So, they've crunched some real numbers and determined exactly how much money the average Social Security recipient can expect to lose if the Chained-CPI is implemented. I'm going to assume that if someone told you that the government was going to seize $15,000.00 from your 401k you'd think it was a cut.
To rich people, 15 grand amounts to tip money so they cannot see why average Americans shouldn't be willing to give up such a paltry sum especially if it will "save" Social Security for their grandchildren.
Funny thing about that --- it won't. Save Social Security, that is.
So Social Security's status will barely be improved by Udall and Bennet and Obama and Pete Peterson's solution. Though it will absolutely be felt by almost every recipient - young, old, retired, working, disabled.
And that $15,000 is a little over a month's pay for our esteemed senators who will soon make those "tough" decisions to cut Social Security and bless America's wealthy with another generation of low-tax, America the Beautiful living.
Thank God they are not average, for they all do so deserve their bounty...
There is nothing here to disabuse me of my long-held notion that most economists reach their conclusions by cutting up a sheep on a rock and reading the entrails.
This error is needed to get the results they published, and it would go a long way to explaining why it has been impossible for others to replicate these results. If this error turns out to be an actual mistake Reinhart-Rogoff made, well, all I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the global move to austerity in the early 2010s was based on someone accidentally not updating a row formula in Excel.
And are we at all surprised that a certain zombie-eyed granny-starver of our casual acquaintance was one of the delivery mechanisms into our politics for what may be one of the great public-intellectual blunders (or worse) of the century?
Why, no, we are not at all.
This has been one of the most cited stats in the public debate during the Great Recession.Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget states their study "found conclusive empirical evidence that [debt] exceeding 90 percent of the economy has a significant negative effect on economic growth." The Washington Post editorial board takes it as an economic consensus view, stating that "debt-to-GDP could keep rising - and stick dangerously near the 90 percent mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth."
The Senate voted Friday night to oppose cutting entitlement benefits for veterans using a new method of calculating inflation.
President Obama has put the new method, known as chained consumer price index, on the table in deficit talks with Republicans. Using it reduces entitlement benefits like Social Security over time and also raises revenues by reducing the value of tax breaks.
And using chained CPI is definitely a cut -- the last thing the elderly and retired need. America's seniors are not living the high life with corporate jets and seaside homes paid for by tax-exempt stock-option, million-dollar bonuses. That would be another portion of society that is pushing for chained CPI.
The vote on the amendment was by voice vote, so its usefulness in quantifying Senate opposition to the proposal is minimal. The amendment is non-binding because it is attached to the budget resolution, which does not have the force of law.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sponsored the amendment.
Sanders pushed for a roll call vote, but was talked out of it by Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Were it not for Patty Murray, we might know know how our two Towers of Pudding, Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, voted.
They don't want us to know.
They probably voted for this amendment as a P.R. move with the full intent to then vote for a "Grand Bargain" that includes chained CPI cuts to Social Security that will be so harmful to our seniors and retirees.
That's how you roll if you are a United States Senator....
News reporters and editors claim "both sides do it" so they won't have to do the hard work of, and take the heat for, using empirical evidence and logic to pick a reasonable side in our political arguments.
Politicians, especially Democrats like Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, say "both sides do it" to pander to voters who won't take the time to delve into the issues and find trustworthy sources of information and to increase their ability to pass bad laws for special interests with bipartisan support rather than passing good laws with their constituents in mind that require principle and guts.
The Senate on Friday rejected an effort by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to repeal Obamacare, an outcome that was expected but is far from the last attempt by Republicans to dismantle President Barack Obama's signature accomplishment.
Cruz's amendment to the Democratic budget resolution failed 45 to 54. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) voted "no" with the Democrats.
The amendment sought to "establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to provide for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010."
Ahead of the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Konfederacy) put out a statement trashing Obamacare for being too expensive and "not working" in the way that was promised by Democrats.
Let me sum their atrocious, partisan behavior this way:
Republican Tea Partiers are destroying our democracy with each and every vote on this quite mild effort to reign in health care costs and provide quality health care to all Americans.
