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Sen. Sherrod Brown talks with supporter

The effort to change the narrative on Social Security got another big backer this week, when Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) signed on to legislation that would expand Social Security instead of cutting it. Brown talked to Greg Sargent about the legislation, about how to start injecting some reality into the political discussion about the program, and about why Democrats need to be going on offense on entitlements.
“There are two fundamental numbers that make this a moral case for Democrats to make,” Brown told me in an interview today. “One is that a third of seniors rely on Social Security for virtually their entire income. The other is that more than half of seniors rely on Social Security for significantly more than half their income.” [...]

With Washington chatter centered on a “grand bargain” or at least a “mini bargain” that might involve entitlement cuts, expanding Social Security might seem like a dead end.  But when I pushed Brown on whether Dems would rally behind the idea—after all, Chained CPI is in the President’s budget—he insisted Dems should not cooperate in allowing a “Serious” center-right consensus that equates “fiscal responsibility” with cutting entitlement benefits to reign unchallenged.
“The Serious People—with a capital S and a capital P—all have really good pensions and good health care and good salaries,” Brown said. “Raise the cap. There are ways we can bring a lot of money into Social Security. Some Democrats are a bit cowed by the Serious People.”

The Serious People also are far, far out of step with the American people, particularly older Americans, who are overwhelmingly opposed to any cuts to Social Security, whether it be chained CPI or raising the retirement age. Sixty-two percent of people 50 or older are opposed to chained CPI and 58 percent opposed raising the retirement age. Just as many are overwhelmingly supportive of strengthening the program by raising the tax cap. That's one of the solutions provided in the Strengthening Social Security Act Brown signed on to, along with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Mark Begich (D-AK).

Expanding Social Security isn't going to move anytime soon in Congress, but what these senators are doing is giving a voice to the majority of the public, and putting the idea out there that Social Security shouldn't be sacrificed at a time when everyone's personal economy—that includes seniors—is so perilous. They're helping change the conversation from austerity to reality. Maybe the question for candidates in 2014 won't be "are you willing to cut entitlements," but "are you willing to make Social Security stronger."

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:27 PM PST.

Also republished by Pushing back at the Grand Bargain, Central Ohio Kossacks, Social Security Defenders, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (101+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:27:48 PM PST

  •  Promises broken (16+ / 0-)

    We have all seen the video clips of Obama saying that if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance.  A nice bookend for those clips would be where, during the 2008 campaign, he said he thought the best idea was to raise the cap, and that he would never change the index on which the COLA is based.

    •  the index NEEDS to be changed - it does not (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, Zinman, shoeless, cocinero, atana

      reflect the increased costs seniors face.  lost in the formula is the impact of how much more they utilize/pay for ever increasing health care costs.  there are many other caveats that don't reflect their reality.

      when the recession hit, the formula did not allow for any increase - though the stimulus allowed for them to get one time checks.

      I don't recall Obama every saying anything about never changing the index - do you have a link?

      "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

      by MRA NY on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 06:41:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The issue here is the Senate ... (10+ / 0-)

      ... not the White House ...

      ... and what is critical here is to establish an ambit claim that is more ambitious than just holding onto what we got. Start with "keep the social safety net that we have" as the furthest "left" position, and every compromise will be an undermining of the safety net.

      Which is why I am happy I was doorknocking for Sherrod Brown.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:25:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  See? (0+ / 0-)

        No, we haven't been "holding on to what we have." Democrats/lib media first swung the ax at general assistance aid. Then they took a machete to AFDC, and our liberal media responded by raising the Middle Class Only banner. Then the Clinton Democrats began dismantling Social Security, starting with the disabled (disability aid restored years later by President Obama).  With VERY rare exception, lib media utterly ignored this issue.

        There is no "left." Left and right are socioeconomic political positions. Dems found it expedient to become the party of the better off (campaign donors), the middle class. The irony of the Middle Class Angst of today: The middle class actually has all the power. They are the ones whose votes give us the politics and policies we "enjoy."  If they felt like it, they could shut down the entire economy by the end of the week, forcing their representatives to actually represent them.  They are the ones who have the microphone.

    •  A bookend for what? To what end? /nt (0+ / 0-)

      2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:29:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  To Obama's Trustworthiness (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        To the end of keeping pressure on Obama, and keeping expectations of him realistic.

        It's evidence key to fundamental issues over which he has great influence. What do you prefer to that?

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:42:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem (0+ / 0-)

          is that we ignore the evidence. On the demand for "entitlement reform," I've yet to hear anyone point out that welfare -- general assistance and AFDC -- was reformed right out of existence. The Clinton Dems also began dismantling Social Security incrementally, starting with disabled workers. Everything from Medicaid to schools, parks to libraries, has been cut to the bone as the rest of the budget is funneled into war(s) while protecting the rich from taxation.

      •  To shame Obama (3+ / 0-)

        He has really been put through the wringer over his promise about keeping your health insurance if you like it.  If those opposing chained CPI can get the media to start playing the tape where he promises not to cut the COLA by changing the index, he may be forced to back off his attempt to institute chained CPI in hopes of salvaging what little reputation he has left.

        Shaming a president who has broken his promises may actually cause him to think twice about breaking them in the future.

        •  We can't control the sound bites others use. (0+ / 0-)

          Frankly, that's why I don't want to give the right any fodder. That said, criticism within the family is fine, and due.

          RE chained CPI, Obama was trying to build consensus. He made a mistake and he seems to feel he's stuck with it now. I'm very sure he knows a major part of his base views it as a mistake and it got tossed back at him in campaigning in 2012. The GOP switches its positions with mind-boggling alacrity. I hope he can when tough-minded budget bargaining calls for it.

          RE his "promise" on health care. Yes, it would have been better to hedge for the 5% case. Few politicians do, but he is a straightforward man who misstates less than most. What he should have said is:

          "If you are sentient and you didn't buy junk coverage, you can keep ..." Or some such. The instances where he misstated are very few, out-sized by the GOP and media furor, and he and we should be able to move on. In fact, I think all this establishes how much better Obamacare is compared to the insurance world that preceded it. Some perspective, I believe, will show this well.

          What I profoundly disagree with is your conclusion that he has to "[salvage] what little reputation he has left."

          With respect, malarky! He's an accessible president who has been faced with more furor on a wider range of issues and political contestibility than Bush faced in his eight years. Clinton caved on important things and I'd hold Obama up to comparison to Bill Clinton any day. The media and we let Bush and the GOP get away with it and Clinton, frankly, brought the witch hunt on himself. Obama is so much better than those presidents!

          As for reputation in general, history will judge us all.

