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We've heard it from all the major pols:  Social Security does not contribute to the deficit.  So why is it even being mentioned in grand bargain-type talks?  That would be because Social Security has a deficit problem of its own, unrelated to the larger debt question.

According to the SS Trustees, Social Security will not be able to meet its obligations beyond 2033. They are already taking in less in non-interest income than they pay out.  They currently make up for that shortfall by cashing in securities they invested in in time of surplus.  That savings will be depleted in 2033, just about the time Gen X goes into retirement.  If no modifications are made to SS's financing structure, Gen X will only see 75% of their benefits.

Here is the Trustees' report.  Yes, it's based on projections, and they do revise it from time to time as warranted.  The last revision bumped the depletion date up by three years.  Anyhoo, the Trustees' own words:

The deficit of non-interest income relative to expenditures was about $49 billion in 2010 and $45 billion in 2011, and the Trustees project that it will average about $66 billion between 2012 and 2018 before rising steeply as the economy slows after the recovery is complete and the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers.

...The trust fund ratio, which indicates the number of years of program cost that could be financed solely with current trust fund reserves, peaked in 2008, declined through 2011, and is expected to decline further in future years. After 2020, Treasury will redeem trust fund assets in amounts that exceed interest earnings until exhaustion of trust fund reserves in 2033, three years earlier than projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2086.

Okay, so Social Security has funding problems, but why look at it now?  The shortfall is a long way off and we have all these other issues to address.  Fair enough, but Social Security will be modified in some way at some point.  How far down the road do we kick this?  

Do we take our chances on 2014 and hope Dems retake the House?  Would we be guaranteed to hold the Senate?  Do we kick it to 2016 on the hope that we retain and/or expand power?  Is it better to revise SS with Dems in control of the White House and Senate, or do we wait and hope the GOP doesn't get back in power?  We see how well that wishful thinking has worked out for Boehner, who kicked the sequester can this far because he was just certain they'd have a GOP President right now.

It's pretty much guaranteed that SS will be modified and equally guaranteed that nobody will like GOP ideas for "fixing" Social Security.  As long as SS's budget can be put under a microscope to determine it has a long-term funding problem, it will not be safe.  By taking action to fix it now, we buy a few more decades at least (the last time anything major happened to it was under Reagan). As long as SS demonstrates solvency going forward, there truly would be no reason to consider it in future budget deals.  

That is all a huge part of why it's even being discussed now.  I am also of the opinion that Obama is being conciliatory on chained CPI as part of his negotiations for stimulus funding and UI extension.  Again, something has to be done to fix SS; if Obama can find a reasonable fix now to get the GOP off SS's back, and it gets us something from Boehner in return, I'd call that good.

We can discuss what a "reasonable" fix would look like 'til the cows come home, but here's the thing:  population dynamics have us by the short and curlies here.  The Baby Boomer cohort is moving into retirement now.  It numbers roughly 79 million people.  Generation X is some 25 million fewer.  That 2033 depletion date is right at the dawn of Gen Xers moving into retirement.  

So, per the Trustees' projections, Gen X has not put enough into the SS pot to cover itself.  Can the Millennials save us?  Not likely, since they are already working and paying into SS right now and the projected shortfalls remain.  And while it's true their cohort rivals the Boomers' in size, Millennials are not having so many children.  Birth rates took a nosedive during the Great Recession here.  Essentially, the Millennials would have to fund themselves as well as make up for the shortfall facing Gen X.  

Any solution for fixing Social Security has to take these demographic trends into account.  So, I guess this makes open immigration the best policy for both the immigrant community and Social Security.  hahaha  But seriously, let's take a look at some solutions being proffered:


Raise the minimum wage:  Hell, let's do that anyway.  But in the face of the population dynamics above, higher wages will only get us so far.  And what of salaried employees; does raising the minimum wage affect their FICA contributions?  How much of a bump-up would there need to be to close the Trustees' $66 billion-gap over the next five years?  And remember:  payroll taxes are a regressive model to begin with.

Raise the income cap/count investment income:  All well and good, but this also means higher payouts, as benefits are a function of what you pay into the system.  True, it's not a dollar-for-dollar increase in the payout, but the question then becomes does raising the cap net enough revenue to cover both the increased payouts and the funding shortfall?  What is the magic income cap that would make that work?  Ugh...math.

Changing the payout formula:  This one could be fun and would make raising the cap a lot more feasible.  People would only get a 10% payout on investment income subjected to FICA taxes or something, further limit the payout above certain thresholds, etc.  Too bad it hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of passing.


This is where Realpolitik rears its brutal, ugly head.  Forget about Social Security being left alone; that is just not going to happen.  So given that and the fact that we have no guarantee Dems will remain in power four years out, it really is best to fix Social Security now instead of possibly leaving it to some future GOP administration.  The best we can hope for is waiting until 2014 to see if we take back the House, but again; that's taking the gamble that we hold the Senate as well.

And so we are left with what we can get past the GOP House and Senate delegations.  That is why Chained CPI is part of the discussion now; it's about the only SS fix that could actually happen in the current political climate.  It could easily be structured to supplement incomes for those over 80, for whom medical expenses do nothing but rise with time, and the poorest of the elderly.  

This is not to say "yay!  chained CPI!"  But as SS fixes that actually stand a chance of passing go, it really isn't the most horrible, terrible, no-good idea to ever come out of Washington.  And if it mollifies Boehner et al enough to get us over this cliff with UI intact and money for an infrastructure bank (jobs!  which help fix SS!), that is a not-insignificant victory.

   

Originally posted to Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:33 AM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  so, how much of a gambler are you? (19+ / 0-)

    should we take our chances on budget talks in february with the new House where Boehner is down two teabaggers and a handful of other Reps?  is our leverage better right now with boehner trying to avoid defense spending cuts and higher taxes?

    sausage

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:33:09 AM PST

    •  No need to make immediate changes. Lift cap on (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, Ian S, tardis10

      wages, consider 1/2 to 1% increase in payroll tax (if needed).

      Here's a couple of pertinent excerpts:

      Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, which opposes cuts to the program, said the chained CPI is painful policy. "Almost every elected official just spent an entire election season saying they wouldn't cut the benefits of those 55 and older. The truth is the chained CPI hits everyone's benefits on day one," he said. "It hits the oldest of the old and disabled veterans the hardest. If it wasn't being bandied about as being 'on the table,' I would guess that it was created as an office joke to see who could create the most noxious and offensive policy possible."

      Boehner included the chained CPI in his counteroffer to Obama earlier, which also called for broader reform of social insurance programs. In 2011, Boehner and Obama reportedly agreed to a "Grand Bargain" that included the chained CPI, but the deal fell apart.

      Here's the link to "Obama Hits Social Security In Fiscal Cliff Offer Friendlier To The Wealthy."

      And there's this especially indepth explanation of the "Chained CPI Index."  Here's the link.  This WaPo piece is entitled "Everything You Need To Know About Chained CPI In One Post."

      Welcome to the dark art of obscurantist deficit reduction. Of course, the only ways to cut the deficit are by increasing tax revenue (either through higher rates, fewer deductions, or faster growth) or cutting spending. But both of those methods are unpopular. So, to get any support for their plans, politicians who insist on cutting the deficit have to find ways to cut spending or raise taxes that don’t look like they’re doing just that. Perhaps the most popular option along these lines is adopting “chained CPI.”

      Here’s how it works: Numerous government programs, most notably Social Security benefits and the income thresholds for tax brackets, are indexed for inflation. But inflation can be measured in a number of ways. The tax code, for instance, uses CPI-U (Consumer Price Index – Urban), which measures prices for consumers in urban areas, to adjust the income cutoffs for different tax brackets. Social Security uses CPI-W, which is like CPI-U but only counts prices paid by urban wage-earners, not all consumers.

      Various deficit-reduction frameworks, including Bowles-Simpson, Domenici-Rivlin and the Gang of Six plan, would convert all programs using CPI-U or CPI-W to a third measure — called C-CPI-U, or chained CPI. Most inflation measures, including CPI-U and CPI-W, track the price of a certain basket of goods. That basket could include, say, a year’s supply of propane. When propane costs go up, CPI-U and CPI-W include that as an increase in the cost of living.

      But some people would just stop using propane if its price went up. They’d switch to electric heating, or a geothermal system, or a wood stove. So their actual heating costs wouldn’t go up as much as CPI-U and CPI-W would suggest. Chained CPI attempts to take “substitution effects” like this into account. Thus, its number generally rises more slowly than other metrics.

      That adds up to a big cut in Social Security benefits. Imagine, for example, a person born in 1935 who retired to full benefits at age 65 in 2000. According to the Social Security Administration, people in that position had an average initial monthly benefit of $1,435, or $17,220 a year. Under the cost-of-living-adjustment formula and 2012 inflation, that benefit be up to $1,986 a month in 2013, or $23,832 a year. But under chained CPI, the sum would be around $1,880 a month, or $22,560 a year. That’s a cut of over 5 percent, and more as you go further and further into the future:

      The results by using chained CPI for taxes are also striking. The Tax Policy Center calculated the income tax increases that would be caused by a switch to chained CPI. They’re not big — a little more than $100 a year for most families — but they’re oddly regressive:

      The group getting the biggest tax hike is families making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Their increase is almost six times that faced by millionaires. That’s because millionaires are already in the top bracket, so they’re not being pushed into higher marginal rates because of changing bracket thresholds. While a different inflation measure might mean that the cutoff between the 15 percent and 25 percent goes from $35,000 to $30,000, the threshold for the top 35 percent bracket is already low enough that all millionaires are paying it. Some of their income is taxed at higher rates because of lower thresholds down the line, but as a percentage of income that doesn’t amount to a whole lot.

