that much.

    Given the ups and downs of Wal Street I think a case could be made that raising the SS tax is the best idea.

    I was working when they did it last time and although I was only making about 4 bucks an hour at the time I thought it was a small price to pay.

    IMO one of the really big problems SS faces is the large number of people getting on Disability. Those people start collecting and stop paying earlier.

    Also when the boomers retire and the gov't has to pay back the money they paid in and the gov't borrowed I'd like to suggest my segment be taken from the Defense Budget Please.

    •  We already have been paying extra since (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1983 to cover the Baby Boomers.

      Now we have to pay more? And get benefits cut?

      •  Crazy like a. Like a crazy person (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wrights, dharmafarmer

        Fox it is the Boomers who have been paying extra since 1983. Leading edge Boomers JUST started retiring and only those taking early retirement at that. The oldest Boomer will not be eligible for full retirement until 2012, the youngest will be in the work force until FRA in 2031.

        We could fix Social Security for the next 75 years with an immediate 2.0% increase in payroll tax. But there is no reason to do it all at once. We ran the numbers and the needed increases work out like this:

        1. 0.2%, 2011 0.1%, 2026-2036 0.2% per year, 2041 0.2%

        $1.50 a week for the median household starting in 2011 and then no changes in rate for fifteen years even as Real Wage increases. That is all it takes. And we have run these numbers by some very big names in SS, they check, based that is on numbers from last March. They will require some refinement come the release of the SS Report next fall.

        $1.50 a week now delivers full benefits through 2026, the equivalent of another $1 a week per week for a total of $11 a week addl by 2036 gets you the rest of the way home. Or you could trim that cost some by adjusting retirement age or benefits. But either way a payroll fix would be unnoticeable to the average worker.

  •  Please read Angry Bear's Social Security series. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink, denise b, Dartagnan, priceman, Lopez99

    You can find it here:  You owe it to yourself, your parents and your children to understand how the program works, how it is funded, and how truly sound it is financially.  It will require some minor adjustments, as it has over it's lifetime since its inception in 1937.  But it does not require an overhaul.

    Every meme that you hear that sounds simple is leaving something vastly important out.

    Example:  "The money has already been spent."  "There is no trust fund."  Or, "It's a Ponzi scheme."

    There is no way to state what is going on with Social Security in a two second sound bite.  If someone tries to do that, you should be immediately suspicious that they have an ulterior agenda.

    Everyone needs to understand the cross-generational, pay-as-you-go structure of the program.  It is not failing.  It is in fact working exactly as it was planned to work.  And it is financially sound for years out, even if absolutely nothing is done.

    Below, as an example of why you can't condense this down to sound bites, I'll talk about how the calculation works.

    •  How to calculate your FICA/SECA tax. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bruce Webb, priceman

      FICA = Federal Insurance Contributions Act
      SECA = Self Employed Contributions Act
      OASDI = Old Age, Survivors', and Disability Insurance [commonly called Social Security Retirement benefits]
      HI = Health Insurance

      There is a two part funding mechanism for calculating how much FICA/SECA and HI [Medicare] taxes have to be paid.  

      One part is the rate, or percentage, that will be applied to your earnings.  Since 1990, the total rate for Social Security and Medicare combined has been 15.3%.  That rate has not been increased in 19+ years.

      How that rate is divided up is as follows:
      For workers/employees - 6.2% for OASDI and 1.45% for HI/Medicare, or 7.65% total comes from the workers's pay.  The other 7.65 percent is matched by the employer, and comes out of the employers' bank account [as a deductible business expense.]
      For self employed individuals, the whole 15.3% comes from the self employed individual, but half, or 7.65% is treated as a business expense, and is deductible as such.

      You can review an historical table of the Social Security/Medicare tax rates here:
      The reason the amount are allocated to either OASDI or HI/Medicare directs how the funds collected by treasury are allocated to the Social Security fund.  Part is credited to OASDI, and part to Medicare.

      The second part of the formula relates to the base amount to which the rate is applied.  Right now, the base is two-part.  All of your earnings are subject to the 1.45/2.9% Medicare tax.  But only part of your earnings are subject to the 6.2/12.4% OASDI part of the tax.  Right now the base earnings to which the OASDI tax applies is $106,800.  You can see a table of the maximum taxable base here:

      If either of these amounts is changed it must be done legislatively.  If the rate is stable but the maximum taxable earnings base goes up, the amount of tax collected will go up.  If the maximum taxable earnings base is stable but the rate goes up, the amount of tax collected will go up. Over the years, both of these factors have been amended to meet the projected population that will be receiving benefits out of the pay as you go system.  The Social Security actuaries have been remarkably accurate is projecting how much money was needed to keep the system sound far into the future.

      So if you are earning $106,800 or less, raising the base maximum taxable earning that are subject to the tax will have absolutely no impact on how much you pay.  100% of your earnings are already subject to FICA/SECA/HI.  But if the rate is raised, then those making $106,800 or less will pay more.  Those making more than that will not have their excess earnings taxed at all, just as those excess earnings are not taxed now.

      All of this changed with Greenspan and Reagan, when legislation was passed to collect far more from the baby boomers than was necessary to support the pay-as-you-go requirements.  Thus, the surplus was built up.  Now we are at a place where the surplus will be drawn down, just as planned.  Let me repeat that:  JUST. AS. PLANNED.

      This means that the underlying pay-as-you-go part of the funding is still financially sound.  It may need a bit of adjustment, but overall it will need minor adjustments.  It is NOT in trouble.

      This is just the way to calculate how much you pay in.  The benefit calculation, or how much you will receive, is a totally different calculation.  

      See what I mean, it cannot be simplified down to a two second sound bite?

