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The disconnect between the Very Serious People and the inside-the-Beltway wisdom and what the entire rest of the country is actually experiencing couldn't be made more stark than by the survey released by the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation's leading experts on social insurance.

That survey found that 82 percent of those surveyed think it would be preferable for everyone (including themselves) to pay higher taxes than to cut Social Security benefits. But there's more:

84% believe that Social Security benefits are inadequate, and 75% believe we should consider increasing benefits in order to provide a more secure retirement for working Americans."
Enter Duncan Black, aka Atrios, and his call for increasing Social Security benefits. Here's why.
We should be worried that large numbers of people nearing retirement will be unable to keep their homes or continue to pay their rent.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the median household retirement account balance in 2010 for workers between the ages of 55-64 was just $120,000. For people expecting to retire at around age 65, and to live for another 15 years or more, this will provide for only a trivial supplement to Social Security benefits.

And that's for people who actually have a retirement account of some kind. A third of households do not. For these people, their sole retirement income, aside from potential aid from friends and family, comes from Social Security, for which the current average monthly benefit is $1,230.

We have this worry because of the failed experiment of employer-based retirement plans becoming more and more centered on 401(K)s, with investments that have taken multiple and drastic hits. To add to that, retirees and near-retirees in almost every part of the nation have seen their home values plummet. If they're still paying on the mortgage, they're underwater. If they own the house, it has drastically reduced equity to count on. That's particularly true for retirees and near retirees, but the outlook for younger cohorts isn't much more encouraging, particularly those saddled with outrageous student loans.

The plight of America's middle class in a still-crappy economy isn't getting a lot of traction in the circles in which the people who could do something about it seem to circulate. But if they were listening to the rest of the country, they'd hear that the policies they seem hell-bent on following on social insurance programs are the exact opposite of what the people who elected them want. Which could be a problem in the next election.

Please sign this letter to President Obama and congressional leadership declaring your opposition to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts in any fiscal showdown deal.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02:23 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Social Security Defenders, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Aside from helping needy seniors, (28+ / 0-)

    higher SS benefits will almost all be spent within the month, and that should help the economy.

    Unfortunately, our national political and media leaders do not care about needy seniors, or the economy, as Atrios has argued persuasively for years.

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02:33:36 PM PST

  •  Sen. Mark Begich's (D. AK) plan to strengthen (25+ / 0-)

    Social Security should be the party's platform and it's a great way to win back white older voters for the midterm elections:

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

    It's no wonder Begich is in the lead in PPP's latest poll.

    Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

    by poopdogcomedy on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02:35:53 PM PST

    •  How many voters have a real problem (20+ / 0-)

      with eliminating the SS cap?

      Some 2 or 3 percent of rich people, obviously, plus 20 percent or so of Fox/talk radio-deluded wingnuts who would not be affected in their paychecks.

      Not even close to a majority, IMHO.

      Even in Alaska.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 04:00:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  16% would pay more (4+ / 0-)

        The cap is at 113k, thats the 84th percentile.

        Then there people like me that refuse to see SS changed fore ever.

        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 Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:17:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was changed constantly during the first 40 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laconic Lib, devtob

          years of its existence.

          For the better, until Reagan.

          "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

          by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:40:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Traditional IRA's Were Started Under Reagan (7+ / 0-)

            in 1986. That allowed companies to underfund retirement accounts as mentioned by Joan in her diary.

            But rust never sleeps and once you've got progressives to step back one step, ask for two steps back because the rich can never have enough money.

            Not money to spend and kite about a community but money to hoard and misspend and gloat over.

            Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

            by TerryDarc on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:59:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  We expanded the types of work covered, we expanded (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              devtob

              coverage for survivors, we expanded the disability provisions, ect ect.

              In fact, Medicare and Medicaid are technically expansions of SS.

              The with holding went up and up, but we got more and more for it.

              Under Reagan, we ganked survivors benefits from college kids and hiked the age and increased the with holding just to pay for an insane military budget.

              "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

              by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:44:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  But some things were (0+ / 0-)

            constant.

            Well in fairness to the 1983 SS deal..... the Boomer math looks to be a really good guess, 30 years later we are looking at the next 30 years, the Boomers passing and by 2056-2062 Trust Fund Assets growing, thru 2090.

            The odds are really good that SS will able to pay 100% of benefits to all Boomers, with no tweaks. Reagan fucked a lot of shit up, the 1986 Tax reform Act was a doozey....PATCO strike....tax breaks for outsourcing....

            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 Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:31:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  SS taxes should be paid on investment income (18+ / 0-)

        Self-employment tax is over 13%.  For people who are self-employed as investors, why shouldn't they pay that same 13%?  The payback formula is steeply progressive, and paybacks could be capped at a certain point.  Medicare taxes should be paid on this income as well, possibly at a higher rate.

        That's a way to equalize taxes on the wealthy investor class that would do a lot of good, forcing them to contribute back to the rest of society.  Reversing income inequality is necessarily going to involve some level of confiscatory taxation, and this is a great place to start.

        Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

        by Dallasdoc on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:34:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think the majority of Americans (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob

        support increasing the SS tax so long as the cap is removed and they feel the burden is equitably distributed when they are given the choice between higher SS contributions and scrapping SS

    •  I keep Googling, and from all I gather, this bill (8+ / 0-)

      has never left committee, and has no co-sponsors.

      While I commend anyone who's willing to put forth a piece of legislation that will actually help seniors, instead of eviscerating their benefits, I would be much more encouraged if he seemed to be making headway in obtaining sponsors, and garnering enough votes to pass it.  

      The only thing that comes up when I Google, is PR that addresses "progressive groups," etc.  He needs to take this argument and plan to the broader public.

      What is Senator Begich doing on this front?

       

      Mollie

      "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 04:14:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He made his statement on the Senate floor about (7+ / 0-)

        his legislation during the fiscal cliff deal to make the point that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit.  I'm not sure what's next for this plan but I think we should encourage Begich to keep pushing for it and keep looking for co-sponsors.  

        Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

        by poopdogcomedy on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 04:47:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hey, my comment was not intended as a "criticism" (7+ / 0-)

          of Begich.

          I consider Alaska (Fairbanks) to be my 'second' home, if you will.  I just hope that the Senator is sincere in his efforts to get this bill through, if he is making it a centerpiece of his run for re-election.  

          In no way did I mean to infer that he should not be encouraged to push the bill.  

          But anyone who proposes a bill, bears a great deal of responsibility for getting it through.  And it clearly won't get any where, unless he garners the broad support of other Senators.  [And it won't happen through osmosis, as they say, LOL!]

          I just hope that he is diligent in his endeavors.  

          Mollie

          "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

          by musiccitymollie on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:02:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh I hear you and I knew what you meant. Yeah, (6+ / 0-)

            me might be holding onto it for later deals.  I know the Alaskan AARP and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition have endorsed his plan.

            Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

            by poopdogcomedy on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:09:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Bills not introduced by committee chairmen (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            maryabein, JesseCW

            normally have little chance of passing, if they're dealing with something significant like Social Security.  And Sen. Begich knows that I'm sure.  Introducing bills like this and seeking co-sponsors is a way of making a statement, occasionally building firelines to protect programs like Social Security.  And to try to get a conversation going that allows reality to break into the Insider Bubble.  So it's worth doing even if it has no realistic chance of passing.

            •  I hope so. I like Begich, but know him to be a (0+ / 0-)

              fiscal conservative.

              And he's also in what may shake out to be, a fairly tough race.

              So it's my hope that his effort is sincere, and not an attempt to position himself for the sole purpose of electoral politics.

              Time will tell, I'm sure.  :-)

              Mollie

              "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

              "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

              by musiccitymollie on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:20:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Old white voters (0+ / 0-)

      seem to be caught up in race too.

  •  Generations (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, GoGoGoEverton

    I'm not so sure how I feel about the generation that gave us the 401(k) being provided with expanded Social Security benefits they'll never have a chance to contribute to. We're already approaching the point where there are only 2 workers for every retiree and this seems like it will place an even higher burden on younger generations.

    I would be comfortable with removing the salary cap and ramping benefits up over a decade or two though. This would retain the idea that Social Security is about getting back what you paid in.

  •  "They" need to follow the good Doctor's advice. (21+ / 0-)

    Dr. Duncan Black has been an aggressive internet pamphleteer on this issue for years now. His abbreviated arguments(?) on Social Security benefits have been so persuasive that this subject has become the center of my own research into the idea of increasing benefits and lowering the SS eligibility age.

    In terms of unemployment relief – this move would be an instant stimulus that would have an almost instantaneous effect on lowering every measure of unemployment.

    So when the Very Serious People really get serious – we may be treated to the sound of Dr. Black's argument drowning out the nihilistic quackery of Simpson and Bowles.

  •  All I know is (16+ / 0-)

    that I worked from after school jobs at 14 through some very good jobs until I was 76.  After the usual deductions my SS is still short of what's actually needed- though I'm better off than many seniors I know.

    There is no doubt in my mind that SS needs to raise the income cap. I know too many who were higher earners who receive bigger checks than the average and laugh about it being welfare that they don't need.

    Most seniors are falling behind in serious ways - and any increase they might see will be pumped right back into circulation. They might even "buy" their dignity back!

    •  Raising the SS cap (7+ / 0-)

      is perhaps the best we could hope for, but eliminating it would probably allow for higher benefits AND a lower SS tax rate.

      Alas, the people who make millions a year and their rent boys/girls in Congress and the media will never let that happen.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 03:46:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I honestly don't know (7+ / 0-)

        which would be the best solution. It's so  distressing to watch your ability to just maintain a subsistence level diminish month after month, To say nothing of becoming more and more disenchanted with the unwillingness of those with the power to help decline to act.