          2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

          by TRPChicago on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:18:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

            VERY important point: When Democrats (like Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, etc.) don't say that they will protect Social Security, but carefully specify that they will protect Social Security RETIREMENT, it means that they're willing to slash/end Social Security for disabled workers. Again. Please force Democrats to publicly state their intentions for disabled workers; it's a matter of life and death.

            Clinton has been the most powerful of the rt. wing Republicans since George Wallace.  Clinton's social policy "reforms" are far to the right of both (historic "staunch conservative")  Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. It is the Clinton Democrats who began dismantling Social Security the way they dismantled the welfare system, one part at a time, targeting disabled workers. It was President Obama who reversed the damage that the Clinton Dems did to Social Security.

        •  Shame Works (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          disinterested spectator

          We've seen Obama bristle when mocked and protested but, you know what, no Tar Sands Pipeline yet. When we clap Obama ignores us. When we embarrass him he listens.

          •  Who? (0+ / 0-)

            Who is actually responsible for legislative decisions related to the Tar Sands Pipeline? It's not the president. The decisions are made by Congress. That's just how our form of govt. works. Go to, and see where your own senator stands on this issue.

        •  No (0+ / 0-)

          It's not the president's doing. These are budget decisions made by Congress, not the president. That's how our system of govt works. With rare exception, Congress makes all the actual decisions. Go to to dig up the actual Dem Party votes on these issues.It is the Democrats in Congress who are actually responsible, but who (weirdly) are not being held accountable.

    •  If we are going (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to talk about promises, why don't we bring up the fact that people were promised to received SS after paying into it for years, and reducing it is breaking a promise by the Rs

      •  It's not the Republicans we have to worry about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shrew in Shrewsbury

        We know they want to cut Social Security.  It is the Democrats, including the president, who also want to break that promise that worry me.  If Social Security ever gets cut, it will be those Democrats who will make the Republicans' dream come true.

        •  wrong (0+ / 0-)

          Presidents can advocate one way or another, but they don't have the authority to raise or cut Social Security. Those decisions are made by Congress. Something people need to consider: It was "Big Bill" Clinton who slashed Social Security for disabled workers -- something that lib media (with rare exception) ignored. It was President Obama, shortly upon being elected, who reversed Clinton's attack on Social Security -- also largely ignored by lib media. As much as media ignores it, there is a great divide between the FDR/JFK Democrats and the Reagan Democrats in Congress today.

    •  promises (0+ / 0-)

      Before Clinton, Democrats had always vowed that they would protect welfare aid for the desperately poor. They changed their minds.

  •  Raise cap. And make ever so slightly progressive (14+ / 0-)

    You could even offset by dropping income tax rate at lower end. Some of us would pay more but it would be good for all of us.

    •  OR we could create jobs (7+ / 0-)

      20 million jobs at 36k each would see SS solvent thru 2090.

      .................expect us......................... 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 Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 05:35:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Full employment will fix a lot of problems (5+ / 0-)

        But they should also pass Harkin's bill as well, so benefits can be increased and the COLA formula adjusted to reflect the needs of retirees.

        If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

        by Betty Pinson on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:24:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Raise the Cap to 90%, currently 86% (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          would increase the average SS benefit by something like $2000- $2500 or so.

          .................expect us......................... 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 Nov 07, 2013 at 12:18:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Harkin's bill (0+ / 0-)

          Does anyone here know if the Harkin Bill protects retirees only, or disabled workers as well? As I understand it (and I do need to get up to date on this), the bill specifies  retirees, throwing disabled workers off the cliff. Retirees have a lot of power AND representation in govt.  Disabled workers don't. Disabled workers and their families paid into Social Security Disability for decades (of course, we also paid into our basic welfare programs for fellow citizens in need).

      •  to that end (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Slightly Wobbly, tb mare

        we should reduce the Medicaid age to match SS eligibility.

        Too many older people today are waiting until they are 65 to retire because of they get employer health care, even though SS would otherwise start at 62.

        if they are employed, they likely make too much money to qualify for subsidies through the ACA, so they continue working 3 more years until Medicaid eligible.

        It sounds terrible but if we can encourage older workers to leave the workforce at age 62, then we can create opportunities for younger workers.

        •  I think you mean Medicare. n/t (0+ / 0-)
        •  extending the retirement age (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          not this time, cocinero

          This idea goes entirely in the wrong direction.  I am one of those old farts that would seriously consider early retirement if not for the prospect of losing health insurance.

          All I really need is to clear that one obstacle and I'd get out of the way and let a younger person take my place.  That creates a pull, opening up spots all along the ladder, thereby easing the unemployment numbers.  There's even the possibility that my leaving might call for multiple replacements, since 30+ years of knowledge and experience might not be so easily filled by a single person.

          Multiply that by ?how many?, and see what that does to the economy.

        •  Which does zero for improving the economy (0+ / 0-)
          encourage older workers to leave the workforce at age 62, then we can create opportunities for younger workers.
          Ah the "get out of my way old man" routine. SO you would rather throw us Boomers under the bus than advocate for the necessary infrastructural changes needed to stabilize the economy and create jobs.

          I love the shortsightedness, it should do you well in life.

          .................expect us......................... 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 Nov 07, 2013 at 12:15:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As a Boomer... (0+ / 0-)

            we allowed this economic mess to happen. From FDR until the 1980s, when we had strong social programs, the US reached its height of shared wealth AND productivity. We  inexplicably reversed course with Reagan. Many of us deeply opposed the Reagan/Clinton dismantling of the safety net. (President Obama did begin repairing some of Clinton's damage.) Collectively, we have an absolute duty to do everything we can to repair some of the damage we caused.Of course wiping out Social Security would be insane, counter-productive at best. Neither families nor govt (general revenues) can maintain retirees and  disabled workers. Either we force families to financially provide for their own elderly and disabled family members (which would bankrupt most), or we build a massive system of institutions to warehouse them, at far greater cost than Social Security itself.

            •  Fewer jobs (0+ / 0-)

                No one seems to address the issue of themillions of jobs which have been outsourced leading tf fewer participants in the paying of SS, Federal income taxes,state taxes, workman's  compensation  as well as the overall economy.

        •  Medicaid, Medicare, ACA (0+ / 0-)

          Many low-wage workers qualify for Medicaid. The ACA provides subsidies to lower-income workers to purchase insurance.

          As an older American: Yes, many of us have been fighting against raising the retirement age AND encouraging older people to step out of the workforce whenever possible, due to the shortage of jobs for the young.  Since Reagan, the US has shipped out the bulk of our manufacturing jobs.  As jobs started growing scarce, Clinton shredded welfare, pouring more people into the shrinking job market. Fewer jobs, more people absolutely desperate for any job. Instead of actively discouraging shipping our jobs out, corps get massive annual tax cuts, which they use to build factories outside the US, shipping our jobs out.

