Posts Tagged ‘Social Security’

Maggie Mahar – What Does the Tax Cut Deal Mean for Medicare, Social Security and Health Care Reform?

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

From Maggie Mahar’s Health Beat:

What Does the Tax Cut Deal Mean for Medicare, Social Security and Health Care Reform? Part 1

When President Obama struck a deal with conservatives on tax cuts, his opponents set the stage for 2012. With this legislation, the conservative agenda of the Bush administration once again becomes national policy. The goal: to redistribute wealth upward–even if that means letting the deficit balloon.
Not long ago, conservatives on the Deficit Commission were warning that the deficit represents a “cancer” that will “destroy the country from within.”

Now, politicians on the right are arguing for tax cuts that will add $858 billion to the deficit over ten years—plus $383 in interest over the same span—bringing the total impact on the national debt to $1.24 trillion through 2020. And somehow, that is suddenly a brilliant idea?

Trust me, there is a method to Mitch McConnell’s madness: The larger the deficit, the more compelling the conservative case for shrinking entitlements such as  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Health Care reform in 2012.

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Part 2 here.

Tax Compromise Will Affect Social Security

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment
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Aid for Seniors Blocked by Filibuster

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

James Parks – Study: Half of Seniors at Risk for Poverty

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From the AFL-CIO Now Blog:

Study: Half of Seniors at Risk for Poverty

by James Parks, Dec 8, 2010

Photo credit: Alliance for Retired Americans

Here’s one big reason congressional Republicans and the deficit hawks are dead wrong about cutting Social Security benefits: According to a new study, nearly half (47.4 percent) of all Americans between the ages of 60 and 90 will experience at least one year of poverty or near poverty and seniors of color are twice as likely to be affected.

The study by Mark Rank, a professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, shows that 58 percent of seniors between 60 and 84 will, at some point, not have enough liquid assets to allow them to weather an unanticipated expense or downturn in income.

But if you are a senior who is black or unmarried or have less than a high school education, the likelihood that you will be poor at some point increases dramatically. Rank found that although 32.7 percent of white older Americans will experience at least one year below the official poverty line, the percentage for black older Americans was nearly double at 64.6 percent.

For unmarried seniors, the percentage experiencing poverty was 51.2 percent compared with 24.9 percent for married older Americans. Likewise, for those with fewer than 12 years of education, the percentage experiencing poverty was 48.4 percent compared with 20.5 percent for those with 12 or more years of education.

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Economist’s View – “Workers Must Work Longer for Less Because the Rich are Living Longer”

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Economist’s View:

“Workers Must Work Longer for Less Because the Rich are Living Longer”

It’s nice to see the local paper highlighting this side of the Social Security debate:

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Economist’s View – “Raise Retirement Age and More Become Disabled”

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

From Economist’s View:

“Raise Retirement Age and More Become Disabled”

Raising the retirement age also raises disability applications, so this won’t save as much money as many people think, and could even make things worse if the early retirement age is changed (the early retirement age is currently 62):

Raise Retirement Age and More Become Disabled, by Merrill Goozner: Most people are working and living longer, so it seems like a no-brainer to raise the retirement age to help close the long-term Social Security funding gap. But the move could backfire and not save as much as predicted. Why? Not all groups are able to work longer, a new report from the Government Accountability Office says.

“Raising the retirement ages would likely increase the number of workers applying for and receiving disability insurance benefits,” which also comes out of Social Security, said the report…

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Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – Off the Charts

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

From Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

In Case You Missed It…

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget, state budgets, unemployment, food assistance, and Social Security.

