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Social Security And The Fiscal Cliff

A controversial fiscal cliff: peg social security payments to a lower inflation gauge  — the “chained CPI.”  We’ll look at the impact.

 President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama’s re-election has stiffened Democrats’ spine against cutting popular benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. (AP)

President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama’s re-election has stiffened Democrats’ spine against cutting popular benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. (AP)

“Chained CPI” sounds like some kind of high-tech torture.  In fact, it’s a way of calculating inflation that may be on its way to cutting Social Security payments.  In the big arm-wrestle of negotiations over the fiscal cliff, “chained CPI” is in the mix.

President Obama wants higher taxes on the wealthy.  Republicans want to rein in entitlements.  Here’s a way to do it.  Whittle back Social Security payments.  Seniors don’t need beef.  They could eat chicken.  Or goat.  Or something cheaper.

This hour, On Point:  Social Security, the “chained CPI,” and how we’ll live beyond the fiscal cliff.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Henry Aaron, senior fellow of economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

Robert Kuttner, co-founder and current co-editor of The American Prospect. Here’s his recent article on Social Security and the fiscal cliff.

Jason Fichtner, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times “Conservatives argue that Washington never cuts programs, it just increases spending on them more slowly than planned. But to recipients of federal benefits, that type of “cut” can seem just as painful. That’s why there is an intense battle looming over a proposal to reduce the cost-of-living adjustments applied to numerous federal programs, including Social Security. The change is billed as a more accurate way to calculate the effects of inflation, but it’s really just a way to make Washington’s financial picture marginally brighter.”

Washington Post “The fiscal cliff deal is finally taking shape, and from the looks of it, it’s likely to include the adoption of “chained CPI” as the government’s preferred measure of inflation. As I explained last week, that measure mainly matters for taxes — where the income cutoffs for various brackets are indexed for inflation — and Social Security, in which benefits are raised annually to keep pace with inflation. Adopting chained CPI would, in effect, cut Social Security benefits and raise taxes.”

Christian Science Monitor “Mr. Obama’s move is an overture to Republicans who support the idea, as the two sides try to broker a deal that reduces future federal deficits with a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts. So what is the “chained CPI,” the revised consumer price index that Obama says could replace the current system?”

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  • pauly2468

    Social Security is not part of the deficit.It should not be part of the “fiscal cliff” discussions.

  • keltcrusader

    Simples changes like increasing the eligible income cap over the current measly $110K and means testing for recepients are the only things needed to make SS viable into the future. Cutting benefits to current & future recipients shouldn’t even be discussed.

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      If we restructure Social Security for future retirees it can be saved.  But by doing so certain politicians and talking heads would loose a boogie man they use to protect their jobs.  Therefore it may never happen.

      • JobExperience

        If the economy picked up and people went back to work at living wages SS would get rosy-pink healthy. Right now Austerity is cutting off blood
        to the brain as well as the heart. (Raising  the cap to about $250K would solve the short run.) If fascists want to bring down the federal government by making it useless and oppressive to the people they have
        austerity as a well-tuned strategy.

  • arydberg

    Could someone please tell me how our government managed to take my forced lifetime savings of money intended for my insurance policy called social security  and transfer it into general tax revenue.    Is this  large scale theft.     Or was i really paying taxes over the course of my entire lifetime and misunderstanding everything i was told.    

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      Yes you were lied to.  There never was a “locked box” for Social Security.  

    • JobExperience

      Now they openly advocate running social security exactly like Hostess Foods. Rich bullies get all the Twinkies.

    • http://twitter.com/sjmorton Simon Morton

      As long as Treasury securities are still backed by the full faith and credit of the US government, your SS contributions are safe. They have not been transferred into general revenues… yet.

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    FTA:

    Social Security began running deficits in 2010, paying out
    $48.9 billion more in benefits than it received through payroll taxes. Nor will these deficits ever end, meaning that without reforms, Social Security will continue to add billions to the deficit and debt each year

    http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/social-security-deficits

    • JobExperience

      You’ve restated your half-fast talking  point.
      Now you can go back to bed.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Im not following a link to something with the word “heritage” in it.  Sorry.

      • Ray in VT

        I will.  It’s a chart, and it says that the data is from the Social Security Administration, so let’s check that to make sure that their numbers are the same.  On things like this I’ve generally found Heritage’s numbers to be all right.  It’s their diagnosis and prescriptions that I don’t care for.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Great. You all on the right can fix it when you get into the White House. Right after you balance the budget.

      As I recall, Bush II’s last trial balloon turned into a lead balloon. And that was before the great recession.

    • arydberg

      Yup,  They are paying out more than they receive.    However if the government had not stolen many many years of contributions they would have the money they need.  

    • http://twitter.com/sjmorton Simon Morton

      Actually the exact opposite is true. As SS cashes in its Treasury bonds, that actually reduces the amount of debt held by the treasury and the interest payments on said debt. Once the trust fund is depleted, SS will only pay out what it takes in, as it is forbidden by law from taking a dime more from the treasury than it pays in.

  • Markus6

    The end goal of our government is to reduce benefits by as much as possible as fast as possible without offending a large group of people all at once (and therefore losing an election).

    And if they have any talent at all, it’s finding creative ways of extracting money from people. So, I anticipate a number of tactics: Playing one group off against another. Hard to understand indexing schemes. New criteria for when payments start. And I’m positive they’ll come up with more.

    And each time they do this, the majority of people will either not see it, not understand it, or say “well, at least they left mine alone” (this time). 

    They are treating us as schmucks. And we probably are. 

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Probably?

      • Markus6

        Good correction.

  • jefe68

    President Obama is negotiating with himslef again.
    All the parties dropped the payroll tax which has now caused less revenue to some into the SS fund just as the Baby Boomers are beginning to retire. The cap should have been raised years ago from the $1130,000 it is now to at least $2,000,000.

    That said this SS debate is based on a lot of false information.
    The Heritage Foundation and the Right are cherry picking to back up their misinformation campaign. It’s that simple. The ugly part of this is that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi are agreeing with them.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group that
    does number-crunching for Congress. On March 31, director Douglas
    Elmendorf wrote on the CBO blog that Social Security’s “primary
    deficit,” not including interest the program earns on securities issued
    by the general treasury, will be $29 billion this year. Elmendorf
    predicted finances will improve temporarily as the economy recovers, but
    said “a longer-term decline in the trust funds’ financial condition is
    inevitable under current law, because the retirement of the baby-boom
    generation will cause benefit payments to increase more than revenues.”

    In assessing the financial health of Social Security, it’s important to
    realize the program not only receives income from workers paying Social
    Security taxes, it’s also built up a big trust fund that it can tap when
    necessary. So even if income from payroll taxes runs short, Social
    Security can make up the money from the trust fund.

    In an interview with the New York Times, Stephen Goss, chief actuary of
    the Social Security Administration, outlined the immediate bind: The
    recession has put people out of jobs, some of them then applying for
    Social Security benefits sooner than expected. Fewer jobs also means
    reduced payrolls, meaning less in payroll taxes going to the government.

    Still, Goss pointed out, the trust fund has a $2.5 trillion balance, enough to cover benefits for about 25 years.

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      I can not find the post that you quote could you provide a link?

    • Ellen Dibble

      So — I do want to understand.  It did strike me as odd for a national budget to cut the FICA payroll tax when that tax goes into Social Security, which we hear is NOT a part of the national budget.  It’s a separate fund, which it seems can be invested and loaned to and from.  And that FICA tax is hugely a middle class tax cut, if I read it right,  because it applies only up to something like an income of $110,000, and then what one earns above that is not subject to the tax (approximately 15% of income before deductions).  
          So reversing that particular tax break would not benefit the budget at all.  It seems a way to help the middle class to get through a stiff recession without impacting the national budget at all.  
         You say, “All the parties dropped the payroll tax which has now caused less revenue to some into the SS fund just as the Baby Boomers are beginning to retire. The cap should have been raised years ago from the $1130,000 it is now to at least $2,000,000.”  
          What cap are you talking about?  The cap on that $110,000, so that higher incomes continue to be taxed (for FICA) the 15%?  Or the cap on the national debt?   Or deficit?  
          At any rate, Jack Lew, heading toward Treasury, with lots of track record working on staff in Congress where the rubber hits the road, and in the CBO as well, he is heading for Geithner’s job.   I suppose his view of what will fly is going to determine what happens.  But I don’t favor putting Social Security on a starvation diet much longer, given the longer lives we have, but I think people are working longer, so they are paying INTO Social Security rather than drawing from it, or so it seems to me.  

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Plan B for Boehner will most benefit the wealthy.

    Surprise!

    The following is from previous comments I’ve posted regarding the Fiscal Cliff:

    In all of The Fiscal Cliff hoo-hah where is the direct connection to the obvious? There have been reports hinting at the fact that failing to beat the self-imposed deadline need not be Apocalyptic. The only reason it could (and unfortunately likely would) be Catastrophic is the manner in which we react. We whip ourselves up, snatch up our antes, and head off to the races. It’s The Stock Market Stupid. 2008 wasn’t enough? The past four years of hell for Millions of us (that were NOT a result of the Sitting President) weren’t enough? What will be enough? We all see the problems whether we acknowledge them or not. Our Banking and Investment Systems no longer serve US. We should no longer serve them.

    Why are we even discussing The Fiscal Myth? We’re going off because that’s the only way the Underwear Gnomes will get to keep their undies in a bunch. The Democrats will get at least some of the increased revenue that we NEED while simultaneously giving the Republicans the shiny new whipping post they want. Both get to stay up on their soapboxes and continue their fruitless b!tching while watching the rest of us circle the drain.

    ______________________________________________________

    I stand by them. Call me cynical if you like, I can’t seem to dodge the critical thinking bullet no matter how hard I try.

  • nj_v2

    To reiterate an earlier comment: Social Security exists as its own, discrete fund. It has nothing to do with the overall budget deficit. That Obummer is even dealing with in the context of the general budget deficit is but one marker as to the mendancity of the man.

    So grandma can eat cat food or go foraging for roadkill, but the Military Machine, largest than the next dozen largest militaries on the planet, gets fed to satiation and beyond. And huge multinational corporations get billions in subsidies. And trillions of dollars magically appeared out of nowhere to save the banksters and Wall Street greed mongers.

    Now, the elderly, the sick, and the politically powerless must “compromise”??!!

    I think people should tell these kabuki clowns what they can do with their compromise.

  • nj_v2

    The context against which these budget “discussions” occur…

    Corporate-occupied government is essentially a wealth-distribution machine for the wealthy:

    http://www.reuters.com/subjects/income-inequality/washington

    Redistributing Up

    The federal government has emerged as one of the most potent factors driving income inequality in the United States – especially in the nation’s capital.

  • nj_v2

    More context…

    “Fiscal cliff” is a myth…

    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/14/dean_baker_the_biggest_myth_in

    Dean Baker: The Biggest Myth in Obama-GOP Spending Showdown is the “Fiscal Cliff” Itself

    [[ DEAN BAKER: Well, there’s an endless number of myths, but the first and foremost is that we face any sort of cliff. You know, you’ve had this effort, certainly in Washington, to hype this December 31st deadline. Basically, if we miss that deadline, nothing happens. You know, you come to January 1st, we’ll be subject to higher tax withholding rates. Not a lot of us are going to get paid January 1st. If there’s a deal worked out somewhere in the first, second week of January, we’ll probably never see anything extra deducted from our paycheck, and even if we do, we’ll get it back in the second paycheck. I mean, no one wants to see money deducted out of their paycheck, but, you know, if you’re going to get it back in the second check—I mean, I know that will be a hardship for some people, but the impact on the economy will be pretty much minimal.

