GOP Plans to Gut Social Security

By Dale Coberly. Originally published at Angry Bear

The  Republicans have opened a new assault on Social Security.  At present all I know about it is what I read  in a Talking Points Memo by Tierney Sneed   Key House GOPer Introduces Bill With Major Cuts To Social Security .

The trouble with Sneed’s article is that she does not appear to know what she is talking about.  She just wrote down what some “experts” told her with no idea what the words mean.

For example, she says,

“A 65 year-old at the top of the scale, a $118,500 average earner, would see his benefits cut by 25% when he retired, compared to the current law, and that reduction would grow to 55 percent compared to current law by the time the retiree was 85 years old.”

Well, which is he, “at the top of the scale”  or an “average earner”?

The point is probably trivial but I point it out so you will be on your guard if you read her article.

Additionally she quotes Paul Van de Water,  who is someone who actually knows that Social Security can be fixed entirely and forever by simply raising the payrolll tax one tenth of one percent per year until the balance between wage growth and growth in the cost of retirement is restored.  But somehow she doesn’t bother to mention this,  or maybe Van De Water forgot to mention it because he favors a “tax the rich” solution…  without understanding that that will turn Social Security into welfare as we knew it, and lead to its ultimate destruction by those rich who would then be paying for it.

Social Security has succeeded because Roosevelt insisted it be paid for by the workers who would get the benefits, “so no damn politician can take it away from them.”

But the damn politicians keep lying and journalists keep repeating the lies without spending ten minutes thinking about them.

The basic “facts” about the Republican proposal, introduced by Texas Congressman Sam Johnson appear to be :

gradually raise the retirement age from 67 to 69. 

This amounts to a benefit cut of about 10%,  but that’s not the worst of it.  Raising the retirement age is simply a death sentence for people whose health is not up to working another two years, or won’t live to collect benefits for more than a few years after they retire.

change the cost of living adjustment to reduce real benefits as the retiree gets older.

This is called a “technical adjustment.”  They can pretend that the CPI is too generous and know that most people won’t understand the scam.

the size of initial benefits will be cut for most workers by catastrophic amounts.

This turns Social Security into a straight welfare plan.  Most people will be paying for benefits they will never get. The very poorest are promised a larger benefit for awhile…  until the bogus cost of living adjustment, and increased retirement age do their work.  Moreover it is not clear what happens to “the rich”  who lose their “side income” as they get older.  And of course there is always the fun of going to the welfare office every month  to prove that you don’t have any hidden assets.

Meanwhile, the CRFB  (Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget). an organization dedicated to the destruction of Social Security by misrepresenting the facts, is playing cute games like “use our calculator to find out how old you will be when SS runs out of funds.”

But SS will never run out of funds as long as the workers are allowed to pay… in advance…for their own benefits. With no change at all in SS, SS will pay 80% of “scheduled benefits,”  but this is 80% of scheduled benefits which meanwhile have grown 25% in real value.  So the GOP “plan to save SS” is out and out theft.

CRFB has another cute game: “use our calculator to design your own plan to save social security.”  But when I used their calculator it did  not allow “increase the payroll contribution by one tenth percent (for each the worker and the employer) per year for twenty years.

There are other ways to accomplish the same end, but this seemed to be the simplest way to fit the CRFB “calculator.”   Someone with more time and a newer browser might want to try seeing what they get.  But look at small per year increases in payroll contribution.  For example, I think a 0.4% increase (combined), about two dollars per week for each the worker and the employer,  should solve the problem in ten years,  but I haven’t done the numbers on that myself.

Meanwhile, something that calls itself “the Bipartisan Policy Center, says “Ultimately, we are going to need something that’s a little more balanced between benefits saving and revenue changes in order to get a proposal that could pass Congress and get approved by the president,” said Shai Akabas, director fiscal policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.”

It’s hard to see how much cuts (“benefit savings”) make sense to balance a dollar a week increase in the payroll tax (revenue changes),  but that’s the kind of thinking that “Bipartisan” gets you.  “Hey folks,  we can save you a dollar a week just by gutting Social Security so it becomes meaningless as insurance so workers can retire at a reasonable age.”

I am getting too discouraged.  As long as no one is working to tell the people how this will work for them,  we are just going to stand around like sheep and watch them cut our throats.

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141 comments

  1. ambrit

    As someone who grew up with the promise of Social Security as a minimal income support system for my old age I can attest to the fact that when the “average” retiree, who has almost no individual savings accrued, steps in the pile of Social Security “reforms,” there will be not just a wailing and gnashing of teeth.
    Modern age old people no longer can rely on extended families for support. Those extended families have been fragmented by the pressures of “modern” socio-economics. This is prime territory for a demagogue.
    The Twentieth Century had World War 1.0 and a subsequent “Lost Generation.” It’s increasingly looking like the Twentyfirst Century will have the GFC, Social Support ‘Reforms’ and a subsequent “Euthanized Generation.”
    Remember, this process will not affect just oldsters. It will suck in those closest to said oldsters as emergency support resources. It won’t be only oldesters who will be watching elites “over iron sights.”

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Perhaps someone will enlighten me, but this is one thing that really puzzles me about the Republican determination over many years to gut social security. I can understand their ideological fixation with it – what I can’t understand is why they are so willing to play electoral fire with it. Surely this directly attacks millions of core Republican voters?

      They may be able to fool many of them with deceptive slogans, but surely when the prospect of finding their pensions slashed faces them, even the most supine and gullible middle American Republican voter in their middle to late years is going to realise they’ve been had. The backlash could be enormous. I find it hard to see how any rational politician would want to go near it.

      1. Cry Shop

        They will find a way to blame it on the Democrats, and more importantly, on Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities. They will sell the cuts and privatizations as the only way to save the system that has been so badly damage by the fore mentioned, and as long as their base gets their beliefs from Faux News, Bretbart, etc; it’s quite probably the Republicans will succeed in getting what they want while screwing down the ever hapless Democratic party.

        I’ve met more than a few who’d almost be pleased to suffer as long as they thought blacks were being made to suffer even more. There’s no logic when hate gets this strong.

        1. Leigh

          Exactly, the same way they have mortally wounded our once stellar public education system, (a system once good enough to educate our “Greatest Generation) – is now a shell, death by a thousand cuts…

          Also, if you think income disparity is bad now? – hang on to your wallet, because after 4 years of Trump and his prospective cabinet picks, it will hit the stratosphere.

          “There’s no logic when hate gets this strong” – so true.

          1. Scott

            Smart to point at the educational system.
            I have not found many youths who can tell me what they want to do. I find this really weird.
            It is true that if you know what you want to do the library will do.
            Thanks to Ben Franklin, inventors, engineers had a place to hang out and collect information they could use.
            Maybe you had to live in NYC to have a NYCity library card, but it is a big city.
            Meantime Charter schools, which sounded great to us when at Kenwood on the Southside, are gaining ground and collecting tax money regardless of results.
            They are said now in Not Conscious to be handing out diplomas same as Public Schools did to get some bodies out the door.
            I was a graduate, but denied attendance at the diploma hand out thing, cause I refused to pay, for my public school diploma. Public education, supposed to be free to citizens.
            People think I didn’t graduate.
            The Union believed in Trump. I get sick about lots of things. It will be worse than they think.
            Education & Defense are what the government is for.

