Archive for grand bargain

Must-Read: Personal debt that enriches Wall St. -- NOT national debt -- is greatest threat to retirees

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Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Whenever the elected political tools of the oligarchs trash Social Security, they tout 401(k)-type accounts and voluntary retirement savings programs. [...]

...WP article is entitled, "Most Americans accumulating debt faster than they’re saving for retirement":

A majority of Americans with 401(k)-type savings accounts are accumulating debt faster than they are setting aside money for retirement, further undermining the nation’s troubled system for old-age saving, a new report has found....

[...]

So the problem facing even non-Social Security dependent retirees (who have earned their checks by paying into the fund) is due to personal debt not national debt. What people owe money on are non-government expenses such as college, housing, cars, credit cards, etc.  This is private indebtedness that is contributing to a looming personal retirement shortfall of funds.

Ironically, Social Security is one of the few programs that is keeping most seniors from economic impoverishment, as meager as the average monthly check is.  [...]

Since the Reagan era, wages have been relatively stagnant in the United States as debt has risen.  It is indeed this growing personal (again not national) debt that has been a primary source of profit for the banks too big to fail.  Persons who owe large amounts of money are paying off interest at often exorbitant sums (think credit cards) while in many cases barely scratching away at principal.  This is all easy money for banks that are paying out literally .01 % on savings accounts. [...]

So, let this WP article be a mini-lesson on what the oligarchy and their minions on the Hill, such as Paul Ryan, have been up to. Since the Reagan era, they have been promoting policies that increase personal debt while stagnating wages (except for themselves, of course).  In turn, a likely majority of the 99% has to go into debt and borrow money at high interest rates, while those who save receive virtually no interest on their savings.  This, in turn (except for Social Security) limits what they can save for retirement.

Then the financial titans sponsor think tanks and give campaign contributions to blame "entitlements" for all the personal indebtedness which has fueled their profitsSo, if a "grand bargain" of Social Security and Medicare cuts are enacted, the elderly become indebted and poorer, while the Wall Street barons make even a greater profit from increased borrowing as the national debt is lowered in the name of "austerity" (without revenue increases in the form of higher progressive taxes on the rich).

Please read the entire post here.

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"If Obama wants to help Social Security, he should start by lifting the cap on taxable earnings."

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Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Obama's entitlement gambit," Opinion, April 10

The current calculation used to determine adjustments to Social Security benefits is based on the cost of living for an urban worker, not a senior. Therefore, it doesn't account for the greater percentage of income the average senior spends on healthcare. Because the cost of healthcare rises faster than other necessities, even the current formula does not adequately protect seniors from inflation.

Switching to the "chained CPI" to determine payouts, as President Obama proposed to do in his 2014 budget, would only make a bad situation worse.

Steve Mehlman

Beaumont

***

This debate over entitlements is about a long-term solution to a long-term problem. Much more important than getting a deal is getting a good solution.

Can we get a good solution now? Of course not. The partisan divide is deep.

If the president is so concerned with his legacy, maybe he should start doing more of the right things, like restoring traditional tax rates on the wealthiest. Today, CEOs and financiers pay much lower effective federal tax rates than doctors. That is socially unsound.

And if Obama wants to help Social Security, he should start by lifting the cap on taxable earnings.

David Greene

San Pedro

***

Doyle McManus suggests the president is doing "the kind of thing a second-term president can do." Later, he says the president's proposal is evidence that he "still yearns for a grand bargain."

The former declaration is an empty explanation, while the latter justification provokes the question: A grand bargain for whom? Certainly not for the elderly and disabled dependent on Social Security.

Ben Miles

Huntington Beach

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White House and Senate Dems Should Eliminate Social Security Tax Cap for the Rich: Stop CPI Scam on Elderly

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Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

[B]ecause the Obama White House has adopted the austerity meme of the Republicans, the option to the cat food chained CPI doesn't get discussed much.  That is because Obama, as is often the case, is accepting the GOP and Wall Street "frame" of the deficit being reduced, in part, on the backs of the middle class and poor.  As we've noted recently; the president may even believe the false meme.

... Remapping Debate, in an April 10 article, Remapping Debate disclosed:

For all the talk of the Social Security system running out of money, it is well established that raising or eliminating the cap on the wages subject to payroll taxes would guarantee a healthy Social Security system for many decades, and do so without cutting benefits or raising the retirement age.

Public support for elimination of the payroll tax cap is high.  [...]

Nevertheless, these routes to ensuring the promises made to workers that they could rely Social Security benefits are kept is little discussed on Capitol Hill. [...]

... That is probably because they don't want to be undercutting the position of their party's president. [...]

In The Nation, William Greider developed an interesting theory:

In fact, there is an even bigger lie concealed by the fiscal scolds and ignored by witless media, too. Again and again, self-righteous critics have portrayed Social Security as the profligate monster borrowing from the Treasury and sucking the life out of federal government.

Guess what? It's the other way around. The federal government borrows from Social Security.  [...]

That is the real crisis that makes the financial barons and their media collaborators so anxious to cut Social Security benefits. They would like to get out of repaying the debt—that is, giving the money back to the people who earned it. The only way to do this is cut the benefits—over and over again. Count on it...

Please read the entire post here.

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Elizabeth Warren on Pres. Obama's chained CPI proposal: "We cannot allow Social Security to be dismantled inch by inch."

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From my inbox (bolding is mine):

Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts

Hi Laffy,

My brother David has always had the special spark in our family.

Like our two older brothers, David served in the military. When he got out, he started a small business -- and when that one didn't work out, he started another one. He couldn't imagine an America where he wasn't living by his wits every single day.

Year after year, my brother paid into Social Security. He never questioned it. He figured he was paying so that he -- and a lot of other people -- could have a secure retirement.

Today my brother lives on his Social Security. That's about $1,100 a month. $13,200 a year.

I'm telling you my brother's story not because it's unusual, but because it's like the story of so many other people. I can almost guarantee that you know someone -- a family member, friend, or neighbor -- who counts on Social Security checks to get by.  

That's why I was shocked to hear that the President's newest budget proposal would cut $100 billion in Social Security benefits. Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle class families, and we cannot allow it to be dismantled inch by inch.    

The President's policy proposal, known as "chained CPI," would re-calculate the cost of living for Social Security beneficiaries. That new number won't keep up with inflation on things like food and health care -- the basics that we need to live.

In short, "chained CPI" is just a fancy way to say "cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled, and orphans."

Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for most of their income; one-third rely on it for at least 90% of their income. These people aren't stashing their Social Security checks in the Cayman Islands and buying vacation homes in Aruba – they are hanging on by their fingernails to their place in the middle class.

My brothers and I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class. An America that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives. An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live with dignity.

We can't chip away at America's middle class and break the promise we make to our seniors.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

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