    •  Raising cap is in the bill. NT (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, cocinero

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 07:06:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Raising cap not necessarily so helpful (0+ / 0-)

      Calculations for one version of such a proposal.

      •  In what way? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Whirlaway, Mr Robert

        Yes, some peoples' taxes will go up. Maybe that'll light a fire under their asses to start leaning on the government to put a freakin' INFRASTRUCTURE JOBS BILL together.

        Yes, because a bunch of new jobs will solve this "problem", too.

        Where are THE JOBS, Uncle Sam?

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:44:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Read the charts (0+ / 0-)

          Raising the cap will not adequately fund the desired changes.

          •  Read my post (0+ / 0-)

            where I suggest the option of "more jobs". Point out in my post where I rely solely on "raising the cap".

            And please,  do note where I put the word problem in quotations.  

            This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

            by lunachickie on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:15:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "More jobs" (0+ / 0-)

              is a desirability, not an option. To be specific, I mean real, private-sector jobs, not tax transfers disguised as jobs. These are not simply choosable, in the way that raising the cap is a selectable option.

              •  Nonsense (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                red rabbit, Mr Robert, jbsoul, stewarjt

                This Congress and this President could work together to set up a jobs program to fix our decaying infrastructure which desperately needs fixing.  It IS an option--it's just not an option that our Congress and our President are doing anything about.  

                And frankly, neither point is impossible--the cap could be raised and jobs could be created. The Non-Problem would absolutely be solved without question then.

                But noooooo. Some alleged Democrats pretend that there's some kind of crisis and people fall all over themselves to prop that bullshit up. And it's all bullshit, that bit about a "crisis"--so you'll have to excuse me if I fail to slap at your little bushes trees any further, while the forest is burning down.

                What Sherrod Brown is doing here is a metric fuckton more than any other Dem is doing. Thankfully, he seems to understand the reality facing real people, if CUTS are allowed to happen.

                Some of you seriously need to wake up and get a clue if you think you're going to spin cuts into anything acceptable, either here or anywhere else. Not gonna happen. Not. Gonna. Happen.

                This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                by lunachickie on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:40:29 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  but hmi is very serious (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  basically regurgitating the very serious talking points.  So what is their solution, other than telling millions of people who can barely survive as it is that they must sacrifice even more?  

                  •  More serious than you, apparently (0+ / 0-)

                    But I imagine that classifying everything you dislike as a regurgitated talking point must save a tremendous amount of energy that would otherwise have to go into actual thinking.

                    Now, if you could read properly, you would have noticed that I said nothing about telling anyone any damn thing about sacrifice. I guess it must be fun to make up stuff and then respond to yourself.

                    What I did say is that government make-work programs are just disguised tax transfers, and so they are. They produce little of substantive economic value, and especially not at this pointin the game. What I did say is that real jobs are needed, but I guess Obama's laser-like focus must be fuzzier than we expected, or we would have them by now.

                    Alternatively: If we had had competent economic leadership in 2008, there would have been a program that actually bought up troubled assets (what a concept!), that forced banks to mark their loans to market, and which let some of those TBTF institutions fail anyway. Had that happened, by now the pain would be receding in the rear-view mirror,  the economy be in recovery and jobs be generally available. Instead, we pissed away TARP funds on teacher salaries and other current spending, digging the debt hole deeper, ensuring that we get to relive the tedious bad dream that is Japan.

                    And none of this was what I originally posted about. All I did was post a couple links to suggest that raising the SS cap would be ineffective. And so it would be.

                    •  Okay, That's A True Dick Comment` (0+ / 0-)
                      What I did say is that government make-work programs are just disguised tax transfers, and so they are. They produce little of substantive economic value, and especially not at this pointin the game. -hmi
                      You seem to like throwing around this phrase "tax transfers," which apparently has any meaning you want it to have.  

                      When the government spends more and puts more people to work doing ANYTHING, that means those people will be tax payers and consumers.  They'll contribute output and spending to the economy.  At this point in time, in a liquidity trap, the fiscal policy multiplier is at least 1.5 so any government spending that employs more people will cause more spending and more employment.  This is elementary Keynes's economics.

                      Your conclusion that government spending created jobs don't create anything of economic value (whatever the hell that ambiguous phrase means) is unsupported by any logic or evidence.  They're just assertions by someone who apparently is ideologically opposed to such programs.  Also, too, this "point in the game" is out of place.  At this point in the game the US economy is in a liquidity trap and THEREFORE, now is exactly the point in the game for more government stimulus spending preferably directly putting people to work rather than running it through capitalist corporations so that they can profit first.  

                      I suppose the debt hole you refer to is a "problem."  Again, your conclusion is unsupported by any logic or evidence.  What are your reasons for believing the debt is a problem?  I'll wait for an answer, but I'm not holding my breath.

                      How could raising the income tax cap on Social Security not help reduce the projected shortfall?  Could you list YOUR reasons instead of just a link to a chart?

                      Last, higher employment (yes, caused by more government spending on human needs, e.g., not necessarily defense) will increase SS revenues.

                      You should know that greater income equality, more employment and raising the cap on Social Security taxable income will fix any supposed financial issue with that program.

                      If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

                      by stewarjt on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 06:04:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  "Tax transfer" (0+ / 0-)

                        —taking money via taxes from one person or class of persons and giving it to others. Perhaps you prefer the term "redistribution." On any understanding, it is tax raised and spent, not for some general governmental purpose, but a device  that simply transfers wealth from A to B. That is how the closed system that is a government jobs program works. As opposed to private capital (surplus savings) invested in an enterprise producing and selling, with government on the side, taking its share via taxation to fund some common good.

                        The only possible good from government jobs programs, beyond straightforward welfare (not to be despised, but not of wide benefit to the economy in general), would be for a classic short-term Keynesian jump-start. But Keynes certainly never claimed the possibility that one could in the long term spend one's way out of a recession through taxation.

                        As for the multiplier effect, you will be sorry to hear that this is a particularly vexed notion in economics, especially with regard to government spending, and the "1.5" currently touted by the Obama administration is basically a number from out of a hat [any number higher than 1 is essentially a claim that something can be created out of less than nothing].

                        Debt is a problem, not a "problem." Sound currency reflects underlying wealth, not underlying borrowing. The more we borrow, the more our taxes get eaten up by interest payments, crowding out the possibility of using that money to fund the things we really need, as well as eventually making the borrowing itself more expensive. There are other issues, as well. My presumption, of course, is that there are finite limits on issuance of currency, although I am aware that there are loons who, unsupported by either logic or evidence, believe otherwise.