        2. Steve C

          Twelve years ago the Republicans needed the Democrats to actually plunge the knife on the back. Democrats like Joe Lieberman dearly wanted to lend a bipartisan hand but Pelosi and Reid actually rallied to prevent it. Talking Points Memo was all over it then. Now they’re on top of Paul Ryan’s machinations to privatize Medicare and this Social Security scam. Kind of raised some old feelings for TPM, but they’re also heavily flogging the CIA Russian hacking dembot campaign.

          About the only thing I knew about Hillary’s agenda is that she wanted to means test Social Security and Medicare and start new wars. Obama wanted to do many of the cuts in Sam Johnson’s bill but was foiled by Tea Partiers who couldn’t take yes for an answer or were smarter than they seemed.

          Both Schumer and Pelosi said the Democrats would oppose any of these current plans. We’ll see.

          1. Pat

            I would hope they would realize that Social Security and Medicare are issues where the only winning move is to expand them. IOW, they need to realize this is an area where the campaign donors need to be told to pound sand, shut up and expect to pony up – as in you ARE going to be paying more into the system.
            But these are people who thought there was no way that Clinton could lose, that this Russia nonsense is a winning strategy and that ACA was going to be good for Democrats once people got to know it. IOW, their grasp of reality outside their bubble might as well not exist it is so broken.
            So while my fingers are crossed they still want their jobs AND aren’t completely delusional, I also know we better put the fear of the voters into every member of Congress about grannies and wannabe grannies with canes beating them to a pulp any time they leave their house.

            And by grannies I mean anyone on SS, and wanna be grannies everyone who someday might be able to retire or at least only work part time after retirement age because of SS.

              1. Pat

                IF they cannot win an election they will not have any donors, and they are rapidly getting to the point where a Democrat getting elected to a national office is the exception. Not to mention there are a large number of states where that is pretty much the case. There is no reason to try to bribe people so you can have them in your pocket if they are powerless.

                They are terrible at strategy, but eventually they may figure out they need voters. You do NOT alienate seniors as seniors are the most reliable voters around. Oh, and most of those seniors have grandchildren they think deserve Social Security and Medicare as well. The only winning strategy is to protect and expand.

                1. Steve C

                  I forgot to mention the consultant class. Absent a hostile takeover the Democrats may not be fixable. Their disdain for and disconnect from the voters will do them in.

                  1. Larry Motuz

                    Gerry-mandering: When politicians pick the voters, instead of the voters picking the politicians.

                    Fixing that could fix politics.

            1. Spring Texan

              Would love to see this repeated and repeated, because although it’s hard, we need to grasp this fact:
              their grasp of reality outside their bubble might as well not exist it is so broken.
              their grasp of reality outside their bubble might as well not exist it is so broken.
              their grasp of reality outside their bubble might as well not exist it is so broken.
              their grasp of reality outside their bubble might as well not exist it is so broken.
              their grasp of reality outside their bubble might as well not exist it is so broken.

          2. dontknowitall

            Sam Johnson…the same Sam Johnson who wrote “I spent seven years in the Hanoy Hilton. The Hanoy Hilton is no Trump hotel.” back in July ? Who milks his Vietnam tour of duty like a rabid milkmaid…Who says “I do not feel like a hero, and I do not call myself one” in the tones of one who thinks the exact opposite? Who is constant cahoots with McCain (who is currently trying to sink a Trump presidency)…why am I not surprised that a neoliberal faction of the senatorial republican party in seeking to weaken a populist president-elect is reaching for the third rail with both hands and smearing all republicans with the same brush. I doubt very much Trump will weaken social security since he knows it is the only thing his rebellious base of Deplorables can depend on…call me simple but Trump won this election against practically everyone and he knows his base is the only sure recourse he has.

            1. Praedor

              I don’t count on that (Trump knowing not to touch Social Security). I wouldn’t be surprised if he went for privatization. HE will never ever need Social Security so why concern himself over it? He’s already throwing his electoral base under the bus with his cabinet picks. Every single one of them is a direct violation of his pre-election promises.

              1. djrichard

                Trump is running the mafia. And he knows where his power comes from. He’ll make deals with the peer mafias only because it’s fun making deals. But if it runs counter to his base of power, forget it.

                Unless of course he figures out a way that no credible candidate arises in the future to pull his base of power away. You know, like the dems thought they were doing. So yea, if he can do a repeat of the dems, then who’s to say how much he’ll screw his base. Still I think he’ll have more fun during his tenure using the power against the other mafias (in particular in other countries) than colluding with them against his own base.

            2. oh

              I heard that there special rooms available for Johnson and McCain at the Hanoi Hilton! I urge them to take advantage of this excellent offer.

          3. susan the other

            I think Hillary also wanted to increase the payroll tax by 3% (an enormous amount of money) and use it to privatize 3% of the SS funds to make up for shortfalls, ostensibly. They better have a good insurance policy … so that’ll be another 3%. All this nonsense because we refuse to admit we need social policies and social funding of the basic things. We are committing suicide 24/7 these days. Why don’t we just call it all insurance?

            1. oh

              The financial (rentier) crowd want to get their claws on the SS funds. They’ll achieve their goal unless we kick their puppets out of Congress.
              They already have their teeth into your IRA funds, student loans, home mortgages and your bank funds, It won’t be too long before a Trojan Horse Prez signs away your SS. Beware!

          4. Praedor

            We’ll see if the Dems stand firm and fight back OR go for the old “bipartisanship!” bullcrap and instead agree to a lessor CUT. They would then promote it as the two sides working together.

            Typical neoliberal Dem establishment move.

            Or are the progressive forces ascendant and ready to fight absolutely?

            We’ll see. In any case, the House will pass it, no question. The test is in the senate where the Dems still have some teeth available (whether they USE those teeth is another thing altogether).

        3. Paul P

          The Democratic Party must be made to defend Social Security as they rallied
          against Bush’s privatization plan. They will do so for political advantage, but they
          too have attacked Social Security. Obama attacked it on three occasions–the Deficit Commission, the chained CPI added to a budget proposal, and the timing of married couples claiming benefits–and, were it not for Monica Lewinsky distracting
          Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton would have been attempting to privatize Social Security, not Bush.

          Now it the time to contact your senators and representatives: NO CUTS.

          1. jawbone

            As things stand, what you recommend is the best action to take as of right now. It is not enough, but when letters come in to Dems and Repubs stating the senders will NEVER vote for anyone who votes to mess with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, there might be some reactions.

            BUT…it needs to be many, many, many people writing, calling, and meaning it when stating “Representative/Senator XXX, you mess with this and you will never, ever get a vote from me.”

            How do we get enough people to take action???

            Is Bernie on the ball about this?

            1. Cry Shop

              Humm, if you are depending on Bernie or any one politician to save you, then you’ve lost the point of Democracy. It’s all of you forcing them to do the right thing.