      All told, chained CPI raises average taxes by about 0.19 percent of income. So, taken all together, it’s basically a big (5 percent over 12 years; more, if you take a longer view) across-the-board cut in Social Security benefits paired with a 0.19 percent income surtax. You don’t hear a lot of politicians calling for the drastic slashing of Social Security benefits and an across-the-board tax increase that disproportionately hits low earners. But that’s what they’re sneakily doing when they talk about chained CPI.

      Bear in mind, this is the "least" draconian of the "3" cuts to Social Security that the President's own Fiscal Commission has recommended.  

      As the piece above points out, this subject matter is not well understood by the general public, and should not be oversimplified.

      There's absolutely no "urgency" to fix Social Security.  

      Here's a video of the actual staffers from the 1983 Greenspan Commission.  They warn of the deep cuts yet to come under that law, and make their suggestions as to "reform."

      Apologize that the C-Span embed code is unavailable.

      Future of 1983 Social Security Law.

      Mr. musiccitymollie and I will be fine.  Having served long term "missions" in South America, we will be fortunate to enjoy a decent retirement in a beautiful and inexpensive country.

      But we are in culture shock when coming back to some parts of the US.  And two of our siblings have already been told that they will be forced into the exchange in 2014.  Both are in states that will not from their own state-run exchange.  One sibling has suffered two occurrences of cancer in the past five years.

      Everything must be done to actual bolster the flimsy social safety net in this country.  Now is not the time to consider any cuts.  

      Good luck to everyone.

    •  I don't believe negotiating from a position of... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      ...strength constitutes the need to gamble. Not only did Barack Obama win re-election with more than 50% of the popular vote and an overwhelming majority of electoral votes (including most swing states), but Democrats did exceedingly well in the senate races.

      I am puzzled by an approach to strengthening Social Security that does not levy taxes from those in the best position to pay them, but rather takes from those who have the least to give. I don't find this approach to be very Christian, to say nothing of its indecency from a humanist perspective.

      Just my 2 cents...take it for what it's worth :)

  •  The 2033 date (23+ / 0-)

    Assume 2% growth between now and then.   There are other estimates that show 2050 or even 2090, depending on your assumptions.

    Get ourselves out of this anemic economy and the trust fund is fine.

    Even more...get some jobs for the current generation of young people (who are more numerous than event the boomers) and the money will come flooding in.

    The two things are related.

    If we're going to have this discussion, we should be having it in 2022...after a decade of average 2% growth shows we might actually have a problem in 2033.

    Now, in a time when we should be looking for stimulative measures, not austerity, is not the time to be cutting a program  that is going to be fine for over 20 years, even if nothing changes for the better.

    •  the boomingest economy extant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      can't do it all by itself if millennials aren't replacing their numbers.

      as for the austerity question, it they legislate extra stipends for the poorest elderly and those over 80, where is the austerity?

      http://money.cnn.com/...

      For Social Security beneficiaries, the effect would barely be felt in a one-year period. In most years, chained CPI differs from the other inflation measure very little -- only by about 0.3 percentage points, according to the Social Security Administration's chief actuary.

      This year, for example, that would shave about $4 a month off the cost of living increase for the average Social Security recipient. Currently slated for a $21-dollar-a-month increase, the average Social Security recipient would instead receive a boost of only $17 a month.

      for seniors under 80, only 25% or so rely solely on SS.  for those over 80, it's higher, but still not a majority.  so again, if the poorest elderly and those over 80 get an extra stipend, it's just not so horrible.  lots of seniors would be just fine without their SS benefits.  it's also true that less than 1% of americans lives beyond 90.  women live longer and the median age at death for them is still 80.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:08:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If they really protect the poorest (9+ / 0-)

        Then it isn't really a budget measure anymore.  It's just a political fig leaf so Rs can claim they're doing something about the evil "entitlements"

        If you're going to means test the COLA though, that opens the idea of means testing the whole thing.  Most of the reason SS and Medicare are a ton more popular than Medicaid is that they're NOT means tested, so they can't be spun as "giving your hard earned dollars to unworthy people" as easily.

        Really the solution to SS is on the revenue side.  Tie the income cap to the COLA and the prior year's growth rate so there is always enough money.    The formula for this is simple enough that you only need algebra to come up with an answer, assuming your measures of growth and inflation are close to accurate.

        One reason they can keep spinning SS as being "in crisis" is that any time we have an economic downturn, the revenue cap doesn't rise to account for reduced growth (and incomes below the cap) in the overall economy.   We instead rely on the idea that the surplus years pay for the bad years....which is probably ok from a policy standpoint but has proven risky politically.

        •  sure it is (0+ / 0-)
          If they really protect the poorest then it isn't really a budget measure anymore.  
          the program would still end up saving overall, simply because of the math of who lives to what ages and stuff.  
          If you're going to means test the COLA though, that opens the idea of means testing the whole thing.  Most of the reason SS and Medicare are a ton more popular than Medicaid is that they're NOT means tested, so they can't be spun as "giving your hard earned dollars to unworthy people" as easily.
          that is already true with SSDI, though.  FICA covers that as well, even though not everybody claims disability.
          Tie the income cap to the COLA and the prior year's growth rate so there is always enough money.
          what are the particulars of that?

          thanks!

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:17:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The payroll cap (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SethRightmer, Roger Fox, Cedwyn

            is based around the idea that there is a cap on benefits (a maximum income that social security will insure) so there should also be a cap on the income which is tapped to pay for social security.

            The problem is that Social Security's payouts rise with cost of living, but its revenues rise only as salaries below the cap rise (either with more folks employed or higher average salaries).

            These two things are not the same.   The amount of revenue collected below cap during 4% unemployment is less than that during 8% unemployment, and if salaries are stagnant but cost of living increases, you also risk a gap increasing.

            The way to fix this is to do two calculations every year.

            1.  Cost of living adjustment based on change in a cost of goods (however you measure it....hopefully with some basis in reality)

            2.  Payroll cap adjustment, based on the revenue required to pay for the COLA, and also based on the trailing year's actual revenues.   Pick a large enough cap that with last year's actual salaries and employment levels, all the future year's payouts are covered.

            It isn't perfect, as the following year won't be the same as the prior  year, but to some extend fluctuations from year to year will damp that effect (a bad year followed by good adds a surplus, a good followed by a bad, a deficit, but in long term trend, no matter what happens from year to year, it should be pretty stable).

            Measure #2 just needs to be tuned a little high to average a slight surplus, to deal with the damage a string of unusual years can cause, and you're done.

            Alternately you increase fica % yearly, keeping the same cap but that's much more regressive.  The advantage of tying COLA to payroll cap is any "extra" needed in a bad year is paid for by those who can most easily afford it.

            •  that makes enough sense (0+ / 0-)

              i think raising the cap makes sense if we revise the benefits formula, like people only get x % above a certain dollar level back or something.

              Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

              by Cedwyn on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 06:44:54 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  As long as one billion peopl e live below our (0+ / 0-)

        Southern Border, and realize the only way they will ever have a decent wage is to slip over the border, we don't need  to worry about there not being any replacements.

        In fact, sociologists have studied the effect of a couple emigrating into the USA. While they would choose to have only three kids while living in Mexico City, they will have four kids if they move to California.

        And yes, I know,sociologists have told us that within one generation, the birth rate then tapers off to the norm, which in this case is probably a negative number.

        But since each new aver of immigrants adjusts that generational time line, the USA doesn't have to worry about any type of decline in Birth Rate.

        California has grown from 22 million people to 37 million people in less than thirty years, simply because of the number of newly arriving immigrants and also the birth rate among newly arriving immigrants.

        Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

        by Truedelphi on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 02:05:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i agree that opening the immigration floodgates (0+ / 0-)

          would be the win-win-winnest solution all around.  but that declining birth rate that started circa 2007 includes immigrant families.

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:56:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Baby boomers will die off at a faster rate than (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        their parents, because elderly people are more sensitive to the health effects of hot weather.  Climate change will kill off the Boomers and rescue SS.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.     

        by Calamity Jean on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 02:13:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Large order effects are job creation & wage growth (0+ / 0-)

        AS far as workforce growth .2% is rather extreme, everyone else seems to be using .5% to .7%.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:22:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Do you really expect the average growth rate to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      be much higher than 2%? We have a mature economy here.

  •  What happens in 2033? (15+ / 0-)

    Barely anything happens in 2033. It's not like the system goes broke. And why focus on "non-interest income?" Why not TOTAL income? Do things still look as dire when we take interest into account?

