Posts filed under 'Social Security'

Teh Serious

Okay, sure, I can sort of buy Krugman and Lemieux’s premise that horrible ideas like austerity, torture, and endless war all stem from the same macho impulse to to prove oneself a Manly Serious Man Of Action Who Can Make The Hard Choices, but why is it that it always seems to be someone else who pays the price for those “hard choices”?

It’s kinda hard to respect the machismo and courage of a pundit or politician who calls upon complete strangers to make sacrifices instead of themselves or their family, friends, or peers.  If I saw Cheney and Dubya personally ducking bullets in Baghdad, or Paul Ryan urging tax increases for himself and his wealthy benefactors as the first step to shrink the deficit, then I would be impressed.

Maybe Atrios has it right after all, and they really are sadists.

May 20th, 2013 at 06:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Iraq,Media,Politics,Social Security,Taxes,Torture,Wankers

Epic Fail Complete

The Democrats are now officially the party that’s trying to cut Social Security, and the Republicans are now the party that’s trying to protect it.  Nice work Mr. President, I didn’t even know it was possible to score an own-goal in eleventy-dimensional chess.

April 10th, 2013 at 07:11pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Wankers

Word Choice Question

So would it be more appropriate to say that Cyprus is strengthening its bank deposits, or that it’s reforming its bank deposits?

1 comment March 26th, 2013 at 07:04am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Social Security,Wankers

Left & Right Are Not The Only Directions

There’s also up & down, and inside & outside (although they tend to correlate with each other pretty closely).  Which is why you can have a bipartisan consensus among the outsiders at the lower income levels that has absolutely zero influence on the bipartisan consensus among the elite insiders at the higher income levels.

Unfortunately, the 1% (or .1%, or .01%) are the ones who get to set policy, and they don’t have much interest in what the rest of us think, except insofar as they desire it to conform more closely with their own Beltway/millionaire worldview.

February 4th, 2013 at 06:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes

Well This Is Reassuring

Shorter Nancy Pelosi: I was totally bluffing when I said I supported cutting Social Security, but it’s actually not such a bad idea.

January 6th, 2013 at 10:16am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Social Security,Wankers

Crazy Talk

Hey, here’s a thought: How about we eliminate the cap on income subject to payroll taxes, then revisit Social Security benefits?

And if that means we have to increase those benefits or lower the retirement age to make the numbers balance out, well, I’m willing to live with that.

(Cross-posted at MyFDL)

December 19th, 2012 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Social Security,Taxes

Something To Look Forward To

Apparently Paul Ryan’s plan for Social Security is awfully similar to Pinochet’s, which didn’t end up working out so well.  That’s why it’s so important to re-elect Obama, because he’ll fight to keep Social Security intact.  Or not.

October 25th, 2012 at 11:56am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Republicans,Romney,Ryan,Social Security,Wankers

Better Naming, Please

This organization’s name seems a little incomplete to me:

An organization founded by Erskine Bowles and Al Simpson announced Tuesday that it has raised more than $25 million to launch a national campaign to encourage policy makers to pass debt legislation in the coming months.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt has collected contributions from corporate CEOs and others for a national media campaign and advertising campaign to urge lawmakers reach a solution to the debt crisis.

A more accurate name would be “The Campaign to Fix the Debt without Making the Rich Pay More Taxes”.  See also: The supposed need to cut Social Security in order to save it, instead of simply raising or removing the income cap on payroll taxes.

September 19th, 2012 at 07:11am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Politics,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

Nice Try.

AP did their best to try to make the alternative to Social Security benefit cuts sound as unappealing as possible, asking people if they would rather “raise taxes” than cut benefits, but their respondents still preferred that to cutting benefits by a 53-36 margin.

Now imagine what that margin would be if they had asked about keeping the rate the same but raising or eliminating the cap on the payroll tax cap so that the rich pay the same effective rate as everyone else.  Too bad that seems to be almost a taboo subject, probably because the fix is in.

August 28th, 2012 at 07:10am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Polls,Social Security,Wankers

Wanker Of The Day

Shorter John Boehner to Catholic Church: It is necessary to destroy the safety net in order to save it.

April 19th, 2012 at 07:04am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Religion,Republicans,Social Security,Unemployment,Wankers

A Modest Proposal

Zappatero has made the eminently sensible suggestion that we reduce all tax rates to zero. Since conservative tax theory suggests that this would result in infinite tax revenue, it will put Republicans in an interesting catch-22 situation.