                        Finally, I agree with you entirely that raising the cap on Social Security will help reduce the shortfall. Unfortunately, it will not do so except in the most trivial fashion, and so is so far from a solution as to be useless (but it makes a wonderful talking point, so you would be expected to be fond of it).

                        •  That's Not What's Happening (0+ / 0-)

                          Have you ever heard of deficit spending?  There is no imperative, NONE that government spending takes from one person and spends on another.  NONE.

                          Private capital isn't surplus savings.  Capital is a social relation.  Profit comes from exploitation.  That is workers create a value greater than that paid in wages.  You're going to have a tough time putting a positive spin on capitalism versus someone who knows it's "law of motion."

                          No, Keynes never argued that and I'm sure you never read the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, so stop invoking Keynes.

                          You're even more of an idiot than I suspected.  The empirical estimate of the fiscal policy multiplier in a liquidity trap (I know you don't know what that is) is here.

                          Debt is a problem, not a "problem." Sound currency reflects underlying wealth, not underlying borrowing. The more we borrow, the more our taxes get eaten up by interest payments, crowding out the possibility of using that money to fund the things we really need, as well as eventually making the borrowing itself more expensive. There are other issues, as well.
                          The immediately above is all nonsense.  I apologize.  I thought you knew something of what you're writing about.  Good gravy!  I wasted my time!

                          If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

                          by stewarjt on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 07:22:30 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Idiots galore (0+ / 0-)

                            That's time wasted on both sides. Had I realized you were just another brain-dead Marxist ("Capital is a social relation.  Profit comes from exploitation." Do people still credit this drivel??) I would have disinfected my keyboard immediately. Vaya con Carlos.

                          •  The Burden Is On You (0+ / 0-)

                            To explain why you believe Marx was wrong using logic and evidence.  Otherwise, you're just as I thought, an IGNORANT IDIOT!

                            If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

                            by stewarjt on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 07:16:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks for the charming invitation, (0+ / 0-)

                            but that sounds too much like work—I'll be teaching Marx in my intro political philosophy class in about 2 weeks. I'd suggest you sit in and learn something, although that seems an unlikely outcome for someone whose consciousness may well already be reified. But if not, possibly I can have one of the kids explain the stuff to you at the end of the semester.

          •  Raising the cap will absolutely (0+ / 0-)

            adequately fund the desired changes, IF the right combination of methods are used.

            Now, politically achieveable?  That is a different issue with any of the options.

            I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

            by Satya1 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 11:37:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  infrastructure (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not sure why we're dangerously fixated on this single idea, expanding (infrastructure) jobs almost exclusively for men when the economic well-being of American families depends on women (who are either co- or sole-family providers). We can't restore the country unless we get back to making things -- things that are sold to consumers here and around the world.  We need manufacturing, and we need to implement strong rules to prevent these jobs from being shipped out. How about starting with: Every corporation that receives corporate tax cuts/handouts must be restricted from shutting down jobs in the US only to move them to foreign countries, for at least a period of 10 yrs? Make those tax cuts conditional on expanding jobs here.  Restore pre-Reagan tax rates on all corporations. We always here that this will result in massive job loss.  Huh?  Years of massive tax cuts have actually left us with a fraction of the jobs, at worsening wages. Tax them, already!

      •  There are 35 different measures (0+ / 0-)

        mentioned there.  Combinations of 1-5 of those are bound to offer huge relief to SS funding pressures in the future.  

        Did you miss this  chart?

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 11:35:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  good link by the way (0+ / 0-)

        many thanks for that.

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 11:37:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It is so crucial for these Democrats... (38+ / 0-) stand up in this way, changing the discussion, as you say, from "austerity to reality."

    For too long, we've been on defense, trying to hang onto the modest but important gains of the New Deal and Great Society in the face of a Republican effort to dismantle as much of those gains as can be managed. Defense is required. But we don't win without also going on the offense. And way too many Democrats seem scared to do that.

    Whether it's expanding Social Security or designing an energy policy worthy of the 21st Century or dealing with an economic system that rewards the upper tiers and penalizes the lower, we need Democrats who put forth proposals that strengthen and innovate and empower as opposed to retreat.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:45:50 PM PST

    •  Negotiation 101 (4+ / 0-)

      Maybe it's because my parents taught me how negotiations are done from a young age.

      Them: What time will you be home?

      Me (newly empowered): 2am!

      Them: How about you be home at 9pm.

      Me: What? Uh, how about 1am?

      Them: How about 10pm?

      The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing, the polls tell us how the media is doing.

      by Thumb on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:27:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmm, I don't know about that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Thumb, Subterranean, TKO333

        I feel like the conversations I had with my parents went more like this:

        Them: What time will you be home?
        Me (newly empowered): 2am!
        Parent: How about you stay home and do you homework.
        Me (realizing that my sense of empowerment was an illusion): Uhhhh...
        Them: Be home at 10 o'clock. No later.
        Me: Sounds good.

        Some things that might be negotiable with tact become hard-lines if you start at the extreme.

        •  The other side is always extreme (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          so there is not much point negotiating. This is about staking out the positions that we support because they are the right thing to do. The real negotiation will be done at the voting booth.

          Democrats who make the mistake of taking centrist positions get hurt because the GOP will always use their support for cuts against them, despite the fact that the GOP supports more extreme cuts. It makes no sense but that seems to be the way it works.

    •  Where the New Deal Came From (3+ / 0-)

      People forget that the New Deal first began to be enacted in 1933, and were still being started up in 1936. The "Second New Deal" programmes were still being started up in 1938, including Social Security, maximum hours / minimum wages, etc. That was nearly a decade after the 1929 crash. Medicare wasn't started until 1966, at the peak of a long economic boom, a couple generations after the New Deal was started and found inadequate to protect ourselves.

      The aftermath of an undeniable crash is the best time to start getting better protections. But even when the crash is practically unmitigated, as the 1929 crash was, and a single crusading president is elected in a landslide that lasts a decade and a half (until his death), with control of the Congress - it still takes many years to install fixes, which aren't complete.

      Martin Luther King is often quoted saying that the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. Keep in mind that it long. And remember that it doesn't bend by itself - steady opposition to justice bends it the other way. Long pressure on history as we make it bends it towards justice. But it's a long bend, with many twists behind us.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:53:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately we have some who want to go backward (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Undoing the New Deal and other progressive legislation is a major goal of the Right. Chomsky talks about "rollback:" that is really their goal. Everything that workers and retirees have gained, take it all back, for the benefit of the 1%. And these people have political power (esp. in the House), money, and a well-funded and organized media machine to make their views heard. Opposing them is a never-ending task, it seems, and it is still difficult, after all these years of progress.