              Bernie Sanders has said it himself, even FDR said to Black Activist asking for an anti-discrimination executive order to the defense industry: “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.” They did do it, by threatening a strike during WWII, for which some were sent to jail. That’s what it’s going to take, because voting once every 2 or 4 years isn’t going to cut it.

      2. Paul Art

        They will never attack current beneficiaries. This is a lesson they have learnt over the years. This is why they changed tack in the 1980s and keep raising the eligibility age which is a very soft target. One thing the GOPers understand really well is, GOPer Seniors ALWAYS vote and some Dem Seniors vote sometimes. So they will leave current beneficiaries alone. GOPer Seniors – almost all of them are driven by the conviction (Tea Party types) that Social Security and Medicare are under jeopardy because of illegal immigration and because Social Security funds are being raided and handed over to other beneficiaries like those on Disability etc. They have plenty of traction on this because if you go ask the average 25 year old or even a 40 year old today whether they can count on Social Security, most of them being morons and having swallowed the MSM propaganda will tell you, ‘I don’t think it will be around when I get to 65’. I am fairly certain there are polls to back this up. This is what the Greenspan Blue Ribbon Commission cleverly did under Reagan. The people who are in their 50s today were in their late 20s in the 1980s and clueless about what exactly Greenspan did to the eligibility age. So telling current beneficiaries that its good to cut benefits for future beneficiaries makes a lot of sense to current beneficiaries. In any case SS is toast. I think we will have to wait for the entire cycle of Old Age poverty to take root again in another 50-60 years and for the tide to turn. It was wide spread old age poverty that prompted FDR and also Trueman into action for SS and Medicare respectively.

        Sewer species like Pete Peterson and the Hedge Funders target SS because it is a very productive way to create mass unemployment and lower wages. They don’t want people removed from the labor market by SS when they become 65. Their secret longing is to drive down wages to the point where the per hour rate will equal the human mules you see pulling overloaded hand carts in Mumbai, India or Shangai, China. This is really the agenda. This is basically the psychology of monopoly thinking. When you have captured markets up to a 95% level then you start looking like an idiot because you have closed off growth altogether. Monopolies do not grow because there are no more markets left. So the next thing to do is increase profits via driving labor costs down – standard Michael Porter Harvard Business School trick. This is what they have been doing in the last 40 years.

        1. Cry Shop

          +1

          It’s how they are selling every sort of deregulation. it destroys the future, but who gives a damn about their children and grand-kids, the ungrateful snots. Shipping the old folks off to the retirement home has divorced them from both the care and of caring about their descendants.

          1. RUKidding

            Your comment about the old folks home is right on target. The better class of senior housing establishments are often the most fortified of bubble worlds, and the Seniors there spend hours ranting to each other about how the younger generation has screwed them over somehow. I’ve witnessed it first hand. They’ve been carefully taught not to give a crap about future generations, including their own kids and grandkids. It’s all about MEEEEEEEEEEE….

        2. BeliTsari

          Thank you, I think a lot of us have noticed the veracity of this, especially over the last four decades. Show of hands… who else out there is sufficiently paranoid, to consider signing-up a year early & simply absorbing the hit, with some silly fantasy of being grandfathered-in?

            1. BeliTsari

              Thanks! I was dizzy from a bad head cold, working in very bagger-ridden environs (a quite literally Dikensian hell-hole in Pennsyltucky), applying for Medicare and fishing through obfuscatory pleonasm, picking Plan D & N insurers… the 2nd or 3rd page in, they ask you if you’re applying for “benefits” at this time! Jesus… Anybody… ANYBODY??? I have some meager equity (at least, last time I looked?) sufficient for a decade or so. But with Republicans dying young?

        3. UserFriendly

          Increasing the retirement age while the average life expectancy is decreasing seams especially crewel. Combine that with that piece from the times that showed people like me, born in the 80’s only have a 50% chance of earning more than our parents and that we are already drowning in student debt and that is a full on assault on the youth of this country. Screw the national debt burdening future generations, this will actually burden us. This really is the worst country in the world. Fuck Patriotism.

        4. JTMcPhee

          Anyone who has a chance of affecting the behavior of AARP when it comes to SS and Medicare needs to step up and apply whatever pressure they can to get that thing to return to its origins and “work the issue” for their members, present and future. I know, it’s mostly just another front for insurance and other sales pitches and scams and “cruise packages” and other lifestyle crap, but at least there has to be some skeletal remains of the original bones of the organization in there somewhere.

          Or failing that, is there another entity that might be worth supporting and joining with, to go on the offensive and fight back? I would hate to think it’s all futility and “47%” from here on out.

          1. Cry Shop

            AARP’s origins? It was founded by an insurance salesman as a slick way to sell, yep you guessed it, the industry’s interests to a powerful bank of less than bright voters.

        5. JL

          Just want to point out that you both degrade avg 40yo for thinking they can’t count on SS and in the same post claim SS is toast.

          Some of us don’t think we’ll be able to count on SS because the elite are determined to raid that cash flow, not because we’ve swallowed the B’s line.

          1. jrs

            Some of us question if there won’t be mass human extinction before then. Maybe there will be no old age for many people alive today including yours truly. But nonetheless, if by some miracle the worst doesn’t happen then Social Security is important.

      3. Marco

        Prez Hope and Change’s support for chained-CPI will certainly complicate the fight against this. If Obama and his Rubinite stable of bean-counting butt-boys were for it then it must be okay?

        1. Steve C

          See Paul Art’s comment above. Obama worked to keep wages low to please the Pete Petersons of the world.

      4. voteforno6

        They’re banking on getting some Democratic support, to make it bipartisan. With weasels like Mark Warner in the Senate, they might get some Democrats to sign on to this.

        1. RUKidding

          Eh? Democrats will line up with their Republican BFFs to screw over the proles. Given how Democrats are now a very Rump party in this nation, what have they got to lose? Why take of their alleged “constituents” in the 99% What a laugh. The constituents of the Dem pols are, have always been, and will continue to be the .01%. So the Dems will happily oblige their real constituents by screwing over the proles. Anyone who expects a different outcome is not living in reality.

      5. Carolinian

        Perhaps it’s because “the banks own this place.” Also the Republicans, like the Dems, are running on the fumes of past ideological obsessions and Social Security was always seen as a prime Dem vote getter and flagship of the hated New Deal. Remember Karl Rove wanted to take the country back to the McKinley administration. But mostly it’s probably because people like Paul Ryan are creatures of their funders.

      6. NotTimothyGeithner

        Plenty are stupid, but the Democrats are in complete disarray. The GOP will face push back from their voters, but the Democrats as they are now are not a threat to win any time soon. AARP recognizing the interests of its members can shake Washington, but right now, the GOP sees no threat to its rule.

        1. oh

          Many of the not so weathy Repubs are ‘rich wannabes’. So they’ll gladly toe the line on cut social security cuts and free market memes. They think that they have noting to worry about because they’ll be wealthy before they retire and they won’t need SS. Boy, do I have a few bridges and lots of swamp land to sell them!