    We could always raise taxes on the rich and corporations to pay for more and better social security. Why take it as a given that we have to destroy the safety net?

    •  shock doctrine (15+ / 0-)

      They omit interest to make SS look like more of an immediate crisis.

      And because enough people don't understand that the trust fund earns interest, it's an easy deception.

      By the way, the Bush trustees were even worse. They did a present-value calculation of the program (deficit to infinity) to make big scary numbers and make the program look worse.

      •  But we are progressives, right? (10+ / 0-)

        So why are we being less than honest in our appraisal of social security, here on a progressive web site? Why accept the right wing framing of the issue? I just don't get it.

        •  Social Security Trustee Report - not right wing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv, Cedwyn, emelyn

          framing. The Congressional Budget Office - not right wing framing.

          The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has been accused of liberal bias by the conservative Heritage Foundation The CBPP is a good resource for anyone.

          Here's what the CBPP says about the SS Trustee Report:

          ...that they [legislators] ought to act soon to put the program on a sound footing for the long run.  Although the date when the program can no longer pay full benefits is still more than two decades away, prompt action would permit changes that are gradual rather than sudden, and allow people to plan their work, savings, and retirement with greater certainty.
          Wait until the trust fund is depleted, and I guarantee you that SS benefits will be permanently reduced because no one will want to pay the large increase in SS contributions. Small changes to SS now will protect those benefits.

          That's not a right wing framing, that's prudence.

          The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

          by SoCalSal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:39:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •   low cost scenario, SS good thru 2080 (0+ / 0-)

        In 2005 IIRC, not much different from the low cost scenario in 2012, SS is good thru 2090.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:32:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  in 2033, what really happens? (7+ / 0-)

      Congress raises the cap to avoid cutting benefits.

      That's what really happens in 2033.

      •  placing a lot of faith (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        notrouble, SoCalSal, FG

        in that future unknown congress, isn't that?

        Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

        by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:18:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You place alot of faith (13+ / 0-)

          in this Congress it seems to me.

          Not sure that is quite as deffensible as you seem to think

          •  well, it is the devil we know (0+ / 0-)

            who knows what its composition will be 3 or 5 years from now?  especially -- and i do hate to say this -- if dems face electoral backlash over guns somehow.

            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

            by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:18:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Could you explain your logic? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SpecialKinFlag, 3goldens

          What makes you think that we will get a better deal on Social Security if we bargain over it now, as opposed to later? Please try to be specific, and explain why you think that this set of elected officials is the best we can possibly hope for in the next twenty years.

          •  Something along the lines of (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            3goldens, Roger Fox

            The economy may never recover and Repubs might become dominant again so why take a chance if we can get something done now. Silly logic IMO.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:26:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  nowhere did i claim the current congress (0+ / 0-)

            is the best we'll see for 20 years.  nowhere.

            but it is the devil we know, and a lot can happen between now and 2016.  and as soon as the GOP remotely has the power to do so, they will destroy SS to the greatest extent possible.

            so how confident are you we would hold the white house and congress in 2016? what 2016 dem candidate do you feel would be more liberal than obama?  

            if we have so much faith in future congresses of unknown composition, can't we equally trust them to tweak SS to liberalize it, whatever obama/dems might do now?

            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

            by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:27:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Wait (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, PhilJD, tardis10, Roger Fox

          You're trusting a set of predictions that favor your solution, i.e. that the SSTF will run out of money in 20 years because the economy will be anemic for that time, but not a set of predictions that don't, i.e. that our political system is trending left and so now's not the right time to do this?

          How is that honest arguing? Why are the predictions that favor your reasoning more valid than the ones that don't? Do you have numbers to back this up?

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:25:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i don't think they predicted an "anemic" (0+ / 0-)

            economy.  their projections are just that.  and they do get revised.  

            political systems trending in a particular direction are very slow-paced.  how long should we leave SS alone and see what happens?    

            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

            by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:51:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think anyone predicts an anemic (0+ / 0-)

              economy for the next 20 years. That's never happened in US history and we've been through much worse. And, anemic as it's been since 2008, the TF still has at least 20 good years in it. Actually, more like 20 bad years and 30 or more good years, depending on how things go.

              And we should leave it alone until the economy picks up and we have a more progressive government. As I've been saying.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:23:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Trustees do, its there job, they have always done (0+ / 0-)

                so.

                Each year they issue a report with 4 scenarios, low, intermediate, high cost and a stochastic model.

                The legal responsibility of an actuary is to create a conservative financial projection, so what the SS Trustees do is skewed to the anemic.

                FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:43:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  So anemic that there will be minimal growth (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roger Fox

                  for 20 years? When has that ever happened in US history?

                  "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                  by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:56:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Never. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kovie

                    A 25 yr recession, 2008 thru 2033 would be the longest downturn since the Black Plague killed off half the planet.

                    Anyone who has read a SS trustees report should admit touting the 2033 date is ridiculous.

                    http://www.dailykos.com/...

                    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                    by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:59:46 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, Japan's been in a decades-long economic (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Roger Fox

                      stagnation. But my understanding is that its situation isn't really comparable to ours. They don't have a powerful sovereign currency like ours, don't have unlimited borrowing power or the ability to print money, they're tapped out on stimulus spending, and they're culturally very economically conservative. We don't have such limitations, and are one of the most dynamic and risk-taking societies in history. We're going to get out of this, and have a vibrant economy in less than 5 years, at most 10. We just need a bit more time, and to kill this GOP zombie that just won't die.

                      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                      by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:48:15 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Trustees do project a 20 year recession (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cedwyn

              in both the high cost and intermediate cost scenarios.

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:40:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  betting on future congress (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SethRightmer, tardis10, jabney, Roger Fox

          Absolutely.

          1. Even the Republicans' crazy budget didn't take Obama's SS cuts.

          2. Demographics favor us long term. By 2021 Texas is a swing state.

          3. Even the Republicans increased Medicare (part D).

          4. Even the Republicans campaigned against Medicare cuts.

          5. The current insane Republican anti-tax is the most virulent in decades. Pendulums swing. It's more likely to be less insane a decade from now.

          6. Even the Republicans are wavering on high-end tax cuts.

          7. Popular sentiment is strongly in favor of strengthening social security.

          Project that out 20 years, when the choice is keeping benefits for seniors and raising the cap on the richest, against cutting 25%, and it's an easy projection. Keeping benefits wins.

          The only way the anti-SS cutters win is by stealth cuts like the chained CPI, and locking in cuts today. Long term they lose.

          •  how do we keep their mitts off of it (0+ / 0-)

            in that interim 20 years?  are you assuming we never lose again?

            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

            by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:00:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  SS has inherant strength (0+ / 0-)

              leave it alone.

              There isnt anything wrong with SS that a good economy wont fix, raise the min wage, create jobs, see GDP over 2.8% (not a lot), and wait to see what happens when the boomers die off.

              Heres some citations

              http://www.dailykos.com/...

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:47:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  that won't do it in the face of (0+ / 0-)

                the population dynamics, though.  the millennials just aren't having so many kids.

                Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

                by Cedwyn on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 06:58:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Workforce growth of .2% is just silly (0+ / 0-)

                  But thats what the SS Trustees use to get to 2033.

                  The BLS or Council of Economic Advisors use .5% & .7%, current workforce growth is about .95%.

                  Outside of the SS trustees intermediate scenario  no one uses .2%.  I'm trying to talk you off that branch. I've read every SS Trustees report since 2005 and IMHO you would do better to argue that wage growth wont be strong enough.

                  But to argue that workforce growth thru 2033 will spike down suddenly, makes no sense, a good portion of workers in 2033 have already been born. You'd have to see a sudden massive decline in US births and the borders would have to be shut to all immigration.  It is likely that Illegall immigration amnesty will occur within the decade, plus immigration reform. This will bring us into .7% workforce growth in 20 years.

                  Other wise the US is on a glide path to about .55% workforce growth in 20 years.

                  FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                  by Roger Fox on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 05:52:15 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  How much must the cap be raised in 2032 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        to maintain SS benefits? Inquiring minds want to know. Because from what I've read, raising the salary cap now could be sufficient to maintain the SS trust fund and SS benefits in 2033; without a fix, those benefits will be reduced 75%.

        A fix to SS now can be relatively painless, and the trust fund will be rebuilt over two decades. Wait, and the fix will be painful and broadly opposed.

        In 2008, 50,898,244 persons were paid $615,344,000,000 in benefits. If the trust fund shortfall occurred in 2008, $153.836 billion would have to be withheld in order to maintain benefit rates. In 2033, the number of SS recipients will be many, many more and the 25% needed to merely maintain benefits will be huge.

        The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

        by SoCalSal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:09:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  nope (0+ / 0-)

          Cutting now doesn't magically make social security richer.

          First, the dire forecast is for a 25% cut, not 75%.

          It's true if we cut 25% now, we don't need to cut 25% later. (Assuming no funding increases.)

          And if we cut 15% now, we "only" need to cut 10% later.

          But that solves nothing, except baking in cuts early.

          There's no magic here. Cuts now don't reduce the total cuts.

          Cutting 1% each year for 25 years is not "more painless". It's still a 25% cut.