      •  I has to be simplified. (0+ / 0-)

        Not necessarily to a sound bite, but to a story we can all understand. Can you state the situation in 500 words ?

        •  Honestly, no I can't. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Bruce Webb Social Security series is an excellent place to start reading to understand the program, but it is more than 500 words.

          But I guess I would try to explain that the program has a Board of Trustees, and a group of actuaries, who have at their disposal a great deal of information about earnings and population size.  Based on that information, they make projections of how many workers there will be, what their earnings will be, how many beneficiaries there will be, and what their current benefits would be under current formulas.  These men and women have historically prepared for three scenarios - good, fair and poor.  They base recommendations about how much money will be necessary - that is, how much tax must be collected - for the program to stay solvent and functioning.  The legislature should let them do their job and follow their recommendations.

          They know what they are doing, and they are good at it.  And they have been able to keep things well in balance since the inception of the program in 1937 with minor adjustments as needed.

          Another thing for younger workers to consider - the taxes they are currently paying in are being paid out in the form of benefits to their parents and grandparents.  If those relatives did not have Social Security benefits, they might just be moving in with the kids, and expect the kids to start supporting them up close and personal.  And when those younger workers reach retirement age themselves, it will be their own children's FICA taxes that are supporting their Social Security benefits.  That is the cross generational nature of the program.

    •  Widdie (0+ / 0-)

      They spent the money we paid in.  How can you say it is working.

      We do have bonds for all the money they took that they are legally required to pay. Is that it?

      •  Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. (0+ / 0-)

        Hope this chart will explain it.  The income for 2008 exceeded the outgo, which left the trust fund surplus larger at the end of the year.  It's estimated to do the same in 2009, and to continue to take in more than it pays out until 2016 or 2017.  At that point it will be necessary to begin redeeming the assets in the trust fund, but only if no adjustments are made to either the tax collected or the benefits paid.  

        The system is taking in more than it is paying out.  Money comes in from FICA taxes, but also from interest earned on the treasuries it owns, and taxes on benefits.  Any surplus is required by law to be invested in US goverment securities or US government backed securities.  If you want to say US treasuries are worthless IOUs, go ahead, but to my knowledge, the US government has never reneged on them.

        Calendar year and trust fund 2008 (actual)
                Income  Outgo   Fund at end of year
        Total   805.3   625.1    2,418.7 [This is the surplus]
        OASI    695.5   516.2    2,202.9
        DI      109.8   109.0      215.8

        2009 (estimated)  
        Total   819.4   682.5    2,555.5
        OASI    708.5   561.8    2,349.6
        DI      110.9   120.7      206.0

        The redemption of the assets in the trust fund combined with payroll taxes collected will be enough to totally cover the costs until 2037 if absolutely no adjustments are made over the next 30 years.  After 2037, the income coming into the system will be enough to cover 76% of all outgo.  If minor adjustments are made over the next 30 years, there won't be any problem after 2037.  In fact if adjustments are made, then the surplus may cover total outgoes even longer than currently projected.

        There is plenty of time to make approproiate adjustments.  And not all of the assets need to be cashed out at the same time.

        That's why I say, this is not a crisis.

  •  do the simple thing: (5+ / 0-)

    raise the limit to well above the 100 grand it is at.

    Tripling it would be fine by me.

    There is zero reason that richies should be getting tax breaks in this America.  They've fucked everyone else over long enough.

    Chose richies: pay  some more taxes, or see your shit get nationalized when the mob finally wakes up.

    I gently suggest the former course of action.

    Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
    P.S. I am not a crackpot.
    -Abe Simpson

    by fromer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:05:03 AM PST

    •  They have been raising it for years the cutoff (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for years. If I remember correctly it went from around $65,000 around 1995 to around $105,000 in 2008.

      •  it's gone from 80k in 2001 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens, quotemstr, shann

        to around 106k today.

        It's an inflation only adjustment.  The slice of the pie remains the same.  And leaves the same richies hoarding the same income.

        Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
        P.S. I am not a crackpot.
        -Abe Simpson

        by fromer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:17:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If that's the rate of inflation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the $1500 a month they are promising me when I "retire" is going to pay the electric bill and nothing else.

          I think a whole lot of people are going to be in deep trouble in this country.

          Only the rich and the civil servants who have pensions will be able to live a decent retirement.

          The gap is widening year after year between private and public workers regarding retirement.

          •  remember, SS is only one leg... (4+ / 0-)

            ...of a three legged stool FDR envisioned: SS, Private Savings, and Pensions.

            The latter two have been systemically decimated by the elites in the form of union busting, the creation of the consumer credit economy, frozen low interest rates (why save, it doesn't pay?) and rampant federally approved union-busting for the last 40 years.

            A one legged stool is what we're left with.

            Even is SS were in great shape, Americans still wouldn't be.

            Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
            P.S. I am not a crackpot.
            -Abe Simpson

            by fromer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:28:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  whoops... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TracieLynn, Bluefin

              ....double-dipped on the union busting.

              But, seeing as how that is the lynch pin in destroying the middle class, it probably warrants a second mention =)

              Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
              P.S. I am not a crackpot.
              -Abe Simpson

              by fromer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:29:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Of all my aunts and uncles (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                miriam, TracieLynn, 3goldens, fromer

                who are retired the ones who have pensions are fine.

                Only my uncle (who has a doctorate and by an irony is the most educated) and doesn't have a pension is struggling.

                It's going to be a bleak retirement for those of us without pensions and the ability to have saved at least $500,00 in 401ks.

                •  yup. (4+ / 0-)

                  Either the rich start paying their fair share, or they have it taken from the violently when the middle class today becomes destitute in their retirement over the next decade.

                  Richies: Give or get beaten.  It's coming down to a binary choice.