On the one hand, eliminating taxes has always been their fondest dream, and all that revenue would allow us to easily pay off the national debt, which they insist is a bigger existential threat to America than al Qaeda, communism and gay marriage squared.

On the other hand, think how much bigger the government could get, and how much more it could spend on lazy undeserving lucky duckies like old people and Cadillac-driving welfare queens. And that’s before we even talk about all the abortions, gun-confiscation squads, and FEMA re-education camps it could afford!

So you see, as much as the right might hate to admit it, those of us who oppose massive tax cuts are only doing it for their own good.

March 20th, 2012 at 11:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes

Republicans Attack Obama For Caving In To Their Demands

Amazing.  Just amazing.

Almost as amazing as Obama’s apparent belief that cutting Social Security and Medicare without requiring any “shared sacrifice” from the corporations or individuals who can most afford it will somehow improve his prospects for re-election.

July 22nd, 2011 at 05:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Wankers

The New Business Model

One of the strange things to me about the whole deficit/austerity debate is the business world’s willingness to go along with the Republicans’ bizarre meme that the economy is slow because all the corporations are spooked by the “uncertainty” of what’s going to happen with the national debt, as opposed to, say, not enough people having enough money to buy stuff.

More specifically, why are corporations standing on the sidelines as both parties strive to constrict spending even more?  Why aren’t they demanding another stimulus or some kind of jobs plan to provide them with more customers?

Do they really buy into the Republican supply-side/austerity hooey, or is their business model so firmly based on deregulation, tax breaks, subsidies, bailouts and union-busting that they no longer care about actually, y’know, selling stuff? Or is their overseas business so lucrative (and tax-free) that they simply don’t need American consumers anymore?

July 22nd, 2011 at 08:07am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes

Republicans Save Obama From Himself… For Now

Even the prospect of cutting Social Security wasn’t enough for Republicans to get over their hatred of taxes.  I guess Obama will just have to offer them up a plan that cuts Social Security and leaves tax loopholes alone now.

I thought it was particularly telling that when offered a deficit reduction plan that raises taxes and cuts Social Security, it was the taxes that the Obama-Wants-To-Kill-Grandma Party publicly objected to.  But I guess if they complain about Social Security cuts, they won’t be able to accept whatever Obama’s safety-net-destroying Grand Bargain turns out to be.

July 11th, 2011 at 07:43am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes

Graphic Of The Day

What’s really contributing to the national debt:

Funny how all the proposed solutions for the Terrible Scary Debt Crisis have so little to do with the things that are actually causing it.  Well, all the proposed solutions that anyone’s willing to talk about, anyway.

May 23rd, 2011 at 07:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Politics,Social Security,Taxes

If Republicans (And Democrats) Were Really Serious About The National Debt…

Maybe they might want to think about some actual real financial reform, or doing something about runaway healthcare costs:

[T]he financial crisis will end up causing government debt to increase by more than 50 percentage points of G.D.P. over a decade. This is the major fiscal crisis of today and the likely one tomorrow. (I wrote more on this in a column this week for Bloomberg.)


A future financial crisis, given the nature of our economy, could well cause a debt increase of more than 34 percent of G.D.P. — just look at what happened this time in the United States or the way in which Ireland was ruined by big banks and reaction by the politicians there. There is no way that the S.&P.’s stress situation is sufficiently negative.


There is, of course, a longer-run budget issue — beyond 2020 –- that is mostly about health care costs. S.&P. follows the current consensus by flagging the Medicare component of this, and the C.B.O.’s projections on this front are undoubtedly scary (see this C.B.O. Web page or jump directly to the document and study the image on its front page).

But the real threat to the economy is health-care costs seen broadly, not just the Medicare component. For more on this, see the analysis by my co-author on the Baseline Scenario blog, James Kwak, writing about an important letter from Douglas W. Elmendorf (the head of the C.B.O.) to Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, on Mr. Ryan’s budget proposal.


The real danger to the United States economy –- and to its federal budget –- is that we will somehow derail growth, either by letting too-big-to-fail banks become irresponsible again or by allowing health-care costs to continue to rise on their current trajectory or in some other way.