Republican Tea Partiers continue to deny the will of the people which clearly supported Democratic candidates and progressive policies in the last election.
Republican Tea Partiers continue to obstruct the president with parliamentary tricks, abusive amendments and filibuster threats that have knocked more than one Obama nominee out of the running for an important administration job.
Both sides don't do it. No matter what the milquetoast press and cowardly politicians say, it should be clear that Republicans are the obstructive, destructive force in Washington, DC.
And it'd be nice if someone besides a dumb blogger pointed it out.
Within one week Republicans are going to grab the national spotlight on two huge issues that should be the realm of the party who stands up for the little guy. That party used to be the Democratic party. How can they let this happen?
They are letting this happen because campaign cash is still more important than any policy decision. Most campaign cash comes from those who can afford it (duh), who then get more face time to ply their representatives. And if a policy threatens those with face time, you know who wins that battle: the Big Donors.
On Friday, at the CPAC convention, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher is going to call for breaking up the big banks in the wake of a failed Dodd-Frank bill.
This is mind blowing. First a Republican, Rand Paul, filibusters to get answers about the targeted killing program and now at CPAC, a speech calling for breaking up the TBTF banks. Where are the Democrats?? The last thing we heard from the party was that the executives can't be held criminally liable, via Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer.
Can you imagine Jared Polis or Michael Bennet or Mark Udall saying this?
End "Too Big to Fail" Once and for All
[...]"Third, we recommend that the largest financial holding companies be restructured so that every one of their corporate entities is subject to a speedy bankruptcy process, and in the case of banking entities themselves, that they be of a size that is 'too small to save.'"
Here's a fun secret: Tax reform (in this case referring to eliminating or scaling back "tax expenditures") is technically a conservative policy priority, even if elected Republicans refuse to ever support it for real.
This is a compromise in which conservative policy is being offered in exchange for conservative support for a conservative policy.
The sequester and Obama's Bargain quest mean that Republicans can choose between allowing a Democrat to "take credit" for cutting the two most popular programs in the country or they can just live with the already-passed government spending cut that they are also able to blame on the president.
They will say it is inevitable, as Digby summarizes:
Obama said that he has made clear to his advisers that some of the difficult choices -- particularly in regards to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare - should be made on his watch. "We've kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road," he said.
To now say that they have no choice but to cut entitlements because of the sequester (which they agreed to) is just too clever by half.
Mark Udall has said he's willing to lose his job over it. I wish he would.
And if Senator Mark Udall had even one gut, let alone the "guts" to push what he thinks is the only solution to Social Security's incredibly small budgeting issue, he'd write that law and submit it to the Senate...and put his fate as a legislator in the hands of Colorado's voters next year.
The Grand Bargain is the tool by which our leaders in Washington, DC, will inflict austerity on the poor and elderly. Its "purpose" is to fix the budget deficit - a deficit that is shrinking by the day as our economy continues its mostly-Republican-imposed, austerity-delayed recovery.
The Grand Bargain's implementers are most Republicans and enough Democrats to make it a bipartisan love fest that will be praised by editorial writers everywhere. Some locals who just can't wait to implement this Grand Bargain are Democrats Mark Udall, Jared Polis, and Michael Bennet.
Among the implementers, the "facts" that they "know" that are forcing this "inevitable" decision to take down Social Security are not facts at all.
They are the rhetorical weapons of the wealthy that have been whispered in the ears of legislators for years now. Their constant refudiation (h/t Palin) is the seemingly thankless, though necessary job, of economists and bloggers everywhere.
Two U.S. Senators who "know" these counter-factual facts are our very own Mark Udall and Tea Party Radical Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
But the problem here is the lies have already been told so many times, and internalized by otherwise "smart" senators like Udall, Johnson, and Michael Bennet, that by now they might be impossible to stop -- no matter how contrary to facts and how harmful to America's seniors. As the bipartisans among us prepare to cut one of the most successful and popular social welfare programs in the history of man, the lies used against the programs, by those who will benefit from their elimination, are an almost immutable political force.