    And on the spending side, President Obama controls—has enormous control over the pace of spending. And if there’s a deal outlined that—you know, outline of a deal that he sees with Congress, he’ll just keep spending in accordance with that deal. So this idea that, somehow, if we don’t get a deal by the end of the year, you know, we’re going to see the economy collapse, go into a recession, really that’s just totally dishonest. And I’ve seen that said I don’t know how many times. And it’s based—the basis for this is that we don’t have a deal all year. And the fact that you don’t have a deal December 31st does not mean you don’t get a deal by December 31st, 2013. And I think everyone knows that. ]]

    (excerpt)

  • toc1234

    “Whittle back Social Security payments. Seniors don’t need beef. They could eat chicken. Or goat. Or something cheaper.” 

    you’re getting careless Tom.  usually you do not drop your mask of objectivity so quickly…

    • nj_v2

      Why don’t you explain what’s really going on then? Go ahead, we’ve got time.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Off topic and I apologize, but the fiscal cliff has been mentioned.

    Harsh tax cuts with the harshest cuts falling on the bloated American military.  The fiscal cliff cuts avoid medicare and social security…

    Sign me up for going over the cliff.  I am readying my suspenders and barrel as I type.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Why are these Republican defending the rich tooth and nail against taxes? What great sacrifices have they had to make in the past 20 years? NONE!!!

    If I was making 500K a year, and I was confronted with paying more taxes next year, I would thank God that I was making well over 10 times the average American! These people are seriously twisted and they just don’t know it. Maybe we need a real financial collapse to teach them humility like my depression era parents learned as children.

  • nj_v2

    Add to the “reading list”—Dean Baker on the fraud surrounding the chained CPI fraud and the inclusion of Social Security in the discussion of the general budget deficit:

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/cepr-blog/thoughts-on-the-chained-cpi-social-security-and-the-budget

    Thoughts on the Chained CPI, Social Security, and the Budget
    [[ "The proposed cut in the annual cost of living adjustment will be a substantial hit to a population that for the most part is ill-prepared to see a cut in its income. The effect of this cut on the income of the typical beneficiary will be larger, measured as a share of income, than the return to Clinton era tax rates on the richest 2 percent will be to the people affected. It is also worth noting that this cut to benefits will affect current retirees, not just people who will be collecting benefits 10 or 15 years in the future, who might have some opportunity to adjust to a cut.
    …It is important to remember that under the law Social Security is supposed to be treated as a separate program that is financed by its own stream of designated revenue. This means that it cannot contribute to the budget deficit under the law, because it is only allowed to spend money from the Social Security trust fund.
    …Congress can decide the benefit formula for these programs as it chooses. The honest way to cut benefits is for Congress to explicitly vote to cut benefits, not to try to hide a cut behind a statistical manipulation. This is the sort of behavior that encourages public contempt for politicians and the political process." ]]

    (excerpts)

  • ccbard

    keltcrusader wrote it and I agree:  Raise the contribution cap

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      I believe we need to eliminate the “contribution” cap.  Along with means testing and pegging the program to the life expectancy age.  

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Contribution cap, remove it.

        However, many people consider means testing as just the first step down the road to calling it “welfare”, something that poor people get. Once the upper middle class and above start getting less SSI, there’s a wedge issue for the SocSec destroyers to use.

        And the life expectancy has really not moved for working class people over the last 80 years like it has for the rich. However, all our mainstream media, thinktankers and pundits who talk about SocSec don’t scrub floors and bus tables for a living.

    • Shag_Wevera

      I agree, and it is damned obvious.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I absolutely love how Republicans promise that SS changes will not affect anyone over 50.  I’m 42, and have been working and paying into SS since I was 17.  So, for 25 years I have been lied to?  Someone should file a class action suit for fraud.

    If you are going to touch SS, here is an ETHICAL way to do it.  Change it for everyone born from this day forward.  They will live their entire life knowing the reality in which they live.

    Republicans only protect 50+ year olds because they darn well know that they vote and would throw their sorry butts out of office if they touched SS or medicare.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    The current payroll tax cut of 2% that everyone is getting is really a reduction in social security withholding.  That is a very short -sighted “borrow it from the future and spend it now” approach that is typical of congress.  Then when social security runs out of money earlier, people will forget that we chose to do this absurd shell game financial trick.  If we are going to cut taxes, we should have first identified how were going to pay for it in terms of what spending are we going to cut.  The American people demonstrate their cluelessness by welcoming the tax cut without insisting that the method of paying for it be identified first.

    • sickofthechit

       Did you have the same opinion of the Temporary bush tax cuts?

  • Gregg Smith

    This is all folly. Any deal that may be reached will not solve anything. I predict another downgrade.

    • Shag_Wevera

      How come conservatives who are SO touchy about America losing it’s sovereignty to an international organization such as the UN or any of a number of entities righties like to call “The New World Order”, but have no problem with international banks (S&P) downgrading our credit rating and doing great harm to our nation?  Just wondering…

      • StilllHere

        S&P is not a bank, now please do some research.

        • Shag_Wevera

          Nice dodge.  Care to answer the effin’ question?

          • StilllHere

            It’s kind of hard to get past the fact that the premise is completely wrong.  Care to rethink it?

      • Gregg Smith

        I don’t accept your premise. I have a huge problem with a credit downgrade. I am saying S&P (and others) will realize there is no fiscal sanity in any deal and will downgrade again. The last downgrade was after a deal was reached because it was a bad deal. The House passed “Cut, Cap and Balance” which was a serious attempt to actually face the issues. The S&P chief said if signed it would have prevented the downgrade. There is nothing remotely as serious on the table now. Republicans are wimps. 

  • DrewInGeorgia

    I think Congress all need to eat Crow. I would be more than happy to feed it to them.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Tangent: Your forgetting the Sunday Gasbags. Do you think all the regulars on MeetTheFaceUSA are counting on SocSec the way the regular American is?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        I’d be happy to feed them some too. You’ll have to forgive me, they’re not constantly in my face so I tend to forget about them sometimes.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Well, that’s why I made it a tangent, an add-on, if you will. Don’t get me started on Peter P. Peterson’s “Destroy SocSec” thinktank.

          Oh, the Sunday gasbags are not in my face, either. But they do reflect the chalklines of the playing field for “reasonable” discussion.

          So when they all start agreeing that “reforming” SocSec is “the thing to do, every serious person knows it”, hold on to your wallet. (And if the language of inevitability reminds you of the PR march to invading Iraq last decace, you’re right.)

          • nj_v2

            Damn liberal media!

      • nj_v2

        The Sunday-morning, bloviating gasbag shows should to be outlawed. 

  • Ellen Dibble

    I hope the chained CPI is indexed to what seniors actually use it for, not for what say a 50-year-old might want to purchase.  I’m thinking the steep costs for a senior are health-related, and the better the diet, the less those costs.  So it would definitely benefit us all if seniors could have optimal food (which they have probably lived long enough in their particular bodies to know) rather than medicines to make up for dietary short-sightedness.

  • Mike_Card

    For 2013, Social Security benefits will increase by 1.7% and Medicare cost will increase by 5%.  This is not an exercise in getting a better measurement of the cost of living, it’s an exercise in getting more money into the Treasury.

  • KeepBiking

    Echos of Orwell pointing out how we lie with statistics. By stipulating a lower inflation rate, one can, over a few generations, reduce the value of Social Security to irrelevancy.  If we need more savings, how about eliminating congressional pensions.

  • owensc

    this is on the table to keep capital gains off the table.  switch oldsters from beef to chicken, but don’t mention the fattest of cats will still pay a lower tax rate than the middle class even after all this is over.

  • nj_v2

    How can the program start by talking about Social Security in the context of the (mythological) “fiscal cliff” when it does not contribute to the general budget deficit?!

    Am i missing something here??

    It would seem that this just tacitly perpetuates the fraud!

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      Social Security is adding to the deficit and the debt.  Talking as if there is a lock box is perpetuating a fraud.

      • http://twitter.com/sjmorton Simon Morton

        Sorry but you are wrong. Social Security does not contribute to the deficit any more than anyone who purchases a Treasury Bond contributes to the deficit. That’s just a fact.

        • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

          If you take out a loan, whether it is a credit card or a mortgage, it adds to your debt. If the payments on those debts are larger than your income they will add to your budget deficit.

          So you are exactly correct when you claim that it does not contribute any more than the sale of Treasury Bonds do, but you are wrong to claim that Social Security does not contribute to our debt. Both are part of our fiscal problem.

          • http://twitter.com/sjmorton Simon Morton

            So why single out Social Security? Why not tell all holders of Treasury securities (which are backed by the full faith and credit of the US government) that they will only be paid back at 90 cents on the dollar? If you put away money in a bank for your retirement and then, when you were ready to retire, the bank told you “sorry, we spent some of your money on other things and we can’t pay all of it back”, would you accept that?

          • http://twitter.com/sjmorton Simon Morton

            .. and in any case, if we trim SS benefits, all that does is put more money into the SS trust fund, which means more debt for the treasury.

      • jefe68

        Please stop posting false information.
        You have every right to be against the idea of SS but at least have the decency to say so without adding misinformation into the mix. 

  • rkean

    Tom,    On Bill Moyers this past weekend Bruce Bartlett, a Republican economic advisor, characterized Obama as an Eisenhower Republican because of his economic thinking. And Cornell West sees him as a Rockefellar Republican. Sounds about right since Repubs have been trying to cut Social Security or privatize it for a very long time. Only a “Democrat” could bargain it away like this. Clearly, poverty will increase in elders if his cuts are passed.

    • jefe68

      I watched that show and Mr. Bartlett is correct. I’ve been thinking this for years and my girlfriend and I get into some interesting spats about this. Like a lot of progressives they want to believe that President Obama is on their side. He is not. He acts just like an Eisenhower or Rockefeller Republican.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Is this chained CPI going to affect those already on Social Security, or will the Republicans lay off everyone over 50, as they have proclaimed?

  • http://www.facebook.com/roger.wiesmeyer Roger Wiesmeyer

    I love how you tip toe around the obvious…”Older Americans can eat chicken or goat” … (wait for it)or CAT FOOD!

    Scrap the cap!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      It’s about time someone mentioned the Cat Food Commission in this hour.

  • Scott B

    We could be saving hundreds of billions of dollar per year just by letting all entitlement programs negotiate prices and by opting out the wealthiest 1% from receiving the benefits. Rep Darrel Issa (R – CA) said so on Bill Maher’s HBO show, saying people like him certainly don’t need to be on them. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      First, Darrel Issa said it, so it’s immediately suspect until I see some real numbers from someone else.

      Second, personally, I think maintaing paying SocSec to the 1% is pretty cheap insurance against giving them any more reason to think they’re any more detached from the economy the rest of us are living in.

      • Scott B

        What point are you arguing, beside you against yourself?  Issa said that the very wealthy (meaning millionaires like him) don’t need entitlements.  How is that suspect? That a Republican actually said he doesn’t need to collect more money, or get benefits he doesn’t need, should be shouted in the streets! Far too many in his situation think that since they paid in,  they should take it. Ayn Rand, very wealthy when she died, though entitlements shouldn’t exist – that it’s recipients were parasites on society, yet she was getting Soc Sec and on Medicare because she thought it was owed to her.

        The 1% of this country are millionaires and billionaires.  The money they receive from Soc Sec is  often literally pocket change  or mad money.

         Your way of thinking is the same thinking that Big Oil, with their lauding of record profits every year into the tens of billions, has when they cry how losing relatively few millions they get in corporate welfare for “oil exploration” would somehow hurt them.  So, to you, we have to pay millionaires money to remember the little people that work for all the businesses that allowed them to become millionaires.  The air on that high horse you and they are one must be rarefied, indeed.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Big Oil wouldn’t stop making oil if we stopped paying them, methinks.