…Or we could just kill Medicare, slash Social Security, and keep cutting taxes for rich people and corporations until the trickledown fairy works her magic.

April 21st, 2011 at 09:01am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Economy,Healthcare,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Wankers

Wanker Of The Day

Alleged liberal Democrat Dick Durbin. Also Joe Sudbay has to win some kind of award for not noticing where he’s answered his own question:

Durbin, as the senior Senator from Illinois, is considered one of Obama’s closest allies on Capitol Hill. But, for whatever reason, he has lost his bearings. Now, using right-wing talking points, Durbin is even criticized Bernie Sanders over Social Security.

Durbin criticized a resolution put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a liberal independent from Vermont, that says Social Security should not be cut under a deficit reduction plan. Durbin said he would not vote for such a resolution.

“I think Bernie is going too far with his language,” Durbin said.

“In 2037, as we know it, Social Security falls off a cliff,” he said. “There’s a 22 percent reduction rate in payments, which is really not something we can tolerate. If we deal with it today, it’s an easier solution than waiting. I think we ought to deal with it. Many of my colleagues disagree, put it off to another day. But from my point of view, leaving it out makes it easier politically, including it, I think, meets an obligation, which we have to senior citizens.”

Yes, I’m sure there couldn’t possibly be any connection between Durbin being an Obama ally and his sudden fondness for right-wing talking points…

April 20th, 2011 at 09:10am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

Still Waiting For Some Shared Sacrifice

“Shared sacrifice” is the favorite buzzword of all the Very Serious Budget Talkers in DC, but no one has yet explained what exactly it is that the wealthy or the corporations (i.e., the ones with all the money) will be sacrificing.

There’s a South Park episode where the boys adopt a poor African child they nickname “Starvin’ Marvin”, and in one scene Cartman (who is clearly not wanting in the food department) keeps trying to steal Marvin’s food.  One of the other boys scolds him and reminds him that they’re supposed to be sharing with Marvin.  Cartman continues trying to steal Marvin’s food, only now he calls it “sharing”.

That’s pretty much where we are in the budget debate: The have-mores are taking from the have-nots and calling it “sharing”.  And the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is a matter of degree.

April 18th, 2011 at 08:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Economy,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

Attack Of The Giant If

Paul Krugman is conditionally okay with the content of Obama’s Big Important Budget Speech:

Much better than many of us feared. Hardly any Bowles-Simpson — yay!

The actual plan relies on some discretionary spending cuts, this time including defense — good, although I think too much is being cut from domestic spending. It relies on letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire — finally! — plus unspecified reductions in tax expenditures.


Overall, way better than the rumors and trial balloons. I can live with this. And whatever the pundits may say, it was much, much more serious than the Ryan “plan”.


I should probably say, I could live with this as an end result. If this becomes the left pole, and the center is halfway between this and Ryan, then no — better to pursue the zero option of just doing nothing and letting the Bush tax cuts as a whole expire.

That is one enormous If for a president who plays tug-of-war in roller skates.

April 13th, 2011 at 06:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Economy,Healthcare,Media,Obama,Politics,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

Thomas Sowell’s Analogy Fail

Thomas Sowell helpfully explains why it’s so terribly unfair to accuse the right’s Serious Budget Grownups of trying to destroy Medicare and Social Security:

When someone gives you a check and the bank informs you that there are insufficient funds, who do you get mad at? In your own life, you get mad at the guy who gave you a check that bounced, not at the bank. But in politics, you get mad at whoever tells you that there is no money.

Well, that certainly is some lovely and poetic imagery there, but perhaps a better analogy would be if the bank informs you that it has no money for withdrawals because it blew it all on freebies and giveaways for its most valued wealthy and corporate customers, expensive hunting trips overseas, and maybe losing big at Vegas.

Not only that, but that it intends to siphon off your savings and/or garnish your wages so that it can lavish even more money on rich people, gambling and bloodshed.

So yeah, I’m pretty sure I’d be mad at the bank.

(Cross-posted at MyFDL)

April 6th, 2011 at 08:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Media,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

What Digby Said

Digby sums up what’s wrong with the budget debate in one sentence:

It’s very easy to prescribe “shared sacrifice” when you will not personally sacrifice anything at all.