          •  I'm not discussing cuts in that comment, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SethRightmer, Cedwyn

            my comment was about increasing contributions to the SS trust fund earlier rather than later.

            I really can't make sense out of your comment. The chained CPI, if implemented, reduces SS outlays a significant amount over the long term.

            The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

            by SoCalSal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 01:36:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Trust find will not be depleted thru 2090 (0+ / 0-)

          The 2033 date requires a 20 recession, no wage growth in noiminal dollars, and crazy low workforce growth of .2%, which no one uses, most use .5% to .7%, current workforce growth is about .95%.

          Raising the cap to 90% and much more with solid citations here

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:51:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Probably not (0+ / 0-)

        The trust fund will not be depleted.

        TO believe the trust fund will be depleted requires a 20 yr recession, no nominal wage growth, and .2% workforce growth.

        Pretty grim projections and quite unrealistic. 25 yrs of recession would be the longest economic downturn since the black plague killed off half the humans on Earth.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:37:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  SS Trustees Intermediate scenario (0+ / 0-)

      The trust fund will be depleted in 2033. In laymans terms thats broke.

      And the more realistic scenario, low cost, the Trust will not be depleted thru 2090.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:29:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  so propose raising the cap (12+ / 0-)

    But I don't see Obama proposing any revenue enhancements to social security.

    Cuts are the only item on the table.

    If he proposes revenue increases, there would be a point in supporting the proposals. As long as it's all cuts, there's no point.

    Cuts today because of projected cuts in 20 years makes no sense unless you want to cut the problem.

  •  You make it sound like everybody woke up (14+ / 0-)

    yesterday and thought "OMG, the boomers are retiring and there simply aren't enough Xers and Yers and future Zers to cover their benefits!", when in reality this has been known and expected since at least the 80's, probably earlier. You think economists don't know about birth rates and generational cohorts?

    Which is why FICA was increased in the 80's and the trust fund created, which was intended BY DESIGN from the start to cover the revenue/benefit deficit projected to happen in 30 years or so. The surplus was no accident we happen to be lucky enough to have. It was planned that way.

    Now, we can squabble about whether it'll run out on 20 or 30 or 40 years, but most people agree that it's likely to eventually run out, and even if it doesn't, why take a chance on it doing so. So yes, we do need to "strengthen" it. But not with benefit cuts, either direct or back-door, but by increasing the amount of money going in, i.e. revenue increases, whether by raising FICA (and then only above a certain amount), raising the cap, or both.

    None of which is going to happen in today's political climate. The only politically possible reforms to SS these days are cuts. And we won't allow that if we can help it. The only way to reform SS on the revenue side is by waiting until we have a more progressive political climate. And that's still some years ago.

    Yes, we take a chance by doing that, but I see little to no reason to believe that things are going to stay as conservative as they are today, let alone become more conservative. All the numbers suggest otherwise. Both in terms of ideological views and voting patterns, the country is trending blue, and will continue to do so for years to come, making it prudent to wait, since we still have time to deal with this potential problem.

    As opposed to other, more pressing problems, like jobs, income and wealth distribution, global warming, gun control, etc. It's pointless to waste the political energy and capital we have on something we don't have to deal with now instead of applying them to these.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:53:10 AM PST

    •  yes, FICA was increased in the 80s (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, Sylv

      the millennials were just starting when that happened.  nobody knew how big the cohort would be, or how many children it would have.

      none of this pretends in any way that anybody just woke up yesterday and realized SS has problems.  the trustees evaluate it regularly.  

      and the last revision pushed the interest income depletion date forward.  no more trust fund making up the difference come 2033, based on current financing models.

      i agree we are trending more liberal as a country and it's just a question of how long will it take.  otoh, i'm sure a lot of people were similarly convinced of that after the 60s.  

      but it's also true that there can be wild vacillations along an otherwise consistent trendline.  and you can bet your bottom dollar the GOP would waste no time truly cutting SS and whatever else they can the second they get the chance.  doing something about it now at least robs them of one excuse.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:32:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No. (12+ / 0-)

    We don't need to cut social security. We need to raise the income cap. That's it.

    And yes, that would help, because as you undoubtedly know, many people never collect Social Security for one reason or another.

    •  that is a good point about people not collecting (0+ / 0-)

      but that is true currently, too; that FICA is already being reckoned.  i wonder what the numbers are for people who don't ever collect.  

      how feasible do you think raising the cap is in obama's second term?  do you think we should wait beyond his administration?

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:46:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it has popular support, unlike cutting SS (3+ / 0-)

        benefits, for one thing. All we need to do is build a movement to get politicians in who support it and get rid of the ones who don't. SS is very popular, and cutting benefits is very unpopular.

        •  do you think that can happen in obama's 2nd term? (0+ / 0-)

          do you think they should leave it alone until the next congress?  maybe until 2014's congress, or wait totally until the next administration?

          let's tell them to go with comprehensive immigration reform; then both issues are solved!

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:36:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Read my lips: I don't know. (3+ / 0-)

            I don't know how long that will take. I do know that endorsing cutting Social Security is a losing strategy, and will ensure that the Democratic Party goes under. If that's what you want, by all means keep endorsing cutting Social Security. If not, I suggest you stop going with the R playbook of getting the Ds to shoot Santa Claus and find something better to do, like increasing employer contributions to SS, lifting the cap, etc.

            •  i'm just saying that yeah, we don't know (0+ / 0-)

              and it all comes down to a complex function of which solutions are attainable and in what timeframe.  

              so i think it is important to evaluate the timing question, because it kinda dictates which solutions will be possible, since that depends on control of congress.  

              delaying a fix beyond obama's second term is gambling that dems will retain/increase power.  we don't know what will happen.  

              that's all i'm really saying.  and that the demographics question makes inaction all but impossible.

              peace

              Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

              by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 01:03:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  What we know for sure is that (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Willa Rogers, SpecialKinFlag, Cedwyn

            if the Democrats and the President were committed, they could stave off cuts to Social Security over the next two years which would be two more years that current retirees would have without cuts.  Then we might even be able to win the House back in 2014, but if there are Social Security cuts now, the chances of that happening to me.  So waiting these two years and leaving the program as is seems pretty sensible.

            And, by the way, how is it that unemployment cuts hurt the economy and social security cuts would not? It is mind blowing that no one is making that "economic" connection.

            •  because ending UI takes out thousands (0+ / 0-)

              immediately.  chained CPI is 3% over 10 years.

              so it sounds like you're suggesting we wait until 2014 after we've kicked ass and retaken the house?  

              Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

              by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 01:13:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  How many millions of Seniors are there (0+ / 0-)

                in this country right now?

                I'll guarantee a cut in their "pay" will have a negative effect on the economy, no matter how small.

                •  not if they protect the poorest & SSDI (0+ / 0-)

                  which everything i've read says the dems would do.

                  but it isn't the elderly poor who are living to the really ripe old ages, by and large.  i.e., the majority of those people who live long enough for 0.3% to add up to something real aren't likely to notice it at all.  

                  only 24% or so of seniors rely solely on SS.  even for those who rely 90% on SS, the number is only 35% or so.  for every senior who would notice the difference, there is one who wouldn't.  why shouldn't those who don't really need it have a little less so those who do can have a little more?

                  Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

                  by Cedwyn on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 07:06:32 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Cutting SS and Medicare is a huge political loser (4+ / 0-)

          with Democrats and Indies and a loser with 50% of Republicans.

          It doesn't contribute to the debt.

          56% of the US budget is defense.

          Taxes are at historic lows on the rich.

          Given that, why on earth would any Democrat propose or support reducing benefits now?

          It doesn't fix any of our current issues and is a politically inept position.

  •  Breaking it is fixing it? (11+ / 0-)

    Social security should be outside the discussion because it isn't part of the budget. This is the second time Obama has included it in as part of budget negotiations and the second time he has cut into it (the first was the payroll tax cut). I'm not sure exactly what he's up to, but there are better ways to fix a social security problem 21 years up the road than to cut benefits and funding now.

    If his intent is to fix it why doesn't he say so? Honestly, after his about face from saying he wouldn't cut it two months ago I just don't trust him with it. Period.

    •  republicans called for increase to retirement age; (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, Onomastic

      that was included in Boehner's proposals in negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff". Chained CPI might well be implemented across the board in federal programs. Offering it in negotiations now is not as harmful as would be an agreement to raise the retirement age.

      We can argue as to whether or not the chained CPI is an actual "cut", but for now I'd rather not. FWIW I'm on Social Security now and would miss every dollar of cost of living increases, but I consider raising the retirement age to be worse than chained cpi.

      The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

      by SoCalSal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:23:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  *hugs* (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal

        thanks for your comments.  i really don't know the answer, but i really think the demographic trends are the bugaboo here.  and i think that's why they're gravitating toward chained CPI; it's more stable over time, regardless of jobs numbers.

        if you don't mind my asking, by "miss every dollar," do you mean inconvenience or hardship?  i only ask because it seems to me that for every senior who would notice the difference, there is one who wouldn't.  and i think that's another part of why chained CPI; if it's structured with hardship protections, it's the most sustainable of the options that can pass the house in the short-term.

        Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

        by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:14:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think that a reasonable fix to SS (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roger Fox, Cedwyn

          means taking a variety of small steps, a package of steps, in the next few years to ensure benefits aren't reduced in the long term.

          Inconvenience or hardship? For me, hardship; although that's subjective. Many suffer more hardship than I. For now I have a place to live and adequate, healthy food to eat. As prices rise, there is little to adjust in my already spare budget, which already does not cover "incidentals" like car repair. Where I live, not having a working vehicle is a definite hardship.;) Frills like new clothes and season playhouse tickets fall in the faint memories category.

          My personal finances differ from most of the retirees that I know, seniors who would not even notice the difference with chained cpi. One friend describes SS income as "mad money" to spend; another spends all her SS income on her kids and grandkids; others assign some or most SS income to vacation travel. But I don't think they represent the average SS recipient.

          The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

          by SoCalSal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:40:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I see, so since the Republicans want something (0+ / 0-)

        Obama has to meet them half way. When was the last time they met Obama and the Democrats half way, hmm?

        If you want Democrats to win in 2014 seems to me you don't want to give Republicans a "Democrats cut Social Security" commercial. Unfortunately, Obama and his strongest supporters don't understand that the Democratic Party has to go on without him one of these days. Do we really want to give Republicans an opening by "reforming" (cutting) retirement benefits and pissing off seniors?

      •  The President's own Fiscal Commission also calls (0+ / 0-)

        for this cut.

        Here's an excerpt:

        RECOMMENDATION 5.4:  GRADUALLY INCREASE EARLY AND FULL RETIREMENT AGES, BASED ON INCREASES IN LIFE EXPECTANCY.  After the Normal Retirement Age (NRA) reaches 67 in 2027 under current law, index both the NRA and Early Eligibility Age (EEA) to increases in life expectancy, effectively increasing the NRA to 68 by about 2050 and 69 by about 2075, and the EEA to 63 and 64 in lock step.
        See pages 50-51, the Fiscal Commission's proposal entitled "The Moment of Truth."  Here's the link.
    •  Can you say "Austerity is Us." (0+ / 0-)

      Here's two links you should read if you are trying to figure out what is going on.

      Both these documents outline cuts to the social safety net.  The first document is the most recent Presidential Budget, the second, just what it reads.

      2012-2013 The Budget/The White House, link.

      and,

      "Living Within Our Means . . . . " (Obama recommendations to the Super Committee), link.

      Mind you, this is not my opinion.  These are White House documents, which spell out fairly explicitly numerous cuts to the social safety net (especially to Medicare and Medicaid).

      Good luck (to us all, LOL!)

      •  Specifically, what do you object to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        in these documents?

        The 2013 budget is the first budget prepared under the Budget Control Act, and largely follows the spending restrictions of that law; additionally, that budget proposes large tax increases and some measures to avoid the sequester/automatic spending cuts/"fiscal cliff" scheduled to occur January 1, 2013. I do read budgets. I also read articles from people and organizations (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities) that have more expertise than I have in analyzing and comparing the documents. I don't think that budget represents what you imply.

        "Living Within Our Means" is from September 2011. I skimmed through that document: a Jobs Bill (good); a clear statement from POTUS that he will veto any bill that contains cuts to entitlements without significant tax increases (good); a lengthy list of cost containment in Medicaid/Medicare. What I did not read was any benefit cuts to Medicaid/Medicare. If you found some actual benefit cuts there, do let me know.

        I don't think that document means what you imply, either.

        The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

        by SoCalSal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:06:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I object to "means testing" Medicare and the (0+ / 0-)

          surtax imposed on Medigap policyholders and further means testing of Partf D, not to mention the Chained CPI-Index under discussion in this diary.

          None other than Dem Rep Jan Schakowsky herself has declared that imposing "all three cuts" to Social Security recommended by the President's Fiscal Commission would result in cuts of up to "35%" for many Social Security beneficiaries.

          These documents contain two of the three (as well as additional cuts to Medicare and Medicaid).

          Schakowsky's words (not mine):

          Under Simpson-Bowles, long-term solvency for Social Security is achieved mostly by cutting benefits. Seventy-five years out, the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases is 4 to 1.

          They propose raising the age of full Social Security benefits to 69 – claiming that everyone is living longer. But a sizable percentage of Americans, mostly lower-income workers, especially women, are actually living shorter lives, and a large chunk of other Americans just can’t work that long – even if they can find a job. Their plan cuts benefits for current and future retirees by reducing the cost-of-living adjustment.

          For future retirees, all these changes taken together would reduce the average annual benefit for middle-income workers – those with annual earnings of $43,000 to $69,000 – by up to 35 percent.

          Here's the link to her OpEd, The Sham of Simpson-Bowles, in Reuters.

          According to the NASI (National Academy of Social Insurance) the lowest four quintiles (80%) of Americans rely heavily on Social Security (either their primary or only source of retirement income).

          And let's not forget the recent factoid out of the 2010 Census:

          "Census Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor or Low Income" (AP).  Here's the link.

          I've been stunned at how little discussion this has garnered in progressive blogging communities.  

          Simpson-Bowles also targets Medicare and Medicaid – though the real problem is rising healthcare costs across the board. Yet it would cap them at arbitrary rates  and simply shift the growing costs to patients, providers and employers. To start, they would ask Medicare beneficiaries – seniors and disabled people – to pay $110 billion more out of pocket.

          Anyone who believes that with more than four years left in this Administration that we'll not see the third cut (raising the retirement age), well you know the old axiom about selling swampland, LOL!

          Don't forget, the over 1 Trillion in cuts already enacted in the Budget Control Act start taking effect in 2013.

          That's exactly why lawmakers are in such a rush to put further austerity measures in place ASAP.  If there's pushback now, it's nothing like it would be in a couple more years when people who are clueless to the cuts (and haven't felt them yet) finally wake up.

          As my previous comments indicate, we'll not be particularly harshly affected by these cuts, due to our circumstances.  However, we know many folks who will not be so fortunate.

          These policies are austerity, IMHO.  Even the title of the Super Committee proposal acknowledges as much.

          BTW, I read comments about "infrastructure" funding abounding here.  Even Robert Reich has criticized the Kerry/Hutchison plan that the Administration has endorsed, due to the hugh (and highly regressive) toll fees that will be imposed on working class folks through the "public/private partnerships."  Google it.

  •  There is much to think about here and (5+ / 0-)

    much to learn.

    No one is happy about this. No one, but here we are.

    If the conditions recommended by the Center of Budget and Policy Priories are part of the deal, will that protect those most vulnerable? There's much to read in their analysis of this, but here's a start.

    Chained CPI Can Be Part of a Balanced Deficit-Reduction Package, Under Certain Conditions

    By Kathy Ruffing, Paul N. Van de Water and Robert Greenstein

    February 22, 2012

    A proposal included in several deficit-reduction packages — those from fiscal commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the Domenici-Rivlin panel, and the Senate "Gang of Six" — would shift from the regular or official Consumer Price Index (CPI) to the "superlative" or "chained" CPI when indexing various federal benefit and tax-code provisions. This proposal would gradually trim the growth of benefit programs and boost future tax revenues.

    Because many economists believe the official CPI is upwardly biased and regard the chained CPI as a more accurate measure of inflation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has long supported switching to the chained CPI for adjusting federal benefits and taxes — if it is accompanied by several necessary adjustments to prevent significant hardship, as described below. The policy clearly amounts to a reduction in future Social Security benefits, which many find objectionable. However, we believe that the chained CPI is a reasonable component of a comprehensive package to put the budget on a sustainable course, under the following conditions:

        The change needs to apply to both benefit programs and the tax code, and the proceeds from applying the chained CPI to the tax code should go entirely for deficit reduction. Using some or all of those proceeds to finance a reduction in tax rates should not be acceptable.
        The change should be accompanied by a modest benefit increase (or "bump") for long-time Social Security beneficiaries. Switching to the chained CPI would lower Social Security benefits (relative to currently scheduled benefits) by amounts that grow with each additional year that an individual receives benefits. This could lead to hardship among very old people. As a result, a modest benefit increase for people who have received benefits for many years should accompany the switch to the chained CPI. Both the Bowles-Simpson and Rivlin-Domenici plans include this adjustment along with their chained CPI proposal.
        Policymakers should exempt the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program from the switch or make other changes to SSI to mitigate the chained CPI's impact. Applying the chained CPI to SSI, which serves the nation's poorest elderly and disabled people and still leaves them well below the poverty line, raises particular problems. Policymakers should exempt SSI from the switch or soften the impact on SSI beneficiaries as described below.
        The proposal should specifically identify the programs to be moved to the chained CPI to avoid confusion or unintended effects. The CPI appears in hundreds of places in the U.S. Code and other laws, affecting not just annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) but also caps, eligibility thresholds, reporting requirements, fines or penalties, and payment rates for various programs. Only about a dozen such provisions dominate the budgetary effects of switching to the chained CPI. To avoid confusion and future litigation, lawmakers should amend specific statutes as appropriate, rather than enacting blanket language, and focus on major provisions with significant budgetary effects — essentially annual cost-of-living adjustments in retirement and related benefit programs and annual inflation adjustments in the tax code.......

    http://www.cbpp.org/...