                  Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
                  P.S. I am not a crackpot.
                  -Abe Simpson

                  by fromer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:41:43 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  there's a third option (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Take the money (or more accurately, wire it overseas) and run.

                    There are reasons why the modern class marker for the Richistani is one's own private jet.

                    While it isn't hard to imagine current trends leading to violent economy-based revolution, the people who'll be decorating lampposts will be the slowest and dumbest trust fund babies and the merely rich who facilitated the upward wealth transfers.

                    IOW, the people who will go under the hammer are the people in the gated communities, not the ones who live in their own family compounds. By the time the mobs get that far out of town, the superrich will be wealthy expats and all that'll get burned down are homes they never expect or intend to see again.

                    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                    by alizard on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 04:55:33 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Impossible to Talk to My Parents About This (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TracieLynn, quotemstr, fromer

                  My stepdad has an Army pension (he is a Vietnam-era veteran), government pension and government savings plan.  My mother has social security and a pension.  They can't figure out what the problem is -- they have so much retirement money, they don't know what to do with it.

                  I won't tell anyone that Reagan was a turd.

                  by bink on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:45:32 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  There is fast coming a day when (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    relentless, fromer, Gambiteer

                    taxpayers are going to revolt over the rich pensions that their tax money are going to pay for in the public sector.

                    20 years and a pension? Unheard of and I do think is unfair. Police should have to move to desk service after their 20 years on the street and work for another 15 years. We just cannot afford those kind of pensions any more in America since the elites have bankrupted us.

                    Everything needs to get much more even across the board for social stability.

                    Oh and I say the rich much be taxed way more than they are now.

                    •  Public Pensions Will Come Under Increased Fire (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      I agree ...  My stepfather doesn't have that kind of government pension, though.  It's a fairly straightforward one from the Federal government, where he worked for 35 years.

                      I won't tell anyone that Reagan was a turd.

                      by bink on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:52:36 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm even talking about those. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        Soon no one will have any pensions in this country unless they are from the government.

                        Just watch in the next several years as more companies with pensions declare bankruptcy and the taxpayer has to pick them up. Usually the pensioners get maybe half of what was promised to them.

                        And how many companies even offer them anymore?

                        And if they do, how many of those companies will be around in 20 or 30 years to pay them out?

                        •  Teabaggers are already attacking (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          alizard, fromer

                          "extravagant" city employee pensions at the local level.

                          My town just rejected a slight & temporary sales tax increase, largely because of the shrill cries about "overpaid" police and fire retirees.

                          This crap come down from headquarters via talk-radio, gets stirred up in the right-wing blogs, and ends up in letters to the editor and on campaign yard signs.

                          We have to fight it everywhere.

                          BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

                          by jjohnjj on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 11:36:50 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I think you are missing my point. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            While it would be wonderful if public pensions could stay as they are, you cannot have a country where people in the private sector who have no pensions by and large are paying for good pension in the public sector.

                            It's unfair and unbalanced. And people will not stand for it as the economy continues to slide downwards.

                          •  Ha, do you think they will ever take (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            the elected government's pensions?
                            They will say, "They take care of America so we have to take care of them."  

                          •  or perhaps you're attacking the problem backwards (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            alizard, 3goldens

                            public pensions are where EVERYONE should be.

                            As I said upthread, SS is but one of three legs progressives envisioned for American security.  Private pensions and private savings were the other two.

                            The Feds interest rate scorched earth policies, in addition to the policy fueled consumer credit economy, have decimated private savings.

                            Corporate greed and public malfeasance have destroyed pensions by and large.

                            They need to be resurrected, not defunded.

                            Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.
                            P.S. I am not a crackpot.
                            -Abe Simpson

                            by fromer on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 02:23:37 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Where I live, pensioneers are scam artists (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Crazy like a fox

                            Firefighters & police get to fill in for their boss for a day when they're 41, get "disabled" that day and collect 75% of their fat salary - further fattened by the fake 1-day promotion that sets the level - tax free for life. You see these hacks all over the place, starting various businesses, complaining about taxes, eating lots of steak. It's real, baby.

                          •  Urban legends defeat good policy (0+ / 0-)

                            I have no doubt that there are documented abuses. But you are inflating isolated incidents into loose accusations of "all over the place".

                            With that kind of rhetoric, you play right into the hands of the tax cutters, who play right into the hands of Wall Street.

                            Cops work long and irregular shifts in a job that involves getting in between warring spouses, facing down belligerent drunks and doing traffic stops in a society that is awash in handguns.

                            I have no problem with retiring them early and paying them well.

                            BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

                            by jjohnjj on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 01:48:44 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

                      Instead of tearing down people fortunate enough to have an adequate retirement, why not fight for the same benefits yourself, in your line of work? You deserve them.

            •  I decided to take 25% of my 401k out (0+ / 0-)

              to help my 3 kids.  When I told the brokerage, they were shocked!  I told them I planned to take out 25% for at least two years or maybe the next four and take it all.

              I hate to see my kids gouged with 29% credit cards. One son in law has been layed off, one already has no job and one is going to Aphganistan.

    •  I only wish the mob would wake up. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miriam, TracieLynn, relentless, fromer

      And soon before there's nothing left to fight for.

    •  Yeah, right (0+ / 0-)

      Raise SS tax on middle-class people in order to keep from raising income taxes on the rich. Great idea.

      "There -- it's -- you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --GWB

      by denise b on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 03:53:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder if I should apply for my Social Security (0+ / 0-)

    early. I'm 63, so I have 3 years to go. Does anybody have any suggestions?

    "They had fangs. They were biting people. They had this look in their eyes,totally cold, animal. I think they were young Republicans."

    by slouching on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:16:15 AM PST

    •  This Won't Affect Current Crop (0+ / 0-)

      Of retirees.  Nothing here for you to base your retirement and Social Security decisions on.  This is about long-term planning for future generations of program beneficiaries.