        •  Always Will (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          During the 1930s America had its own share of fascists, more than doubling down on the hands-off approach to the economy that Republicans controlling the White House and Congress in the 1920s used to create that credit/equity bubble. They wanted to go backwards - some of them to slavery.

          As long as there's private money (and I hope there always is), there will be those trying to force us into making everything private property, including people. Corporate anarchists, these days known as "libertarians" (previously "liberals", prior to WWI).

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:11:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  As a Social Security recipient, (14+ / 0-)

    I too would like to see a rise in payments. Especially now that I turn 65 this month and medicare is taking a $100+ bite out of my monthly check starting now. I have yet to figure out how I am going to make up for that 15% cut in take home.

    Diaries are funny things Sam. Type one letter and you never know where you might end up. My apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien.

    by Caddis Fly on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 03:46:02 PM PST

  •  Isn't there some way we could turn up (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Diana in NoVa, TKO333, jbsoul

    the heat and make this viable?  I'd live to join an active campaign to take this out of "maybe someday" land and make it "why not now?" worthy.  We talk a lot amongst ourselves about needing more Progressive policies to become realities, why not focus up on one or two and squeeze hard for Congressional action?

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 04:40:42 PM PST

  •  "Raise the cap, raise their lives" (5+ / 0-)

    should be the slogan, methinks.

  •  Sherrod Brown is a good man (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this journal.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 05:51:23 PM PST

  •  I love my senior Senator nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, jbsoul

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:19:06 AM PST

  •  Lets go after the last group of voters (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zinman, DocGonzo, Betty Pinson

    who still vote GOP. Expanding ss will let seniors know who cares for them. They will soon get the answer when the GOP not only looks to prevent expansion of ss, but instead looks to weaken the program.

  •  This is going nowhere - right now. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Class, repeat after me.
    Overton window.
    Overton window.
    Overton window.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:24:52 AM PST

    •  Demand Universal Minimum Wage (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RhodeIslandAspie, cocinero

      We need people demanding publicly, loudly, and organized for media attention the extreme: the Federal minimum wage should be paid to every working age person before they're considered for any other public assistance, and in addition to any private income. Every working age person. That would cost about $3.4 trillion.

      That would drag the Overton Window back towards properly feeding, clothing, housing, educating and treating every American. Then we might get somewhere, and away from the death spiral the rightwing trolls have dragged us with their Windows monopoly.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:00:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A large part of this battle (0+ / 0-)

        will be to break the conservative argument that we should both despise and envy the poor. We are taught the despise them, because they have supposedly chosen their lot. We are taught to envy them, because it's an allegedly cushy life being on assistance. It's become so part of the narrative, there's a lot of work ahead of us.

        We need to make a convincing argument that seeing to the needs of those on the bottom of the pack is a win win solution.

        The minimum needs to go up, and more importantly, to be indexed. Small increases every year for inflation will be far less disruptive to the economy than bigger increases every ten years or so when the Democrats have the clout to make it happen.

        Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

        by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:10:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  despise the poor (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RhodeIslandAspie, jbsoul

          I am not a conservative or a Christian, but in my town the majority of feeding the poor and honoring the less fortunate is done by the downturn churches.  When I see their efforts (lines outside the churches, churches fighting for the homeless against the cops), I feel like joining, but my science and math background makes it hard.  There are nice people, but I would stick out.

          I might be seeing things through a narrow lens, but the Methodists, the Catholics, the Lutherans, and Presbyterians in my town don't seem to despise the poor or if they do, all the work they do must a guilt reaction.   Maybe I am wrong in thinking that since they are Christian, they must be conservative.  

          And is anyone really nuts enough to envy our poor?  Even if they are well taken care of (they are not), almost all psychologists will tell you that self support is the best medicine for self-worth and self-esteem or in other words, a happy life.

          Maybe you shouldn't answer that last question.  I will get really depressed.

          •  Listening to RW talk radio, even for a few minutes (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DocGonzo, jbsoul

            will really get you running for the anti-depressants. I do it now and than just to see what they are up to. One of the running themes is how good the poor have it with all the goodies they are allegedly get it. And this is promoted by of course, the same RW talkers who claim that the media is left wing.

            I've been on disability in the past, and it's no fun making ends meet. I'm as frugal as hell, and was paying low rent, and it was still difficult. There's nothing like being out with a friend and they want to stop and eat, and you just get a coke, because you don't want to break the budget for a month, so you just claim you aren't hungy.

            I think the people you see working in the church soup kitchens are a different crowd than you see working for the right wing, even in Catholic and evangelical circles. They are seeing the reality of the poor every day and how they are living. They know there are some hucksters out for a freebee, but they also know that the vast majority are genuinely behind the eight ball and just trying to survive day to day.

            Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

            by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:49:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Higher minimum wage would (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DocGonzo, TKO333, jbsoul

        increase revenue for the SS Trust Fund.

  •  Still not sure what an Overton window is, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    love the idea of expanding Social Security.

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

    by Diana in NoVa on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:27:31 AM PST

    •  What the Overton Window Is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, koosah, jbsoul

      The Overton Window is a political science theory that explains how to drag the relatively narrow range of what positions are publicly acceptable on any issue towards an extreme position, so as to include one's preferred position and to exclude from public consideration other positions closer to the opposite extreme. It's political trolling, where trolls are useful idiots whose positions won't get adopted, but move the window in service of the actually desired position.

      It's why there are so many rightwing crazy loudmouths in the media and in public view, and how their associated not-as-extreme rightwingers look sane by comparison, which is instrumental in why they get their way while less rightwing positions are excluded from discussion.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:08:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Serious People in Initial Caps. This guy is deft! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, Mr Robert, jbsoul

    Sherrod Brown is definitely one of our stars, a likable candidate with great instincts who knows how to position an issue.

    He's willing to step out, be vocal and direct, without being in-your-face.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:28:05 AM PST

  •  this is a great first step on changing the framing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TKO333, jbsoul

    on this issue. The next step should be to counter the Republicans' insistence that "radical changes are needed to the program because it's going bankrupt."

    The fact is that the program is not going bankrupt and that relatively minor adjustments, not radical changes, are needed to sustain Social Security well into the next century.