    I highly recommend reading the entire piece and more than once. There's a great deal to digest.

    I don't have the answers. What I do know is that trusting the future of Social Security to the Republicans is suicide. Their taking of the economy, the poor, and those on unemployment hostage is why we're having this discussion in the first place.

    "Kicking the can down the road" and hoping that we keep control of the Senate and take back the House is 2014 is fraught with peril. We may be able to do so, and I hope like hell that we work day and night to make it so, but given the facts of gerrymandering I'm not willing to place so many lives at risk on an unknown outcome.

    The basic fact is, Republicans have shown no qualms about hurting the American people. We are dealing with hostage takers, period.

    How do we minimize their threat to so many?

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:55:22 AM PST

    •  I don;t understand your comment (11+ / 0-)

      You fear the GOP so you want to do the GOP's bidding now on Social Security?

      That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

      •  I don't believe I said anything in favor of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        doing the bidding of Republican hostage takers.

        What I was attempting to say is that hostage takers are exactly what we are dealing with, Republicans who are more than willing to harm a great number of people, so what do we do?

        Let the economy tank?

        Throw 300,000 children off of TANF, another 300,000 children off of Medicare?

        Raise eligibility ages?

        Get rid of the Unearned Income Credit?

        Let millions lose the unemployment benefits?

        Cut funding to the ACA?

        etc, etc, etc

        I would prefer that all the bills Republicans have blocked that create jobs, grow the economy, repair our infrastructure, give tax credits to companies that bring jobs home, along with stopping the subsidies of big oil, among others, be passed, quickly.

        But I haven't seen any signs of that happening lately. You?

        I would prefer social security to not be any part of the so called "Fiscal Cliff" discussion. But it is or was.

        Last I heard, no one knows whether or not it will be a part of negotiations once Congress returns.

        Given Republican hostage taking it would not surprise me if they tried to insert it into the discussion again.

        They have so many hostage to chose from, after all.

        And that is the problem.

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Onomastic on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:02:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You do realize that the "most vulnerable" does (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SpecialKinFlag, tardis10, Mr Robert

      not include any seniors who happen to own their own home (or even a halfway decent car) no matter how modest, right?  Remember, we are talking about no more than 15k per year in income and 9k in assets as the cutoff.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:28:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why do you say this? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, Cedwyn
        You do realize that the "most vulnerable" does not include any seniors who happen to own their own home (or even a halfway decent car) no matter how modest, right?
        A home used as a primary residence and one automobile are exempt from Supplementary Security Income resouce limits.  For more information:  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/... , scroll down to "Resources".  

        We could argue that the income and resouce limits should be increased, as they were established in the early '70s when a dollar was worth more, but that's another issue.  The fact is that home ownership will not prevent you from getting SSI if you are otherwise eligible.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.     

        by Calamity Jean on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 02:33:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  However, that is for SSI not regular Social (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jabney

          Security.  The "most vulnerable" is only for those on SSI or possibly SSDI.  Even if it does apply to regular seniors on regular Social Security since those seniors presumably aren't using their car as a resource for "attempting to obtain gainful employment" the car does count.  Also, since the maximum SSI payment in 2012 is $698 anyone getting a regular SS payment more than that is also (presumably) considered not one of the "most vulnerable".

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 02:53:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  seniors get SS regardless (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            they don't need to qualify based on their assets or lack thereof.  SSA is not going to deny people for having cars and homes.

            and SSI/SSDI is exactly what you say:  extra protection for the most vulnerable.  

            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

            by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:19:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  No, sorry. Regular Social Security doesn't (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn
            ...those seniors presumably aren't using their car as a resource for "attempting to obtain gainful employment" the car does count.
            care what resources a person has.  And SSI exempts cars used for grocery shopping and trips to the doctor as well as cars used for seeking or commuting to work.  I worked for the Social Security Administration for 30+ years and explained the rules to more than a few thousand people in that time.  You have been misinformed.  Read from my link in prior comment, or call 1-800-772-1213 any weekday from 7 AM to 7 PM in all US time zones.  

            Renewable energy brings national global security.     

            by Calamity Jean on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:01:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  However, presumably regular Social (0+ / 0-)

              Security would assuming the protections for the "most vulnerable" even apply to (some) people on it and not just SSI (and possibly SSDI).  How else would you define the "most vulnerable" seniors on regular Social Security? (assuming you consider such a thing to exist at all)

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 05:04:23 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I had seen the suggestion that SSI payments (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JeffW

                would increase according to the existing CPI, not the "chained CPI".  That led me to believe that the idea was that as SS payments fell behind the actual cost of living, SSI would pick up the poorest as SSI increased faster than Social Security.  People eliglble for SSI could be reasonably regarded as "the most vulnerable".  

                Renewable energy brings national global security.     

                by Calamity Jean on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 03:42:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Its worse than that TTBO. I Googled, and if the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Throw The Bums Out, jabney

        most vulnerable seniors who will be protected are ONLY the recipients of SSI (and some of these papers suggest), and the top SSI payment in 2012 is $698 per month, it suggests to me that so long as a senior or disabled individual's monthly Social Security check is $699 per month, they are not deemed "vulnerable."

        IOW, anyone making $699 a month or more will take a hit on COLA, under the chained CPI Index.

        If this is correct, I consider that to be not only disgraceful, but beyond "obscene."

    •  Bush was at the height of his powers in 2005 (4+ / 0-)

      when he tried to do something much more radical to SS, privatize it, and failed MISERABLY. It marked the beginning of the slide from power for the GOP that culminated in the loss of the house and senate in 2006 and Obama's win in 2008. And you think that they're likely to regain enough political power to successfully go at SS again? I highly doubt it. Even if they could, it would absolutely destroy them politically. Only Dems can destroy SS.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:29:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i wonder why they insist (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, Calamity Jean, JeffW, Onomastic

      the tax code should also shift to chained CPI.  the two don't use the same metric currently.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:40:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am sincerely confused by the analysis that Dems (0+ / 0-)

      should race to be the ones who eviscerate the Social Safety Net.

      I would be truly shocked to see the Party whose president signs into law any significant cuts to the social safety net programs take the White House again for decades.

      All the white papers, and The Moment of Truth [PDF] written by the President's own Commission, call for continued reviews and cuts to all the social programs, ad infinitum.

      Perhaps some readers would like to actually read the short (only 66 page) Bowles-Simpson proposal.  Here's the link.

      Please folks, before you "wish for" all these cuts, know what they are.

  •  Because this (14+ / 0-)

    Is a bad deal.  For SS and for the budget/cliff stuff generally.  It's possible Republicans will get to impose their will in future and the outcome will be worse.  Or not.  There is no final "deal" which will save SS from their desire to end it.  They've been gunning for it since 1935.  It will never be safe.

    So yes, put it off until a good deal can be had.

    It is also no small part of the shittiness of this deal that it would have to be passed on mostly Democratic votes in the House, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic President.  Republicans could (and would) run as the "defenders" of Social Security in 2014 just like they did for Medicare in 2010.  It's political suicide now to avert some possible bad result 20 years from now.

    •  how do we know exactly when a good deal (0+ / 0-)

      can be had?  is there ever a guarantee of that? are you talking about waiting until after obama's second term?

      indeed, SS will never be safe, and the GOP has never wanted it.  do you think delaying a fix works towards or against their goals?  if it's fixed sooner rather than later, it takes a lot of their justifications away, no?  

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:46:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please read The Moment of Truth that Obama has (0+ / 0-)

        endorsed repeatedly.

        As I believe that I pointed out above, after all the draconian cuts to all the social programs are done in the first several rounds, Bowles- Simpson calls for them TO CONTINUE AD INFINITUM.

        IOW, as far as the eye can see--there will be continuous reviews and continuous cuts as needed.

        The  Powers to Be certainly don't need our help to accomplish the destruction of the social safety net.  Why give it to them?

  •  Social Security 101. Raise the damn CAP. Simple, (10+ / 0-)

    honest fix. Then get all doubly simple and make it illegal for any branch of government to borrow from it.

    Hope and Forward, my Ass! I Think President Obama is Dyslexic. He Keeps Going Forward into Republicanism and Hopes Nobody Notices.

    by Wendys Wink on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:02:20 AM PST

    •  I agree but would raisng the CAP and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      putting SS in a real "lock box" pass the House?

      As much as I hate it, it all comes back to that, so what do we do?

      Given the configuration of the House, how do we raise the CAP and prevent any further raiding of Social Security funds?

      "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

      by Onomastic on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:09:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree, raise revenues. The argument is that when (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, Wendys Wink, Sylv

      SS was first proposed, there were more wage earners to pay for each retiree because of two things, demographics and mortality rates. Now that the average lifespan after retirement is longer, that means that we have to contribute more to afford that retirement. So raise contributions during the earnings years.