        •  Raise payments for older (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laconic Lib, The Nose

          We should look at the notion of bumping up SS payments at a certain age, say, when you turn 80.

          It's true that many "younger" elderly, after 'official retirement age' of 66, can and do work. Many enjoy the social stimulation and the sense of doing something worthwhile. And of course, they can spend the money, on themselves or others (e.g. helping grandkids thru college, etc).

          But it gets harder and harder to work as the body gets more worn and tired, and "forgetfulness" becomes a full-blown affliction.

          For that "younger" cohort of the elderly, SS can be a floor, or a nice supplement, to their income from work. But for the "older" elderly, SS is almost all they got. For public employees and a lucky few more who get old-fashioned pensions, inflation erodes that income as the years go by. And they have to spend down their puny nest eggs.

          So raise the SS payments at age 80. Raise them a lot. Say, by half, or 50% to you math lovers.

          This move would greatly help millions, but wouldn't cost nearly as much as raising SS for all retirees. By age 80, almost half of the SS recipients will be dead.

          Sadly and stupidly, Obama's favorite idea to cut our earned benefits apparently is chained-cost-of-living adjustments. Perversely, the impact of this cut grows over time. It will hit harder and harder as the elderly grow still older. They have to quit working at all, their 401(k)and other savings get used up, and they desperately need their SS payments.

          Full disclosure: I am 68 myself, not able to work, and well acquainted with the predicament of many elderly relatives and friends in far worse position than I am.

          •  You know who mostly makes it to 80? The (5+ / 0-)

            rich.

            Women without high school degrees are now dying in their mid 60's.  Their life expectancy is dropping.

            Truck drivers have a median life expectancy of sixty fucking two.

            You know who can still work in their late 60's and into their 70's?

            The rich.  Or, at least, the idle white collar "workers" with low stress jobs and high pay checks.

            You're advocating lemon socialism, although I'm not sure you know it.

            Have you ever actually looked into the eyes of the 68 year old waitress slinging hash in a crowded dinner?

            Watched a 65 year old man hauling furnaces up stairs?

            Paid any attention to the grey haired woman dragging her cart from room to room in your hotel?

            Scams that only benefit those who were already the most fortunate are non-fucking-starters.

            "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

            by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:04:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  it hurts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW

              im a steelworker my back hurts ,shoulder  left knee is killing me from braking my towmotor to increase hydraulic pressure to work faster,arthritis in right thumb ...and hand.....
              im lucky if i can go until 60 im 53
              i can retire at 57 2200 a month pension but my ins will be about 800 a month.
              thats staying on my componies  plan.
              I have a pacemaker so getting another plan might cost more
              plus other heart conditions plus the back so..... i have to stay on the co plan and it increases every year
              im thinking someday a big bag of herion and a hot shot is the only way ,or a bottle of wiskey big hill and a wheelchair
              just kidding but there are people out there way less forunate than me

              In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

              by lippythelion69 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 11:49:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  some societies value their oldest/peoples (7+ / 0-)

    clime parches on. terms: ocean rise, weather re-patterning, storm pathology, drout-famine, acceptance of nature.

    by renzo capetti on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 03:39:13 PM PST

  •  the president just spoke at Leesburg (10+ / 0-)

    Virginia and he says the big bargain he wants to make cannot be "just" on the backs of seniors.

    How great if the president will come out like Senator Sanders asked him to do and speak out in defense of social security or like Biden said, no cuts in benefits of social security.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

    by allenjo on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 03:47:32 PM PST

    •  allenjo, Biden's statement was "walked back" days (9+ / 0-)

      after he made it.

      Here's an excerpt and a link to the AP piece entitled, "Dems slam Ryan over Social Security privatization."

      Last week, Vice President Joe Biden made a more sweeping guarantee during a campaign swing in southern Virginia, telling a customer at a diner that Social Security will not be changed.

      “I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security,” Biden told the customer, according to a White House pool report. “I flat guarantee you.”

      A Biden adviser said later the vice president was merely reassuring the woman that her benefits would not be changed. The adviser spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

      Apparently, he was addressing a group of seniors at the diner.  And he wasn't saying that there would not be cuts to the social insurance programs for future retirees.

      We all know, of course, that the Chained or Superlative CPI cuts will apply to ALL Social Security beneficiaries, current and future, if they are passed and implemented.

      Mollie

      "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 04:31:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I will not do either,” Obama said (8+ / 0-)

        from your link, Mollie

        Obama also pledged to oppose raising the retirement age or reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs. “Let me be clear, I will not do either,” Obama said at the time.
        I was saddened to hear his words in that speech a few minutes ago. It did not sound promising.

        A politicians words speak only to the moment, it seems, doesn't it?

        Last year, however, Obama put on the table a proposal to reduce annual COLAs during deficit-reduction talks with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The talks ultimately failed and nothing came of the proposal, but it raised questions about whether Obama would honor his 2008 pledge.
        “A national politician would do well to strongly identify themselves with Social Security, not just with rhetoric, but to be very clear that they understand the pain people are experiencing today, that they stand behind this program and they will protect the citizenry and they will not cut benefits,” said Eric Kingson, a Syracuse University professor who co-founded Social Security Works. “I hope to hear that from the White House. I have not heard that yet.”