  • On the federal budget, we featured Bob Greenstein’s recent commentary on reducing the deficit, as seen in a New York Times Room for Debate.”  Jim Horney answered questions about key issues facing Congress during the lame duck session, and also looked at the budget plan from the co-chairs of the President’s fiscal commission.  In addition, we showed how extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would affect the national debt.  And, Paul Van de Water noted that the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform’s proposal places too much blame for the nation’s fiscal problems on the budget process.
  • On state budgets, Nicholas Johnson explained why the President’s proposed tax break for business investment would be expensive for states, and Bob Tannenwald discussed why states pay a high price in allocating film tax credits yet receive little in return.
  • On unemployment, Chad Stone discussed why demands that Congress offset the cost of renewing federal emergency unemployment insurance benefits are hypocritical or counterproductive.  Chad also pointed out that unemployment benefits are important for middle-class families as well as those near the poverty line.
  • On food assistance, Dottie Rosenbaum highlighted new data showing that food stamps helped keep hunger at bay despite the recession.
  • On Social Security, Kathy Ruffing demonstrated that so-called “progressive price indexing” would not be the best way to fix Social Security’s shortfall.

In other news, the Center released a podcast on key congressional issues in the lame duck session, reports on the Bowles-Simpson and Peterson-Pew debt reduction proposals as well as on state film subsidies and progressive price indexing, and held a media briefing on state film tax credits.

View Off the Charts Blog:

Kaiser Health News – New Deficit Report Recommends Seniors Pay More For Medicare

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

From Kaiser Health News:

New Deficit Report Recommends Seniors Pay More For Medicare
A blue ribbon bipartisan panel of experts, chaired by former budget director Alice Rivlin and former Sen. Pete Domenici, recommends major changes to the way the government pays for health care.

Mike Hall – Deliberate Distortions Create False Sense of Urgency for Social Security Cuts

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

From the AFL-CIO Blog:

Deliberate Distortions Create False Sense of Urgency for Social Security Cuts

by Mike Hall, Nov 9, 2010

There is so much inaccurate information—much of it deliberately cultivated—about the solvency of Social Security, that it’s leading policymakers, analysts and lawmakers to believe there is an urgent need to make major changes to Social Security.

Add to that a cadre of newly elected representatives and senators who back raising the retirement age, privatizing Social Security or making other cuts to the nation’s most successful social safety net program, and it becomes even more important to make sure the real picture of Social Security’s future is not distorted.

A new issue brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) calls attention to the fact that Social Security will be fully solvent for the next 27 years and any premature action to make changes to the program will have a severe impact on millions of near retirees. Says CEPR Co-Director Dean Baker:

Misinformation about Social Security has led many to believe that Social Security is in immediate danger of insolvency but the program will be fully solvent for almost three more decades. Furthermore, even if no changes are ever made, a child born in 2010 can expect to see a benefit that is more than 50 percent larger in real terms than what current retirees receive today.

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Dave Johnson – A Look At The Military Budget Through Social Security Eyes

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

From Seeing the Forrest:

A Look At The Military Budget Through Social Security Eyes

— by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

Let’s take a look a the military budget, but using conservative framing usually aimed at Social Security. Let’s see how the military budget — currently over a trillion dollars a year if you include related programs — compares to Social Security using this approach.

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Tea Party Test: Korea Free Trade Agreement

— by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The “Tea Party” will face many tests when the new Congress convenes next year. Everyone is asking, how long will it take before the Tea Party officeholders are co-opted by the big money insiders? “Free Trade” is one of those tests.

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Think Progress – REPORT: 104 Republicans In Congress Want To Privatize Social Security

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

From Think Progress:

REPORT: 104 Republicans In Congress Want To Privatize Social Security

This is the second installment in a three-part series on legislation that may emerge from a GOP-controlled Congress. Click here for part one on ending birthright citizenship.

After their attempt to privatize Social Security in 2005 was met with widespread public outcry, the GOP’s strategy on Social Security has been two-fold. First, Republicans deny they are interested in privatization. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recently told the Wall Street Journal that “no one has a proposal up to cut Social Security,” (his own book proposes doing so), while conservatives in the media have tried to argue that Republicans don’t actually want to privatize Social Security.

The second tactic has been to obfuscate their privatization plans by sugarcoating them in flowery, palatable language. President Bush’s privatization plan is a prime example. In his 2005 State of the Union, President Bush said we needed to “save” Social Security and give younger workers a “better deal” by having “voluntary personal retirement accounts,” the poll-tested language for privatization. Bush now says his greatest failure was not privatizing Social Security.