      •  Sorry, this is BS. There were about 15 years (6+ / 0-)
        The argument is that when SS was first proposed, there were more wage earners to pay for each retiree because of two things, demographics and mortality rates.
        in the '50s and early '60s when the ratio of workers to beneficiaries was extremely high, as much as 15 to one.  This was because in the early '50s, Social Security coverage was sharply expanded to new occupational groups that had been left out of the original legislation: farm workers, domestic workers, and the self-employed were the biggest ones.  Because these people had previously not been allowed to pay in to SS, most of them couldn't qualify for benefits for a significant number of years.  As years passed, the new coverage groups built up work credits with SS and aged into retirement, so the ratio of workers to beneficiaries gradually fell to what it is today.  

        The system is designed to have a worker to beneficiary ratio of about three to one, just slightly more than what it is today.  The way to increase the ratio is NOT to restrict benefits, but to promote greater employment among people aged twenty to sixty.  Younger people will work and pay into SS for many years before collecting, giving the Baby Boomers time to die off.  

        Regarding life expectancy, go here:  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/... .  Life expectancy from birth has increased significantly since SS started almost entirely by reduction of infant and child deaths.  Childhood deaths are sad, but don't affect SS because almost no children pay in to it.  What's important for SS purposes is life expectancy after reaching working age.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.     

        by Calamity Jean on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:09:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  By cashing in treasury bonds, it contributes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, virginislandsguy

    to the cash flow deficit.  If SS benefits are reduced, then there are less outflows from the trust fund, it doesn't have to redeem as much debt, and therefore the general fund can use more money for other spending or can just have a slightly smaller cash flow deficit.

  •  Democats for Cutting Social Security. (10+ / 0-)

    Makes sense I guess seeings how the party is really 80's moderate republican style. This is supposed to be about the debt and the deficit and they want to cut more from SS than from defense.  It's all bullshit.  Fuck the debt.  

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:11:45 AM PST

  •  Answer is simple (9+ / 0-)

    When you have Congress you want to do this.

    Surely you would agree that NOW is a horrible time for this right?

    •  But, but, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      Let's not let the smoking gun be a tea party cloud.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:38:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's what i am saying (0+ / 0-)
      Answer is simple

      When you have Congress you want to do this.

      right now we have the WH and senate.  do we have a guarantee of holding both chambers at some future date?  if we bust ass and take back the house in 2014 should we try then?  or do you mean we should wait out obama?

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:00:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As I recall, Social Security... (15+ / 0-)

    was not designed for prefunding but rather pay as you go. We babyboomers were forced to pre fund because of the dire straits SS was in in the early '80s. We are not in any such dire straits today. The idea that Rethugs will ever end their efforts to shred the safety net seems very naive to me. Your willingness to trade some short term benefits for long term damage to SS is a mistake IMHO.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:16:47 AM PST

    •  they won't stop trying (0+ / 0-)

      but without being able to say "look, SS needs help!" they don't have as strong a position going forward.

      it may not be in dire straits today right now, but do you feel something needs to be done long term?  what about the population dynamics?

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:13:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i'm sorry but the political optics of cutting (11+ / 0-)

    SS benefits now is just awful and the possible collateral damage incalculable.

    the President campaigned as the populist champion of the middle class.
    we were told how unfair it was for the 1% to pay less a percentage of tax than the rest of us.

    why doesn't the morality of 'FAIRNESS' extend to our seniors, vets and the disabled, who will be hit the hardest in this proposal and who are some of the most vulnerable? with income disparity at record levels and SS not adding to the debt, this seems a particularly cruel time for this proposal.

    put unemployed people back to work and after a decade of full employment, then revisit the calculations.

    America...where we fight over who can be allowed to have a marriage license but don't give a shit about who can have an assault rifle.

    by dear occupant on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:19:39 AM PST

    •  jobs are great, but the population dynamics (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dear occupant

      indicate it can't be the whole solution long-term.  maybe we should wait.  how long?  

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:23:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, i realize it isn't Cedwyn, it was just my (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        frustration with the constant austerity drumbeat, when so many folks are out still out of work. it wasn't fully thought out.

        when, how long? honestly, that's above my paygrade, but I firmly believe it isn't now for some and more of the reasons in my comment. the big 3 is my absolute redline as it is for so many of us, for me, it's not just a financial issue, it's rooted in some deeply held beliefs about the Democratic Party and how we care for the vulnerable among us.

        strategically, looking ahead to 2014, i'm sorry but it wasn't a wise move, IMHO

        peace, Cedwyn

        America...where we fight over who can be allowed to have a marriage license but don't give a shit about who can have an assault rifle.

        by dear occupant on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:54:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Boomers are dead 2047-2062 (0+ / 0-)

        After that population dynamics play no significant role.

        Jobs and wages are the 2 largest order effects, workforce growth makes the top 5.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:08:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fixing SS should not have been part (7+ / 0-)

    of this negotiation. But that ship has sailed(maybe). So much kabuki,it is hard to say.

     Given that a chained cpi is only one way to "strengthen" SS, why isn't anyone wondering why the other options aren't on the table? Because raising the cap and/or making the benefit formula more progressive would affect the wealthier among us. And we can't have that. So instead, we will use a dubious chained cpi to cut already modest Social Security benefits and increase income taxes for working Americans. Shoveling money to the top is all the rage in DC, having a social safety net or crafting sound social policy, not so much.

    Bipartisany!

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:31:09 AM PST

    •  i think people have pondered why other things (0+ / 0-)

      aren't being considered.  the answer is the GOP-controlled house and what can get by them.

      chained CPI would only affect taxes if they adopt it there, too.  that is not guaranteed.

      enacting chained CPI with extra stipends for the poorest seniors and those over 80 is a rather back-door way of means testing and would basically pay less SS to those who don't need it while taking care of those who do.

      do you have an idea that can pass the house?  should we wait until next year or the next congress?  the next administration?

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:29:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, it is part of a larger & longer con. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpecialKinFlag, Roger Fox

        Would I rather nothing be done re: SS right now? Damn straight. This is not the time to strengthen SS. Good news is it is both politically unpopular and unnecessary to do so. Here's hoping the Dems in congress get that.

        All this frenzy to diminish SS because Wall St. & Pete Peterson's utterly corrupt Fix the Debt says so? Because it is easier in DC to steal from seniors than to make the top 2% pay taxes somehow still doesn't make it right,imo.  
        Have you read this?
         http://blog.ourfuture.org/...  Here's a taste:

        In their world the President’s counter-offer represents the “left” side of the political spectrum. It slashes Social Security $122 billion over ten years, increases the tax burden on middle-class (but not high-earner) income, and calls for only a $100 billion reduction in planned defense spending.

        That’s right:  The President’s “compromise” counter-offer asks seniors, veterans, the disabled, and non-wealthy working people to “sacrifice” roughly three times much as the Pentagon and its contractors. It reduces an 85 year old’s benefits by 6.5 percent and a 95 year old’s by 9.2 percent, while trimming less than one percent from our trillion-dollar defense budget.  What does that say about our values?

        As for an idea,how about following Leon Panetta's advice & cutting 74 Billion on outmoded weapons we don't need? http://www.thedailybeast.com/... And stop this as well. http://www.bizjournals.com/... But right now,today? I'd say the Democratic Party better decide how to at least pretend better that they are on the side of the American people.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 02:09:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  All told, chained CPI raises average taxes by (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10
        about 0.19 percent of income. So, taken all together, it’s basically a big (5 percent over 12 years; more, if you take a longer view) across-the-board cut in Social Security benefits paired with a 0.19 percent income surtax.

        You don’t hear a lot of politicians calling for the drastic slashing of Social Security benefits and an across-the-board tax increase that disproportionately hits low earners. But that’s what they’re sneakily doing when they talk about chained CPI.

        The intention is to apply the Chained CPI Index to ALL federal transfer programs (Social Security, Soc Sec Disability, VA Disability, the Tax Code, etc.)

        Read The Moment of Truth!

      •  Tardis is right, leave it alone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:15:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't forget, this is only round one. And Dems (0+ / 0-)

      repeatedly chant that "everything is on the table."

      I suspect that this is the one truth that they all tell.

      This is the first cut offered up, because it is the most obscure and confusing.

      Just look at the conversations here, LOL!

      •  no the first thing the GOP asked for (0+ / 0-)

        was raising the retirement age.

        Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

        by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:24:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Chained CPI Index was offered to Boehner (0+ / 0-)

          by President Obama in July 2011.

          [I said that this is the first cut "offered up."  Not asked for by Boehner this year.]

          Here's the link to the document leaked to NBC and Bob Woodward.

          Here's the excerpt:

          "Apply the Superlative CPI to Social Security, mandatory programs, and the tax code beginning in 2015, . . ."
    •  The REAL way to strengthen SS is to (5+ / 0-)

      increase employment among working-age people.  More people pay in = more revenue = stronger SS.    

      Improving pay rates for lower-paid workers would help also.  

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:26:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Even mentioning SS (7+ / 0-)

    in the context of the fiscal cliff hands a treat to the Republican hogs who wish ultimately to destroy the program. Their goal is not reform. It's elimination.

    “The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we.” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

    by Miss Pip on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:38:25 AM PST

  •  Eliminating the cap basically eliminates all (9+ / 0-)

    Social Security problems.