    Unfortunately, Republicans have had a successful disinformation campaign against Social Security for decades, to the point now where a sizeable number of young people have swallowed Republican propaganda that Social Security won't be there for them (the real answer is that, if Republicans have it their way it won't be there for them or anyone else, but that the program is not only solid, but is, in fact, the most successful government run program in world history).

  •  Progressive 3-point deficit/debt reduction (5+ / 0-)

    1. Expand Social Security payments by 20%.

    2. Increase minimum wage to $15/hour, with no exemptions for anyone.  No more sub-minimum wage salaried managers, for example.

    3. Impose a financial transaction tax of $1 per $1 million.

    Get the CBO to run those numbers through their deficit-debt analysis.

    And if Democratic really want to be progressive:

    4. Go for a 20-hour work week.  Establish time-and-a-half for work between 20-40 hours a week and double time for hours over 40 hours a week.  No exceptions.

    5. Reimpose a stiff estate tax on estates over $10 million.

    And of course, index the Social Security payments to inflation in the market basket of goods that seniors actually buy.   Index the minimum wage to inflation automatically.  Don't index the financial transaction tax.  Index the estate tax for general inflation.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:31:23 AM PST

    •  All Good Ideas (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmfp, TarheelDem

      What's necessary and indispensable is a political program  to implement them.

      If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

      by stewarjt on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:49:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  can we add this, ThD?>>> (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      lower medicare eligibility and retirement age to 60, creating jobs for younger, student-loan-indebted workers

    •  Some practical objections to the suggestions above (0+ / 0-)

      1.  Who pays?  You need to get rid of the cap and this involves admitting that SS is not a pension program.  This is tough to do.   Since SS is a penalty to the young, don't you think we have screwed the young in our country-student loans, health care etc. in this country?  

      2.  Massive capital for labor substitution over time.  McDonalds would have three guys on a shift with the automatic fry-burger-shake machine,  Massive import export imbalances.  You would have to rework all free trade agreements to avoid massive unemployment.   Tell Bill Clinton that Nafta was a huge mistake.  Gut it.

      also 2.  Every economist I talked to says we we would have a severe lower income housing problem for several years with a $15 minimum wage.   In fact, due to the lack of low income housing, the price increases might mitigate the real benefits of the new higher wage.  Any minimum wage program like this MUST include a substantial housing program.

      3. There are other financial centers outside the US and with electronic trading, the tax could easily be avoided.   No doubt are status as a financial center would be lessened.

      Bottom line: none of the above would work.  Incentives for affordable housing, incentives for development for low income housing would help the poor the most.

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

        1. In the short term, the increase in employment causes more payroll taxes to come in.  The increases in the minimum wage and the increased competition by employers for workers elevates the prevailing wages and salaries.  We have practical experience from the 1930s to the 1970s that this worked.  Because of the other points, the young people will have jobs, likely good paying jobs and are either receiving insurance from employers or under Obamacare or there is political push for Medicare-for-all.

        2. But McDonalds and WalMart would not be only employers hiring because of the stimulation in demand from the increased Social Security and increased minimum wage.  We don't lack housing units in this country, we lack realistic supply-demand pricing of housing.   Increased employment means more folks able to pay for housing.  Housing issues also tend to geographically concentrated only in some areas.

        3. Any transactions from the US to those financial centers will be taxed as well.  And most of those financial centers already are collecting financial transaction taxes.  As long as we have 300+ million highly paid folks, we generate our own financial centers.

        We tried trickle-down, supply-side, deregulation.  Those patently don't work.  Give this a try.   Having money to pay for housing would help the poor the most.  The folks who most use incentives for low-income housing are bankers, developers, and property managers--not poor people.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:01:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  minimum wage for all (0+ / 0-)

          Paul Krugman, a famous liberal Economist, tries to tell us what happens when everyone gets a higher wage or money all at once.   He uses a desert island example.  If everyone makes $100 and suddenly a plane drops an extra $100 for everyone, nothing but the price level changes.  He patiently explains that the price of food-in this case coconuts , along with everything else , on his desert island-simply goes up in line with extra money.  While popping up the minimum wage for the poor may help, much of the effects would be seen solely in the prices in the form of increased demand for what poorer people buy-housing.   And note, housing supply in the short run is inelastic.  

          At least that is what this UNC tar heel learned at UNC.

          And you miss my point.  All employers would try a huge shift in capital for labor, not just McDonalds.  In fact, McDonalds might love $15 minimum wage in the long run since only big corporations could afford the capital spending that would ensue.  Good luck Bob's burgers.

          Here is a great example:  Sam's Club and Costco.  Sam's pays $11 bucks an hour and Costco $17.   Sounds great at first-but Costco fills its store with 1/2 the employees, has much higher hiring standards, and much lower turnover.  Ask yourself, if everyone followed the Costco model, would there really be jobs for the poor?  Maybe.  But many new college grads don't make $15 an hour, wouldn't they move in?

          The problem is that the private sector is so fast moving, especially with new technology, that any "living" wage rule will be circumvented through innovation.

          Again, there are low income housing programs that work.  The academics who study such things say that management of the properties (yes, government workers) is crucial.   Let's pay these folks a lot more money and require a lot of education and training.  

          •  As long as you look at it (0+ / 0-)

            ...from a microeconomic level, you will miss how this is sound policy at the current moment.  And the emphasis is on the at the current moment part.

            The economic problem of the current moment is that capital is so subsidized at the expense of labor that we are getting capital that cannot be directed into labor-generating investments but is staying in the clouds waiting for consumer demand to appear.  A stiff increase in the minimum wage creats that consumer demand that causes expansion of production.  And pulls some of that capital that is cycling from one bubble to another out of the clouds and down to earth.

            We are in a deflationary situation, but undergraduate economics courses over the years have been teaching people to be afraid of the stagflation of the 1970s.  Which really was not as much about wage and price controls, although that was a dumb policy, as about processing out the Vietnam War debt.

            The housing bubble burst already did that war debt processing for the Iraq/Iran war debt by destroying several trillion dollars in money supply.  In fact it overshot and austerity economics is keeping us in deflation.

            It is a general, not a sectoral or structural problem.  I have suggested a general solution.

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 08:30:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Expand Social Security in Medicare (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stewarjt, gmfp, Betty Pinson

    Social Security already includes disability insurance for people who can't work due to health problems. That system should be expanded to integrate with Obamacare, so people don't pay for both SS and private coverage. It should integrate by eliminating the redundant private coverage and its cost in premiums, in favor of government coverage. That should probably in turn be added to Medicare coverage, eliminating all redundancy.