          But well-off people, conservatives and people who are pissed that SocSec has succeeded so wildly in this country for 3/4 of a century, want to destroy it. They can’t outlaw it, but they can ruin it from the inside.

          (I realize it would be pocket change to the 1%. The exact numbers, nobody has, and I’m interested in.)

          And in the age where “get government out of my Medicare” influences one side of the conversation, instead of getting laughed out of town, the move to debase SocSec sees their opening.

          That’s the first step: Calling it “welfare” (a dirty word in DC since the 70s) and then “entitlements” (a dirty word since about, what, the ’90s). From then it’ll be down the slippery slope to the goal of “if someone’s not a poor moocher, why do they need SocSec?”

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Tom just said “fixing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable”.

    What’s new?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Meat is not the gold standard for a socially useful life after retirement.  Protein is available by judicious combinations of legumes, for instance.  Personally, I have eaten meat three or four times a year — for decades.  I consider it messy to prepare, and just not necessary.  More green leafy vegetables are more important, and those can be very costly, but today I can get two large bunches of parsley, different kinds, for 50 cents each.  Bonanza!

    • DrewInGeorgia

      That’s somewhat along the lines of what I’ve been thinking while listening to the Chicken for Beef discussion. What if they are vegetarians? Fresh Produce prices certainly don’t seem to be decreasing.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Cabbage seems to stay affordable through thick and thin.  Also, there seem to be “specials” that one can pounce on, somehow belying the preposterous costs of other fresh produce.  

        • mariaconz

          Ellen Dibble, “Let them eat cabbage”?

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      According to Mecius the first essential was to make sure
      that old people lacked neither silk to clothe themselves nor meat to feed
      themselves.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mencius_(book)

    • http://www.facebook.com/pauline.dyson1 Pauline Dyson

      Where do you find parsley for 50 cents ?…it’s a garnish and hardly equivalent to a bowl of Swiss chard and beans, one of my favorite dishes.

  • StilllHere

    I thought Obama threw SS into the mix.

    Usually math is not the Dems strong suit, I’m surprised they even brought it up.

    We need to get rid of SS or else call it what it is, another welfare program for those who won’t save. 

    • Steve__T

       Clueless

    • nj_v2

      ^ The Troll King stumbles in

  • Steve__T

    Congress needs to take a pay cut, But they wont. The salary increase takes effect on January 1 of each year unless Congress votes to decline it. They haven’t had one in two years. So I’m sure they think they need it.

  • spirit17of76

    Please outline in detail the way the social security “lock box” has been raided for general use, if this has happened.  If so does this not need, in fairness, to be restored to the social security “pot?”

    ALSO, will the new Soc Sec payment be based on the Index which DOES include healthcare, which for everyone is increasing.  It seems very inappropriate not to include healthcare in any Index that exists, since that, along with housing, makes up a very significant portion of most people’s yearly expenditures, especially for the self-employed and for those in low wage jobs that do not provide comprehensive healthcare.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Social Security was established as a Trust.
      That should be a dead giveaway.
      Just Trust US.

    • mariaconz

      The government “borrowed” from Social Security and doesn’t want to pay back the money they “borrowed.” That’s called stealing, in my book.

  • Scott B

    Why don’t they do chained CPI on a scale, much like the tax brackets (of which we don’t have enough, but I digress).  The people with the least would be hurt the most if it’s across the board evenly.  One third of all Soc Sec have it as their sole income. Why should they be forced to make more ends meet with less, than those with a nice nest egg, using their Sec Sec benefits for greens fees, brunches, and gifts for the grand kids?  I know people in both camps.

    The people in Congress should try living like a person living only with Soc Sec and Medicaid/Medicare for a few months.

  • Ellen Dibble

    To me, the agony of the senior squeeze is that people truly reduced to rice and peanut butter, if one suddenly needs a new refrigerator, one has to go back to work.  And with that added income, he or she may be bounced out of her public housing, or have to pay 30% of that income for affordable housing, etc., etc.

    • nj_v2

      Geez, i’m still in my 50s, and i already eat a lot of rice and peanut butter. Hate to see what’s in store in a few more years…

  • StilllHere

    Sequestration will never happen.  Congress doesn’t do cuts.

  • Sarasotaseniors

    What has cutting social security got to do with the fiscal cliff? This is a bogus premise.  Social Security has enough money for 75 years. If the Repubs are worried, then Congress should raise the cap on income subjected to Social Security.  Cutting SS is just another way to take us back to the days of the “robber barons” and decimate the middle class.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1273528823 Maggie French

    To all those who are looking to adjust “the rules for the elderly,”  be careful what you do as you too will be elderly some day . . . 

    • StilllHere

      Yeah, let’s just tax somebody else.

      • nj_v2

        ^ Troll

        • jefe68

          No, he’s voicing an opinion that’s based on hyperbolic asides and fear. This guy represent the selfish and ugly side of human nature.

          • nj_v2

            Your and my characterizations are not mutually exclusive.

          • jefe68

            On second thought, you’re right. He’s a troll.

          • Steve__T

            Correction, It’s a Troll.

  • StilllHere

    SS reform alternative:  you get what you pay in and that’s it. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Why is it righty SocSec reformers always forget survivor benefits? Haven’t they ever been widows or orphans?

      • Ray in VT

        Well, those people probably should have had the personal responsibility to not be a widow/widower or orphan.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Talk about the “unlucky sperm club” (in comparison to the Donald Trumps and Bill Gates’ of the world).

    • AaronGregory

      What would the incentive be then to pay in?  Wouldn’t it be better to take the money and invest it?

    • jefe68

      You should change your name to Ebenezer Scrooge.
       

  • gregorclark

    Health care is the single biggest expense affecting seniors’ budgets, and it’s growing WAY faster than the rate of inflation.

    Breaking our collective promise to millions of seniors so that the ultra-wealthy can continue reaping all the benefits of our national economy is just plain despicable (see graph here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=396042270460699&set=a.103312733066989.4871.103224119742517&type=1&theater).

    Shame on President Obama for proposing this ‘compromise’. Social Security is a separate trust fund and should be left out of the budget negotiations.

  • AaronGregory

    I find any Republican who was in office when Halliburton got a no-bid contract to have no credibility when it comes to fiscal matters.

    • OnPointComments

      How about the Democrats who award no-bid contracts?
       
      “I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all.  The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House.” –Barack Obama, Oct. 2, 2008. 
       
      After becoming president, Mr. Obama continued the attack and promised on March 4, 2009, to “end unnecessary no-bid and cost-plus contracts. … In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition. … And that’s completely unacceptable.”
       
      May 2010:  KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, was awarded a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through next year.
       
      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/13/obamas-mounting-hypocrisy/

  • mariaconz

    I can’t believe this guy who’s on now talking “logically,” but actually he’s talking from a position of not caring about the elderly regarding Social Security! Infuriating. He’s talking about “behavior” and “choices” with $1,200 a month as though we’re all small children whose behavior changes will be good for us! Don’t bring guys like this on the air. Too ugly by half. He reminds me of the book “The Mean Season,” which I read in social work grad school.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000167780414 Jim Porter

    Tom:  There is something know in economics as a “Giffen Good”  As your income shrinks it is possible that you will spend MORE on this good even though its price is rising faster than other goods.  For example if food, shelter, and transportation rise a person may spend more on health care which is rising even faster! Because total income is shrinking the recipient may have to devote more of his or her income on a higher priced good! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/lars.grantwest Lars Grant-West

    If the price of beef goes up, it’s usually connected to the price of other things…fuel, feed, etc., which impacts people in other ways. Conservatives say middle income people don’t deserve the slice of the pie they spent their lives earning, Yet we can’t cut a sliver off the deal the lower tax rates wealthier people have on their investments? Working people are already seeing benefits drop  (or disappear completely) and pay rates drop (which will only increase as unions are kneecapped). People are being nickled and dimed to death as conservatives claw for inch after inch of ground on these issues. 

    Let the wealthy people eat American beef instead of kobe or caviar. Leave the support for people who have worked their butts off all their lives alone!

  • Scott B

    I’m hearing “Let them eat cake,” with all this, “Maybe they eat goat, or Alpo.”  “Cake”, in Marie Antoinette’s day, wasn’t the dessert we know it as now. It was a mixture they used to line the ovens to keep things from sticking to the walls of the oven. I was basically charcoal made from flour that was already inedible, and the burnt spatters of the dishes being cooked on it.

  • Steve__T

    They need to keep their hands off SS. People paid into it and should receive their just savings.

    • Ben Cornforth

      while I agree, it’s important to remember that SS isn’t a savings plan – what you pay is spent relatively soon on those currently drawing; the big problem is that we’ll reach a point where there are more people on SS then paying into it.  If it were savings then the baby boom bubble woudln’t matter.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        SocSec’s imagined solvency problem is pretty much folderol. With a touch of adjustment here and there it will be all set.

        The scare language from the people who want to privately “manage” the SocSec trust fund should be a tip-off, but the timeframes they use are crap, and totally ignore the business cycle.

      • Steve__T

        OK not a savings plan. Its actually insurance. Or a better explanation is The payroll taxes collected for Social Security are of course taxes, but they can also be described as contributions to the social insurance system that is Social Security. Hence, the name Federal Insurance Contributions Act.  So, FICA is nothing more than the tax provisions of the Social Security Act, as they appear in the internal Revenue Code. If you paid in you should be able to get your return.

    • StilllHere

      Clueless!

      • Steve__T

         Yes we know you are, but you keep blathering anyway.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DSLVQPXGRBL36K2DJTZN6I2DLI gary

    Isn’t there a cap on SS tax – income above a certain amount is exempt?  Why not just remove that cap?  Are bonuses exempt from SS tax?  And why aren’t gas/oil/fuel prices included in CPI?

  • Michiganjf

    Federal spending is a matter of priorities.

    We can, for example, keep defense spending high, keep giving huge subsidies to oil companies, keep taxing the wealthy at a low level, and slash benefits for the elderly…

    OR,

      We can slash defense and corporate subsidies, and we’ll have PLENTY of money to keep social security solvent at the currently indexed levels.

    • Gregg Smith

      When have the wealthy ever paid a higher percentage of the overall bill? It’s a simple question.

      • Ray in VT

        When have the wealthy ever earned a higher percentage of the overall national income?  That’s also a simple question that needs to be asked in the same breath.

        • Gregg Smith

          If the agenda is to punish achievement so that the rich pay yet more of the bill when they have never (to my knowledge) paid more then I don’t understand why the second question should even be asked. If the case could be made that the poor are poor because of the rich that would be one thing. That case cannot be made so it is implied. That allows opposition to higher taxes to be framed as heartless which IMHO is a hideous and divisive. The poor are not poor because of the wealth gap. The poor’s lives will not be improved one millisquidgeon if the rich are taxed more. It’s all envy, emotions and class warfare with zero fiscal benefit.

          I am not concerned at all with how much anyone makes or how richer they are than I.  It’s time to breakout Maggie again who said it best:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okHGCz6xxiw

          • nj_v2

            Greggg’s cluelessness plummets to new depths.

            http://www.reuters.com/subjects/income-inequality/washington

          • jefe68

            Margret Thatcher? You don’t know what you are talking about.

            She made millions of people homeless due to the poll tax.
            Margret Thatcher was one of the worst Prime Minister’s in modern British History.

          • sickofthechit

             Gregg, when the share of  wealth the top 20% control moves from 75% to 88% over the last 25 years because of tax policies that benefit them (keep in mind worker productivity is at an all time high, yet worker wages are not) then it is not envy we feel, but disgust and anger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julia.gandrud.9 Julia Gandrud

    My father, as a farmer, started working at the age of four, and later served in Vietnam. He is barely surviving off of soc sec AND work. Please don’t make his life unworkable.

  • laure371

    Eliminate the payroll tax cap for social security- it would be solvent for years 

    • jefe68

      That would be to easy.