          1. Jack Spratt

            That’s exactly right. These poor Ralph Kramdens and Fred Flintstones are the victims of that greatest of cons, the “American Dream”. No, you are not going to be magically rich. No, the pols (of either party) will not look out for your interests. Keep your nose to the grindstone, and voila, no nose! The time has come for capitalism to stop seeing labour as a “resource”, or a “cost of doing business” but as a full and equal stakeholder with investors and managers. The natural resources of the country should be viewed as a patrimony owned by everyone. If you have the capital, the nerve (no business is sure fire), and the luck to make a successful business, God bless ya, and I hope you make a ton of money….., but you will not be permitted to destroy these resources, and if you are going to use resources that belong to everyone, then you will share the benefits of exploiting these resource, by paying livable wages, ensuring no-one dies from lack of care, and education is provided. Business infrastructure, practices, and policies must be rigidly monitored and controlled. If a business cannot succeed because it needs do as it sees fit, then perhaps it’s not a viable business in the context of a decent society. Business men are like weasels, perfectly alright in and of themselves, but you don’t give them the keys to the henhouse, you never turn your back on them, and above all, never try to pet one.

      7. John Wright

        One can note the Social Security “reform” is usually pushed by wealthy individuals who feign concern about saving a system for the future of less well off Americans.

        Also, Social Security is a system that is of little import to the wealthy as they will not be depending on it for basic living expenses.

        The wealthy’s real fears are of a raising of the income cap that will hit them directly or of an effort to support higher wages for the citizens currently paying into Social Security, hitting their business profits.

        While it may seem unexpected they can get help from Democrats in this effort (Obama, Bill Clinton…) but I suspect this is so because wealthy donors support the effort and the Democrats can pitch the “saving” aspect while collecting campaign cash.

        If a politician is not re-elected as a result, they might have a more lucrative career at a think tank or as a lobbyist.

        Of course, if the wealthy are so concerned about the alleged Social Security problem that is looming in the future, where were far sighted wealthy Americans when it came to questioning the Iraq War, the drug war, the lack of financial reform, and all the USA military/covert actions that have done great harm to public finances?

        Strangely, Social Security “reform” is a big concern of theirs, and the other USA efforts that have caused much harm, are not.

        Then there is climate change, again, wealthy individuals are more concerned about “saving social security” than saving the planet.

        Also the “reform minded” politicians do not appear to allow that current social security benefits probably are used by many entire low income families. So cutting grandma’s benefits also could immediately hit her kids/grandkids financially.

        A secondary effect is that lowering SS benefits means the wages of current workers can be lowered in concert as their SS payments, which flow to current recipients, can be lowered, perhaps even allowing another Social Security reform effort to be promoted.

        The ability of TPTB to sell this to the American public should not be underestimated as the advertising/public relations/MSM has been successful in promoting/maintaining many bad ideas.

        1. sharonsj

          The wealthy are not concerned about saving anything unless they can make money off it. They are already getting richer from the endless wars on terror and drugs, and taking planetary resources for themselves. The only reason they talk about “reforming” Social Security and Medicare is to get their hands on that money as well. And please do not expect the corporate media to explain any of this to the dumbed-down masses.

      8. Michael C

        The Republicans can afford to play with potential policial backlash for two reasons: First, they relentlessly beat out false narratives about the demise of SS and its inadequacies so that their flase story becomes a part of the consciousness of citizens. (This is the same thing done to attack teachers, unions, the post office, government, etc. You put out the lie long enough, it becomes the truth.) Second, they have been engaged in not one knife to the heart of the program but an attempt to promote its demise by a thousand cuts, little by little, until the program is no longer viable. I know for a fact that young people have bought into the lies put forth by them and do not think the program will be there for them because they too have bought the lie. Those pushing to kill the most effective program in US history, one that has kept the elderly from complete poverty, are nothing more than evil. They want no public programs, and all revenue funnelled into corporate models that enrich the 1%.

      9. Deloss Brown

        Sure, I can explain it.

        Conservatives love destruction for its own sake. Smashing the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, smashing the ancient city of Baghdad, spilling oil all over North Dakota, wrecking Social Security, all these things have a political component, but it is the destruction itself that makes them absolutely adorable to Conservatives. Bear in mind this pervasive love of destruction, and many Conservative initiatives will become more clear.

        And the “base” goes along with it, because many of them have been inculcated with the theory that it is more pleasurable to do someone else harm than to do one’s self good. Given a choice to make, they will always pick the former. Hope this helps.

        Me, I find NC’s alarm and amazement at the Republican plans to wreck Social Security ingenuous. What did you think would happen? God knows you were warned.

        1. juliania

          Who warned us? Not the media. Not Obama. Who? I’m thinking naked capitalism.com, best Paul Revere substitute I can come up with at the moment.

          Nobody here needed warning. Nobody is alarmed or amazed. And nobody stuck their heads in the sand and figured everything is going to be peachy. What we did need was a well written reminder.

          And we got it. Thanks, Yves.

        2. jrs

          People drunk a whole lot of Koolaid like “it takes a Democrat to cut social security”. Koolaid was spilled all over in drunken Koolaid orgies at one point toward the end of election silly season. But the party is over and all that is left is the wreckage. Of course Hillary may have done the same thing as we weren’t exactly getting any encouragement from her that she wouldn’t and rather in fact got hints that she might (support for Peterson committee, her retirement plans for private investment etc. – to supplement Social Security of course). None of which were absolute certainty that she would cut it of course, but they aren’t always honest about that are they, so not encouraging either.

      10. Glen

        It’s best seen as an all out effort to wreck any good that the government does for common people so that they can beat the war drum of government failure. This then serves as the smoke screen to hide just how much ultra rich directly benefit from government support through bailouts, privatization, tax cuts, subsidies, and out right theft and fraud. And just how much more they will get when Social Security and Medicare are privatized and benefits are shrunk. Those are large streams of government controlled funds, and they want it.

        Social Security and Medicare work extremely well, and should be expanded. But don’t delude yourself into thinking this is obvious to most people. Both political parties are dedicated to killing Social Security and Medicare and are extremely adept at spouting the ” we must kill it to save it” BS.

      11. Waldenpond

        Ds movement to the right and their continuation of R policies, no matter how vile, actually redeems the R party for the next election. If they take turns governing only on behalf of the .9, .09 and .01% they take turns redeeming the other branch of the money party. The colluding media will propagandize every bit of corruption and sleazebaggery as ‘no other option’ trot out imaginary deficits.

        The voted out politicians will enthusiastically do it because they enter office looking for the big sellout as they will receive the only objective they ever had in achieving elected office…. lucrative appointments and sinecures at parasitizing corporations, think tanks, scam foundations and presidential libraries.

      12. Harris

        He will limit the changes to those under 50 ( ie those with much much lower voting percentages than 60+’ers ).

        Johnson is 85, so I doubt any of this was his idea.