Washington’s definition of “shared” is ridiculously constrained.  If the corporations and the rich were forced to “sacrifice” to the same level of pain as the Republicans (and probably Obama and lots of Democrats) advocate, we could probably wipe out the deficit and still have money left over for real stimulus and infrastructure repair.

1 comment March 11th, 2011 at 11:29am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Media,Politics,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

Moody Prez Bamlet

If you thought Obama was disengaged and unhelpful during the healthcare reform debate, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

Frustrated Senate Democrats gave senior White House advisers an earful Thursday afternoon during a private meeting, telling them that President Obama needs to get more involved in the budget battle, according to Democratic sources.

One Senate Democrat noted that Obama visited the Democratic Caucus more than once during the debate over healthcare reform, and also sent former President Clinton to the Senate to make the case for the controversial bill.

“He’s not greasing it like he did during healthcare,” said the source.

A Democratic aide said there was an “uproar” on Tuesday during the weekly Democratic lunch meeting, when lawmakers complained about the lack of the president’s public involvement in the debate over spending cuts.

“He’s not using the bully pulpit,” said the aide. “He’s waiting until the last hour to come in.”


A growing number of Democrats believe they should counter House GOP proposals to cut non-security discretionary spending with a plan to raise tax revenues.

The Democratic tax ideas include eliminating tax breaks for oil companies and for companies that move manufacturing facilities out of the country. They are also circulating a proposal to impose a surtax on millionaires.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said these proposals can gain traction in Congress only if Obama gets more involved.

“He’s played a role but it’s been behind the scenes. I’d like to see him more visible,” Levin said.

And after Congress passes a horrible austerity bill, Obama’s defenders will patiently explain to us that Obama is not a king, and he can’t just tell Congress what to do.  But I think we’re all getting a little sick of Obama’s “I have not yet begun to hide!” act every time we need some kind of leadership from our supposed leader.

March 11th, 2011 at 07:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Politics,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

What Passes For Budget Honesty On The Right

Joe Scarborough acknowledges the significant role of tax cuts, defense spending, and wars in turning the Clinton budget surplus into a massive deficit… then proceeds to focus on cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to balance the budget.

Umm, why not just roll back all the tax cuts and military spending that you yourself admit blew the hole in the budget in the first place?  Sounds crazy, I know.

March 9th, 2011 at 07:55am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Media,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

Dishonest Or Stupid?

Bob Samuelson, the Anti-Krugman, explains why Social Security is welfare:

We don’t call Social Security “welfare” because it’s a pejorative term and politicians don’t want to offend. So they classify Social Security as something else, when it isn’t. Here’s how I define a welfare program: first, it taxes one group to support another group, meaning it’s pay-as-you-go and not a contributory scheme where people’s own savings pay their later benefits; and second, Congress can constantly alter benefits, reflecting changing needs, economic conditions, and politics. Social Security qualifies on both counts.

So apparently unless Social Security pays you back the exact same dollars that you paid into it, it’s welfare.  Oh, and that huge surplus to deal with the baby boomers retiring?  Total accident:

The trust fund serves mainly to funnel taxes to recipients, and today’s big surplus is an accident, as Charles Blahous shows in Social Security: The Unfinished Work. In 1983, when the trust fund was nearly exhausted, a presidential commission proposed fixes but underestimated their effects. The large surplus “just developed. It wasn’t planned,” the commission’s executive director said later. Even so, the surplus will disappear as the number of retirees rises.

I’m gonna go with dishonest, I think.  Although that certainly doesn’t rule out stupid.

March 7th, 2011 at 11:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Media,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Wankers

Common Ground

Boy, Obama sure can pick ’em.  Remember this fawning WaPo Pete Peterson Times story about new BFFs Andy Stern (former head of SEIU) and David Cote (CEO of Honeywell) working hand-in-hand to help Alan Simpson achieve his lifelong dream of gutting Social Security?

Wonder what Andy Stern thinks of his good buddy now?

March 2nd, 2011 at 11:27am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Labor,Obama,Social Security,Wankers

Wait… What?

Republican budget guru Paul Ryan explaining where our biggest future debt problems lie:

Social Security is a big part of the problem of future debt. Now, as people know — now, Social Security is not a contributor to our deficit of any material right now. Social Security is not a big driver of our debt problems. Medicare and Medicaid are the biggest drivers of our future debt problems.

So, um, which is it?