  • Stephen_Mangion

    Seems to me that raising the cap of FICA/SS taxes should be on the table.  Why aren’t they.   As Senator Sanders has pointed out, doing so means SS/ is solvent for the foreseeable – 75 years.
    Oh yeah:  that mean the rich would have to pay. Far easier to squeeze the less rich . . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.e.koehler Kristen Koehler

    The conversation needs to be about preparing the NEXT generation for lower or no social security payments. We all need to stop relying on social security for 100% of our retirement. Today’s 40 and 50 year olds should not be counting on social security for the bulk of their retirement. People need to take personal responsibility for themselves and plan for their retirements and stop going out to eat and taking so many vacations, etc. Until we start having that discussion, we will be having this same discussion 20 years from now. Entitlement programs are unsustainable over time – the FACTS (numbers) bear that out – its not a discussion – its a FACT. We have the excruciatingly current example of Greece right under our noses that we pretend isn’t a lesson for us. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      The example of Greece? This country is not Greece. Less scare talk as “fact”, please.

      • nj_v2

        It’s a troll, what do you expect?

    • StilllHere

      Great point, and SS was never intended to be anyone’s sole support.  However, that is how it has been treated by too many and there has been no educational effort to counter that popular belief.

      • Ray in VT

        Perhaps they should all rely on those generous private pensions that are thriving in corporate America.

      • jefe68

        The voice of hyperbole is back.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Unfortunately it never left.

    • nj_v2

      Right, the reason so many people are struggling is because they took to many vacations.

      Life is interesting here on planet earth. You should come and visit sometime.

    • jefe68

      What is it with the right and it’s obsession with Greece?
      Why not Denmark or Germany or Iceland?

      We are not Greece, never will we be.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Some recent estimates say that as many as one in four Americans struggle with hunger and/or malnutrition. If we can’t afford to put bread on the table today, how the hell are we supposed to be stocking the pantry? And if we did manage to stock up the pantry do you mean to tell me someone’s not going to come along and raid it before we ever even get to enjoy the fruits of our labor?

  • Ellen Dibble

    It would be cheaper to lift all boats, than to be out there breathing for all the sinkers.  I mean, it is very costly to the government to have such a winner-take-all society, but the math has been clear to me since I first took a look at compound interest.  I didn’t think the government would be paying compound interest on debt — paying it with Social Security.  But it begins to look like it.  Uncle Sam is losing his marbles.

  • nj_v2

    : : :  waving arms, jumping up and down  : : :

    Someone please hand a note to Tom (posted this earlier)…

    “…It is important to remember that under the law Social Security is supposed to be treated as a separate program that is financed by its own stream of designated revenue. This means that it cannot contribute to the budget deficit under the law, because it is only allowed to spend money from the Social Security trust fund.”

    —Dean Baker (who should have been a guest on this program!)

  • Gr8artLvr

    I don’t know too many retired people who are living entirely on social security that can afford steak now!
    My husband and I receive social security, but we do receive another pension check and we still have to watch our budget!

  • skeptic150

    It seems to me the Social Security age qualifications need to be increased. And, personally, I like the ideas of the Peter G Peterson foundation.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      lmao

      How old are you?

      • skeptic150

        Middle aged – and I am ok with increasing the social security eligibilty age, including as it may apply to me (in ~20 years).
        Reduced benefits are available at 62 and full benefits 65-67.  Life expectancy in the US is 78.2 years overall, 75.6 for males, 80.8 for females.  I think adjustments for age, and sex, are not unreasonable.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          But not adjustments for excessive income right? Because obviously If you have more, you deserve more…
          Talk to me again regarding this subject in ~20 years.

      • skeptic150

        Or, do you take issue with my liking the ideas of the PGP Foundation?
        http://www.pgpf.org/Search.aspx?q=social+security

  • laure371

    Eliminate the payroll tax cap for earnings Bernie%20Sanders%20Introduces%20Bill%20to%20Lift%20the%20Payroll%20Tax%20Cap,%20Ensuring%20Full%20Social%20Security%20Funding%20fo.webarchive

  • Ben Cornforth

    There is a 900+ Billion portion of the budget called…..wait for it…DEFENSE SPENDING…..why not take just some of that?

  • bertieman

    At the margin, this index will dictate daily diet choices to retired working folks so that the wealthy protect their kids’ right to buy extra options on their luxury vehicles down the road.  Let’s keep both sides of this equation up front.

  • woodhood37

    Why do we always go after those who have the most to lose? Why can’t we reduce subsidies to oil, corporations and foreign governments? It seems to me that they are more “entitled” than any senior citizen.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      “Why do we always go after those who have the most to lose?”

      Because they are the easiest targets.

  • bethrjacobs

    means test the congress make them declare their total income
    if makeover $200,ooo make them give up congressional paychecks and how much do
    those drone/ missiles cost millions each plus salaries of those who push the
    button murder is very expensive cut that out too make the president and congress live like those on ssi judges have made slum lords live in thier own slums do that the the president and congress

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TWYWEPJOZ4NLFA36HONM76CW5Q Allison

    If you both eliminated the payroll tax cap (or increase it) and means test Social Security, wouldn’t the problems be solved?

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    The beatings will continue until moral improves. Tax the poor more, tax the rich less. That’s a kinder gentler nation for you!!!

  • dt03044

    I take issue with the continued use of the word “entitlements”.  I have paid payroll taxes for over 30 years, including Social Security tax.  This will continue until I retire.   I don’t feel “entitled”.   I feel I have earned the benefit I will eventually receive.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Yep. It’s another “what are you, some moocher?” buzzword, like the catch-all “welfare”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        J.Paul Getty bragged about getting Social Security checks every month. He was only too happy to take that 200 bucks (back then) while more deserving people- who were NOT multi-millionaires like him- starved & froze to death for lack of a little bit of money. That’s the nature of the spoiled rich. They’re cheap, cold & greedy, as a rule.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          But that points up how we view the rich.

          Getty is simply getting what the contract he entered into says he should. (I have no qualm about that.)

          Only when it comes to the working class does the language, the framing, the narrative get to not actual means testing, but what I’d describe as “moral hazard testing”.

          “Cheap, cold and greedy” for a rich fellow may well be burnished to “thrifty, clear-headed, and always with an eye on the main chance”. (Not talking issue with your opinion about Getty, just the tendencies in others’ characterizations.)

    • StilllHere

      You’ve only earned what you paid in.  Unfortunately everybody’s taking out more.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        No, not EVERYBODY. With a steadily declining life expectancy for the ordinary American who is under 65 -now- it is certain that most younger folks who pay in to the system for 30 or 40 years will not live long enough to recoup one red cent. Current SS projections depend on the new stats indicating that a large percentage of people who are working today will die young. Cynical? Yes. But true.

        • StilllHere

          Please cite source for “steadily declining life expectancy for ordinary Americans…

      • sickofthechit

         It is called the “Old Age Survivors Disability Income Act”. Which means we are all receiving benefits every day because once we start working we are covered by the “Disability” portion, our spouse or children are covered by the survivors benefits should anything happen to us and at retirement we also get a retirement benefit.  Most people don’t recognize Social Security covers more, much more than a simple retirement benefit.  We need to raise the cap on income subject to Social Security Taxes as a first step.
        charles a. bowsher

  • Southern_Harebell

    I think the chained CPI is a wonderful idea.  My plan is to gradually change from beef, to chicken, to beans & rice, to grasshoppers, and then die of starvation.  This is very important to our economy so that Christies Auction House can continue to set auction records, such as their recent $400 million auction funded by the “job creators” who cant afford higher taxes.

  • Jerry Adams

    If the elderly are being asked to make “adjustments” to their life style because of cuts to SS, why is unreasonable to have the richer make adjustments to their life style by increasing their taxes?

    • keltcrusader

      Good question!!!

  • Sarah Roche-Mahdi

    This conversation should not even be happening. Where is the outrage?  Social Security has nothing to do with budget deficit. This is a vicious LIE! How many times does one have to say it? 
    Tax the rich and above all slash the military budget. Hands off Medicare and Medicaid as well. In any case, I would love to see those who consider SS fair game try to live on ca $1100 a month. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      $1,100 is much more (3x more) than the retired folks I know receive monthly. Try living on $350 or $400 a month! They can’t even afford to DIE on that pittance.

  • JennaJennaeight

    Let them eat cake. 

  • catherine14

    Many of these discussion leave out the fact that so many of the elderly have developing dementia and re-engineering one’s budget becomes increasingly difficult.  And, in fact, the diminishing physical and intellectual capabilities that come with old age further complicate life and increases one’s household budget.

  • nj_v2

    Tom, why do you feel the need to poke every caller with a stick  (caller with medical challenge)?

    It sounds like you had one cup a coffee too much today.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NTZPSD3UXV6GEV5YWADOS56IYQ Kar

    Taking from the elderly poor and reward the rich makes no sense. Most, if not all, Republicans and some Democrats are wedded to those who lobby for the rich.

  • StilllHere

    Outlays for social security, are now at about 5% of GDP. The aging of the population will help to push social security benefits up to roughly 6% of GDP by the middle of the century. The COLA change now under consideration would cut that only slightly – to 5.9% of GDP. [According to OMB]

  • marcsc

    The “lowest hanging fruit” is the cap on salary withholding.  Lift the cap to where the worker is having the social security payroll deduction is on all earnings in a calendar year and like magic the funding problem in the out years goes away.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m thinking, listening to the disabled caller, that the Republican take on this is that the family should take care of its own, and after that, the church should.  So those about 60 are worrying about how much they’re going have to be tied at the hip to their parents, once again, and for some, that’s great.  For others, not.  I’m worrying that people like Lisa, who says how much she values being “in the community,” able to participate and be active, people like her will not have bus fare to get anywhere, and will end up rotting in place, more or less, which all the research suggests hastens dementia, and is nobody’s idea of how we want to spend our golden years.

  • Cwtaylor123

    Why is no one talking about removing the cap on the income level for social security taxes? Wouldn’t removing the ~$105k cap allow social security to be solvent for the long term? I feel that this is quite an important issue because it highlights the inequality of the burden for this very important social program. Thanks for your time and another great show.

  • Cwtaylor123

    Why is no one talking about removing the cap on the income level for social security taxes? Wouldn’t removing the ~$105k cap allow social security to be solvent for the long term? I feel that this is quite an important issue because it highlights the inequality of the burden for this very important social program. Thanks for your time and another great show.

    • gregorclark

       PRECISELY the point I was about to raise — thanks! This seems such a straightforward, workable solution, and I’m mystified as to why it doesn’t get discussed more seriously.

      • Cwtaylor123

        I’ve read that if this cap was removed we could potentially reduce the overall tax rate for individuals and businesses. Not only that, we wouldn’t need to be discussing these cuts/changes to SS and could potentially even start talking about scaling increases for elderly beneficiaries.

  • Markus6

    I’m not up for Social Security for many years, but I find comments like seniors need to take responsibility, or Senator Simpson’s calling seniors “greediest generation” to be dumb. Many of the seniors getting SS, paid into it for decades. And now, because a very wealthy, insulated group (our government), has been incompetent in managing finances, the seniors are going to get less. 

    We are in serious debt trouble. And maybe SS needs to be cut, though I’d put defense and about 30 other things before it. But calling this group who were promised something and paid into it for decades greedy or irresponsible, is just dumb.

    • Markus6

      Oh and importantly, I never looked into Senator Simpson’s quote all that closely. It’s possible he was quoted out of context. So, apologies if that was not his intention. 

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Just eliminate the SSI cap! Just tax the first trillion in personal income!

  • DrewInGeorgia

    He said it’s semantic, but it’s important. I’m confused, what’s the definition of semantics again?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      “Do I have to tell you what that means?”, asked Tom Swifty, rhetorically.