    And taking us all a step closer to Medicare for All.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:33:50 AM PST

  •  We should hang our heads in shame at (3+ / 0-)

    what we expect Seniors to live on.  I've said this here before.  I know a 90 year old who is living on less than $700 per month and needs to supplement that income with food stamps.  Shame is not nearly strong enough for what we do to our elderly citizens.  Remove the damn cap and be done with it already.  They'd probably have enough to fund Medicare and Medicaid too.  (Of course curbing the ridiculous cost of medical treatment would be a step in the right direction, too.  For-profit medical care.  Did you ever think you'd see such a thing?  I am beginning to really dislike our political class.)

    The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

    by AnnieR on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:37:48 AM PST

  •  Minimum Wage for Students (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    Social Security already pays disability to some people who can't work due to health, in addition to paying people whose age means work should be optional. The disability pays for not only health care, but also supplemental income due to lost work.

    That system should be expanded to cover people who can't work because they're students. Any student otherwise legally able to work should receive the Federal minimum wage for time spent in school, including both class time and the official syllabus time projected for work outside of class (eg. homework, research, etc).

    Watch unemployed (and underemployed) Americans turn from reliance on Unemployment Insurance, welfare, food stamps and crime to go to school instead. Make tuition, room and board free to local residents at their public schools while students in good standing, and watch Americans' education and resulting lessened poverty (and therefore health etc) all improve.

    It's a way to give every citizen a minimum income while creating a better workforce, and thereby a safer country.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:39:43 AM PST

  •  Point Of Order (5+ / 0-)
    "Expanding Social Security isn't going to move anytime soon in Congress, but what these senators are doing is giving a voice to the majority of the public..." -J. McCarter
    First, isn't that what elected Senators and Representatives are supposed to do, give a voice to the majority of the public?  

    Instead of conceding expanding Social Security is closed off already ("isn't going to move any time soon in Congress"), why not work day and night to make it happen.  After all, isn't Congress accountable to the public?

    If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    by stewarjt on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:42:59 AM PST

  •  Why should we write off expanding SS soon? (6+ / 0-)
    Expanding Social Security isn't going to move anytime soon in Congress, but what these senators are doing is giving a voice to the majority of the public, and putting the idea out there that Social Security shouldn't be sacrificed at a time when everyone's personal economy—that includes seniors—is so perilous.
    Who would have thought gay marriage would have been as accepted as it is today, three, even two years ago?  Sometimes good ideas catch on pretty quickly.

    If they are going to promote expansion of Social Security, I want those doing it to be "Serious People."  Don't do it just for show.  Make it happen.

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:49:54 AM PST

  •  The thought of doing this to SS recipients (5+ / 0-)

    is asinine.  Sometimes the parameters get moved and are kicked sideways when many are not really paying attention.  That is what the "no government is best government" Teabaggers and Libertarians count on.  They are wrong.  Seniors have a social contract.  Seniors (I am one) have paid into SS all of their lives (I started working at age 16 in an office supply store and SS was paid from the first day.  I am over 65 now.  Without VA Disaiblity (Agent Orange related heart disease and PTSD = 50%) I would be struggling and could not afford my own apartment, on just SS payments.  And since I had a civilian career in social services (Foster Care and Child Abuse Investigations & Supervising Early Intervention Programs  - my salary was never very high.  Ever).

    No western democracy would consider gutting their pensioners/SS recipients as a way to address budget shortfalls (there are exceptions such as Greece, where the pendulum reportedly was too far in the other direction).  But social democracies do not gut the social safety net and not provide health care or pensions to the old and sick and to children and the disabled and mentally unstable.  That is unconscionable.  I have a Master's in Public Administration.  We looked at comparative governments and found that a civilized society that recognizes the essential worth of its people, does not spend untold billions on military and spying and other clandestine operations while forcing their citizens to go hungry and without adequate medical care.  It is, no matter what the US GOPTP and right wing radicals say, uncivilized  and it is societal cruelty and abuse of the  weakest and the most vulnerable.  Especially when taxes are not being fairly collected on the rich and corporations.  That is wrong and insane.  What's more, many large oil corporations and others, receive subsidies from the US taxpayers while still collecting record annual profits year after year after year.

    So many seniors live frugal lives.  And, to be truthful, some do have good incomes in retirement.  Many lost their shirts in the stock market retraction/ collapse.  No one should go bankrupt to get medical treatment.  No one should be eating Ramen noodles every day for lunch - Or- nothing -and going without medications and other food to pay their utility bills.  That is not a civilized society and it sure as hell isn't the country I served to defend around the world.  

  •  Raise the cap (4+ / 0-)

    "Raise the cap. There are ways we can bring a lot of money into Social Security. "

    Absolutely.  And if anyone threatens to leave the country because of the higher taxes, tell them you don't care if the door hits them on their butts when they leave!

    (-7.75,-5.64) If you like your $50 a month "healthcare plan"... you are an idiot!

    by Whirlaway on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:54:19 AM PST

  •  We have to stop the, "If it doesn't benefit (4+ / 0-)

    the 1%, then we cannot do it."

    Citizens United be damned!

    We can overcome the LACK of pensions, wages, living wage, jobs, and WE CAN expand Social Security to stabilize our society lest we become "New Mumbai," (and I mean no offense to Mumbai!)

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:55:35 AM PST

  •  Yes, a thousand times (5+ / 0-)

    It drives me crazy that raising the cap is so off the proverbial 'table.'  Cut cut cut!  That's all we hear.  At the same time, the millionaire tax rate has gone from 75 percent or so years ago to 39, and NO ONE in that bracket pays anywhere near the 39 over a million.

    Defense budget?  Sacrosanct.

    Oil company subsidies?  Drill baby drill!

    It's infuriating madness.

    Sherrod Brown sure looks good to me for V-P.  

  •  Does anyone know (0+ / 0-)

    if they ever paid back the money SS "loaned" a number of years (10-15?) ago? As I remember it was quite a chunk of change and was supposed to be paid back to SS with interest. I don't remember hearing that had happened, but it would go a long way to making SS "solvent" again.

    •  the surplus is accounting fiction (0+ / 0-)

      See Econbrowser, the leading economics blog and SS and Medicare Trustee reports.

      The surplus is all accounting hokey pokey.  Shame on Congress.

      The current surplus is figured to be $2.6 trillion.  The trustees of SS expect that this $2.6 trillion to be drawn down gradually until 2035 and then the program officially runs out of "money".  But the current $2.6 trillion is really nothing but a big IOU from the Treasury to the Social Security Trust Fund.  The US Treasury holds not assets that would enable it to make these $2.6 trillion in payments. They don't exist.  Taxes have to be raised, more borrowing or spending cuts to pay these in the coming years.    