      13. Craig

        if you consider that America has a history of suppressing the voting rights of minorities going back to after the Civil War, and if you research that voter right suppression has taken on new technological forms (see http://www.gregpalast.com, blackboxvoting.org, or just do a google search), Republican electoral victories are as much about keeping Democrats from voting and not counting their ballots than it is always please Republican voters. I think a large percentage of Republicans voted the party line even if they didn’t like the candidate at all.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Exactly. But not everyone has a reflex sight or scope. And a lot of people who do have such a very wrong notion of who the targets ought to be, the ones that actually pose the greater=st immediate threat…

        Though 4,000 veterans appearing at Cannon Ball with the #NoDAPL presence probably have or are developing a correct “sight picture” and target designation…

      2. ambrit

        Oh H—! Where is my 3-9X40 when I need it?
        The late lamented science fiction writer Mack Reynolds penned a screed along these line a ways back about a pissed off ageing Lord Greystoke and the fate of the old in America called “Relic.”

    2. Scott Frasier

      The plan will be structured to only hurt future retirees. The solution to this political problem is to have anyone who will be affected demand that they be allowed to opt out from now on and to receive a refund, with interest, of all of their previous contributions to the system because the “earned benefits” have been taken away. Ownership in America is a sure winner politically.

      I don’t expect Democrats to have the balls to actually propose this, but it would leave the plans in tatters because without the tax stream and the already contributed taxes it won’t be able to pay current retirees. Now that would get the current retirees attention!

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Not only can old people no longer depend on their extended families for support I’m afraid many young people in that extended family have had to rely on the older people for support. My young adult children are not doing terribly well in the new economy and I don’t see things improving for them any time soon — if at all. I’ve had to step in and help a little here and little there more and more as the costs for those unplanned surprise expenses keep blindsiding my children.

  2. Battaile Fauber

    Well, which is he, “at the top of the scale” or an “average earner”?

    I interpreted that as he earns an average of 118k, putting him at the top of the scale.

    1. Mike

      And maybe that is what the author thought, but it doesn’t work. Wages above the SS max don’t get taxed and don’t add to the final benefit, so people who have an average salary equal to the max have a benefit that is below the max. The difference would depend on how much the salary fluctuates, year by year.

    2. Naomi

      Exactly correct. This author misinterpreted. But Sneed’s original grammar was sloppy as well. Should’ve read, “earning an average of $118,000”.

  3. BecauseTradition

    Perhaps a serious attack on welfare for the rich would persuade the enemies of Social Security that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones?

    1. ambrit

      To make such an attack, one needs must take over the “reins of power.” In short, your suggestion is revolutionary. (I’m not averse to such, just observing.)

      1. BecauseTradition

        I mean an ideological attack since much welfare for the rich is not yet recognized as such (e.g. government provided deposit insurance instead of a Postal Checking Service or equivalent, e.g. interest on reserves, e.g. other positive yeilding sovereign debt).

          1. BecauseTradition

            Yes it is. It is part of the means by which the poor, the least so-called creditworthy, are forced to loan to depository institutions to lower the borrowing costs of the rich, the most so-called credit worthy.

            The ethical alternative is an inherently risk-free Postal Checking Service or equivalent for all citizens, their businesses, etc. Then the poor need no longer lend (a deposit is legally a loan) to banks, credit unions, etc or else be limited to unsafe, inconvenient physical fiat, aka “cash.”

        1. different clue

          Would a simpler word for “welfare for the rich” help clarify thinking? A word like “richfare”?
          Or “richie richfare”?

    1. JTMcPhee

      It’s slightly old news, but “Congress” is also hurting the Troops (another easily cut-able bunch) that are doing that “war” thing all over the world. http://www.stripes.com/news/us/congress-passes-defense-budget-with-troop-benefit-cuts-1.319021 , and with more detail on the “sausage making” process, there’s this (note the remarks about “furious lobbying” by beneficiaries and entitled persons): http://thehill.com/policy/defense/overnights/225785-overnight-defense-budget-would-cut-military-benefits The efforts to cut VA disability and health care benefits, and of course pensions and stuff, are constant. Just like SS and Medicare. Maybe there are some congruencies of interests and constituencies here? A “base,” of sorts?

      Interesting that maybe 4,000 veterans showed up and formed up at Cannonball/DAPL, to stand against the thugs and “government” and with the Native Americans who seem to have found a set of honest and attractive memes to present to the rest of us. The Bonus Marchers got the MacArthur Fist way back when, but I’m wondering how all those troops trained in maneuver-and-fire would take to further (planned) assaults on their livelihoods and families, while they are ever more being “deployed” to protect the as-s-ets and post-national “interests” of the Few…

  4. Marie Parham

    Not to worry. Organization is taking place. In New York State the Bernie delegates have kept in touch since the convention. They have organized into 25 affiliates state wide. We have had a conference already. The Lower Hudson Valley affiliate may be able to defeat the Trump agenda all by itself. We tuned into the Our Revolution call and decided to do our own thing. https://twitter.com/NYPANetwork

    1. Larry

      Any similar initiative in Massachusetts? The last time the Republicans tried to gut SS under Bush, the Democrats came out in force and held meetings on weekends around Rhode Island (where I was living at the time) to fire up opposition to the plan. I’m anticipating Elizabeth Warren and other MA democrats will oppose this, but want to be ahead of that by looking for other avenues of opposition like Bernie’s coalition, such that it is.

      1. Paul Art

        I seriously doubt anyone would be enthused by a Democrat party still headed by that Super Frisco Water Carrier Pelosi. I know I would not for one. The bell tolls for Bernie but the man has been struck dumb.

        1. different clue

          Democrats or Berniecrats in the field don’t need Pelosi’s permission to organize themselves for counter-catfood counterattacks. They can do it on their own. ( They also shouldn’t have to feel they need Bernie’s permission either. He said so himself from time to time),

  5. dao

    Social security has already been cut over the last several years without a peep out of anyone. No cost of living adjustments in 3 of the last 8 years. Actual inflation is at least 2 points higher than the reported figures. Social security has been cut 15-20% since the financial crisis.

    1. RUKidding

      Yep. And I have elderly friends who are suffering bc of it. But everyone is very passive having bought into the propaganda that this is “just the way it is,” and “there’s just not enough money” to provide anymore via SS. So we have a very passive population, who’ve mostly all bought the propaganda about how “broke” Soc Sec is… we proles, yet again, have to suck it up bc the wealthy certainly cannot be expected to have the income cap raised… heave forfend.

    2. Gcw919

      Just got my Soc Security statement. My net gain, for 2017, after an increased deduction for MediCare, is ….nothing. See, there’s no inflation (except my car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, food, etc have all gone up). And to add insult to injury, our benefits (derived from involuntary deductions from our paychecks) are called “entitlements.”
      As our elected “representatives” are so adamantly opposed to these programs, and would like to reduce them to table scraps, I am eagerly awaiting the announcement that Congressional pensions and healthcare benefits are going to be discontinued.

      1. Fran

        Same here. Any small gain was offset by increase in deduction for Medicare. In addition to the rising costs you cite, I find I am paying increased local taxes, among other things. So, like most people, we must contend with stagnant income to pay rising cost of living (and I mean the necessities).
        I started paying into the system in 1965. Medicare used to be no cost and cover all medical expenses, so that is a cut in itself. I knew that I could not rely on SS in my old age, and I live modestly.
        I agree with your last comment. I have never seen why our representatives in Congress should receive any different coverage than the citizens they are elected to represent. As individuals, they can supplement it, just as we have to.