The continued ignorance of our leaders makes the continuing fight against that ignorance an almost impossible task. And if that's the case, it'll be a win for the 1%-ers once again, and a gigantic loss for the stability and welfare of America's Middle Class and its hard-working, and thoroughly entitled, retirees.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced legislation cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to strengthen Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax that nearly everyone else already pays.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced the companion bill in the House. He joined Sanders at a news conference in the Capitol to discuss their bill to bolster Social Security without raising the retirement age or lowering benefits.
"Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation's history. Through good times and bad, Social Security has paid out every benefit owed to every eligible American," Sanders said.
"The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the future is to eliminate the cap on the payroll tax on income above $250,000 so millionaires and billionaires pay the same share as everyone else."
Reid said, "I want to thank Sen. Sanders for his outstanding leadership in support of Social Security and the millions of Americans who rely on the program. His legislation should make people think twice before assuming that the only way to strengthen Social Security is to take away benefits that seniors have earned, or raise taxes on the middle class."
DeFazio added, "Despite the hype, Social Security is not now, and never was, the cause of our deficit. Those spreading these false claims are the same people who have for years been working with Wall Street to privatize the program. We shouldn't cut benefits or try to balance the budget on the backs of seniors who have earned these benefits. We can just close a tax loophole that allows millionaires and billionaires to pay a lower percentage of their income into Social Security than everyone else."
That Radical Sanders. DeFazio. Reid.
No Bennet. No Udall. No Polis.
History won't remember the vote count on the Grand Bargain that betrays the values of the Democratic Party. It will record the names of Democrats who enacted the wrong policy at the wrong time for the wrong reasons - all for political expediency.
The United States ranks 19th worldwide in the retirement security of its citizens, according to a new annual index compiled by Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM). The findings suggest that Americans will need to pick up a bigger share of their retirement costs - especially as the number of retirees grows and the government's ability to support them fades.
Let me rewrite that second sentence in accordnace with reality and in dispute with Washington, DC's, conventional wisdom:
The findings suggest that Americans will need to pick up a bigger share of their retirement costs - especially as the number of retirees grows and the government's ability to support them fades.
That being said, it's quite clear momentum is now with cuts to social Security and Medicare, driven by Republican's willingness to hold our entire economy hostage in service to the wealthiest Americans and Democrats' complete inability to drive the tax debate or hold to longstanding Democratic and Progressive principles.
The reason "everyone" is screaming about this Republican-constructed problem is that the "everyone" is looking out for the big money interests who pay their bills, who fund their campaigns, and who will be the most conspicuous winners if current conventional wisdom in Washington, DC, gets its way.
The reason politicians love to be seen "attacking" this problem is 1) it's been Frank Luntz'd into a simple phrase that everyone, though it is highly misleading, can claim is true; 2) it lets Democrats continue their spineless, principle-free act in DC that goes by the name "bipartisanship"; and 3) it conveniently, with the help of Democrats like Mark Udall, assumes Social Security is a component of our nation's debt (it isn't) and lets Republicans stick a knife in a program they tried to kill from Day 1. (PDF)
Conservative contributor Bill Kristol admitted that "corporations have a ton of cash" and the Republican Party's desire to slash corporate tax rates was a mistake.
Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta told Fox News' Chris Wallace "I think [Republicans] look back on the Bush years and say the problem was we just didn't do enough. And so [they say] let's cut taxes more for wealthiest Americans. Let's try to cut Medicare now, cut Medicaid, cut health care that people need.
They don't really have an investment agenda."
No, they don't have an investment agenda, something everyone, except elected Republicans, feel is necessary to prime the economic pump and finally, firmly end this Republican-prolonged recession.
Now, in exchange for paying off a bit of that debt by returning some of the tax rates to their previous levels, Democrats have offered, in a series of high-profile negotiations, to slash trillions in spending, much of it hitting the elderly, the poor and the middle class. This process of transferring wealth up the economic ladder is known in Washington as a "grand bargain."