However, such rhetoric belies their record. A thorough review of the voting records and statements of Republicans in Congress reveals a critical mass of GOPers who have supported privatizing Social Security. In total, 47 percent of House Republicans and 49 percent of Senate Republicans are on record supporting the privatization of Social Security. Some, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), want to go even further and “wean everybody” off of Social Security altogether.

As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Republicans in Congress have long operated by the “majority of the majority” principle, whereby legislation is only advanced by a GOP Speaker if it is supported by a majority of Republicans. With many prominent GOP candidates in favor of privatizing or eliminating Social Security, including Rand Paul, Ken Buck, Dan Coats, Sharron Angle, Dan Benishek, Ben Quayle, Star Parker, and Jesse Kelly, it’s likely that a GOP-controlled Congress would have the necessary votes to revisit the issue.

Here are the 104 Republicans in Congress who support privatizing Social Security (leadership in bold):…

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CBO Directors Blog – CBO’s 2010 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

From the CBO Directors Blog:

CBO’s 2010 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information

October 22nd, 2010 by Douglas Elmendorf

Social Security is the federal government’s largest single program; outlays in fiscal year 2010 totaled $706 billion, roughly one-fifth of the federal budget. About 54 million people currently receive Social Security benefits. Most are retired workers, their spouses, their children or their survivors, who receive payments through Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). The remainder are disabled workers or their spouses and children, who receive Disability Insurance (DI) benefits.

Tax revenues credited to the program totaled about $670 billion in fiscal year 2010, almost all from payroll taxes. A very small portion—about 3 percent—comes from income taxes on benefits. Revenues from taxes, along with intragovernmental interest payments, are credited to Social Security’s two trust funds—one for OASI and one for DI—and the program’s benefits and administrative costs are paid from those funds.

Today CBO released additional information about the long-term projections of the Social Security program’s finances that were included in The Long-Term Budget Outlook (June 2010, revised August 2010) and in Social Security Policy Options (July 2010). The methodology used to develop those projections is described in CBO’s Long-Term Model: An Overview, a background paper published in June 2009.

Today’s publication updates the projections included in CBO’s Long-Term Projections for Social Security: 2009 Update. As we reported in June 2010, the long-term gap between Social Security’s spending and revenues that CBO is currently projecting is larger than the shortfall projected in our August 2009 publication.

The first group of exhibits—exhibits 1 through 8—examines Social Security’s financial status from several vantage points. The second group—exhibits 9 through 16—examines the program’s effects on various categories of Social Security participants in terms of the average taxes and benefits for those groups.

As detailed in the first eight exhibits, CBO projects that:

  • Over the next few years, the program’s tax revenues (that is, the trust funds’ receipts excluding interest) will be approximately equal to its outlays. However, starting in 2016, as more of the baby-boom generation enters retirement, outlays as scheduled under current law will regularly exceed tax revenues. As a result, under current law, both trust funds will gradually be depleted.
  • The DI trust fund will be exhausted in 2018 and the OASI trust fund will be exhausted in 2042. It is a common analytical convention to consider the DI and OASI trust funds in combination. CBO projects that, if legislation to shift resources from the OASI trust fund to the DI trust fund was enacted, as has been done in the past, the combined trust funds would be exhausted in 2039. However, because of the uncertainty surrounding the various factors that affect the program’s revenues and outlays, that date could vary quite a bit.
  • The resources dedicated to financing the program over the next 75 years fall short of the benefits that will be owed to beneficiaries by about 1.6 percent of taxable payroll. In other words, to bring the program into balance over the next 75 years, payroll taxes would have to be increased immediately from 12.4 percent to 14.0 percent and kept at that higher rate, or the benefits specified in law would have to be reduced by an equivalent amount, or some combination of those changes and others would have to be implemented.

As shown in subsequent charts beginning with exhibit 9, the amount of Social Security taxes paid by various groups of people differs, as do the benefits that different groups receive. For example:

  • People with higher earnings pay more in Social Security payroll taxes than do lower-earning participants, and they also receive larger benefits. Because of the progressive nature of Social Security’s benefit formula, replacement rates—the amount of annual benefits as a percentage of annual lifetime earnings—are lower, on average, for workers who have had higher earnings.
  • The amount of taxes paid and benefits received will be greater for people in later birth cohorts because they typically will have higher earnings over a lifetime, even after adjusting for inflation, CBO projects. However, replacement rates will be slightly lower, on average, for later birth groups because their full retirement age (the age at which they can receive unreduced retirement benefits) will be higher.