    3. GregL

      I was notified yesterday via letter that my SS benefits will increase 4.00 / mo next year. This will be a great help because my rent went up 7.00 / mo to 1600.00 for my studio apt.

  6. bkrasting

    What is the status of SS today?

    Current law says that in approximately 13 years all benefits will be cut – across the board – by 20-25%.

    That is an unacceptable outcome.

    What to do with this reality? The answer is “Something” must get done. The wrong answer is, “Don’t do anything, wait 13 years, and then fall off a cliff”.

    The proposal that in the author’s words “Guts” SS actually increases benefits by 9% for the bottom 20% of beneficiaries. The cost of the proposal falls on those who have high incomes before AND after reaching age 65. The proposal stabilizes SS for the next 75 years, and there are no new taxes required. Exactly what is wrong with that?

    1. not a rich person

      what is wrong with that is that far more than the “bottom 20 percent of beneficiaries” rely on Social Security income.

      apparently you are not aware of that.

      1. craazyboy

        In the post pension plan age, I think the 20%-90% bracket needs it. Maybe up to the 99% bracket once our current 401K bubble bursts and Housing Bubble II bursts.

    2. Pat

      So the only option are things that actually punish today’s working class and weaken the system by eliminating the all in/all the same position? No, it isn’t. The problem is that the answer is to slowly raise the payroll tax AND eliminate the cap – something that should have been done decades ago once it became clear that the people who lived the longest on SS were largely those who stopped paying payroll taxes at some point throughout the year. But we cannot consider those.

      Nope we have to talk about raising the retirement age when life expectancy for most is dropping and we have to go with things that mean that you need to start living like you have to choose between drugs and eating cat food from day one because your benefit will never increase regardless of how much more your food, housing or medicare premium increase, or there even if they allow cost of living they write off things because you can give up steak for chicken over and over.

    3. Waldenpond

      Instead of a expanding to a more universal program, you support turning SS farther into a program that categorizes individuals, assigns a hierarchy and then ranks them according to some random definition of human and who is most deserving.

      There’s nothing wrong at all with having nothing but contempt for others and hiding behind some made up term of ‘cost’. It’s perfectly reasonable to deny the means to the dignity of housing and food to others.

      or…….

  7. roadrider

    The fact the last two Dim-o-crat presidents (Clinton and Obama) and not a few Dim-o-crat Senators and Congressmen are in agreement about “saving” Social Security doesn’t help either. Clinton’s plan was derailed by the Lewinski thing and Obama’s because the Republicans wouldn’t take yes for an answer (didn’t want him to get credit for it but don’t mind doing it themselves)

  8. mikimurphy

    In case anyone has not noticed, they are already cutting SS benefits by stealth means. There have been no cost of living increases in 3 of the last 5 years, and for my personal SS benefits, the measly .3% increase next year goes away entirely with the increase in medicare payments. I suspect many folks, like my sister who is 78 and still working full time, do not realize that the increases they are receiving are due entirely to their still being in the work force. In addition, with the cutbacks that have been forced on the administrative side of SS, more mistakes are being made. A friend of mine was declared “dead” by SS (something that also happened to me with my tiny pension plan). When she attempted to correct the error, the SS employee discovered that “thousands” of people had been similarly affected. This happened last summer and my friend is finally receiving her benefits, but a month late and for some reason the agency cannot issue that catch-up check. She is still working and so not completely bereft, but what in the world are the folks doing who have no other income??? I suppose our overlords will be most pleased that the constant annoyances they are causing us will result in our passing away from sheer anger and frustration.

    1. RUKidding

      That’s interesting. I have a friend, who is still in her 50s, who was working on her will, etc, and discovered that she was no longer “alive” as far as Soc Sec was concerned. She got it rectified, and it didn’t have a negative impact on her (she’s still comparatively young and working). But it’s decidedly odd about how all these citizens are suddenly dead as far as Soc Sec is concerned. And yes, it takes some effort to get back on the database of the living. For those who are really elderly, this could be a very difficult thing to do.

      Wonder why this is happening….

  9. Susan C

    It boggles my mind why any one would ever want to gut social security. Companies already push people out at 55 and then you have a good 8 to 12 years of somehow managing until social security comes to your rescue. Younger people do think social security will not be in place when they are in their 60s which makes them angry. And who can ultimately rely on the stock market etc. to give them the money they will need when older – shivers. Is the economy that sound? Plus many people cannot manage to work so long due to health reasons which do start creeping up on people in their late 50s or the work they do is too labor intensive for them to imagine keeping at it until 69 or even 67. Bodies give out at some point. That is reality. Everyone wants to work until 70 but the companies don’t want older workers – they want young, fresh, vital. If anything, social security should start at 60.

    1. BecauseTradition

      “These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless
      also turn aside the way of the humble; …”
      Amos 2:7

    2. Pat

      Two reasons come to my mind, a desire to reduce or eliminate the employer half of payroll taxes AND the pool of money that the financial industry thinks should be theirs to rape and pillage. But I’m sure there are others.

    3. Steve H.

      Recent posts and comments have noted both more billionaires and a rapid concentration of wealth amongst them. But it’s mo’ po’, too, what Turchin calls ‘popular immiseration’. To decrease the effects of ‘interelite competition’ the wealthiest cannot just bestow unto their favorites, they must tend to the rich on the downslope. Those are the ones with resources to engage in attrition. So there is a long history of shoving the costs onto those who can’t fight back, and the unlanded are easier to slap down.

      A personal case: Pearl was a delightful very elderly lady a few doors down. Her house was in trust until she died, and she had a daughter and a grandaughter living with her. When she died, one of her (all over-55) children had medical debt needing paid and so he vetoed keeping the house. It sold, the land was lost to the family, and daughter and grandaughter were homeless.

      That interelite competition was apparent in the election. Our choice of two New York billionaires was a choice over which aspect of the FIRE sector would dominate, Finance or Real Estate. But those differences seem to get averaged out below a scale of 10^8 or so dollars.

    4. neo-realist

      Re Companies that push people out at 55 and don’t want older workers and prefer younger ones, this leaves a lot of people in that 55-70 age bracket in a difficult (and in some cases, a terrible) situation if they’re not in the minority of those who have a secure gig until they retire (usually people that I know that have government gigs w/ pensions.) The Presidency nor the Congress have no solution for older workers who get pushed out and face discrimination due to their age when they seek employment. They would prefer to not hear about it and if they’re sleeping in cars or in tents under bridges, that’s their problem.

  10. Punxsutawney

    What the GOP is doing is planning “Theft”, pure and simple.

    The next 4 years will likely see the greatest wealth transfer of all times. To the top of course.

    1. tegnost

      continuing what’s been going on for the past 8 years, ever heard of quantitative easing, the ACA, or chained CPI? Foam the runway with HAMP, maybe, or endless war as the only jobs guarantee available. Sorry, but trump is just more of the same, only a little more forthright. You should be used to it by now.

      1. Punxsutawney

        No argument here. Put the Dems in control and they will find all kinds of excuses for doing the same thing, all bight more subtlety. Clinton was going to privatize Social Security and Obama proposed chained CPI. Not to mention the effects of TPP.