        "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

        by allenjo on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 04:44:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly, allenjo, I think you just nailed it with (5+ / 0-)

          "A politician's words speak only to the moment, it seems, doesn't it?"

          I guess that we just need to keep pushing the Administration and all of Capitol Hill to keep their "mittens off" our social safety net!  :-)

          Mollie

          "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

          by musiccitymollie on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:12:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you, thank you, thank you. That's exactly (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldDragon, Woody, allenjo, JesseCW

      the kind of "parsing of words" that we all need to be aware of when we hear any politician address the Grand Bargain, or negotiating a "deal" on taxes and "cuts."

      There's ALWAYS a qualifier.  

      That one word is the "out," if anyone should call him on what to the "casual ear" sounds like an assurance that a Grand Bargain "won't cut benefits."

      Once you realize this, so much of what our politicians say, takes on a much different meaning.

      Thanks for pointing this out, allenjo.

       

      Mollie

      "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 06:51:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pathetic bargaining skills or? (4+ / 0-)

        Telling the Repubs that they can't have cuts "just" on the backs of seniors tells them that he's giving that to them as his opening bid.

        And what they offered him in return? More chances for Charlie Brown to attempt to kick the football?

        Maybe Obama is not attempting to bargain at all. Maybe he wants to cut our earned benefits because, well, because incredibly, he apparently thinks that is the right thing to do.

        •  Woody, I think you're on to something. :-) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Woody

          Seriously, here's a link to a WaPo piece written just days before the President's first inauguration.  I've posted it here, at least a couple of times over the past several weeks.

          Here's an excerpt and the link to the piece.

          Obama Pledges Reform of Social Security, Medicare Programs

          By Michael D. Shear
          Washington Post Staff Writer
          Friday, January 16, 2009

          President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare "bargain" with the American people, . . .

          "What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further," he said. "We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's.


          What else is there to say?

          Mollie

          "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

          "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

          by musiccitymollie on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 01:10:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  he could have meant... (0+ / 0-)

      President Obama could have meant that the seniors, as a whole, have already been carrying almost the entire load unnecessarily.  

      But I think he meant that there would be additional sacrifices on the part of seniors as well as sacrifices by some others...you know, like the unemployed or the poor, who currently pay no federal taxes and must be forced to chip in a bit, after all, to claim their due, just like legitimate citizens have to do (unless, of course, they are wealthy and therefore entitled to contribute nothing but the inspiration they provide to the rest of us, showing us, by example, how to make good in the world).  

  •  Republished to Social Security Defenders & TnR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musiccitymollie

    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 Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 05:15:22 PM PST

  •  I would add early Medicare buy in (7+ / 0-)

    that would stop seniors from impoverishing themselves or their health waiting for Medicare eligibilty.

    Big savings to the nation and individual seniors and their families too.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 09:54:04 PM PST

    •  Amen, KenBee. N/T (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, brae70, OldDragon

      Mollie

      "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 11:33:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the simple savings of not having chronic condition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      become acute conditions are considerable, given the bulk of our healthcare dollar in direct care goes for preventable acute care

    •  Urgent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DSPS owl, KenBee, musiccitymollie

      Extending Medicare down to age 60 is urgent (and age 55 would be even better) to transform life for the "nearly" elderly.

      It would also provide a heap of social justice. While I suggest raising benefits across the board at age 80 in a comment above, fewer minorities live long enuff to enjoy much from SS. Early Medicare would benefit us all.

      Broadening Medicare coverage would help the states a lot. They are burdened with large costs for Medicaid, but the expenses would plummet when Medicare took on the costs for all people aged 55 to 66. And over time, local governments and school systems could revamp their retirement benefits to transfer coverage costs to Medicare and off the local budgets.

      Of course, the states where the Koch Brothers and other billionaires own the government, the saved money would go to cutting taxes on the rich, and not for any worthwhile purpose. Still, many states would use the freed-up funds to improve education and expand public services.

      State taxes are overall much more regressive than federal taxes, taking more money from the poorest segments of the population to pay for government functions needed by all. So reducing the state share of medical costs could make a more equitable tax structure nationwide.

      I also maintain that removing working people age 55 to 66 from employer-paid medical plans would do more than any one thing to end age discrimination in the workplace. But that's another long subject.

  •  Remember those TV ads in the 1980s that told us (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, OldDragon, maryabein, NealB, Woody, The Nose

    all how rich we were going to be by the time we retired?  How our little pile would grow 12 percent per year and we'd live happily ever after?

    Nothing was said about huge bear markets or the fact that the stock market is rigged to the benefit of the big players.

    I would like to see another kind of investment vehicle for people.  The stock market is unreliable, interest rates are so low as to make savings accounts laughable, and home equity, as Joan's diary points out, has been greatly reduced.  So what are we to do?