      I won't tell anyone that Reagan was a turd.

      by bink on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:43:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It may be those on Social Security (0+ / 0-)

      could be grandfathered in, but who knows.  

      I think this will happen soon and fast because they want to do it before it gets any closer to elections and they have been plotting this for years.

      They could raise Social Security taxes a small on the higher paid employees and fix Social Security.  

      We are dealing with sickos.  

  •  yet the pentagon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, quotemstr

    can just keep asking for a little more.

  •  So sick of this. (5+ / 0-)

    It's really goddamned hard to be religious when certain individuals (I am looking at you, upper 1%) are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.

  •  The bank robbers have become brazen.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, Big Tex

    I wonder why?

    I love the smell of napalm in the morning

    by Jazzenterprises on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:33:55 AM PST

  •  Two Choices for the Rich (5+ / 0-)
    1. We tax you.
    1. We eat you.

    So choose.

    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by easong on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:39:10 AM PST

  •  Time to eliminate (7+ / 0-)

    the cap on taxable SS wages.  Let the plutocrats pay their fair share, and let them eat the bitter fruits of the fiscal problems they created.

    -7.12, -7.54 / "Health care reform will never take place until Rahm Emanuel is strangled with the entrails of Frank Luntz." - Diderot

    by Big Tex on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 10:48:03 AM PST

  •  Obama = way too smart for this (0+ / 0-)

    not even a little worried

  •  SocSec needs small tweaks. M'are needs big change (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Social Security really does need changes, but they need to be only small ones. A little more money in, or a little less out, or some combination of the two, and Social Security will be fine.

    Not so Medicare (and Medicaid). Their cost is skyrocketing, and as the Baby Boomers age it's going to get even worse. Here's a great graph of CBO data:

    The yellow line, rising from 3% of GDP to 15%, is Medicare. (Notice how the green line, Social Security, stays around 5%.)

    Certainly we SHOULD be able to make Medicare cuts without hurting seniors' health. That's, duh, more or less the premise of healthcare reform -- all the other advanced countries spend WAY less than we do, cover everybody, and live longer. The only question is whether we're politically able to make the smart cuts.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 11:28:44 AM PST

  •  Actually means testing is not a bad idea at all (0+ / 0-)

    The diary seems to be assuming across the board SS cuts. When that is not necessary. All we need to do is have targeted cuts. Social Security is suposed to be an INSURANCE policy. Just like your home insruance. If your hosues didn't catch on fire you don't collect. Likewise if you retire flush ith money- you shouldn't be getting social security (or at least getting less of it)

    •  I would maybe agree...but... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, denise b, quotemstr

      I think that the fact that SS benefits everyone explains a large part of its "third rail" status in American politics. It provides political insurance for it, and it has protected it from repeated attempts by Republicans to mess with it.

    •  Remember when Bush said he had a plan (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, denise b

      to cut Social Security for the rich and he even told all about it in a state of the union address.  He meant huge benefit cuts for everyone who received Social Security benefits except those making under $21,000.


    •  I think it is a bad idea, sorry (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, johnva

      That turns SS from insurance to Welfare.

      That's the first step in getting rid of it.

      Economic Left/Right: -7.38 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.33 . "If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people"

      by wrights on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 03:52:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Really bad idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, johnva

      Do it, and now you've got a large chunk of the middle class who will see SS as a welfare program, and will resent and oppose it. It will become a real political target and will end up being cut more and more.

      Social insurance programs that work include everyone. They get the widest possible support and unify the citizenry behind something that benefits everyone.

      Plus, it isn't necessary.

      "There -- it's -- you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --GWB

      by denise b on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 04:01:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Frances Perkins Center launched a petition drive (0+ / 0-)

    Check out (and sign on) to the petition at For more background information, go to

  •  Social Security isn't where the money is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, relentless, quotemstr, Dartagnan

    I'm more concerned about people's 401k's. That's where the money is. What's more, the 401k is tax-deferred, so all they have to do is to raise taxes on people's retirement savings.
      Or they can raise taxes on people's Social Security withdraws, thus the money you take out of your 401k works against your Social Security. You save a lot of money in your 401k, but you never get anything out of Social Security.

      Either way, they are coming for that money. The massive deficits we've run to pay for foreign wars and Wall Street bailouts is going to cost us. You can't borrow and spend your way out of this mess.

    "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want & the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

    by gjohnsit on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:06:18 PM PST

    •  If you take out more than the amount of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your yearly Social Security then you pay taxes.  My husband and I had to pay taxes on 85% of Social Security because of taking the money out of his IRA.  If we had taken less we would have paid on half his Social Security, but it was to pay off a high interest credit card and our car.  I don't think we would ever paid that much less taxes and it was cheaper than paying 29% on what started as a zero interest card.  We did manage to stay in a lower tax bracket, which can be raised.

    •  There is only money owed to Social Security (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, dukelawguy

      and they would love to wipe that debt off.  Don't forget that Social Security has a large income which they would take to pay deficit taxes if they could, instead of paying Social Security benefits.

    •  Screw the rich and they're 401ks (0+ / 0-)

      That's where the money is, as Jesse James says. Its our money and we should take it!!!

  •  This is like having lunch with a billionare (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, 3goldens, quotemstr, Dartagnan

    at a super-expensive restaurant, and having him conveniently repair to the men's room just before the check is presented, with the table needed in 5 minutes for another party, so you're left to cover it. Technically, he didn't refuse to pay his share, but everyone knows that that's just what he did.

    I think I read somewhere that rich people are the worst tippers, so the analogy is doubly apt, I think. The more money they have, the more stingy they are with it.