  11. Adam Eran

    Another columnist whose “answers” are predicated on the assumption that taxes provision government programs. Just one question: Where do tax payers get the dollars to pay taxes with if government doesn’t spend them out into the economy first?

    If that’s too much thinking: Where was all this “we’re out of money” talk when the Fed, according to its own audit, pushed $16 – $29 trillion out the door to save the financial sector from its own frauds? Yet government routinely denies it makes the money when the orders-of-magnitude demands of safety net programs appear. Taxes make the money valuable; they do not, and obviously cannot, provision government.

    As long as this isn’t common knowledge, we’re all condemned to austerity. Even public policy makers sympathetic to workers (e.g. Dilma Rousseff) are in peril if they adopt the “inevitable austerity” routine.

    1. Jerry

      Unfortunate that I had to scroll this far down to find the first person with a correct understanding of government finance. I’ve explained MMT point blank to people multiple times and they still cannot grasp it. Until people start caring and get a general understanding of how this thing works we are in a lot of trouble. I am hoping that Trump will be godawful enough to bring about such a conviction for revolution to the average American

      As the Henry Ford saying goes (oft-quoted by Ellen Brown):

      “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

    2. John Hemington

      Exactly right and if the powers that be were really concerned about funding SS from those who will receive it all they have to do is raise the income cap to cover total income for everyone — not just middle income workers. Problem solved and no need to worry about the fact that the government can’t run out of dollars.

  12. Denis Drew

    I have my own weird tack on SS retirement.

    I see the Trust Fund as having been accumulated over the decades by my generation — by paying higher FICA tax to purchase fed bonds with. TF running out now supposed to be the big to do? Wasn’t it supposed to run out? Aren’t we supposed to use what we saved?

    I like to say: have an SS retirement shortfall today? Do it all over again: hike FICA, lower income tax and accumulate bonds. Mmm.

    But, just yesterday I had a brainstorm. If Repubs want to cut benefits so FICA shortfall doesn’t have to made up by income tax cashing bonds (covering about 25% of outgo just before our bonds run out, then, Repubs want to steal our savings that we forgave immediate gratification to accumulate all those long years.

    Always suspected income tax payers who are hit for as much as 39% would balk at cashing the bonds when the time came — but on the basis of the usual world run for the haves idea. Never thought of it in terms of outright theft — before yesterday.

    PS. Really shouldn’t use up all bonds. Right now there are about four years of full replacement in the TF. Legal solvency is defined as one year — needed to cover temporary shortfall while Congress moves to fill in — happened couple of times.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Wasn’t it supposed to run out?

      No. Defined benefit plans are supposed to be funded so that the assets earn enough to pay promised benefits. If the assets run out, the plan is not only mismanaged, it’s bankrupt.

      Seriously, if your checking account were emptied by a hacker, would you ask “Wasn’t it supposed to run out?” You are a crime victim.

      1. different clue

        Yes, the prepayed Trust Fund was supposed to run out just as the last of the prepaying Boomers died and stopped collecting. Then Social Security would be back to paying out to beneficiaries at any moment must what it took in from payers at any moment.

        That’s what we were told at the time of the Great Reagan Rescue of 1983.

        So if someone is ‘now” telling me that was never the intention as of “then”, then either somebody was lying “then” or somebody is lying “now”.

  13. thoughtful person

    Educate, Agitate, Organize, yup, expanding on cry shop’s comment above, it’s more than breitbart and Fox these days. The mainstream media may be (usually) more polite and more subtle, but they will not report the basic info accurately like Yves and Lambert do here. Our Revolution is a good start. There need to be alternative sources of information such that education can happen. That is why the “fake news” attacks on alternative media are such a big deal. The founders of the US understood the importance of information too, one reason the postal service was established with low rates for all periodicals. “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives”, wrote Madison. We really are sheep without knowledge. Some like it that way….

  14. RUKidding

    Donald Trump, at his rallies, consistently lied to his fervent fans that he was going to save Soc Sec & Medicare. What a laugh.

    I’ve been blogging and telling people throughout the election process that Trump made a very public DEAL with Paul Ryan that he, Trump, was totally behind cutting and gutting SS & Medicare. That is the main (possibly only) reason why Ryan gave Trump his very tepid “endorsement.” But this was very public knowledge and not hidden.

    But of course, Trump lies constantly, so his fans were mainly enthralled with what a bully he is and believed what they wanted to believe. Made up fantasies. Some of his fans are waking up to the fact that they’ve been screwed over royally. Of course the M$M will happily oblige by somehow finding a way to blame it all on Obama, Clinton, the Democrats, whatever (not that the Dems aren’t equally happy to cut and gut SS & Medicare, as well)… and the proles will buy it.

    Home and hosed. Case closed. We’re screwed.

    1. different clue

      Is there a clickable link to articles detailing in specific detail where and when Trump overtly made that overtly public promise to Ryan in public? It would be helpful to see such a link.

    1. RUKidding

      Although various states have now passed laws to legalize what’s called “assisted suicide,” there’s still a lot of resistance to it, esp from those of various religious persuasions. Also assisted death in these cases is only available for those already in the latter stages of terminal illnesses, and generally extreme poverty doesn’t fall under that definition. So sucks to be you.

      I guess dying from hunger and exposure, due to extreme poverty, is our just deserts. No rest for the wicked. When you die, you have to die as painfully and slowly as possible just to impress upon you how worthless and awful you truly are. The punishments will continue until morale improves.

  15. Katharine

    This was posted hours ago. How many readers have taken the time to email their congressmen? Please do! You don’t have to be lengthy or learned. You can simply state a couple of talking points you all know and intimate that tampering with benefits is not going to be accepted. This is definitely one of those “if you’re not with us you’re against us” issues, and the sooner your elected representatives understand you mean that the better.

  16. Jim Haygood

    “I think a 0.4% increase (combined), about two dollars per week for each the worker and the employer, should solve the problem in ten years, but I haven’t done the numbers on that myself.

    WHUT? Why are space cadets like this even allowed on the internet?

    Trying to patch Soc Sec’s $10 trillion hole with an 0.4% FICA tax hike is like trying to empty the Atlantic Ocean with a teaspoon.

    Net present value, Dale — I’m afraid you cut class that day. Now it’s too late.

  17. Benedict@Large

    Mark my words.

    The attempt by the right to “fix” Social Security is nothing more than an attempt to make the trust fund disappear, and to mark all the obligations that fund was supposed to have met null and void.

    If this sounds like they are trying to steal the trust fund, that is not the case. They have already stolen it. Now they just have to fix the accounting to say they didn’t, which they will do by setting the system to never need to cash a bond from the trust fund.

    Tin foil hat, you say? Fine, but do me a favor. Whenever a bill is introduced to “fix” Social Security, do the accounting for how it will play out. The trust fund will no longer be needed?

      1. different clue

        That was Greenspan’s plan ever since 1983. I don’t know if that was Reagan’s plan, but that was Greenspan’s plan.

        And it is not just the Rs who support the. The Catfood Clintonites also support the con. That’s why Catfood Clintonite Obama set up his Catfood Commission with notorious Clintonites on it like Erskine Bowles.