    My mother's answer was to keep working. She finally stopped--and it wasn't her idea to quit--at age 85. My husband worked until age 77. That's not an option for everyone, though.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:45:55 AM PST

  •  ...and decrease Medicare eligibility age (6+ / 0-)

    We've got to take the debate onto the opponent's territory, in every way possible.

    1. Increase Social Security benefits (not decrease)
    2. Decrease Medicare eligibility age (not increase)
    3. Medicare buy-in for those not yet eligible

    Put it all together as a package, and poll it! Guaranteed winner.

  •  Morning Joe had a 'VSP' on this morning, to (5+ / 0-)

    tell us about all of the problems, and offer the usual 'solutions' from VSP's.

    The people live longer meme was pushed again, without any nuance.  But it is part of the problem - and the people living longer are the very people who pay in the smallest percentage of their income, thanks to the cap.  

    So if 'people living longer' is a problem, then the solution has to include raising or eliminating the income cap on SS contributions.

    •  More bous stuff (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musiccitymollie

      Isn't 'people living longer' a bogus problem?

      The apparent longer life expectancy we all enjoy is overwhelmingly due to much fewer deaths in infancy, childhood, and among young adults. This result is due to better sanitation and hygiene (think piped water, not springs and wells, as well as sewerage treatment plants), more vaccinations (think, polio), and fewer work-related fatalities (think OSHA).

      The life expectancy of people who were age 65 when SS was introduced just before World War II was not that much shorter than the life expectancy of people reaching the 'official retirement age' of 66 nowadays.

      But using the wrong statistic sure makes good propaganda.

      •  Here's serious numbers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        musiccitymollie

        Males born in 1912 reached age 65 in 1977. Their life expectancy was 14.4 years. Males born in 1941 reached age 65 in 2006. Their life expectancy was 16.9 years.

        Over about 30 years, the life expectancy of males at age 65 went up 2.5 years.

        But wait, the 'official retirement age' for SS was being raised by two (2) years starting in this same period, from age 65 to age 67.

        Looks like the 'longer life expectancy' claim is based on men in this century receiving SS benefits for half a year longer than they did back in 1977.

        This 'longer life expectancy' is not a problem. It's essentially a propaganda lie.

        Please let's not buy into the line.

        ----------------------

        Sorry about males only. I'm too unskilled to get better figures, but this popped up in a quick search.

        These are from a study of health, income, education on life expectancy of various population groups. Grabbed the statistics because they do make the point.

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

        But rich people do live longer, even going past the childhood mortality issues.  My point was more that if they want to push that meme, then we need to make sure the people who actually get to live longer (the rich) are the ones who also get to pay more to account for their own longer lives.

  •  Wimpy Diary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, NealB, Woody

    Title says to increase Social Security benefits.  Petition asks not to cut them.  A nearly constant complaint on this and other liberal websites is that elected Democrats have no spine.  

    With this diary you do not either.  Until we start asking for what we really want, we will not get it.

    •  Often true with online appeals (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DSPS owl

      I often find emails warning of disasters and urging a robust counter response. Then the petition wimps out.

      What passes for left or liberal or progressive, they all wimp out, from Congresscritters to online activists.

  •  both you and the American public... (6+ / 0-)

    ...are right.

    Social Security is, by my calculations,  not only one of the, but THE single most successful government-run program in not just U.S. history, but world history. Unlike many government-run programs, all evidence shows that it has accomplished exactly what was intended: dramatically reducing the number of elderly Americans liviing in poverty.

    For some reason, as always, Democrats have done a terrible, terrible public relations job, after having enacted this program, of actually telling people how successful it really is. And that, as usual, has given Republicans and the radical, right-wing extremists that wag their tail, an opening to spread blatant disinformation about this program. (Just like Obamacare, after it was passed and the president and Democrats decided their work was done, instead of conducting a permanent, ongoing public relations campaign to convey the truth about it to the American people...they...went on vacation, public relations-wise, allowing Republicans to distort and lie about the entire program and take over the House of Misprepresentatives  based on those lies and distortions).

    We Democrats need to go on the offensive when it comes to Social Security, by not only telling people that Social Security needs to be strengthened but, first and foremost, ensuring that everyone is aware that it has been THE MOST SUCCESSFUL GOVERNMENT-RUN PROGRAM IN WORLD HISTORY.

    So...our new offensive should include the following messages in order to protect and strengthen this program:

    a) Social Security, as THE most successful government program in history, should serve as a model for any future government programs, as well.
    b) Since Social Security's been so successful...and in order to help pave the way for opening more jobs to younger folks in the work force, we should be setting our sights on LOWERING, not increasing the possible retirement age for Social Security recipients, as long as we can do so without weakening the program, long-term.
    c) Even the bipartisan so-called "catfood" commission (Simpson-Bowles) said, in a very round-about way that before anyone even considers tinkering with chained CPI adjustments, there should, first and foremost, be an INCREASE in Social Security benefits to at least help counter any of the long-term effects.
    d) Every single Republican proposal to change Social Security (which they like to inaccurately call "reform") will...in fact...weaken the program. Republican proposals are always designed to do exactly what Republicans wanted to do to the program when it was first enacted...and ever since...to kill it off...by finding ever more creative, nice-sounding ways to do so. But the American public should never forget: Republican proposals for Social Security are ALWAYS designed to weaken it for those who need it the most...in order to benefit those who give Republicans campaign money...