    If Dems side with them, they're political toast--and deserve to be.

    "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything." - Alexander Hamilton

    by kovie on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:09:05 PM PST

  •  And who said class warfare doesn't exist? n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, 3goldens, Dartagnan

    With leaders like Reid and Pelosi, who needs enemies?

    by SpiffPeters on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 12:28:00 PM PST

  •  If they would cut the multi millionairs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, LynneK

    like John McCain and those who make over $250,000 that would be ok with me, but they won't.

    Giving the rich Social Security still doesn't stop the rich from attacking it.

  •  Reduce the costs of payments to millionaires (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sure, stop paying SS to millionaires. NO problem. You got my vote.

  •  Remember when everyone snickered at Gore's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, 3goldens, Oh Mary Oh


  •  Please, God(dess), don't let Obama do this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, 3goldens, Oh Mary Oh

    They should pay us back, with interest.

    I almost can't believe certain parties are doing this.  Guess i should have known Rivlin would be for it, but i was taken aback.

    Do they hear what they are saying?  I'm thinking no amount of media spin is going to make this pretty for the public.  There will be anger.

  •  Some people here need to understand a fiat system (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, LynneK, polar bear, Oh Mary Oh

    They say there is no money left, only IOUs in SS; well what do you think our currency is?

    It's mentioned and rightfully so about the government never defaulting on it's debt, even when we had a higher debt to GDP ratio during WWII.

    All Money is backed by T-bills which are the safest investment around in dark economic times, but also it even says on the money that it's backed by all the debts and assets of the Treasury whihc is responsible for all the debts of this country eventually. Our currency hasn't collapsed, oil is still traded in petrodollars for now.

    So basically replacing the SS trust fund with what's backing our money in the first place, doesn't mean there is no money in SS, the FED is trying to loot the assets that back up SS(like our money) so they can print it off and pump it to their shadow zombie bank friends instead of really investing in this country.

    So there is a looting going on and SS doesn't belong in the Open Market Committee. Those assets backing it need to be left alone so they can be printed off and distributed to those that paid into the system for years.

    Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

    by priceman on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 02:20:02 PM PST

  •  The government and the rich businesses will pay (0+ / 0-)

    for their ignorance and greed.

    There are certain people in this world that you don't mess with.  They seem to be blessed.  I know a couple.  You may do unscrupulous things to them and think you have gotten by with it, but then something terrible happens to the unscrupulous ones.

    There are dangerous people living in this country, also and I wouldn't want to wrong them either. I would be very afraid if I did.  I, myself, don't think we have a congressman or senator that is worth the cost of a bullet and hopefully people will realize that ending up in prison isn't worth killing them.  But there are people that have no foresight and live only in the minute.

    Although the money being slipped under the table will take the sting out of not being re-elected, the elected leaders should feel shame for what they are doing to a wonderful middle class and poor.  

    Our Congressmen and Senators need to stop playing sick and ridiculous games and do what is right for the American middle class and poor.  

  •  surely the AARP and other (0+ / 0-)

    seniors groups would not allow them to get away with this, would they?

  •  Get rid of the $107k cap already! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, Oh Mary Oh

    Jesus, when advocating a switch from a regressive tax to a friggin' flat tax becomes a CRAZY, LEFT-WING position, even during a time when Democrats control Congress and the White House, isn't that a sign that the country is knee deep in the shitter?

    "There's something radical in our hands, but nothing logical to our plans" Depeche Mode, "Fragile Tension"

    by Drowning Wave on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 03:30:34 PM PST

    •  Yes, it's that simple (0+ / 0-)

      Damn, I can't believe that people are these buying into these complex schemes.  We can't raise retirement age.  We can't cut the size of the benefits - they are already falling behind inflation.

      Just raise the limit and make sure the special bonds are paid out.  If that means reducing the military by 50% then so be it.  Enough of that crap.

      The shortest distance between two points is never a straight line.

      by noofsh on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:25:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  what does FICA stand for? (0+ / 0-)

    Forget it If you think you Can ever see this money Again.

  •  Why not just change the age from 65 to 67? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People live longer now than they did in 1935. I don't actually think that's a bad idea, along with raising the cap.

    Raising payroll taxes is a horrible idea.

  •  I believe that this diary does the progressive (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, LynneK

    community a large disservice in the same way that the current Republican talking points on healthcare reform does the Republican Party a huge disservice.

    To be sure, it doesn't sink as low and it does have links to solid sources but the problem is that the lens that the diarist views entitlements through is the left/right prism when I would argue (and have repeatedly) that the correct prism is a generational approach.

    If viewed through a generational prism you might come to different conclusions.  As many people know, according to the 2008 trustees reports on Social Security and Medicare the gap between what is promised in benefits and what can be delivered in benefits is $16 trillion and $28 trillion respectively for the two programs.  If we view it through a left/right prism the left will predictably say that we should raise taxes, while the right says (as the diarist ably points out) that we should cut benefits.

    I believe that a better and fairer prism is the generational approach that says out of this $44 trillion what percentage should be paid by today's seniors, the boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and the subsequent generations.  I would further add that a comparative analysis should be done to see what each generation contributed to the system and what their expected benefits are (or eare xpected) to be.

    If we were to do this analysis I believe the results would likely show that certain generations received more generous benefits while paying substantially less in taxes, while other generations are scheduled to pay far more in taxes and receive far less in benefits.  If we view the problem first through our generational lens it can help guide us as we then subsequently apply our left/right lens as we attempt to craft appropriate solutions.

    To put it in more humane terms--this is an issue between grandparents and grandchildren.  Between parents and their children.  When viewed through the generational lens we realize we aren't out to screw each other but we do need to come up with a fair way to bear the costs of this $44 trillion funding gap.  I propose a calm, rational approach and treat each generation with respect as we attempt to deal with this very difficult problem.