  • StilllHere

    Just eliminate SS, it has outgrown its usefulness.

    • Ray in VT

      Thanks for your 19th century solution to our 21st century problem.  I’m sure that if we just get rid of Social Security then the market will just take care of things such as the issue of poverty among the elderly on its own.

      • StilllHere

        No, other existing welfare programs will take care of the issues.  We just get rid of the whole charade of an entitlement.

        • Ray in VT

          Yeah, all of those other programs that the TOP wants to get rid of?  I think that we have a pretty good idea of what society without a social safety net looks like, and that was America pre New Deal.  You may want to live in such a world, but most Americans don’t.

          • StilllHere

            That makes no sense.

            You mean getting rid of charitable deductions?

          • Ray in VT

            You don’t make any sense.  So charitable deductions are a welfare program?  Private charity isn’t up to the task of the complex problems of modern society.  Again, a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.

          • StilllHere

            Eliminate SS and dismantle the bureaucracy, expand existing bureaucracies that provide the safety net to those with need.  Seems doable.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Ooh, calling SocSec “welfare”. Clever!

          Yeah, everyone who’s paid into SocSec: Stillhere calls you all moochers, you lazy 47%ers.

          Not that “welfare” is a scare word in some corners of the low-information media.

        • anamaria23

          Before SS, it was necessary for children to contribute to the support of their parents, lest they perish.
          SS freed up generations of offspring to pursue their own dreams.  Medicare has enabled that also, thus allowing upward mobility.  
          Diminishing SS and Medicare would thrust the costs of aging back onto the children.

          • StilllHere

            This is why people are whining that they can’t live off of SS?  Where do you suppose the burden falls then?  It’s a welfare program with that pays something to people who don’t need it to make them feel good about the fact they paid in for years.

          • anamaria23

            It may not  be perfect, but it lifted millions out of abject poverty.
            I cannot imagine the country without it.   It goes right back into the economy for most.

          • StilllHere

            It’s created a moral hazard.

          • jefe68

            Actually you are wrong.
            SS was part of a three legged retirement system that also included pensions and 401K’s.

            It was put in place by FDR so the elderly did not have to live in the dire poverty that large segments of this population were as a result of losing everything in the Great Depression.

            That you think the way you do is all well and good. But it stinks, your world view is based on social Darwinism at it’s worst.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Submitted without comment.

    • nj_v2

      ^ Troll

  • Roy B Brinker

    Cheap food is not always healthy food, if we force people to make decisions based on a shrinking personal budget, are we not just adding to the problem of a weak health care system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000618080348 Melissa Harry

    Social security cuts will hit hardest the most vulnerable Americans, people with disabilities, the elderly, women, and women of color. We should be talking about raising the $110,000 cap on income that is taxed for social security or at least curb the benefits for those that make the most income, not the least. Taking even a few dollars away from a population already bordering on living in poverty is absurd.

  • jefe68

    Does Tom Ashbrook seem out of sorts here?
    He’s coming across as a complete wanker today.

  • WBC_in_MA

    Social Security is definitely part of the problem!  If more money is going out than going in, then of course it is costing the govenrment something.  Changing the way we calculate the CPI makes sense.

  • Scott B

    These budget hawks in Congress, and those that surround themm, calling for cuts to social programs, wearing nice suits, driving nice cars that don’t break down, and platinum insurance, are beyond insulated from the people they will hurt, they are ignorant, and deliberately so. “Tighten your belts,” they say.  “Everybody must share the pain.”  Tell that to someone that’s already punched multiple holes in their belt to make it tighter and tighter, people where a single digit decrease means having one less meal, versus someone getting Soc Sec that has six figures in the bank, a nice home that’s paid for, and has had to punch holes in their belt to let it encompass their growing waistline.

  • Mike_Cr

    SS cuts are on the table to force younger generations to toss more cash to Wall Street 401k’s in hopes of affording retirement.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      I hear that all SS payments will be made by electronic bank transfers starting in a few months. An elder gent of my acquaintance is worried sick about not getting his paper check anymore. He has no computer & no understanding of how electronic banking works. I see this move as a means to place BILLIONS of SS dollars in the hands of private bankers- the usurious middlemen- before it reaches the recipients it was meant for. They MAKE money on YOUR money before you even see it, in other words. Talk about another grand government enabled banking scam!

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Hear, hear!

        My MiL is not one of those hip, elderly folks using their iPads to control their wall-sized flatscreen TV. For some reason I think very few sept-, oct- and nonagenarians are.

        And the “normalization” of “let’s invest SocSec” talk is scary. To those banksters, we’re just nothing but walking, talking burlap bags with dollar signs on them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

          Well said. You’re right, some seniors I know have never used a cellphone, either. They don’t even want to know how to operate a computer let alone OWN one. I am reminded of the “Welfare queen w/ a Cadillac” fables spun out by early neo-cons. The “queens” never existed, but that’s not the point. Demonizing old folks for living longer than is convenient for greedy cheapskates is a new low in American political mythology.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.scarbrough1 Scott Scarbrough

    maybe we should attach chained CPI to all federal employee pay if it is such a good idea.

    • mauryshe

      Here Here, YOU have the right idea!!!

    • StilllHere

      And factor in benefits and pensions!

  • jim_thompson

    Why aren’t they discussing raising the cut off where social security is deducted from salaries? Lifting that cap/cut off could solve the problem for seventy-five years or more.

  • Ellen Dibble

    “I want to make sure the blue collar worker on the street” can retire with adequate resources.  Let’s consider.  Not every retiree is happy to play golf for the next 35 years.  Some of them get antsy and find themselves tutoring in the schools, driving the bus to take other elderly to appointments, manning the front desk at the hospital, gathering together for this cause or that.  Old people are definitely a resource if they are not straitjacketed into income that allows them to fester in place and not much more.

    • Gregg Smith

      A friend’s mother is 86, lives alone and drives herself to Walmart to work as a greeter. She pays her own bills. I think it’s cool.

      • Ray in VT

        It’s a good thing that that is typical for all elderly people.  Maybe my father, who was almost totally disabled by 75 due to a life of farm labor, could have done the same so as not to take out of a system that he paid into.

        • Gregg Smith

          No one will ever propose your father be taken out of the system. No one would stand for it. No one would suggest it. No one is. No one will. Just so we’re clear.

          The crack head getting food stamps, not so much.

          • nj_v2

            And don’t forget the black welfare queen pulling to to the convenience store in a Cadillac to buy lottery tickets.

          • Gregg Smith

            No one said “black” welfare queen but racists inferred it.

          • StilllHere

            Very sad example of racism on his part.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

            I’ve never personally known a “crack head”- have you? If they are really getting all the government handouts, though, maybe it’s a good “career” choice for those who don’t have jobs in high finance.

          • Gregg Smith

            Yes I have. I’m conflicted. We have a single mother who has worked for us about 5 years feeding horses. She works nights in a factory and feeds horses (3 hours) in the morning. Her husband was a crack head who would disappear for days at a time. We helped her get out and on her own. The creep is the father and still in her life which I guess is good. He’s on disability because of a lung disorder. He smokes pall malls when he’s not sucking oxygen. He’s 50 something and lives with his dad. He gets food stamps and complains full time. He has done it all to himself.

            It translates into a check for the kid however. There is a certain portion of his disability money he has no control over. This means her mother doesn’t have to kill herself to make ends meets. We set up a college fund for her and put some in every year.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

            Wow. I guess I’ve lived a fairly sheltered- if penurious- life, then. Sure, I’ve been beaten & deserted by an abusive ex but he was stone cold sober. I commend you for helping this mother & child. Yes, I have shoveled out horse stalls, too, to pick up extra grocery money for my 2 kids, while also working 2 other jobs, so I do know how tough it is to get by when a bad man lets you down. You’re a good egg, Gregg!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Vitercik/1140871901 Greg Vitercik

    “Social Security wasn’t designed for the current life span…” The military bidget of the 1930s wasn’t intended to pay for even one F 35…

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Actually, that “current life span” addition really skews to the rich. If you are a physical laborer, and your dad was, and your grandpa was, generation by generation, your life expectancy is maybe a year or two more than your gramp’s.

      But if you’re a white collar sort, and your gramp was, that’s where the life expectancy really shot up since the mid 1930s. We’re asking people to give up another year of SocSec benefits, of which they’re not having many of, for the well off who are already statistically collecting for many more years after much less wearing jobs. It’s bunkum.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        Sadly, the previous upswing in average American life expectancy flattened out & started to decline over the past 2 decades. We now have the LOWEST life expectancy of all the wealthy nations in the world. Just another point of pride for the trickle-down crowd.

        • StilllHere

          Source?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

            http://www.voanews.com/content/life-expectancy-declining-in-large-parts-of-us-124128694/171521.html   This story is more than a year old. It’s only 1 of many such stories available online. Google “American life expectancy decline” & you’ll find ‘em if you want to see the statistical breakdown from other sources.

          • StilllHere

            Yet it’s the best you can come up with and it doesn’t make your point. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

            Hmmm, last time I checked my alimentary sphincter was still here, too. You still have no point to make. Forgive me if you are a senior citizen with nothing better to do with your time, but I think it might be better spent as a greeter at Walmart.

          • StilllHere

            Pathetic.  Don’t blame me for your inability to support your point.

        • anamaria23

          This is true.  Five people that I knew did not live to collect SS that they paid into since teenagers.  This in the last five years, in their early sixties.  All men.  The women seem to live longer.   They can collect SS at the rate of their husband if it is higher than theirs.  Most women in their sixties and seventies were employed at some time and contributed.

          • StilllHere

            5, sounds like an epidemic.  Has the CDC looked into this?

          • nj_v2

            ^ Troll

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        This is a very good comment. I hope that you will develop this idea and provide statistical sources when you mail off these powerful concepts to members of Congress, The White House, and the Press !

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Thanks, but I must admit to poaching the idea from someone who really is into statistics, maybe a Brad DeLong or Nate Silver type, so credit where it is due.

          And, hey, if “the press” read all my emails, they’d read everybody’s. I’m just some keyboard-typist in a suburb somewhere.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

    I hope we go over the cliff and stay there. 

    None of this Bull on Voodoo economics… especially the kabuki or chained CPI… this CPI will chain the elderlies to death..

    EVERYONE SHOULD PAY TAXES!!! especially the rich.

    • StilllHere

      We’re already over the cliff. Unsustainable deficits and record debt that doesn’t even include unfunded entitlement liabilities. 

      • jimino

        Source?

        • StilllHere

          OMB, try to keep up.

          • jimino

            So you got nothing. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/cecebar Cindy C Barnard

    Yes, a false crisis, this fiscal cliff — can the media not expound upon that fact more?

    Yes, a system we could afford as it is, but also as we provide more work/growth, and with a more fair tax bracket.

    Why can’t we get the message out that SS is NOT part of deficit problem?

    As a civilzation we pay for Medicare and Medicade for our vulnerable (just as we all will likely be one day). Making these programs more efficient goes a long way.

    Yes, dems hang tough!
    _Cindy

  • mauryshe

    What about all the people who have worked hard most of their lives, paid their dues into SS, tightened their belt cinch by chinch, year by year, ‘adjusted their way of living’ and now DEPEND on the SS they paid into all their working years?   My husband is now 75 but was an active real estate broker until the bottom fell out in 2007!  We went from an good income to one meager closing a year, if LUCKY!  We still have a college student and we absolutely depend on that SS check, and our savings account that we again paid into, for our income now.   Working successfully, or even just working, and paying INTO the system with the goal of support in later years..incentive to work…as opposed to the 48% who just suck the government ‘tit’ and always want more!  Gimme, Gimme, instead of shouldering the responsibility of themselves and their offspring!