    That's especially true if we also tax investment income, and/or have a limit on the maximum Social Security monthly payment.

    There's no need to cut benefits.

    Stop telling us that we have to compromise now.

    •  but payouts are a function of contributions (0+ / 0-)

      eliminate the cap and the benefit payouts also go up.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:31:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's actually a cap on payouts (0+ / 0-)

        which is why there's a cap on taxing income.  Remove the cap and allow the collection of SS tax on all income, earned and unearned, but maintain the cap on payouts.  It's a form of means testing, I suppose, but so convoluted that argument would have trouble taking hold.  Kind of like Dems are counting on Seniors to be so thick that they won't understand that chained CPI is code for cutting benefits and raising taxes on those least able to carry the burden.  Difference is, when you live hand to mouth, its a lot easier to notice the piece of bread that disappeared from your hand before it reached your mouth.

        "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

        by costello7 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 01:19:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  see, i consider chained CPI (0+ / 0-)

          with adequate protection for SSI/SSDI and those over 80 to be a stealth form of means testing and would end up paying less SS to those who don't need it while taking care of those who do.

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:33:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not even close (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roger Fox

            The "protections" proposed are for those already in abject poverty, not for lower middle class and middle class folks who are hanging on by a thread.  I guess once they too drop into poverty, they'd get that protection they needed to stay out of it in the first place.  And the formuli are always fucking bizarre.  Granny can't afford to eat, but, hey, she owns a car, so she's too rich to be protected.  "Protecting" people is how we ended up with the AMT, which terrorizes a good chuck of middle class folks (more each year) until Congress passes the annual fix.  You want protections on our most vulnerable?  DON'T CUT GODDAMN SOCIAL SECURITY!!!  There, that was simple enough.

            No, means testing is means testing.  Stealth means testing is eliminating the cap on taxes, but not the cap on payouts.

            Chained CPI is a stealth way for the government to slowly starve its "less necessary" people to death and to shift even more money from the poor and middle class to the very wealthy.  Chained CPI is throwing the frog in the pot and turning the temperature up slowly.  Everybody, except the frog, knows what's going on, here.  There is a class war underway.  Sadly, Obama just declared he's on their side, not ours.

            "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

            by costello7 on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 03:05:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not if they adopt "Means Testing" which is (0+ / 0-)

        recommended by Bowles-Simspon.

        A simple change in the "Bend Points" will offset any increase due to raising the wage cap.

        This may come in Round Two.

    •  cap benefits, a means test (0+ / 0-)

      turning SS into welfare, a big step that would make SS something unrecognizable from what its been since 1935.

      Leave SS alone

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:18:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The thing about Social Security is... (9+ / 0-)

    that Social Security has loaned $2.7 trillion to the General Fund that the wealthy don’t want to pay back.

    Remember "lockbox"?

    Why should I lose a dime in benefits?  Because Democrats have some obligation to save Republicans from themselves by screwing over the 99% to salve their pwecious fee fees?

  •  A future competent Congress can work... (6+ / 0-)

    ... aligned with SS design, within the frame the SSA has to tweak and accommodate demographic and economic trends.

    Our own resident SS expert, Bruce Webb:

    "Workers will have MORE money in their pockets AND will have paid for a longer retirement at a higher standard of living."   Social Security cuts offered...why?
       
    According to the 2010 CBO report Options for Social Security the chained CPI will "solve" about one third of the projected shortfall.
        Since a tax raise of forty cents per week per year over the same time would solve the entire projected shortfall, it looks as though the chained CPI is going to save workers about 13 cents per week per year while their wages are going up eight dollars per week per year.
        Of course the chained CPI is going to cost them a thousand dollars a year when they are too old to do anything about it.
        Makes you wonder who the President's financial advisor is.
        ...
        The CBO report was from 2010. raising the cap to cover 90% of earnings would put the cap at about 150k, and their benefits would be increased.
        This might be salable to them... if they figured the extra tax was a reasonable price to pay for the extra insurance... I am guessing their SS benefit would go from about 26k to about 35k. I don't think they would be happy with that ratio.
        In any case I would prefer to pay the extra 13 cents per week and keep Social Security "worker paid."
        You don't want welfare. it's ugly.
    Dale Coberly
       Everyone interested in actual SS numbers should read that CBO 2010 report 'Social Security Policy Options' or just refer to special figure 1. CBO scored 30 different policy options taken in isolation and although some would interact if enacted together for the most part you can treat the fixes as a cafeteria plan and mix and match to reach your 0.6 target. For example there is one fix that closes 0.9 of that 0.6 which makes room for proposals that shift benefits to the bottom in a way that still mets out at 0.6. Now in the event I agree with Dale that this particular combination adds up to 'welfare' and moreover that that would be a bad thing. But your views may vary.
        The point being that most obvious changes to SS have already been scored, all you need to do is Google the cited document.
  •  It sounds like you're saying (6+ / 0-)

    'we better change it now, or repubs will change it worser down the road,' when we all know that repubs will always try to destroy social programs regardless of their political power.

    So, I don't see how doing what you recommend will stop the repub efforts as you seem to imply.

    Do we take our chances on 2014 and hope Dems retake the House?  Would we be guaranteed to hold the Senate?  Do we kick it to 2016 on the hope that we retain and/or expand power?  Is it better to revise SS with Dems in control of the White House and Senate, or do we wait and hope the GOP doesn't get back in power?  We see how well that wishful thinking has worked out for Boehner, who kicked the sequester can this far because he was just certain they'd have a GOP President right now.

    I think I can confidently predict, if BO and dems sell us out now, 2014 will be a route for the repubs.  So, no, we won't be taking any chances at all in 2014 if your recommendations are implemented.

    If BO and the dems would get off their butts and address the real problem, lack of jobs and lack of income growth for workers, then some of the revenue issues would be resolved.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:59:18 AM PST

    •  were dems routed in 1983? (0+ / 0-)

      or is now just a totally different scene such that it would be guaranteed?  

      of course the GOP will never stop trying to destroy it; that is precisely why "fixing" it cannot be left up to them.  so the question is when is the best time, given that it won't be left alone?

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:45:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dems were routed in (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        2010.  That routing was brought to us by BO and co.

        In 2012, BO got fewer votes than his first run partly because people now see him for what he is--a person who is only interested in himself.  And from what I've read recently about the election, he lost a huge chunk of independents that he originally had the first time around.

        If he had taken strong measures related to the economy, the banksters, and on and on, he most certainly would have kept his original votes, not lost the house, and creamed Romney.

        So, now he's selling us down the river again, and you're asking, 'when is the best time for this sellout?'

        We shouldn't be buying into [or promoting] the malarkey that the soc sec is in deep trouble, because it isn't.  

        The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

        by dfarrah on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 08:38:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  There's a lot of crap in most American sausage. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, Cedwyn

    Unnecessary and bad for you filler. Make a smaller sausage, only put in what you need to.
    I'm going to see a movie now.

  •  There is absolutely no reason to address SS (8+ / 0-)

    here and now under the duress of a make-believe debt crisis that is the construct of austerity mongers and deficit hawks. Plus, why should ANY tinkering of one of the largest government programs be the product of 2 men in an essentially back room secret negotiation? Screw that! quite frankly.

    Not to mention that Social Security is in no immediate crisis and should not be a part of any general debt discussions at this time despite your use of the popular right wing framing of "kicking the can down the road".

    The reason the Simpson Bowles types and the corporatists and the "very serious people" feel compelled to do this at this time is that they don't want to waste a perfectly good economic crisis/recession which gives them great cover to "Shock Doctrine" us to whittle away at the social safety nets which they hate for purely ideological right wing reasons.

    That's why we don't deal with "the Social Security thing" now. And I for one think it is absolutely apalling that the President and the Democrats are the ones responsible for trying to sell this crap to the American people.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:43:27 AM PST

  •  Good diary Cedwyn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, Cedwyn

    Ideally, Social Security would be considered on its own and not be included in the "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

    The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

    by SoCalSal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:50:15 PM PST

  •  Rec'd for the discussion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, Cedwyn, dear occupant

    Valuable to read the comments and replies

  •  For an alternate viewpoint... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, Roger Fox

    check out this diary http://www.dailykos.com/...

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 02:01:06 PM PST

  •  How far down the road do we kick this? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox, Cedwyn

    As far as until the Trust Fund is closer to being exhausted, in my opinion. Maybe in fifteen years.

    Why?

    The large surplus accumulated in the Trust Fund for the purpose of dealing with the Boomer demographic bulge has been an abject political failure, because people seem to be incapable of understanding what happened to the money. They think that since it has been lent to the Federal Government - the only thing that really could be done with it - rather than sitting in a big pile of cash somewhere that the money has already been spent. Since people believe the money doesn't exist, it was somewhat pointless to have accumulated it. It would be equally pointless to preserve the large surplus by taking in additional money now.

    I think we should continue to spend down the Trust Fund and then get back to paying benefits out of current revenues. When we need more revenue, we can deal with it then, when we have real data instead of twenty-year projections which are always off, and the necessary political decisions can be made by those who will be affected by it.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:22:42 PM PST

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