    We need to go on the offensive with a permanent, ongoing public relations campaign designed to country Republican disinformation with the above, accurate, messags. (Why Democrats have been remiss in doing this in the pass...is beyond me.)

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

      ...there sure are a lot of flagrant typos in that last paragraph (my fingers must have jumped to a different row on the keyboard or something)...sorry about that. what was really meant in the last paragraph was: We need to go on the offensive with a permanent, ongoing public relations campaign designed to counter Republican disinformation with the above, accurate, messages. (Why we Democrats have been remiss in doing this in the past...is beyond me.)

    •  Respectfully, the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission (0+ / 0-)

      was a "bipartisan" commission.

      Bowles-Simpson's The Moment Of Truth recommends draconian cuts.

      Please take time to read the proposal.  Here's the link.

      Mollie

      "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

      "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:29:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Income cap (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, chesterm, NealB

    There is no income cap for the 2.9% Medicare tax, and there should be no income cap for Social Security tax.  SS will then be solvent for ages.  What was the original rationale for the cap?

  •  TAKE THE DAMN CAP OFF THE TAXES!!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, chesterm, NealB

    TAKE THE DAMN CAP OFF THE TAXES!!!!

  •  Those lazy old fogies can just get a reverse (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW

    mortgage and hope they don't outlive the equity value in their home.  Bonus of the reverse mortgage is that you then have no inheritance to leave for your lazy, greedy children or grandchildren.

    •  underwater mortgages and plunging home (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maryabein

      values took care of the reverse mortgage despite well compensated spokesmen to the contrary.  I talked to a guy at one of the loan companies and found out, while they will finance at 100% assessed value, they prefer to loan 80% of the taxable valuation of the property (Which is generally low compared to FMV)

  •  that's not how it works. don't have enough for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musiclady, JesseCW, Sharon Wraight

    retirement ?

    then you're a lazy, good-for-nothing moron who should have planned ahead.  it's all your fault and you deserve to live under a bridge or work until your 90.  and shame on you for living so long anyway.

    just ask any libertarian, or any republican.

    big badda boom : GRB 090423

    by squarewheel on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:15:46 AM PST

  •  one other matter is underfunded pension funds (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    where employers are not required to fully fund the funds so the amount each worker supposedly has is not the amount he may truly have.  So far no major defaults on pension funds but the smart money is that, unless funds are required to be fully funded, there will shortly be a day where funds will not be able to cut the monthly check for retirees.
    http://business.time.com/...

    Another issue which has surfaced is employers being able to "borrow" from pensions.  
    http://www.empirecenter.org/...
    http://blog.al.com/...

  •  My 2 cents (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW

    Remove the cap.
    DO NOT hike the retirement age. Put the retirement @ 65
    Encourage early retirement, this will open up positions that the younger folks need.
    Increase SS payments, so we don't have our nation maintaining the elderly in poverty.
    and LOCK the BOX!

  •  Averages are misleading (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, entlord, JesseCW

    ...For these people, their sole retirement income, aside from potential aid from friends and family, comes from Social Security, for which the current average monthly benefit is $1,230.

    But as we know, averages can be quite skewed.  Averages tend to err on the high side, as the median wage is about $35,000, while social security continues to be withheld from up to about $100K.  Take my example.  I have been employed for most of the last thirty-five years as a secretary, at salaries that closely track the national median, but NOT the national average (you can only go down to $0, which is $35K under the median, but you can go up to millions).  I have funds in a small IRA which will likely be tapped to take me through from now until age 62, because having quit my job to move back home, it now looks unlikely that I will be able to secure another job.  And I'm not looking for rare, high-level professional positions.  My estimated Social Security benefit at age 62? $853.  If I can stick it out to age 65? $930.  And I have a college education, which has kept me employed and at the higher end of salary for my modest occupation.  I am economical and intelligent, meaning that I DO have a small IRA as well as equity remaining in real estate.  Given that I have worked continuously at a median salary range, FIFTY PERCENT OF ALL WORKERS are probably receiving or due to receive LESS than that $930 figure.

    •  we are in a similar boat; my good fortune is that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maryabein, cynndara

      my health failed so after 4 years of appeals I got SSDI.  It is not a great amount but it is a factor in my modest income stream.  Without it, I would probably have to go back to mayonnaise sandwiches with 3 day old bread from the bakery disposal store

  •  Confusing action call (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    Why, at the end of an article advocating an increase in Social Security benefits for retired taxpayers, is there a call to sign a letter that merely asks Mr. Obama not to decrease them?