  • Mike_Cr

    The only reason Wall Street-backed Republicans want to mess with SS is to force younger generations to toss more money to the private markets and less stable 401ks. It’s that easy. SS is there no matter what the markets do, while my 401k lost over 50% in 2009. What if I were retiring that year?

    • StilllHere

      You can buy long-dated Treasuries directly from the government and outperform SS returns.  No Wall Street involvement at all. 

      The stock market was up huge in 2009, so you really pulled off something impressive.  Were you short?  Probably not the appropriate risk level to be taking in the year of your retirement.

      • jimino

        Where does the government get the money to pay the obligation to someone who takes your advice and buys Treasuries directly?

        • StilllHere

          Printing press in sub-basement D room 3.

  • WBC_in_MA

    Yes, we should consider raising the cap.  However, remember that there is a cap on the maximum benefit.  At some point, the higher wage workers will have NO CHANCE on getting any reasonable % of what they put in back in the form of benefits.  That said, SS needs to become financially sound, so I’m in favor of this being part of the fix too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.lariviera Michael LaRiviera

    This is the most incomplete fiscal cliff discussion I have heard.  Your guests are either ignorant or purposely avoiding one fact when they talk of “surplus” in the Social Security fund.  There is no surplus of cash to use for benefits.   The trust fund consists of government debt obligations.  The have borrowed the surplus and replaced it with debt instruments or obligations to pay.   The government has to pay for the interest expense associated with this debt out of the general budget.   

    • HeidiFox

      All the more reason we have to keep the soundness of the federal government intact.  We are investing in ourselves when we invest the surpluses of the SS Trust Fund in government obligations.  What used to be a risk-free investment, with the accompanying lower rate of return, is in jeopardy of becoming riskier if we keep playing politics with the ability of the US to honor its obligations.

      I am willing to debate the wisdom of an exploding debt:GDP ratio, but there are many contributing factors to it that some in Washington are refusing to recognize.

      Whether one agrees with the wisdom of the decade of war, if we claim to want responsible spending, then when we engaged in those wars and did not reverse the Bush era tax cuts to pay for them, we were not practicing responsible spending for that decade.  So, as a symbolic gesture of good faith negotiating, those Bush era tax cuts should be allowed to expire.  BUT, given the position our country is in now, with slow economic recovery, it makes sense in the short term to have a gradual expiration with those most able to afford it paying more in the short term.

      I don’t understand why Congress needs a pending crisis to function.  There is room for serious debate not political theater.  We all must learn from the ideologies of the other side, rather than engage in confirmation bias.

    • jimino

      Those who benefited from the taking of that money should pay it back.  Along with the interest it has cost us to fund those benefits.  Or maybe the government can default on its other obligations for which there is also no actual cash awaiting such as payments to defense contractors, military personnel, Congressional staff salaries.  Or perhaps we can refuse to honor the Treasury bills held by private investors.  I could go on, but would have to name virtually every government obligation of every stripe.

      Why would we selectively default on the ONLY obligation that has actually been adequately financed by forcefully withholding money from every working American?

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Government debt obligations, aka T-bonds backed by “the full faith and credit” of the USA, are universally considered some of the safest and most conservative investments on the planet. Only in the context of an attack on SS would anyone consider an account full of T-bonds anything but rock-solid. If the gvt wants to borrow my $ and pay me interest (record low despite all the wrong predictions of voodoo economists!), it’s not my problem. Ditto for the SSA. What do you want SSA to do, keep the $ in the mattress?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002360588492 Dev Devta

       Following your logic we need to go to all the US treasury bond holders and tell them we cannot pay you 100 cent to the dollar and see the MONEYED people ACT!!!

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Exactly right. The class warriors want T-bonds to be the safest investment in the world, EXCEPT when they were bought by the SSA on behalf of working Americans for their retirement.

        I actually expect to see the claim, at some point, that the gvt can default on the SSA T-bonds because they are somehow different from other T-bonds. Keep your helmet on.

        • jimino

          We are already hearing this talk from professional liars like Charles Krauthammer and others who clearly advocate selectively defaulting on the obligations securing the SS surplus by claiming that the money paid into the program by all working Americans doesn’t “really” exist.

          • Steve__T

             It doesn’t the have taken the money and left a bunch of IOU’s

          • TomK_in_Boston

            If I or the chinese or a pension fund or mitt romney buy a T-bond, the gvt takes the money, spends the money, and gives me an IOU. That’s why it’s called a “bond”. T-bonds are considered very safe, conservative investments. That’s why they pay so little interest.

            Do you know how ridiculous your talking point sounds? Would you look at some widow’s portfolio full of T-bonds and say “the have taken the money and left a bunch of IOU’s”

          • Steve__T

            Tom thanks for your reply. If I took your money and used it and got the actual value from it and left you a T-bond that lost value and is now a negative of it’s original value would you say that’s OK? Because that’s what has happened the T-bonds are not worth what they were when they were purchased. So do IOU?
            or are you willing to just let it go?

            Take a look at the scary trend line that shows the annual interest lost when the old long-term bonds matured or were sold versus the annual interest on the new long-term bonds

  • Darap

    The idea is initiated by bunch of Bean counters who are the low IQ group in mathematic applications totem pole in comparison to computer science and Engineering.  They don’t go to any complex Differential and Integral equations.  Instead of raising the SSI benefit when the cost of living is not affordable, the Bean counters suggest to even lower the benefits.  

  • TomK_in_Boston

    I know BHO is a Rockefeller republican and no liberal, but it’s still painful to see him put SS “on the table” after promising to defend it. SS doesn’t even enter the deficit, so why discuss it at all unless the real agenda is class warfare? And it’s stupid politics. The GoP wants to fight for cuts that voters don’t want, so let them – why share the blame? The next round of attack ads will be “They promised to defend SS, and they cut it”. They will be effective, and correct.

  • Scott B

    .

  • Gregg Smith

    Medicare, Medicaid and how the hell are we going to pay for Obamacare are major issues driving the deficit. However, what the world is looking for is a sane and sober coming to grips. Kicking the can just shows the ineptness and lack of courage to even face the problems much less solve them. SS is entering a new phase with the baby boomers and payer/payee ratios. This is the time to set it straight without anything radical. Otherwise the exponential spiral of debt goes nuts predictably even if not now. It would be a great benefit to address SS now to future generations. It would also instill a wee bit of confidence in world markets that we are halfway serious. If this circus sideshow comes away with a meaningful effort to make SS solvent into the future then I’ll be amazed but pleased. Obama will come up a notch in my book. I’m not holding my breath.

    • Ashleigh Dane

      People speak in large strokes about SS, Medicair and Medicaid without addressing the true issues. Of course no individual person, daughter, husband wife wants to see a loved one lose their ‘benefits,’ but  the programs are providing far more than they were designed to or can handle…and they are being abused.
      Also, people should check their facts before calling in. Someone reported that defense accounts for 60% of the budget and that is just incorrect. To put it in perspective in 2012

      -Defense Spending – 4.5% GDP
      -Medicare, Medicaid, SS – 9.7% GDP

      People should spend more time examining the CBO numbers and learning about programs such as Medicare. The program could be severly cut without hurting people. Currently over 60B in fraud occurs every year. If the coverage of knee and joint replacements was reduced (these are not life threatening), millions and possibly billions would be saved.

      Additionally, please learn about the American healthcare system! We have lower life expectancies than most developed countries and are nearly at the very bottom of the list for infant mortality. We are killing ourselves with too much healthcare.

      We all might benefit by spending more time understanding the subject matter and trying to educate ourselves before commenting based on emotion; perhaps we could find answers if we asked more questions and reviewed the information publicly available. here are a few links but you can also find public information on Medicare expenditure breakdowns, SS historical payments and much else!
      http://cnsnews.com/news/article/cbo-federal-healthcare-spending-surpass-all-discretionary-spending-2016
      http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_budget_pie
      http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2012/assets/hist.pdf

      • Gregg Smith

        Great comment. I agree, especially your point about emotions driving the debate. I do think infant mortality and lifespan are not good indicators though. There is no standard to compare infant mortality and the definition of live birth varies greatly across the world. The other thing is we are free to die young by being reckless and wild… and often do.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Of course you don’t think those are good indicators, because they contradict your preconceptions that turning heath care over to the corporations will produce the best results in the world, instead of the worst.

          FYI, French, Germans, Swiss, Scandanavians etc are quite happy with their systems and they pay as little as 1/2 our costs. That would put the balance sheet in order in a hurry!

          We have a health care problem, not a medicare problem. Private sector costs have been rising faster than medicare costs. Our total costs are lower with more people in medicare, not fewer. Medicare is the most efficient component of our crazy system.

          The best solution is to control costs while keeping medicare a comprehensive program. Of course when BHO tried to do that within the ACA, he was accused of “stealing $750 bil from medicare”. When he proposed to simply evaluate procedures for effectiveness, that was “death panels”. And, gawd forbid medicare might negotiate drug prices. Our corporate rulers won’t let THAT happen.

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t think they are good indicators for the reasons I cited, that’s all. 

          • StilllHere

            He’s got his talking points to spew, I don’t think he read your post.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002360588492 Dev Devta

         Ashleigh, while your data as a percent of GDP is accurate; we really need to look at the budget figures, net of FICA taxes collected.  If we are going to merge the spending budget, then let us get rid of FICA and increase the general income tax. The view that merges the spending part is a sleigh of hand to make our defense spending look meager.  The increases in Medicare, Medicaid and SS are partly driven by an increasing population of retiring baby boomers, who duly paid their taxes during their working lives.  By all means let us look at waste and fraud everywhere (I bet the fraud in DOD is an order of magnitude larger).

        I also agree that we are providing too much healthcare spending driven partly by private profit based providers, private insurance, our fee for service based model and finally fear of litigation.  We need to move to a single payer system, something most other western countries have done and spend at half the rate as us.

        Finally, Medicare has been managed far more efficiently than the private sector! 

        PS: I am aware that part of Medicare comes from the general budget, as well as all of Medicaid.

        Another solution to having a rational approach would be to take away the special treatment provided to congress and the executive branches, both for retirement benefits as well as medical coverage.

      • Mike_Card

        Indeed, “We all might benefit by spending more time understanding the subject matter and trying to educate ourselves before commenting based on emotion…”

        But that’s not really the discussion topic.  If we didn’t have a representative democracy, it might possibly be.  Those of us who need to earn livings in the grubby, work-a-day world should not need to spend time in the weeds of public policy:  that is why we elect representatives and reward their service handsomely.

  • Kiep99

    The SocSec COLA for 2013 is 1.7%, but Parts B/D premiums alone rise 5% which means effectively that recipients receive no COLA and still have B/D co-pay hikes for office visits & Rx drugs.

    Stop the Chained CPI & make the retiree COLA measure the CPI-E which actually measures senior/disabled expenditures & their price hikes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erik.salzwedel Erik Salzwedel

    Why always look at SS shortcomings from the benefit end? As I recall, income over a certain amount ($100,000 or so) is not even taxed by FICA. Why not simply raise this limit so those with robust earnings pay a bit more? They certainly receive the entitlement like everyone else.

    • DFT456

      But they wouldn’t be paying more; they are now paying less.  A caller asked about this, suggesting that people who make over $200,000 are in effect paying only 3% of their income into FICA.  Unfortunately no one on the program responded to that suggestion.  We could all pay less if all American’s paid equally into FICA.

      • StilllHere

        Are their benefits going to be equal?

        • DFT456

          Possibly.  There is a good article about this written by John Irons who testified before the Senate in 2009.  He includes data on calculating benefits for higher wage earners when you remove the cap.  

        • Mike_Card

          Dry up and stop wasting digits.  Do you really think Warren Buffet cares about his paltry Social Security benefit?

          • StilllHere

            You are too dim.  Buffett doesn’t have any earned income.  Anyway who cares about Buffett?  Direct your envy elsewhere.