  18. Ranger Rick

    Something about this strikes me as a hilarious farce of unintended consequences. People worried about “government debt” and demanding its reduction are getting exactly what they wished for.

    1. Waldenpond

      I’m not quite sure of your meaning here. It sounds like you are mocking people for not being able to get out from under a propagandist educational/media system and a corrupt government. Then again, it also seems to be gloating and that people deserve to be immiserated.

  19. herkie1

    This is called a “technical adjustment.” They can pretend that the CPI is too generous and know that most people won’t understand the scam.

    I am a 100% disabled veteran and several years back they tied our COLA to the SS COLA.

    The result is that since mid 2013 in this region we have lost about 40% of our purchasing power. Our standards of living have dropped by that much.

    Of course there is NO INFLATION, the letters I have been getting actually claimed that because of this DISINFALTIONARY economic environment…. That is no inflation so no raise this year.

    Now, I am going to be 59 this spring, I worked at a lot of things between 1973 and 2005 when a judge ruled in my favor regarding my disability and awarded me SSD. But, because I spent so many years fighting SS and did not have the quarters of income recent enough my SSD amounts to $1,013 per month.

    Now for all the republicans out there who think SS is too generous, I would ask you to stick your filthy little brains, or rather pull them out of your exhaust holes. You can claim it is too generous when you have spent a lifetime paying in and then someone tells you that 12 grand a year is too generous.

    MY RENT IS MORE THAN THAT and this place s a hovel in the sticks. The only way I can have a roof over my head for less is to live in my vehicle.

    Fortunately I also have a bit in VA disability and between the two I thought of myself as middle class if just barely only 36 months ago, now I would consider myself in dire poverty at 20k a year, anything less and we are talking eating at the mission and sleeping in shelters. Vehicle? Right. The fact that they refuse to acknowledge inflation and use quite literally half a dozen tricks to disappear it from the headlines does NOT mean it does not exist. If you can eat gasoline and flat screen TV’s you are certainly doing great, otherwise you are experiencing something never known in the USA, structural downward mobility for 90% of us.

    And it is these facts that drove the angry and the stupid to vote for Trump, they were not the majority of voters, but between them and antiquated laws giving voters in small states far more power than in urban areas (where people actually live) that Orange Hitler dude got in, and so did the GOP majority of fascists who have as a holy mission class warfare and getting rid of diversity of any kind, racial, sexual, or gender.

    They are going to gut every bit of progress since Teddy Roosevelt. They are going to bring back segregation, this time though via school vouchers. They are not going to FORCE non white non middle class kids into slum condition schools, so they will plausibly claim HEY it is NOT segregation and those parents have an equal right to move their kids to private schools also. No, instead these kids will be abandoned in schools that the government will slash funding to as white upper and middle class people are partially paid the tuition to send their kids to private schools which are exempt from federal discrimination laws. I am NOT holding my breath for this, I have a one way ticket to Australia for the first week of January.

    THAT is going to be the story of all government for a while, social security is just one of MANY functions of government they are going to kill off. If you think people were angry in 2016 just you wait till 2020.

    It is already so bad that unless the GOP grows a conscience and a heart in the next 2-4 years the USA will break up the way the Soviet Union did. The nation now has what so many married couples cite in divorce proceedings, IRRECONCILABLE differences.

    And the worst of it is that no matter if you like it or hate it the USA is the rock of stability that has keep civilization working since the end of WWII. You break up the USA and bingo there is no uni in the unipolar geopolitical world. What we will have is chaos and war and humanity will fail. USA FAIL=Humanity FAIL.

    1. PrairieRose

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. For your plainspoken honesty. This should be copied and posted everywhere, starting with senators and representatives.

  20. Brooklinite

    They should have an option for an opt out of social security, medicare/Medicaid, Affordable Health Care. Not having that kind of freedom to me is not worth it. I am not buying any other excuses such as I am not shrewd to invest my money. Taking money is the easy part. Getting back is always laborious if you are lucky to get.

  21. marblex

    Social Security, let’s lay it to rest once and for all…Social security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax leviedon employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund or reduce the deficit. It would go into to the Social Security Trust Fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or lowering the deficit.

    Ronald Reagan (first Reagan-Mondale debate 1984)

  22. Quill

    You misunderstand the article from the beginning. When she says:

    “A 65 year-old at the top of the scale, a $118,500 average earner, ”

    She means someone who has earned $118,500 on average over his/her career, placing him/her at the top of the scale.

    I’m not sure why you are criticizing the writer of this article.

  23. walter jahnke

    would someone explain why the greenspan changes , which were supposed to keep social security solvent, did not, I’ve googled the history and the only answers seem to be that the trust had trillions in surplus that were used to pay off other obligations, , which I do know that the funds were used to lower the deficits in previous years, but wouldn’t the surplus still be there? Explanation please by someone knowledgeable about the history and why the problems now

    1. blert

      Folks keep living longer and longer.

      This results in screwing up the actuarial assumptions that underlie everybody’s math.

    2. different clue

      The Trust Fund was falsely declared to be “Budget Surplus”, I believe. It was used as an excuse to fund the Bush Tax Cuts and keep funding them once they became the Permanent Obusha Tax Cuts. Cancelling the Obusha Tax Cuts and re-raising taxes against the Obusha Upper Class till every bit of the money given out was taxed back, would eliminate the so-called “deficit” and “debt” which the Overclass is currently conspiring to make so high that they can declare Social Security itself to be unpayable, because our government is so deficited and debted.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “Well, which is he, “at the top of the scale” or an “average earner”?”

    Oops. Even I understand that one. It means he earned an AVERAGE of $118,500, the maximum that SS taxes.

    Next question: what kind of idiot actually introduces a bill to cut Social Security? One who plans on a lucrative retirement from politics, that’s what kind.

  25. Altandmain

    Sadly the Democrats will just go along with it.

    Maybe the left wing (represented by Sanders) might put up a fight, but they don’t have the power to stop this.

    The US is rapidly becoming a feudal society.

    1. aab

      Protesting the proposed policies of President who owns real properties of value in media-drenched major cities that require the labor of lower income workers on a daily basis might be more effective than protesting a President whose wealth is almost entirely stored in secret, offshore bank accounts.

      Let’s hope, anyway.

  26. David

    “The trouble with Sneed’s article is that she does not appear to know what she is talking about. She just wrote down what some “experts” told her with no idea what the words mean.”
    You missed the question, is it the writer or the policy of the site?

  27. blert

    The Fundamental problem with Social Security — its math — is that Americans are living too long.

    The only ‘fix’ that can possibly work is that of pushing out the retirement age to restore actuarial balance.

    The other ‘fix’ that’s necessary is to stop permitting newly arriving ‘citizen candidates’ a route to the Social Security Disability Trust fund. It’s flat busted right now.

    The inflation rate used to calculate the CPI adjustment is an epic fraud of national scope.

    Right now inflation is ripping along at a tremendous tempo:

    Education
    Sick care

    Both are cartelized.

    And in many markets, RENT is ripping along at 7 to 14% increases.

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