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

    by theotherside on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 04:22:04 PM PST

    •  I think your competence at political spin (4+ / 0-)

      is pretty marginal and that shilling should be done by those who are competent at it.

      Did you really think that nobody would notice that you have ignored the discussion of where the SS money actually went in favor of trying to start an intergenerational food fight?

      The only disservice to the progressive community I see is your personal presence.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 04:42:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's true that I did not address the question (0+ / 0-)

        of where the money actually went because a) I responded to the diary not the commments and b) the diarist pointed out correctly that the surplus in FICA taxes was spent on various government expenditures.  There is no reason to debate it because it is simply an empirical fact.  It is much like saying the earth orbits around the sun.  Why would you want to debate/deny a simple, undeniable truth?

        Finally, the last thing I want to do is promote a generational food fight.  I simply want all generations to examine the facts and determine if the result of these entitlement programs is something that are in accordance with our values.  I personally do not believe that it is.  Do you?  And if so, why?

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

        by theotherside on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 05:05:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  based on your posts (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          scorpiorising, i know, Oh Mary Oh

          I believe that your real personal position on SS is that you want to be one of the people who will personally benefit from gutting it and that your idea of a "constructive" discussion is one where your talking points that support "the need" for confiscation of wealth from the middle class are essentially unopposed.

          Your values may be consistent with that of Goldman Sachs employees or their PR contractors, but that doesn't leave us with a lot that can be discussed.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:40:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very sad (0+ / 0-)

            A person that says we need to have a rational calm discussion on Social Security and Medicare and look at the how each generation is affected from a taxes and benefits point of view is now wanting to take advantage of the system?

            You, my friend, don't know me and it is sad that you would jump to such a conclusion.  The fact is, I fully expect that whatever sacrifices the seniors make and the boomers make, that Gen X and our kids will make even greater sacrifices.  And, given our starting point, that is how it should be because it is getting fairly late to change the rules of the game on seniors and boomers and so the $44 trillion will be largely born on Gen Xers and their children.  And yet, I'm the one who is accused of wanting to take advantage of the system?  Like I said, very sad.

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

            by theotherside on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:40:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  your idea of a "calm discussion" (0+ / 0-)

              is one where your talking points are going to be unchallenged. Doesn't Goldman Sachs have a blog where you can talk to your fellow centrists?

              Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

              by alizard on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:41:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Values? (0+ / 0-)

          Now you are talking...and revealing something of your values. I think alizard is right. You may not belong in a progressive discussion as to how to fend off attacks on social security...also, I am guessing that you are independently wealthy, so have nothing to worry about. If not, why the heck are you advocating for a discussion of the need for social security?

          by scorpiorising on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:13:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Independently wealthy, eh? (0+ / 0-)

            Yeah, working at a non-profit agency that helps people with severe disabilities get jobs is a GREAT path to become independently wealthy.  Just ask anyone in the field.

            And if you understand that I strongly believe in Social Security and Medicare you probably wouldn't ask your question.  Progressives are supposedly for equality and yet when I suggest that generations should be treated fairly and equitably some jump to the conclusion that I'm independently wealthy and want to eliminate SS and Medicare.  

            This is exactly why I thought the diarist was doing a disservice to progressives because some progressives start believing their own rhetoric that SS and Medicare are just fine and that those rascally Republicans are out to destroy the programs.

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

            by theotherside on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:47:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  A Simple Proposal (0+ / 0-)

      Forgive the repeat of my stated post from the previous conversation on this, however, I would agree to a revamp of social security and/or reduction of payments if and only if the government returns my and my employers' contributions for SS and Medicare from my past 34 working years (I have been forgiving about prior military, student and part time employment).

      Assuming a 5% interest rate and the standard medicare and SS contributions, I am owed approximately $690,000. This far exceeds any benefits that I can reasonably expect from SS and medicare during my remaining years.

      "The fact which the politician faces is merely that there is less honor among thieves than was supposed, and not the fact that they are thieves." Thoreau

      by shigeru on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 04:55:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, you are definitely making the conservative (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shigeru, Oh Mary Oh

        argument on Social Security and Medicare.  No doubt that there are many, many people that would have been better off if they were not forced into the Social Security and Medicare system.

        But the progressives have pretty solid arguments when they say that Social Security and Medicare are amongst the best social programs ever devised and have helped millions of Americans get out of poverty in their old age and have some guaranteed healthcare coverage.

        But since you are passionate enough to post on this subject and have thought enough about it to do the math, can you please take one more step?  I have to infer a little but you seem to be saying that you would not be willing to either pay a little more in taxes or have some of your benefits cut because you have already been hurt by the Social Security and Medicare systems.  Are you saying that other generations should bear the entire cost of fixing the system?

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

        by theotherside on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 05:17:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not really making any argument here. (0+ / 0-)

          Just making a statement that the only way I would consider any revision to SS would be if they paid me out entirely. Otherwise leave it alone and increase taxes to pay for it or my preference reduce military spending, spending on bailouts, spending on congressperson salaries, etc, etc, etc.

          As far as other generations go, we will all get screwed unless we refocus our spending on national development, social programs and away from military and billionaire welfare programs.

          btw the calculation is pretty simple - just a very basic PV calculation. Not much work at all.

          "The fact which the politician faces is merely that there is less honor among thieves than was supposed, and not the fact that they are thieves." Thoreau

          by shigeru on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 09:52:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You make some good points about (0+ / 0-)

            needing to refocus our national government on what we should be spending our money on.  However, in the same breath, you continue to view the issue through your progressive lens.  To you the solution is to just raise taxes.  Thus, the practical effect of your solution is to pass the vast majority of the burden onto Gen Xers, their kids and their grandkids.