          • Mike_Card

            Wow.  What color is the sky in your world?

          • Ray in VT

            Whatever the invisible hand has decided.

          • StilllHere

            The invisible hand has decided you are not worth the trouble.

          • Ray in VT

            That’s okay.  The ghost of Adam Smith told me that there is a particular digit on the invisible hand that you can sit and spin on.

          • StilllHere

            Bluer than blue.

  • adeleh

    I thought the reduction in payroll taxes for Fica/Medicare was silly – too small to be of consequence for employees but less revenue for the system.  Also, I would like to see the cap raised on income that is taxed for Fica/Medicare.

  • Gordon Green

    Why on earth are we looking to poor and elderly people to fill the budget gap, when those rich by inheritance without any merit of their own have more money than they know what to do with?  When a bloated military bureaucracy wastes money in the hundreds of billions?  When bankers get rich with zero-interest loans from the government?  When people with multiple homes get tax deductions for their exorbitant life styles?  When useless and hyper technical instant gambling on Wall Street that threatens our entire economy goes on tax free?  What kind of sick upside down ethics have won the day? 

    Social Security should not even be part of this discussion. It is not the problem here.  Health care costs and are unwillingness to tax in proportion to our expenses is.

  • girlthinking

    I am surprised that the chained CPI is being proposed as the “lowest hanging fruit possible.” What about “means testing” – simply limiting Social Security benefits for seniors who are well off and don’t need them? To me, that’s an obvious low-hanging fruit, and easy for people to understand. Unlike the chained CPI business. Thank you!

  • 2Gary2

    the overwhelming majority of Americans want to tax the rich way more than 39%.  They also support removing the cap on wages subject to ssi tax. (removing the cap would allow everyone collecting now an extra 65 per month and fix the program forever).  They also support eliminating the carried interest loophole and taxing capital gains as the income they really are.

    The fact that our elected officials are barley talking about this even though 70-80% of Americans want this simply shows who the politicians are really beholden to.  We live in a plutocracy where it is the interests of the 1% take precedence over the interests of the 99%.

    70%-80% of Americans can barley agree on what day of the week it is so when this many agree that they want to tax the rich is is really a big thing.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      SS doesn’t contribute to the deficit, so there is only one reason to bring it up in these talks: class warfare.

      With no reference to deficit hysteria, it is true that SS should be strengthened for the very long term, even tho it is currently by far the most financially sound program in the galaxy. The obvious step is, as you say, raising the cap. Why not? Then we could increase the COLA, instead of cutting it. Why not? You have the answer, the plutocrats are framing the discussion. 

      Raise the cap, treat divs and cap gains as ordinary income, kill the “carried interest” nonsense, institute a financial transactions tax and raise the top rate a lot more than the clinton rates, and we could move forward with broad prosperity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=883770211 Jason Caucutt

    Tom: I am 100% undecided on the Chained CPI and was looking forward to learning more from varied guests but your incessant interrupting and histrionics certainly didn’t help me to learn more! Take it down a notch, Tom.

    • Mike_Card

      I think I understand your complaint, but I can’t agree that Tom isn’t being aggressive enough in his questioning.

    • hennorama

      Using CPI-W, the latest Social Security and SSI COLA is 1.7 percent, which will result in increased benefit payments beginning in January 2013.

      If they had instead used the “Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U),” (as is being discussed as part of the fiscal discussions) the COLA would have been lower – 1.6%.

      Sources:

      http://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/latestCOLA.html
      http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

  • jimino

    With privately funded defined benefit pensions (something the “Greatest Generation” took as a given after a lifetime of working) rapidly becoming a thing of the past for the vast majority of working Americans, protecting and strengthening Social Security must be one of this country’s highest economic priorities.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Be careful – in righty newspeak, “protecting and strengthening” = cutting. The less a program provides, the stronger the balance sheet, right? That’s ryan’s logic for “saving” medicare by turning it into a voucher that does not cover the actual costs. Now even “liberal” pelosi has said that chained CPI (= cut in plain English) “strengthens” SS, ie she buys into the ryan alice-in-wonderland argument. 

      We thought we won the election, but keep your helmet on, class warfare is raging in DC.

  • hennorama

    Just a few facts, to ensure everyone has them:

    1.  Social Security (SS) and Medicare taxes are regressive, since they are imposed to a greater extent on those with low incomes than those with high incomes.  If one has high wage and/or Self-Employment (SE) income, payroll and SE taxes phase out above certain levels.  Medicare tax is collected on all wage and SE income, but the much larger Social Security tax is not collected on this type of income over the Maximum Taxable Limit (MTL) of $111,100 for 2012, and $113,700 for 2013.

    This limit is obviously quite valuable for those with wage or SE income above the MTL.

    2.  The full SS tax rate is 6.2% for an employee, and 6.2% for the employer.  The employee portion was reduced to 4.2% for 2011 and 2012.  This temporary cut is scheduled to expire at the end of this month.
    Medicare tax is 1.45% for the employee, and 1.45% for the employer.  Medicare taxes have not been reduced.
    So … employees have been paying a combined rate of 5.65%, and employers have been paying 7.65%, up to the MTL.  Over the MTL, employees and employers have each paid only 1.45%

    3.  Employers will not be affected by the expiration of the payroll tax cuts, as their rate will not increase.  As of this moment, employees will see their combined rate revert to 7.65%, a 2.0 point increase.  This means, for employees, SS taxes alone will go up by 47.62% (2.0/4.2), and combined payroll taxes go up by 35.40% (2.0/5.65).  Again, up to the MTL.

    4.  The Self-Employed pay both parts of these taxes – 12.4% for SS, and 2.90% for Medicare.  They also received a temporary SS tax reduction, so have been paying 10.4%.  The combined total rate for SE taxes has been 13.3% under the temporary SS cuts, up to the MTL. 

    Again, these taxes drop to 2.9% for SE income over $111,100 for 2012.

    5.  Self-employed taxpayers get other significant tax breaks relating to SE taxes.  Here are some (edited) remarks I made in October, about Mr. Romney and his SE income in 2011.  They illustrate the value of the MTL and other tax breaks for high earners:

    “Actually, Mr. Romney does have earned income, in fact he had $450,740 of it in 2011 … Mr. Romney paid $23,179 in SE tax, which amounts to a rate of 5.14%.
    Mr. Romney used 2 significant tax breaks to get such a low rate.

    1.  Mr. Romney gets to first subtract a portion (7.65%, equaling $34,482) of his SE income as an adjustment to his income.  The remainder of $416,258 is subject to SE tax, and income tax.  So this break saves on TWO different taxes – SE tax AND Federal income tax (actually three, if you count state taxes, which aren’t part of this discussion).

    2. Next, he pays Social Security taxes of 10.4% (6.2% + 4.2%) only on the first $106,800, and Medicare tax (2.9%) on the full $416,258.  This results in the SE tax total of $23,179.  This is a significant tax break for high income self-employed people.

    The fact that Mr. Romney does not have to pay Soc. Sec. tax on his full SE income saved him $32,183.”

    So – in 2011, the typical wage earner, who had income under the $106,800 SS tax limit, paid payroll taxes at the rate of 5.65% (the reduced SS tax @ 4.2% + Medic. tax @ 1.45%).  Mr. Romney paid 5.14%.

    • OnPointComments

      All true, but it’s also true that just as taxable earnings for the Social Security tax are capped, the Social Security benefit that a worker receives is also capped.  A worker who earns exactly the maximum taxable earnings, and another worker who earns 1,000 times the maximum taxable earnings, each pay in the same dollars and each get the same benefit.
       
      Mr. Romney may have have paid a lower rate on his total SE income, but his Social Security benefit will be a far smaller percentage of his total SE income than the worker who didn’t earn more than the maximum taxable earnings.  One might argue that this makes the Social Security benefit highly progressive, and more than offsets any regressivity in the tax.

      • Gregg Smith

        Also, anytime there is a matched contribution from the employer in actuality it comes out of the employees pocket. The cost to hire is the cost to hire.

      • hennorama

        OPC – TY for your response. While I respect your views, I know that you know that your “progressive benefit” argument doesn’t hold water.

        Those who hit the MTL, and max out the SS taxes paid in, as you said, receive the same maximum SS benefit, regardless of their actual earned income. Their benefits are the same, neither progressive nor regressive, on the same taxable SS earnings, and the same taxes paid into the system.

        Assuming the exact same demographic info, and hitting the MTL throughout one’s SS earnings record, of course.

        Mr. Romney not only paid at a lower rate than the typical wage earner, he paid less than half the rate of a Self-Employed person whose SE income (after SE tax deductions) matched the 2012 MTL. If someone has SE net income of $119,220.36, they pay SE tax on the $110,100 (the correct 2012 MTL). This equals $11,450.40 SS tax and $3,192.90 Medicare tax for a total SE tax of $14,643.30. That makes their SE tax rate 12.28%, almost 2 1/2 times Mr. Romney’s rate of 5.14%

        And they each get the exact same SS benefit.

        • OnPointComments

          Let’s look at three cases for 2011:  two actual (Mr. Romney & Mr. Obama), and one your fictitious person who made the MTL.  Employment earnings for 2011 were:  Mr. Romney, $450,740; Mr. Obama, $836,190, and MTL, $119,220.  How much did each person pay out of his own pocket for Social Security taxes?  Mr. Romney, $11,107; Mr. Obama, $4,486; and MTL, $11,107.  How much did each person pay out of his own pocket for Medicare taxes?  Mr. Romney, $12,071; Mr. Obama, $17,546; and MTL, $3,192.  What percentage of employment earnings did each pay for these two taxes?  Mr. Romney, 5.14%; Mr. Obama, 2.63%; and MTL, 11.99%.
           
          Looks like Mr. Obama made out like a bandit.  And they each get the exact same SS benefit.
           
          I know that my calculations are somewhat disingenuous, but no more disingenuous than calculating the tax rate without taking into account the cap on earnings subject to the self-employment tax.  The bottom line is that the SS earnings cap for 2011 was $106,800, and anyone earning at or above this cap will pay (or have paid on his behalf) $11,107 in SS tax, and they each receive the same benefit for the same dollars paid.

          • hennorama

            OPC – TY for your well-reasoned reply. And thank you also for showing what a large tax break the Social Security Maximum Taxable Limit is for those with earned income above the limit, regardless of their occupation or political party. That was my point.

          • OnPointComments

            I’m afraid we’ll have to disagree on that point.  I don’t find it unfair that each person pays the same dollars for the same benefit.  If you called your friendly neighborhood insurance agent and told her that you wanted to buy a monthly annuity of $2,500 that paid out over 15 years, would it be fair if she charged you more for the annuity because your income was high?  Or should the price of the annuity be the same for everyone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pauline.dyson1 Pauline Dyson

    I recall years ago a discussion about the limits of using COLA for Social Security benefit increases because older folks often live in their long held residences…i.e. homes with no mortgages and that one of the “market basket” items that determine cost of living included mortgage payment interest rates.  Can anyone clarify this for me? Today’s discussion seemed to focus on food costs…beef vs chicken, vs. goat…what about home ownership vs. rental for the elderly…what is its impact on Social Security ? Certainly, elders who pay mortgage can reduce that from their taxes. but if statistically so many own homes mortgage free that is not an advantage.

    • Mike_Card

      Many of those economic sleights-of-hand were incorporated in the so-called rescue of social security in the late 80′s.  Such as the exclusion of energy and food costs–the “core CPI”–and the convoluted inclusion of the “imputed rental value.”

      Those had nothing to do with making the COLA more representative; they, and the represented “fixes” now have only one purpose:  to reduce the amount that the Social Security Administration remits to their contributors.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.carson.5667 John Carson

      Sorry but social security benefit is not taxed. Thus there is no tax to deduct the mortgage from.