In many of the exhibits throughout the publication, we created a distribution of outcomes to quantify the amount of uncertainty in our Social Security projections. The analysis was based on 500 simulations in which most of the key demographic and economic factors in the analysis vary according to historical patterns. For example, we examined the percentage of simulations in which the trust funds are exhausted by a specific year. In 37 percent of CBO’s simulations, the funds are exhausted before 2035. In 84 percent of the simulations, the trust funds are exhausted by 2050. In 97 percent of the simulations, the trust funds are exhausted by 2084.

The analysis was prepared by Noah Meyerson, Charles Pineles-Mark, Jonathan Schwabish, Michael Simpson, and Julie Topoleski of CBO’s Long-Term Modeling Group under the supervision of Joyce Manchester.

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Columbia Journalism Review – Social Security in Perspective

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

From Columbia Journalism Review:

Social Security in Perspective

A conversation with Ted Marmor

By Trudy Lieberman

To hear the media tell it, you’d think most Americans agree that this country must drastically reform its Social Security program. As Campaign Desk has pointed out, Social Security and the federal deficit have become Topic A in Washington, but so far the mainstream media haven’t had much of substance to say about it. Instead, they are taking their reportorial cues from the deficit hawks, while other voices have been shut out. This is the first in a series of occasional posts that will put the nation’s oldest and most successful social program into better perspective. I sat down for a conversation with Yale professor emeritus and social insurance expert Ted Marmor, who has written The Politics of Medicare and America’s Misunderstood Welfare State. A couple weeks ago, The Philadelphia Inquirer published his op-ed about what some deficit hawks are really after.

Trudy Lieberman: What is the federal deficit?

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Firedoglake – House to Vote on $250 One-Time Senior Benefit

October 16, 2010 Leave a comment

From Firedoglake:

House to Vote on $250 One-Time Senior Benefit

By: David Dayen Saturday October 16, 2010 7:53 am

senior citizens

photo: Kambiz Kamrani

For the second year in a row, there will be no COLA increase for Social Security recipients in 2011. This effects over 58 million retired and disabled Americans, and you would think that such information coming out so close to an election would be difficult news for the party in power. However, House Democrats are making lemonade out of it, vowing to vote in November on a $250, one-time benefit for Social Security recipients. As the average monthly check for Social Security is a little over $1,000 a month, this comes out to effectively a 2% annual increase in the program benefit, which is roughly the inflation level set by the Federal Reserve. The difference in this case is that the $250 wouldn’t get factored into the baseline level for Social Security in future years. But that’s set by the Social Security Administration, not the Congress; a one-time benefit is basically what Congress can do.

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Social Security Senate Hearing with Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders from October 10, 2010

October 10, 2010 Leave a comment
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Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – Understanding the Social Security Trust Funds

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Understanding the Social Security Trust Funds
By Paul N. Van de Water

“Few budgetary concepts generate as much unintended confusion and deliberate misinformation as the Social Security trust funds.  Political candidates of both parties have accused their opponents of ‘raiding’ the trust funds.  Some writers disparage the trust funds as ‘funny money’ or ‘IOUs.’  All these claims are nonsense.

“In fact, the Social Security trust funds are invested in Treasury securities that are every bit as sound as the U.S. government securities held by investors around the globe; investors regard those securities as being among the world’s very safest investments.”

View the full report: 5pp.

Listen to the podcast:

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John Nichols – GOP’s ‘Pledge to America’ Would End Up Privatizing Social Security

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Nation:

GOP’s ‘Pledge to America’ Would End Up Privatizing Social Security


Buried in the twenty-one-page document is the real pledge: a discussion of “reviewing” Social Security and other entitement programs” and a commitment to a program “requiring a full accounting of Social Security.”

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