February 17th, 2011 at 07:59am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Social Security

Atlas Mooched

Who among us does not love delicious irony?

Fast forward to 1974. Alisa had surgery for lung cancer. This was a tough time, and Alisa needed some help, which came in the form of Evva Joan Pryor, a social worker in New York. Alisa’s attorneys, the firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick sent Evva to assist Alisa in signing up for Social Security and Medicare; where Medicare was only nine years old as a program at this point in time.

Evva later reported “Doctors could cost an awful lot more money than books earn, and she could be totally wiped out by medical bills if she didn’t watch it. Since she had worked her entire life, and had paid into Social Security, she had a right to it….After several meetings and arguments, she gave me her power of attorney to deal with all matters having to do with health and Social Security. Whether she agreed or not is not the issue, she saw the necessity for both her and Frank. She was never involved other than to sign the power of attorney; I did the rest.”


So you are saying, ok, fine biography, what’s the deal with the contemptible fraud?

Strictly my own opinion, but Alisa Zenovievna was “Evil” and “Immoral” –  a “Moocher”, “Looter” and “Parasite” because she took Social Security and Medicare. Don’t believe me?

Those are her own words, for you know Alisa better as Ayn Rand.

Awesome.  The teabaggers who oppose all government spending and any kind of safety net are usually the the first to shout “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”

January 27th, 2011 at 07:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Republicans,Social Security,Wankers

Defining Victory Down

How pitiful is it that we’ve reached a point where a Democratic president agreeing not to explicitly call for Social Security cuts in the State Of The Union address is considered some kind of great progressive victory?  It’s not even like he’s against them, either:

While Obama plans to stress the need to reduce record budget deficits in his State of the Union address, he is not expected to get into the details and will instead call for members of both parties to work together to tackle the problem, according to congressional and administration sources.


Administration officials cautioned that Obama is not necessarily taking benefit cuts off the table. They said his vision for deficit reduction will become clearer with the release of his 2012 budget request in mid-February and in the months beyond, as both parties test the limits for compromise.

“This is a president who, in last year’s budget, instituted some tough measures. . . . You’ve seen proposals already this year to freeze civilian pay for government employees,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday. “And the president, again, will spend some time, not just tomorrow night and not just at the introduction of the budget, but throughout the year, talking about what we have to do, again, to make progress on our spending.”

So really all we’ve won so far is that Obama has agreed not to publicly admit that he’s in favor of Social Security cuts.  Kinda like how he never publicly admitted that he was opposed to the public option.  I hope progressives aren’t satisfied with this, because I sure am not.

January 25th, 2011 at 07:14am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama,Politics,Social Security,Wankers

Democracy In Action

This just in: 61% of Americans want to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the rich, 3% want to do it by cutting Social Security.

So what does Obama do?  He cuts a deal with Republicans behind his own party’s back to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and he creates a presidential deficit reduction commission stocked with Pete Peterson acolytes and other enemies of Social Security, whose draconian recommendations he shows every sign of favoring.

Obama and the Democrats might want to think about this as they wonder why they got destroyed in next year’s elections.

January 4th, 2011 at 07:41am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Economy,Elections,Obama,Politics,Polls,Social Security,Taxes,Wankers

Wanker Of The Day

Michael Gerson:

Medicare is the main policy challenge here, because rising health costs are the primary cause of unsustainable entitlement commitments. But Medicare reform – the topic of intense, ideological debate – is a political nonstarter. While Social Security is a relatively small contributor to future deficits, reforming it would be a large symbol and a logical place to begin.


Social Security restructuring is not the obvious choice for Obama, but it is the smart one. It is achievable. It would invest Republican leaders in a constructive national enterprise. It would reassure global credit markets that America remains capable of governing itself. It would result in a more progressive, sustainable system. And it would make a dramatic, timely political statement: that the president is capable not only of expanding government but of reforming it.

So in other words, Gerson is perfectly happy to either impoverish the elderly or force them to keep working forever for the sake of a symbolic gesture that he himself admits would have minimal effect on the deficit.  What a prince.

The worst part is that Obama doesn’t need any urging from Gerson; he’s going to do this anyway.  And it’s not going to be a savvy political move, it’s going to be electoral suicide for him and the entire Democratic party.

3 comments December 28th, 2010 at 02:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Social Security,Wankers

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