Hillary Clinton Indicates She is Open to Raising the Retirement Age

Yves here. One of the things that is troubling about Clinton’s hinting at the idea of raising retirement age is that this is occurring when gains in lifespan in the US have stalled out. And with diabetes only becoming more prevalent and having a negative impact on life expectancy, it’s not out of the question that lifespans in the US could even fall. As Alan Grayson said, ” If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: ‘Die quickly.'” The problem is it’s not clear that the Democrats have a viable alternative….although as Lambert points out there is countervailing pressure from the medical industrial complex, which is very fond of the “insert tube, extract rents” model.

By Zaid Jilani, an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter. Originally published at Alternet

At a forum in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton stood by her support for the death penalty, which made headlines. But her remarks about Social Security that day didn’t get as much attention.

She offered a lot of the same rhetoric many Democrats are now saying, that we need to look at how the poorest Social Security recipients are faring and think about how to shore up payments there. But she also left the door open to raising the retirement age if there were a way to exclude people who are not working labor-intensive jobs, while at the same time not fully endorsing simply raising the tax cap, which would ensure the system is fully funded going forward.

Question: You mentioned something very interesting: enhancing Social Security. So can you tell us how you might strengthen Social Security?

Clinton: Yes, you know, I think there are three parts to what we have to do with Social Security, and the first is we really have to defend Social Security from the continuing efforts by some to privatize it, which I have been studying and opposing for a long time because the numbers just don’t work out. And in the Bush administration when I was in the Senate I was one of the leaders in the fight against the plan to privatize and it is something that I, number one, will focus on: we are not going to privatize Social Security.

Secondly, I am concerned about those people on Social Security who are most vulnerable in terms of what their monthly payout is. That is primarily divorced, widowed, single women who either never worked themselves or worked only a little, so they have either just their own earnings to depend on or they had a spouse who also was a low-wage worker, and the first and most important task I think is to make sure that we get the monthly payment for the poorest Social Security recipients up. So that would be the first thing I would look at.

Thirdly, we do have to consider ways to make sure that the funding of Social Security does maintain the system. I think we have a number of options; this would be something that I would look at, I would not favor raising the retirement age. And I don’t favor it because it might be fine for somebody like me, but the vast majority of working people who have worked hard and have had a difficult, maybe last couple of decades trying to continue to work, it would be very challenging for them. If there were a way to do it that would not penalize or punish laborers and factory workers and long-distance truck drivers and people who really are ready for retirement at a much earlier age, I would consider it. But I have yet to find any recommendation that I would think would be suitable.

And I want to look at raising the cap. I think that’s something we should look at how we do it, because I don’t want it to be an extra burden on middle-class families and in some parts of the country, there’s a different level of income that defines middle class. So what do we skip and what level do we start at? And we have to consider that. So those are my three priorities in looking at Social Security.

To be clear, Clinton is not outright endorsing a clear hike in the retirement age like many of the Republicans are. But while she also seems to be open to raising the tax cap, she is not giving a figure or specific plan yet, and is making the suggestion that raising payroll taxes on families that earn over $100,000 would be an “extra burden” to those people, when actually the increase would be fairly modest.

Opening the door to any hike in the retirement age or offering opposition to simply eliminating the tax cap would put her out of step with most Americans on this issue, according to polls.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Darthbobber

    How many years as one of the leading politicians on the national stage, during all of which time this has been a prominent issue, and we are to believe that she’s seriously still at the stage of “looking into it” and considering the possible options?

    The whole idea that the absolute priority is to get the income level for the poorest recipients up is troublesome to me, in the absence of a full context for how that would be done. Particularly when it comes from a person whose career has partly been based in achieving teensy cookies for the “very poorest” without in any way inconveniencing the “very richest”. (Or should I say middle class, since there are “parts of the country” like midtown Manhattan and parts of Long Island where a different level of income defines “middle class”. Like in a room containing only George Soros, me, and Paris Hilton, where Paris winds up in the middle?)

    Absent policy that it will be done some other way, this almost always involves redirecting money within the trust fund away from what would otherwise be “normal” retirement benefits to give it to the (admittedly needy) folks at the very bottom. But this is just taking from the not-quite-poor to give to the poor.

    In any case, I’m sure that by the time her team is done brainstorming this there will be a very long set of not-even-really-wonkish boilerplate which will remain sufficiently noncommittal that a President Clinton would be able to proceed in any of half a dozen directions without anybody being able to say that wasn’t what she said she’d do.

    (Since I usually crop up in comments during the wee hours of the morning, maybe I should mention that this is because I’m a 3rd shifter.)

    1. jrs

      One should object to the framing of helping only the poor, and not because poverty isn’t a big problem in this country, including for all those poor people below the retirement age (many of who will never LIVE to retirement age! The poor conveniently die young, so at least it’s a limited segment of people Hillary has to help with all her faux generosity).

      But anyway the middle class, if not this moment really soon, is in big trouble in terms of retirement, the loss of defined benefit pensions plans in anyone in the private sector under 50 is fatal. That’s enough by itself, but you can add to that having to take further and further risks to get any yield on even the employees own meager savings due to interest rate policy, and things are really bad.

      They know they are working on a limited time frame in gutting SS, because it’s need will be much more apparent, when none of the retirees have pensions anymore.

      1. Larry Dallas

        Lack of pensions will create two classes of retirees. Those getting lucrative government pensions and those paying for those pensions. It will be class warfare at its finest.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Are you falling for the favorite trick of the 1%, or actively propagating it? The pensions you should focus on are those of CEOs and C-level execs. They run to millions a year and typically include goodies like continued Skybox seats, paying for the rental of office space, private jet use, an apartment in NYC (IIRC Jack Welsh got that). And firing people and cutting pensions gooses stock prices….which too many people think is what CEOs are hired to do.