  • SteveHHI

    Ditto on Jason Caucutt’s comment.  Tom, I’m a long time listener and you have been a long time listener as well.  You were at your worst today.

  • turnerwarehouse

    On Point, you’re losing focus. More people in the US die from gun injuries each year than in all terrorist attacks against US citizens since the recorded history of these events. Yet the politicians do nothing! Talk about it.

    • nj_v2

      Someone else listened to Fresh Air today.

  • Benburrito

    Our country has been like a group of people eating at a restaurant.  The rich have been porking out, eating every dish sent to the table, and leaving the garnish for everyone out.  After taking everything for 10 years, and our country being in a trouble due to the rich setting fire to the restaurant, the rich now say – “Everyone needs to pay for this.”

    Everything from the Repo-licans seems skewed toward not asking those doing well to pay more, lets have the poor and middle class take the brunt of this.

    Social Security is only running a deficit due to the lack of jobs.  If corporations used 20% of their profits to hire people, the unemployment rate would be about 5% and social security would need only minor tweaks. Our bloated military could be trimmed with a chainsaw and not diminish our ability to defend ourselves.

    Stop trying to gut the poor for the sake of the super rich. These proposals are a joke, which seems apt since Banner resembles a clown.

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    Tom, you raise a very good and important question here. Why are the things that we talk about the things we talk about? Why are we talking about what interests Donald Trump, and not what interests a vast majority of the citizenry. I recently watch Lincoln, which was wonderful, but I had to walk away wondering “has a government by the people and for the people perished?” If not, it is at least very sickly.

    • brettearle

      There’s only one thing that’s going to change it.  But it will sound stupid and adolescent and ridiculous:

      10-20 years from now, an actual REVOLUTION.

      I do NOT support such an absurd notion.

      But the system is TOO FAR GONE.  And no one wishes to concede that.

      I think it’s obvious that the system has reached a point of irreversible dysfunction.

  • Matt Hoostal

    Lets coax the rich into changing their behavior, not poor seniors.

    • brettearle

      I agree. 

      But do you want the country to go over the cliff?

      Obama wouldn’t be letting this stay on the table unless he’s had to make a crisis-like compromise.

    • Gregg Smith

      The whole thing is so dishonest. The rich’s tax rate really has nothing to do with Social Security and the payroll tax has nothing to do with the tax rate.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        It’s true, SS has nothing to do with income tax rates or the deficit in the real world – that’s why it’s bizarre that we’re even talking about it.

        However, the pols have crazily put SS into the mix, so it’s important that there is no deal – ie that BHO doesn’t get to sell out. If tax rates get that done, so be it. And the good news is that the house TeaOP just rejected Boehner’s “Plan B”, ’cause they can’t stand seeing the rate go up for incomes over $1 million, even tho with other breaks in “Plan B” the rich end up with a net tax CUT!!! So, maybe BHO won’t get to cut SS.Top tax rates DO have everything to do with the deficit, however.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eworthen1 Elsie Worthen

    Social Security recipients do NOT get annual cost of living raises. I am on SS and I did not get a raise last year when the COL went up. Why should the government take from SS? If money is needed take it from the people that haul in BIG BUCKS! I paid into SS when I worked and I feel that is mine. If SS is reduced then, you are right. That population will not be able to afford food or medicines. So without either that group of people will die. Then the debt can be paid from the money the gov. will save. OR, the SS recipients will have to lean heavily on their children, IF they have children and they want to live to the ripe old age of 75-80. Just adding my “2 cents”.

  • Mike_Card

    Tom–

    If you want to have this kind of conversation with people who know what they’re talking about, would you just STFU and let them talk?  You are being a dick today.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.w.hotson Jeffrey Wayne Hotson

    we should be doing two things: 1.) making these greedy jerks who put us in this spot pay huge amounts not to mention go to jail; and 2.) do what FDR did, boost the economy thru gov spending to float all boats so that the cost & benefit goes to everybody in the best way.

    These CEOs who keep getting bonuses, living the highlife and wanting us to support their errant ways – BS!!!

    • StilllHere

      too late, the government’s been spending like crazy, that’s the problem; just need a world war to destroy Europe so we can rebuild it by ourselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003758508552 Ann Gree Weaver

    I am going to get married so I can collect on what my husband made an inherit his house, stay home with my kids and shame everyone else for using birth control and blame it on patriarchy.  I am getting 600.00 a month for being single, and back in school at 48.
     

  • cteezen

    Tom, sometimes you just talk tooooooo much.  Let your guest finish a sentence before you interrupt them.  They are the ones putting the “beef” on the table.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1411890084 Matthew Miller

    As a person in his mid-twenties (who became resigned years ago to the idea that Social Security in particular is not going to be there by the time I retire), I have trouble with the whole concept of “seniors living on a fixed income.”  I can see how escalating health care costs could be debilitating for the elderly.  At the same time, I keep thinking: you, retirees, who lived in the most prosperous time for the American worker, who had decades to accumulate assets- why would you ever assume that Social Security was what you were to live on?  It was never intended to be a sole source of income; it was a stopgap.

    • StilllHere

      Excellent point, but too late apparently.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sheila.lee.750983 Sheila Lee

      So I take it from your comments that you begrudge our ss payments…as a 71 year old woman who was forced to close my small business and unable to find another job and with savings lost in 08…what would you propose i do to pay rent and groceries…I am not looking for a handout as some obama supporters just want enough to survive which is less then $15,000 annually…would love to hear your answer….maybe as a 20 something,you could make sure your money is secure and hope your future does not run into a recession and you might have to count on a family member or the government(ss)to survive

  • gslouch

    I just can’t get over the complete audacity of the Republican party.   They can protest about ending tax breaks for the ultra rich yet yap about so-called entitlements ,you know those thing s that benefit the poor, elderly and disabled, and recommend they be cut without batting an eye. I’m disappointed that the president even brought SS to the table. I hope that he stands strong against the Republican gibberish in regards to the fiscal cliff.

    • nursie1

      Agreed– the Republicans are living in a
      safe monied world–and don’t  want to give one penny of it up!!

  • jimmerp1

    Dear Mr. Ashbrook,

    I am 59 years old. After working hard for 30 years for the largest Dairy in the Country, I was relieved of my duties in 2003 due to an on-job injury that resulted in 16 sugeries over a two year period. When I had returned to work for an 8 month period before being let go, I was asked to run for political office in being the Township Supervisor for the Township in which I live.

    I have been the Township Supervisor for 8 years now, earning $17,350.00 per year with no insurance and no retirement from my governmental duties. I will eventually receive retirement from my previous job. With the Supervisor pay, i also receive a small amount in workers compensation each week.

    With that, I wrote a letter to my Federal Representative and Senator asking them to work as a group for the betterment of our Country. If that meant that I would have to pay something more in taxes or loss of retirement entitlement, so be it. We need to understand that when we continue to spend more then we earn, we are not helping ourselves and hurting our children and grandchildren, who will probably not have the opportunity to earn a decent retirement as most of them only have a 401K to contribute to, and we all know how that is working for them. 

    I understand that many people have conditions that make them eligible for entitlements, but understand that there are also many people out there that use the system in just being lazy. I have a rental unit with a person living there with a disabling condition that has stopped him from working. They have been denied help and have not been able to pay rent for several months. Even with our own issues, my wife and I will not turn our back on this person by kicking them out of our rental unit. When looking at a problem on my brothers rental unit, who also has a family living on assistance, I was greeted at the door by a teenager who was upset as I made them get out of a chair to answer the door. My brother later told me that the two young men watching TV were expelled from high school.

    I have found the people who seem to be in the situation that I find myself, would like to do whatever is needed to see the date on the calendar that we will make the last payment to China. On the other hand, I find those who seem to be more well off with lifelong health insurance and a good retirement, worrying how they will be able to continue their high life style if they have to pay more taxes and or receive a cut in their retirement benefits.

    A question that I have is, what taxes do our Federal Legislators pay and what will they receive in retirement benefits? I feel that we start there.

    Thank you.

    Jim Pitsch  

  • Paul Loefstedt

    Tom seemed particularly aggressive and fixed in his positons on this particular discussion.  I pity anyone who has to try and live on the pitance that SS provides, but the financial equation has to be made to work out.  I don’t think he did the topic justice with his interruptive comments and continued reference to eating goat…although I like the program in general I find him tending a lot more towards transparently supporting one position or the other, these day, and I’m not sure I am terribly comfortable with that.

  • PaulHilliard

    Well said. Tom, you need to read comments like this and do something about it. Your show is suffering from your thinking that we tuned in to hear you. You are not on TV doing the 6 o’clock news, so stop all the inflamitory ranting at the beginning and end if every segment. The repeated goat comments seemed almost racist; Like we are in a civilised country and dont eat goat? I’m surprised you didn’t suggest that old people would start eating there cats and dogs.

    • StilllHere

      I had a goat taco a couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic.  My guess is people who look down on goat have never tried it.  Tom’s got a NY strip lifestyle so it’s no wonder he can’t relate.

    • nursie1

      Actually Tom was right on and he is not a racist.

      • PaulHilliard

        I didn’t say that I disagreed with his obvious opinion, nor did I say that he is a racist, he just sounded like one when trying to get people excited. Its the way that Tom behaves that I object to, not the content of the show.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6SOBRKCONWFBGK3APRJWTM3JOE Jimmy

    Meanwhile the Federal government is trying everything in their power to shut down a legitimate and very profitable marijuanna dispensery in Oakland Ca. This is a business that operates legally to bring in over $20,000,000/yr in revenue to the financially pressed city, providing jobs to hundreds of people and making patients’ medication significantly more accessible. Even the city of Oakland is in complete support of the dispensary’s right to operate. Now, when politicians are contemplating forcing senior citizens, college students, and welfare recipients to bear the burden of the nations fiscal troubles, it seems logical to stop spending treasured tax dollars on shutting down such profitable, legimate businesses

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bj-Kalmbach/1795775704 B.j. Kalmbach

    The Social Security tax needs to be progressive – it is not!

  • nursie1

    ISN’T IT SAD THAT A SMALL GROUP OF POLITICIANS ARE HOLDING AMERICA HOSTAGE JUST SO THEY CAN KEEP THEIR JOBS!
    IT’S NOT ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IT IS NOT ABOUT HELPING THE COUNTRY–IT IS SIMPLY ABOUT KEEPING THEIR OWN JOBS!!!  HOW SICKENING AND HOW SHALLOW!

  • nursie1

    Is almost everyone beginning to feel a bit like the poor man covered with sores who is sitting under the fat rich man’s table as the fat man guzzles and drools his wine and stuffs his fat greasy face with more food than he can swallow? Find and read the end of his story–perfect ending!

  • StilllHere
  • http://www.facebook.com/john.carson.5667 John Carson

    Pretty much every dollar paid to social security recepients goes almost immediatly back into the economy. Cutting Social Security reduces that flow and can ultimately force the recepients to use public assistance which costs taxpayer dollars to fund. So where it the savings?

  • http://www.facebook.com/gayle.flournoy.1 Gayle Flournoy

    Did I hear you correctly, you want to cut social security payments so seniors will eat chicken or GOAT instead of steak?  If you did say this you are the most inhuman person living, Tom Ashbrook????????

  • http://www.facebook.com/gayle.flournoy.1 Gayle Flournoy

    P.S.  It is plain to see you were raised with a silver spoon in your mouth.  I wish you all the bad in life!

  • http://www.facebook.com/arttoegemann Art Toegemann

    In spite of debunked Sequestration economics
    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10099
    UMASS Amherst versus Harvard: class war
    Tax, retrieve the wealth the rich have hoarded off shore, by loopholes, and in the first place: lower CEO comp and raise worker wages.

ONPOINT
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