      So most have it wrong.  Since the $2.6 trillion doesn't really exist but in an accounting sense, we are already funding as we go and SS will not run "out of money".  That's right wing BS.  On the other hand, there really is no surplus to spend.  Its been spent.

      Oh, and re-run the math for Medicare's Trust fund.  It runs out in 2026.  This is simply an accounting event.  But it often used for propaganda purposes.

  •  ss (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    Social Security is not officially considered an entitlement.  It is a pension program.  When conservative analysts point to huge government entitlements, they typically include SS to bloat the number.  Theoretically, it is a retirement pension-you contribute, your employer contributes and hopefully the government does.

    The reason that SS taxes are capped is that the benefits are capped.  

    Given the huge number of oldsters hitting the system, we may have to scrap the idea that SS is a pension and not an entitlement, but I don't believe that this political battle has been won.  Someone needs get this issue resolved first.

    •  Yep, its NOT an entitlement, but an earned benefit (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stewarjt, TBug, koosah

      Democratic leaders need to stop using GOP memes to describe Social Security.

      If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

      by Betty Pinson on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:27:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is NOT a "pension program" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It is an insurance program, and its official name is Old Age, Retirement and Survivors Insurance (OASDI).

      In an age when 401(k)s vanish in the first hard wind from Wall Street and companies no longer offer pensions, it may be the only income some current and future senior citizens have to live on.

      Expand Social Security -- raise the cap, lower the retirement age, this money will go into our moribund economy and prime the pump.

  •  But Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.... (0+ / 0-)

    .. and now its time for the rich to grab the 2 trillion dollar pot of money and run!

        Ronald Regan, the Happy Ponzi Schemer set up the Social Security trust fund, which George W. Bush assured us was "only paper".    Besides, The Money Has All Been Spent (TM).  (Try that one with your mortgage company: "I can't pay you back, I spent the money buying a house")  

         So with $2 trillion in the Trust Fund, its time to

    "Take the money and run!..

    •  Social Security Is Social Insurance (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There's no connection or parallel between a Ponzi scheme and social insurance.

      If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

      by stewarjt on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 10:15:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  read carefully.... (0+ / 0-)

        although I did forget the <snark off>

      •  Some might suggest that SS is.. (0+ / 0-)

        an inter-generational ponzi scheme.  The last group in a ponzi scheme loses.  In this case, current 25 year olds.   A big surge in economic growth and activity and much higher taxes would be needed to make up for the fact that 3 working to 1 retired is going to 2 to 1.  

        Look at poor Japan.  It Debt to GDP is the highest in the developed world.   Kyle Bass, the guy who was smart enough to bet the right way on the housing bubble, has bet against Japanese bonds.  It is simply the math behind an aging society.

        One theme that constantly circles around in my head is that we screw our young people today -health care (hey the young pay, they do), high education costs, high student loans, doubtful social security benefits,  huge great recession and its lingering crappy job market etc.

        At some point we are not going to have a conservative or progressive movement, we are going to have young movement.  

  •  There was a great session at NN13 about this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sixty Something, jbsoul

    ...we'll never win arguing within the messaging framework used by opponents of Social Security or Medicare.

    Expand Social Security. Drop the Medicare eligibility age to zero. These programs are American success stories.

    And we have to remind everyone who will listen that folks who talk about cuts to Social Security are invariably tied to those who want to get their hands on the money or else kill the program entirely - Wall Street.

    So glad to see this momentum. Let's stay on offense. Let's have a conversation that we can win!

    We believe what's good for workers is good for business! Like that? Join us at

    by NC State AFLCIO on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:32:23 AM PST

  •  Joan, PLEASE stop cooperating with the right wing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stewarjt, TBug, koosah

    by calling them "Entitlements" because they are insurance programs, bought and paid  for through payroll deductions and work contributions to our society for substandard pay rates.

    GOP Wars against: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Immigrants, Mexicans, Blacks, Gays, Women, Unions, Workers, Unemployed, Voters, Elderly, Kids, Poor, Sick, Disabled, Dying, Lovers, Kindness, Rationalism, Science, Sanity, Reality.

    by SGWM on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 09:51:52 AM PST

  •  From Meteor Blade's Link Earlier (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stewarjt, koosah, jbsoul

    Beware: Huge Media Companies Are Selling Corporate Ideology as the 'New American Center'

    A case in point: a recent poll from Lake Research reaffirmed numerous previous studies which found that a vast majority of Americans oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The numbers were overwhelming: 82% of Republicans. 83% of Democrats. 78% of independents. Another survey by the National Academy of Social Insurance found that strong majorities of Americans, across the political spectrum want Social Security benefits increased, and would accept an increase in payroll taxes for themselves as well as the wealthy to pay for it.
    You can't get 80% of Democrats, Republicans and Independents to agree that night follows day. Yet 80% across-the-board oppose social safety net cuts. Espousing such horrid policies in the face of such overwhelming opposition is a political suicide mission.

    Want Democrats to succeed? Simple advice: Do what the people want. And don't do what the people hate.

  •  There's no cap on Medicare contributions, why (0+ / 0-)

    should there be a cap on SS contributions?  Of course, it's an annoyance to the super-rich who'll never care about their SS, but don't they get enough tax breaks already?

    Armed! I feel like a savage! Barbarella

    by richardvjohnson on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 10:18:51 AM PST

  •  we need to cap to be 90% of wages (0+ / 0-)

    as it was back in the 80s. you do that, and index it to inflation, the system wil be fine. any extra money folks like me get will be spent.

  •  Not just some Democrats, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but way too many Democrats are cowed by the above-mentioned "Serious People" Those people aren't looking at or even considering the facts of life they wish to make harder. Anyone who thinks SS should be strengthened for the people should be talking it up right in the face of Repub. efforts to cut it or end it.  Safety net issues, financial industry fraud issues, and wage and earnings equity should be uppermost on our political agenda. We will never have earnings equity or fair taxation without controlling financial industry fraud and institutionalized political bribery. We really must hold Democrats accountable to those issues as well and Republicans.

  •  Saving Social Security (0+ / 0-)

    Remove wage cap on Social Security deductions. Put a firewall around the Social Security fund that will prevent Congress from raiding it for balancing the budget.  Problem solved.

  •  Dems a threat? (0+ / 0-)

    Would it be possible for someone to directly question the Dem leadership regarding their intentions toward Social Security for disabled workers?  Dems had always stood up for protecting Social Security in whole, but now they carefully specify "retirement." This is especially worrisome in view of attacks on Social Security disability by Clinton Dems, which were largely ignored by liberal media. On this issue, lives are at stake (the seriously ill/dying/disabled tend to do quite poorly in the streets).

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