Last year's talks demonstrated just how little fat the federal government could trim away from its budget before impacting the services and benefits it provides. All in all, Republicans and Democrats found only $40 billion that they agreed could be saved by targeting waste and fraud in government operations.
To make a real impact on the deficit, agricultural subsidies and oil and gas giveaways may also face the chopping block now. But more than anything, lawmakers will likely target Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a host of other social programs that help those with the fewest advocates in Washington, including people on food stamps, veterans, retiring federal workers, home health care workers and the elderly.
Seventy percent of voters, however, prefer a more balanced approach to deficit reduction than the deep, across-the-board cuts that the GOP has advocated, according to a new survey conducted by two progressive groups, Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America's Future. They support eliminating waste and tax breaks for special interests while also investing in critical areas like education and worker training programs to spur long-term growth.
Washington's establishment considers a grand bargain to be as necessary as it is prudent and responsible.
Regular people, however, don't see it as a bargain at all.
There are still many Democrats who failed to read the mandate given by voters, both in 2008 and in last Tuesday's election. These include both our senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet. Their inability to hold to a true Democratic principle is both historic and chronic. But the choice of voters is unmistakable, the numbers are clear, though not quite as compelling as a $50,000 check to one's re-election campaign or a nice lunch at DC's finest restaurant.
I didn't expect the views of our leaders to change overnight. But they will change, and the sooner the better for all of us.
On the top line, it's pretty simple: Barack Obama ran on an unambigious platform of government investment, higher taxes on the wealthy and a protected safety net.
Mitt Romney ran on an equally clear platform of vastly decreased federal spending, including on "entitlement" programs, and lower taxes for everyone (and, though he frequently denied it, mostly the wealthy).
Now, the political conversation turns immediately to the (contrived by congress) fiscal cliff, which requires big decisions on tax rates and government spending.
Obama's re-election should be a clear enough sign of how voters want this handled, but of course there are hitches: pundits and politicians can invent all sorts of other reasons why Obama was re-elected, and on several occasions during the campaign Obama voiced support for the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, which would lower rates in all income brackets and cut the safety net.
So it's therefore important to make clear that voters quite consciously chose a different path. The polling data bears that out.
A survey of people who voted in the past election, for both candidates (sample size 1,000; plus or minus 3.1 percent) conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America's Future found that many individual elements of the Simpson-Bowles plan are deeply unpopular with the electorate.
It's very simple: voters did not vote for austerity - this was not the stated position of the Obama campaign.
Romne-Ryan were clearly for austerity and continued tax breaks for the richest among us.
Romney-Ryan were rejected. Bowles-Simpson were rejected. More breaks for Millionaires and Billionaires was rejected. And finally, Blue Dog Dems were once again rejected by a sophisticated and knowledgeable electorate.
Kuttner lays it the work ahead once Obama is re-elected:
Thanks to his exceptional luck in drawing Romney as his opponent, Obama will probably win a narrow re-election despite the dismal recovery.
But on Wednesday morning, a struggle begins within the Democratic Party to save him (and us) from himself -- to keep him from agreeing to a budget deal that will only slow growth, needlessly sacrifice Social Security and Medicare, and make the next four years much like the last four years.
What a waste, what a pity. Democrats should be resisting the economic lunacy and political sway of an extremist Republican Party. Instead, they will be working to keep their own president from capitulating to fiscal folly.
We can hardly count on our two Democratic Senators to stand firm against their Far-Right Wing peers in the senate.
(And this is where the never-ending lies of those like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Liambaugh, Mike Rosen and Jon Caldara pay off: 1) they've been calling us "far-left" for years, 2) they've bullied Democrats further and further to the right on policy with their rhetoric, and 3) by me calling these truly radical Republican senators "far right" the press can say "See, both sides do it!" write off the fact-based criticisms and carry on with their "fair and balanced" fantasy political reporting.
Let's never forget the kind of people Udall and Bennet are dying to be bipartisan with and the policies and tactics they've promoted since Obama became president:
Wednesday, November 7, is coming up fast. I urge you to get ready to double your efforts to prevent Obama and Democratic members of congress from signing away your Social Security and cementing into place The Military Industrial Complex we were warned about 50 years ago by a Republican president.