    This is the problem with progressive commentators, isn't it? They say one thing, sometimes with force and acuity, then when calling on readers for support, they fail to ask us to write to the president, or sign a petition, that, you know, actually, supports the position.

    There's a HUGE difference between exhorting Mr. Obama just to not cut Social Security benefits, and actually changing the petition to one that insists on increased benefits.

    Politics 101, Joan. Make sure your close agrees with your open.

  •  US Senator Bernie Sanders, [I] Vermont (4+ / 0-)

    Introduced a bill to remove the cap on FICA taxation for Social Security.

    The CBO estimates that removing the cap on FICA taxation would keep SS solvent for another 75 years.

    Moreover, if capital gains and dividend income are taxed for FICA purposes just like "labor" income, SS would be solvent for infinity AND, the monthly minimum payment to SS recipients could be raised ABOVE the federa poverty level guaranting economic security to elders in their retirement years.

    18 million seniors [69% women] rely solely upon SS for their entire retirement income.

    IF you want to do something meaningful, contact your US Senators and demand that the Sanders bill be moved out of committee and onto the Senate floor for debate and passage.

  •  It's an idea as popular as a Public Option, which (4+ / 0-)

    would be very important if we lived in a democracy.

    84% believe that Social Security benefits are inadequate, and 75% believe we should consider increasing benefits in order to provide a more secure retirement for working Americans.

    "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

    by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:28:25 AM PST

  •  Robert Reich also has come out (0+ / 0-)

    in favor of lifting the SS cap and means testing (the more you make after retirement, the less SS you get).

    "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

    by doingbusinessas on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:39:29 AM PST

    •  Means testing is, to put it mildly, fucking (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      demjim

      idiotic.

      Reich worked for Clinton.  He knows what happens to welfare in this country.

      Fuck, maybe he thought it was a good thing.

      "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

      by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:16:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There has been some type of means testing for SS (0+ / 0-)

        recipients, if you make more than $6000/yr your benefits get cut for each dollar you make.  I would raise that to $30,000.

        "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

        by doingbusinessas on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 11:42:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's just not true if you wait until retirement (0+ / 0-)

          age.

          That only applies for taking it early.  Even then, they keep 1 dollar for every 2 you make, and they pay it back to you after you reach full retirement age.

          http://www.ssa.gov/...

          "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

          by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:11:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  all of this is a big reason I think why many (0+ / 0-)

    boomers, and I am one too, are relocating elsewhere in the world, mainly in Central and South America because for what they receive in SS benefits, and the average is about $1200 a month, lets say if you move to Panama, you can live VERY comfortably on that amount. I am soooooooo tempted, let me tell you. In many US cities, with the high cost of living, you can barely if hardly, get by on that amount, as I am one too.

  •  If the elites in DC would consider how the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Nose

    majority of Americans would like SS and Medicare to be designed, both programs would be solvent far into the future. But only Pete Peterson and the other billionaires who don't need these programs, get to be heard. These creatures desire  the management fees private SS accounts and the investment dollars a vouchered Medicare would generate for Wall St and insurance companies. And this is all that matters to the repugs and Wall St conservadems.  

     

  •  A good first step: repeal the WEP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    Repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision.

    The WEP prevents a lot of people, mostly schoolteachers, from receiving the Social Security benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled, and to which they have contributed just like everyone else.

    It applies to people who have worked both Social Security and non-Social Security jobs (i.e., certain government jobs). Often, they will have worked a substantial mount of their time in their Social Security jobs, enough to be qualified for benefits; yet, those benefits are withheld since they already would be receiving a government pension. Yet, the amount of that government pension is relative to the amount of salary earned in the government position and is not increased to offset the loss of Social Security benefits.

    The WEP is the product of anti-government (more specifically, anti government worker) politics. It is grossly unfair.

    Either Social Security is a fund into which we pay individually when we work and draw from individually when we retire, or it, along with non-Social Security government pensions, are a form of welfare for the elderly paid for by the taxpayer. The WEP and similar measures are incompatible with the first view of Social Security, yet no politician appears to be willing to embrace the second one.

    •  Many people who voted their way out of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Economides

      participation in Social Security nevertheless had some small jobs or another short career in which they paid in.

      You're completely mischaracterizing why they're not entitled to SS, though.

      The way the program is structured, the poor get 90% of their average monthly income.

      What you're advocating is that people who dodged paying into the system during their highest income years should get to have the payout levels intended to help the poor.

      That's wrong.

      It's reasonable to say they ought to get something, but the person who put in 50 quarters at a low wage working their way through college and was then exempted from funding the system for 35 years while they earned a substantial salary isn't entitled to the same benefits as a person who was never able to do more than earn 50 quarters at a low wage but who paid into the system fully on every dime they made.

      If we did things the way you're demanding, the smart move for every worker would be to try to exempt their high earning years from paying in, and then get benefits based on their low earning years.

