Monday, November 12, 2012

(not the lemonade kind)

"Social Security is not part of the budget", so says Harry Reid. The righties keep chanting 'it's going broke, it's going broke'. Social Security is an 'entitlement' program. The word is used to refer to the rights afforded to a particular class. Originally this was mostly applied to doctors and lawyers who were 'entitled' to practice because of the work they did to earn it. People who pay into Social Security are 'entitled' to the benefits they earned from their work. It's true that 1/3 of benefits go to widows, orphans and the disabled, but only to those who had someone work to earn this entitlement.

Aside from the $3T in the Trust Fund (expected to peak at around $4T), the system can't go bankrupt.  It has its own revenue stream and was originally intended to not even have a trust fund. This was a Reagan invention designed to double the taxes of the working class who had to pay for their parents, and themselves simultaneously  Republicans of course spent the money on battleships and never intended to pay back the Trust Fund who holds it's money as Treasury Bonds. George Bush posed before a filing cabinet declaring the paper "worthless". When he did that it was a violation of the Constitution as all government officials are forbidden to ever say the debt of the United States isn't valid. He wanted to put the money into the stock market, it was then at 14,000 he predicted it to go to 40,000. He would need Mr Ponzi as Sec of Treasury for that to work.

If nothing is done the worst case scenario would be that a some point benefit checks would need to be reduced to perhaps as low as 80%, but only until the number of Baby Boomers still alive dropped to an acceptable number. This makes a number of assumptions, first that the economy doesn't improve, that the new millennium generation (which out numbers the boomers) doesn't have any kids, and the cap on contributions is never raised more than the rate of inflation.

The right also falsely claims that the system is unsustainable because people are living so much longer. In fact average lifespan is not going up. The rich and upper middle class are living longer, but the workers who really need Social Security insurance are having their lifespans shortened as the union movement disappears.

Means testing is also a particularly stupid talking point that suckers in liberals. Falling for this would turn Social Security into a welfare program instead of an entitlement that you earn. People who don't really need the benefits should be paying taxes on their non-Social Security income, Republicans don't believe they should not, after all only peasants pay taxes.

If you expect people to 'live only on their savings' as the right advocates, this would be a disaster for the economy as anybody approaching, or in retirement (well really anybody) would be crazy to spend a dime on themselves or their children. The top two causes of death in the US before Social Security were the elderly freezing in the winter, and starving in the summer. This would completely cripple the economy if people started thinking this way. It would become a self reinforcing cycle as workers would become less in demand and paid less and less. This in-turn would make saving harder to do, and increasingly impossible for the kids to feed grandma either. Social Security was created because people a hundred years ago were actually beginning to live long enough to retire.

The right insists that they are the only people who understand economics, and they have the moral authority to make decisions for everyone else. They have the moral authority of a shady used car salesman, and the same view on economics. All the money for them, lemons for you. (not the lemonade kind either)


Anonymous said...

This is why any bargain made to avoid the so-called Fiscal Cliff should not include Social Security. Like you so accurately and eloquently explained, Social Security is funded by a separate revenue stream (FICA) that has nothing to do with the fiscal deficit or the National Debt. Hence any discussions made by the Obama Administration and Congress that entails Social Security as part of a “Grand Bargain” will do nothing to reduce the deficit; rather it’s an ideological bone being thrown to the Republican that they will receive something for allowing tax increases on those making over $250,000.

Obama was wrong to even consider putting it on the table last summer. Now that he has won re-election, and Democrats continue to hold power in the Senate, there is no reason to bring it back as a bargaining chip. Though the CBO reported last week that a recession will occur if Obama and Congress allow the automatic spending cuts and reversion back to Clinton-era tax rates, I believe that Paul Krugman is right in saying that Obama should not flinch this time when the Republicans want to play chicken with the economy. Instead, he should hold his ground with continuation of tax cuts for those under the $250,000 threshold, eliminate tax numerous loopholes for corporations (especially for oil companies), and any spending cuts will not include those to education, infrastructure, food stamps or other assistance programs for the unemployed and needy.

Anonymous said...

Social Security "the system can't go bankrupt." ... LOL

prairie2 said...

So sure, but so ignorant of the numbers....

Anonymous said...

"Social Security 'the system can't go bankrupt.' ... LOL"

I hope these trolls are at least getting paid for their ignorance. They really have NO clue how the budget works and why SS can never go broke.

Roman Law said...

Obama should say "hell no" to the rights demand to haggle over our social security funds.

Never mind the ring wing's alternate unreality as their ignorance is self-inflicted and premeditated but never underestimated.

America won. The right lost!

Fake_William_Shatner said...

This is why there cannot be "bi-partisanship" except if we want to chase Republicans down the drain. The smart ones who understand they are trying to kill Social Security are pretending to care, and the dumb ones think that screwing people is the way you care.

BTW, this is about the best explanation of the problem with SS I've read. Yeah -- it isn't broke, but if Republicans are allowed to "fix it" it sure will be.