That is the unspoken goal they have already started planning for.....
President Obama sounds like a man in love -- in love with deficit reduction, that is. He sleeps, eats and dreams about the Grand Bargain, but only wants to draw the line at defense cuts? Doesn't sound like a man of the people!
President Barack Obama said on Friday a bipartisan panel's deficit reduction recommendation went too far on spending cuts, especially for defense, but set the right tone by also proposing revenue increases.
Obama said the plan put forward by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission - and held out by some as a model compromise that distributes the pain evenly - cut defense spending too deeply.
"They wanted ... defense cuts that were steeper than I felt comfortable with as commander in chief," he said.
Not Social Security. Not Medicare. Not Medicaid. Not the things that people who are already spread too thin need just to stay alive. I wonder why?
The president, who is in a tight re-election battle with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, said he would be eager to re-engage congressional Republicans in negotiations to achieve a broad deficit reduction deal right away. A deal could be accomplished in as little as four months, he said.
"I've said to folks, I'll wash (House Speaker) John Boehner's car, I'll walk (Republican Senate leader) Mitch McConnell's dog, I'll do whatever is required to get this done," Obama said in an interview with radio host Michael Smerconish that was released on Friday.
Sounds like a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome.
If the Grand Bargain is enacted as Obama, Udall, Bennet, Senate Republicans, and 99% of the 1% see it, we will have a permanent military-industrial complex that runs our government and that guaratees itself the vast majority of this nation's wealth from here to eternity.
The Middle Class will be a sad joke in history books written by the Koch Brothers' Educational Institute for True Democracy.
And it will all have been done by members of the Democratic Party who betrayed their constituents and who rejected the most illustrious proponents of its democratic progressivism, the creation of the Middle Class, and their historic predecessors like FDR, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson.
Who you gonna believe, me and Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders and the NY Times, or proven liar U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat? (He lies about EFCA and pledges support for workers in that 18-second clip.)
(Source: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on The Thom Hartmann Show today.)
Mr. Ryan's sonorous campaign rhetoric about shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to "job creators" (read: the top 2 percent) will do nothing to reverse the nation's economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse.
Mr. Ryan professes to be a defense hawk, though the true conservatives of modern times - Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Robert A. Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, even Gerald R. Ford - would have had no use for the neoconconservative imperialism that the G.O.P. cobbled from policy salons run by Irving Kristol's ex-Trotskyites three decades ago.
These doctrines now saddle our bankrupt nation with a roughly $775 billion "defense" budget in a world where we have no advanced industrial state enemies and have been fired (appropriately) as the global policeman.
What will the Ryan-Romney budget really do?
The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for "job creators" - i.e. the superwealthy - to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.
In short, Mr. Ryan's plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn't pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation's fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity - just empty sermons.
Right after I warn about the risk that Democrats, including the president, might betray the mandate they seem likely to get for preserving the safety net, we learn that Senate leaders are at work on a plan based around, well, you guessed it:
If those efforts failed, another plan would take effect, probably a close derivative of the proposal by President Obama's fiscal commission led by Erskine B. Bowles, the Clinton White House chief of staff, and former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, a Republican. Those recommendations included changes to Social Security, broad cuts in federal programs and actions that would lower tax rates over all but eliminate or pare enough deductions and credits to yield as much as $2 trillion in additional revenue.
Just to say, this would be politically stupid as well as a betrayal of the electorate.
If you don't think Republicans would turn around and accuse Democrats of cutting Social Security - probably even before the ink was dry - you've been living under a rock.
Who's on your side? Who's the Democrat? Who's the Republican? Who's living under a rock?
I have some sympathy for undecideds, but not much.
Given that Democrats can't figure out to support some of the most successful, economically efficient, and egalitarian programs in our nation's history I am slowly slipping to undecided as well. When will the President and his minions in the senate pick up on these simple facts?