      When we start making those workers chip in full freight instead of dodging their responsibilities to the common good, we can talk about giving them full coverage.

      "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

      by JesseCW on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:39:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. (0+ / 0-)

        Take me for example. I spent my whole career on soft money from medical research grants. During most of that time, I was employed by both the VA and by the University of California. The proportion of time varied, but except for a few years early on, I was never 100% time at either position. The reason for this wasn't a choice, it had to do whether the grants that paid my salary were from the VA or from NIH. I paid social security for the UC job, but not for the (CSRS) VA job. Because I was rarely full time at the VA, my government annuity is far smaller than it would otherwise have been. Likewise, since I was never full time at the University, my pension, and my social security, would normally have been reduced correspondingly. However, because of the WEP, my Social Security will be taken almost completely away.

        The largest group affected by this is public school teachers, who often work in different school districts or at different times, and sometimes pay into Social Security, sometimes not, depending on the contract in effect at the time. However, if they worked a substantial proportion of their work years in a non Social Security job that provides them with a pension, a substantial proportion of their their social security will be cut.

        And yet, they and I paid the same money into Social Security that someone else who worked part-time might have paid without ever earning a pension from a non-Social Security job. Yet our benefits are cut almost completely, theirs not at all.

        And in case you're thinking about how Social Security is for the poor, well, in fact, it isn't supposed to be for the poor, it's supposed to be for retired workers who paid into the program. And, none of this depends on personal wealth, it works the same way for the rich, the poor, and the in-between.

        Let me just add that I actually don't agree with how Social Security works in the US. I think it should be paid for by the taxpayers according to need. But my opinion on how things should be doesn't change the fact that the WEP is unfair in today's real world.

        •  You didn't pay social security on your wages (0+ / 0-)

          because you, or other employees at the same place years earlier, voted to waive having social security withheld.

          Now you (like many school teachers) want a benefit intended to be a progressively structured payout for people who made far, far less in total than you did.

          I am not arguing that "social security is for the poor". I am arguing that you don't get to withhold contribution on most of your income and then get the high payout rate intended solely to keep more people out of poverty.

          You're claiming that when we make it progressive to help the person who only had the chance to make 15k a year year (real dollars) for 40 years, YOU should get the same benefit if you averaged earning 40k a year for 40 years, but only paid with holding on an average of 15k.

          That's wrong.  It's also wrong to bone you out completely, but your payout rate should be drastically less.

          Don't come expecting the full benefit from a social contract you didn't fully pay into.

          You just want a system that's rigged to be unfair for your benefit, at the expense of people who fucking slaved their lives away making far less than you and honestly working far harder.

          My tears for the soft white collar "research grant" crowd aside, you poor thing.

          "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

          by JesseCW on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:01:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In other words (0+ / 0-)

            you agree that social security “should” be paid by taxpayers according to need. I want that too. Social Security should be a safety net for those who need it, to the extent they need it. No one who doesn't need it should receive it; everyone who does, should. People should receive benefits strictly according to their need, not according to how much they paid in or didn't pay in.

            But that's not how the system was sold initially, it's not how it works overall, and it's not how the political rhetoric of today is framing it. It's being sold as an individual account from which you are entitled to be paid back according to what you paid in.

            If someone had inherited money or made money in the stock market, for example, and so was financially secure, but had worked on and off during their life for the same amount of time that I did (12 total years of “substantial Social Security income”), they would receive the full amount of Social Security that accorded to what they had contributed. Similarly, if someone worked as a CEO or a rock star and has a gazillion dollars, they still get Social Security according to what they contributed.

            So why aren't government workers treated the same way? It's because people so often discriminate against government workers, that's why. I think that this discrimination may have been reflected in the last sentence of your comment.

            But I'm not ashamed of the research I did at the VA, not one bit.

            •  I understand why it's structured the way it is. (0+ / 0-)

              People who only ever get to earn a small ammount deserve to get more out of it than people who opt out of paying in on most of their income.

              It's always had progressive returns for the poor.  

              Because we die young.

              We get a bigger return per month because half of us won't even live long enough to get any return at all.

              Now, after a life of relative privilege, some moderately well off people who will on average live a decade longer than us want the same rate of monthly benefit?

              If you wanted the full benefit, you should have fully joined the program.

              I have no bone to pick with "government workers", only with privileged people who pretend to be victims because they're not getting all the wonderful goodies the poor get.

              It's Republican "lucky ducky" bullshit.

              "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

              by JesseCW on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 06:52:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Means Test (0+ / 0-)

    1. Remove the earnings cap on SS payroll taxes.
    2. Means Test Social Security at $125,000 per year.
    3. Increase benefits current recipients.

  •  I wish I could recommend this a 100 times. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pundit

    I've Emailed, called and sent paper letters to the president, my congresswoman and (ugh, teabag) senators urging the increase of SS benefits and increased taxes on the wealthy.

    No, I don't have $10 million to make in campaign contributions, but I'm still optimistic that my communications have a tiny bit of an impact.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:12:07 AM PST

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