            If that is what you truly support, then fine.  I just don't know many boomers that when they really think about it think that even though the seniors and boomers have been in charge for the last 40 years and had every opportunity to make fair changes that in their heart of hearts that they support just passing the bill to their kids and grandkids.

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

            by theotherside on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:53:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And what do you propose? (0+ / 0-)

              From your posts and diaries you have voted repug most of your life, so assume you are in favor of .......

              "The fact which the politician faces is merely that there is less honor among thieves than was supposed, and not the fact that they are thieves." Thoreau

              by shigeru on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:24:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Well my intention was not to do the (0+ / 0-)

      progressive community a disservice. If you think your plan is practical, you should flesh it out and do a Diary on it.

      •  Thanks for the civil response (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oh Mary Oh

        I don't have a concrete plan and I don't have all the answers.  But I do have a belief that my grandparents generation and my parents generation (seniors and boomers) are fair people and have bent over backwards to make this country a better place and have worked hard to make things better for their posterity.

        I further believe that the debt created by their generation's political leaders and the funding gaps in the entitlement programs are not what they intended and is not within their generation's value system.

        You did raise some good points and I love that you tackled this issue.  What I fear though is that we start believing our own rhetoric.  The right is going wacky with their memes that Obama is trying to nationalize the healthcare industry and progressives rightfully call out the Republicans that they are fear mongering and spreading falsehoods.  

        Meanwhile, the left did something very similar on Social Security 4 years ago when they fear mongered that Republicans were trying to privatize Social Security in an effort to destroy it.  The fact is that both plans offered options that could be made by the citizens of this country and Social Security was not going to be privatized anymore than the healthcare industry is currently being nationalized.  Sure, the extremists on each side either want to privatize SS or want to nationalize healthcare, but the average joes in each party want neither extreme plan.

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

        by theotherside on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 05:54:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Gen X & Gen Y should pay (0+ / 0-)

      They are benefiting from the social revolution of the 60s and 70s thanks to the boomers. The boomers paid in as they were building this economy. Gen Xers and Gen Y should be grateful and should do the right thing and pay into the system to keep it solvent for the current generation. If they are good to the following generations, they will be taken care of in their turn.

      •  Just let me get this straight (0+ / 0-)

        Gen X and Gen Y should be grateful that the seniors and boomers have rigged the Social Security and Medicare system in such a way that their generations will pay far less in taxes into the system and receive far more in benefits than Gen X and Gen Y.

        And, we should continue the rigged system so that we are taken care of, at the expense of my children and grandchildren?

        This is a scary thought that people actually believe this.  I guess I know understand why some whites thought that blacks should be grateful because they weren't getting lynched as much during the 1950's as they were previously.

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

        by theotherside on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:58:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Oh please ... (0+ / 0-)

      Just raise the upper limit on social security already and put more into Medicare.  Raising taxes ... yeah, you betcha!

      The shortest distance between two points is never a straight line.

      by noofsh on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:19:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here is a puzzle. (8+ / 0-)

    Examine the following pie chart which shows the breakdown of financial wealth in this country and see if you can find the money to save Social Security.

    To see the data go to UCSC.

  •  Tell em (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynneK, polar bear, Oh Mary Oh

    they can put the screws on social security - the same day that they gut the Pentagon.

  •  Now, can I ask (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    Part of the Bush Team cry of paying back social security was that we were running out of money-and their formula was spot on IF EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN
    LIVED TO BE 126 !
    How many people % wise live to 110 ?
    I am asking, because this fear cloud has passed before and once we know all the facts it is proven to be ridiculous.
    I am not saying your points don't have merit, Bush and Satan, whoops, Reagan both gave Social Security IOU's .
    I just have simple questions. Sometimes this type of tactics are used hoping people will bite and turn on a president.

  •  Stock Market is overinflated will cause bubble (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    401K increased stock market prices because there are more dollars coming in compared to the companies to invest thus overinflating the real price of the company or investment.

    Now if you privatize Social Security --Google instead of being $400 will now be $4000 per stock.  And when bubble bursts --who holds the bag ---us.

    Yes,  privatizing Social Security is like looting social Security and us.

    Dont let the LIARS win. Stand up for TRUTH! Stand up for Health Care Reform!

    by timber on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 05:27:05 PM PST

  •  IF Govt does not pay Social Security... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    El Camino, polar bear, Oh Mary Oh

    Social Security is in surplus.  Govt is borrowing the money to cover deficit.

    Govt should pay back what it borrowed ---because if it does not do so --us
    those who earn less than $100,000 who pay all the 6% means the middleclass is paying more taxes than the wealthy,  since they dont pay any payroll taxes on income more than $100,000 (or whatever the cutoff is).

    Gore was right --SSS should be in a lockbox.

    Dont let the LIARS win. Stand up for TRUTH! Stand up for Health Care Reform!

    by timber on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 05:31:58 PM PST

  •  I came to the topic (3+ / 0-)

    when there were 500 comments and I can't read them all so I apologize if someone has already said this. I'm the grizzled old fart around here and my memory is a little different from the diary. In 1981 the same people who are demanding cuts to social security now were doing it then and Reagan, thinking he might get it done, appointed Alan Greenspan as the chair of a "commission" (sound familiar?) to study how to "save SS" by "reforming entitlements". Of course Tip O'Neil demanded a bipartisan commission and they came up with two options. #1 privatize. #2 double the with holding tax on Social Security so the baby boom generation would save for their own retirement. The Republicans were sure that #2 was untenable. No one would agree to double their own taxes. The baby boom did. The Dems who voted for it got, in large part, re elected. The discussion was out in the open. Everybody knew what was going on. (Note, I am not a baby boomer. I was born in 1942. My sister is, '46, she understood and she supported her congressman's vote on the tax). So the money they are coming for now is the actual savings of a generation who consciously decided to bank the money. Now, if that ain't theft, someone tell me what is.

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 07:10:23 PM PST

  •  BOHICA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    ... or "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again".

    You know what my future feels like? It feels like me grabbing my ankles, with my raw, bleeding, reamed-out rectum getting endlessly and repeatedly slammed in and out by Bernacke, Geithner, Wall Street, and global multinational corporations. Day and night, without a break, Vaseline, or the common decency of a reach-around.

    Oh, wait, no. There is definitely a reach-around: it's called television.

  •  Keeping our powder dry? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    The Goldman Sachs guys are now carrying guns.  Looks like they're trying to provoke bloodshed.

    Gee, wonder if shit meets fan, will Rahm Emanuel be siding with Social Security recipients or his friends and relations on Wall Street?    

  •  Just one question -- are they begging for a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, StepLeftStepForward

    violent reaction here? Don't they know that people are reaching the end of what they can surrender? They've already gutted our pensions; they are i the process of denying us affordable health care; they continue to shovel money -- OUR money --  to the goons of Wall Street to stuff up their noses. Do they really believe violence is that foreign a concept?

    It seems to me they there are only a few years left before the middle class is gutted into oblivion. With SS and Medicare the only old age programs left for most, any talk of gutting Social Security is likely to result not only in revolt at the polls, be eventually the taking up of arms. Is that what they want?

    I get the sense that none of the guys understands the real world. They are so isolated, so ensconced in their feathered nests, that they don't realize just how tenuous their grip on power is becoming. Already nearly half the electorate (20% on each side) has given up, or is giving up. Nearly that many believe in some sort of "Grand Conspiracy", and it's only a very short step from such beliefs to violence, when the last vestiges of financial stability are taken away.

    •  Excellent comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I wish every congressperson had to spend a week with a typical American family these days. You know: a highly educated, formerly middle-class couple with two kids, where one partner is lucky to be underemployed as a cashier at Walart and the other is unemployed with no benefits because the employer successfully managed to have them denied, who lack health insurance and know something is badly wrong, whose car is on its last legs and have no public transport in their town, who are on the verge of eviction and with no savings left.

      Let's remember that we should care about people even after they're born. - Rep. Alan Grayson

      by StepLeftStepForward on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 12:25:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's an excellent idea, but they are hidden so (0+ / 0-)

        deeply in their secret enclaves, compounds and corner offices that the idea of regular people is foreign to them.

        In that, they share their isolation and attitude with both Louis XIV and George II, and both of those lost the people. Louis even lost his head, a prescription I am tempted to make for a great many "conservatives" the get their attitudes adjusted.

        Historically, it's at such moments as this that the US rouses itself, pays attention to the countervailing trends of liberalism, and starts the march back to the middle. I though with Obama we could do that; but I'm beginning to think it's so far right he won't be able to do that even if we gave him 12 years!

  •  Social Security for Dummies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Social Security for Dummies (dkos)

    Social Security ain't broke.  Don't fix it.  It has $2.5 Trillion in it's trust fund.  Those claiming it is broke are generally aiming to loot it.



       U.S. SENATE

       NOVEMBER 10, 2009

    Social Security, Currently in Surplus, Is Not Part of the Deficit Problem

    Moreover, there is no need for hasty action with respect to the program. Social Security is currently in surplus. According to the 2009 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees, published May 12, 2009, Social Security ran a surplus of $180 billion last year and had accumulated a reserve of $2.4 trillion. (Even excluding the interest income, there was still a surplus of $64 billion.) [2] The Trustees’ Report projects that Social Security’s accumulated reserve will continue to grow until about 2024,[3] and, the program can continue to pay full benefits until 2037 to the millions of children, disabled workers, retired workers, and spouses (including widowed and divorced spouses) dependent on those benefits. Indeed, the most recent projections of the Congressional Budget Office, published in August, forecast that full benefits can continue to be paid until 2043. Consequently, Congress has the time to undertake careful, deliberate action through the normal legislative process.

    Social Security Is Already Prohibited under Current Law from Deficit Spending

    Though few realize it, Social Security already contains an automatic built-in trigger to restore it to balance, if it should ever have insufficient assets to cover scheduled benefits. The law prohibits Social Security from paying any benefits with respect to which it has insufficient revenue. Consequently, if at any point in the future, it has insufficient revenue to cover the costs of benefits, those benefits will be automatically reduced, without any action by Congress.

    Its trust fund has not been spent.  It has been invested.  In US Treasury Bonds.  Generally considered one of the safest investments on the planet.

    On Looting:

    Angry Bear on SS:

  •  This would be political suicide (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the Democratic Party.  If they are the ones that cut social security, voters will take it out on them

    Generational divide?  Bullshit!  Get over it.  Social security is a good system.  All it needs is more income.  Raise the upper limit already.  

    The shortest distance between two points is never a straight line.

    by noofsh on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:22:07 AM PST

  •  if this had been said by someone else, (0+ / 0-)

    for example, the dude from the GAO that recently retired, would anyone be wetting their pants over the statement, or just accepting it as reality?

    I'm no fan of Bernacke, but this quote that the diarist uses doesn't justify the outrage:

    Bernanke worked to assure the committee he had nothing against old people. "I’m not in any way advocating unfair treatment of the elderly, who have worked all their lives and certainly deserve our support and help, but if there are ways to restructure or strengthen these programs that reduce costs, I think that’s extraordinarily important for us to try to achieve," he said.

    People have axes to grind about Bernacke, and they're writing a whole series of freeper-like diaries that are long on agenda and short on fact.

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