        2. run75441


          The same can be implied for teachers, firemen, police, etc. There was a time when people would sneer at the lower pay and retirement benefits of public workers. “We can make more in the private market place” was the common thought and they passed by those lackluster and sometimes dangerous positions. We were as wrong as the grasshopper failing to set aside for bad times.

          Now we hold them accountable for something they took in place of the promise of short term gains of the market place which did not materialize as we expected. We blame public and government workers for short falls in healthcare and pension benefits because the federal, state, and local governments relied on higher returns or kicked the can down the road by using the money to fund the pension and healthcare funds in order to avoid tax increases for constituents.

          The same holds true for SS and the avoidance of small and incremental tax increases by the Federal Government as those would call SS a Ponzi scheme rail against such, politicians lack the courage to implement such, and the Financial sectors look to monetary gains which would result from the conversion of SS into a national 401K. The Petersons, Biggs, Simpsons seek to finagle constituents of their rights to SS only to save a small minority of others who do not have to depend upon it.

          The issue is the 99% versus the 1 percenters and not the gov. funded pensions and those existing on SS.

          1. jrs

            I don’t think anyone has taken private sector work for the higher present wages for a long long time, because the money is long since gone for the most part (what higher wages? yea I do realize there are some rare exceptions). They take it because it’s what they trained for (not realizing they probably should have gone for a pension and no not all skills are transferable) or because it’s what’s available etc.. So it’s pretty silly at a certain point (for anyone younger than a boomer maybe?) to say people took private sector work for higher wages in the now rather than pensions, when they probably had little such choice.

            I advocate higher SS for all. But at present the situation may very well create a two tiered population. Whether or not it’s where ire should be directed it will adequately describe reality.

            1. redleg

              I’m not sure what field you work in, but in the STEM field I work in the private sector pay is far and away better than public sector. The BLS median salary for my field in my state is the maximum state government salary (rounded to the nearest $0.50) for my field without going into management, where you don’t actually practice the field anymore. The trade off is that the State offers employees approximately 3-6 times (not a typo) the time off as the private sector and you are encouraged to do quality work (not “make sure the quality matches the budget”).

              So while there are qualifications, private sector pay in dollar terms is higher than public for the field I work in.

    2. rusti

      In any case, I’m sure that by the time her team is done brainstorming this there will be a very long set of not-even-really-wonkish boilerplate which will remain sufficiently noncommittal that a President Clinton would be able to proceed in any of half a dozen directions without anybody being able to say that wasn’t what she said she’d do.

      If I can quarrel with one part of your post, it’s the insinuation that the primary-boilerplate might have some influence on Presidential agendas. The rhetoric from the primary will be forgotten during the general election and the rhetoric from the general election will be forgotten the day after votes are counted.

      Hope and Change and Most Transparent Administration Ever became nothing of the sort of course and the main idea of Hillary’s candidacy is banking on people being too apathetic or too scared to explore new ideas.

      1. redleg

        You are correct- the boilerplate does not influence the agenda, it is the smoke screen for the agenda.

    3. hemeantwell

      we are to believe that she’s seriously still at the stage of “looking into it” and considering the possible options?

      Right. The studying theme is central to explaining her chameleon-like adaptations to a changing political landscape. I’m sure that if Sanders fades further ruminations will confirm that deviation from her pre-campaign neoliberalism wasn’t warranted. That’s just what happens when you’re open-minded and reasonable.

  2. Paul P

    Well, they just voted to cut Social Security disability and decrease reimbursement for Medicare services as part of the budget deal to raise the debt limit, Gave the military another $25 billion and, if I have it right, cut spending rather than raise taxes to do it. No march on Washington, no emails from the AFL-CIO, no notice to me from the UAW. I am a retired member of a UAW local. And, Hillary now has the endorsement of most of organized labor. A deafening silence.
    Chip, chip, chip … the ax is coming for us all.

    1. jrs

      Yea and we all suspect that some are collecting SSD because they are approaching but not quite retirement age (age when they can collect regular SS) and can’t get work due to age discrimination. But hey let’s raise the retirement age! That’s what we need!

      Yea the axe is coming for us all. The only thing left to do in this country is try to get rich. It can’t be reformed and there is no movement to change anything. If there are marches in the streets I will see you there, but I don’t see any. I support every way to pop the 1%s tires possible, but …. Of course getting rich, even if by some lucky miracle one was somehow able to, raises some problems if your soul is not and never has been for sale (only one’s labor was and that was bad enough), it narrows such opportunities quite a lot.

      1. Norb

        The problem in America is that everyone IS trying to get rich. Getting rich is not the solution, it’s the problem.

        Getting rich and the unrelenting desire for more wealth in any form is the sickness that undermines the whole society. Greed is the engine that drives inequality. The principle that determines a course of action should be one of equality. In current American politics, any policy suggestion that does not address the need to bring more equality into the system should be rejected by the citizens.

        Hillary is the elite promoter of equality for the 99%. What she means to do is sit at her privileged 1% position and redistribute the economic output and potential within the 99%, while maintaining the gains and economic advantage enjoyed by the 1%. So, with a straight face, she declares she is fighting inequality and solving the problems of our society, while in fact the policies she promotes only increase inequality when viewed from the perspective from the bottom up.

        Working class Americans have been duped into believing 1. that they can become rich if they only participate in the current game and 2. that the wealthy elite are somehow like them. It’s very sad. The 1% are like magicians performing tricks for the masses. Hillary will distract and delight as she pulls a coin from behind your ear, but all the while she never considers how to put that coin in your pocket.

        1. jrs

          I don’t think everyone is trying to get rich, I don’t think that’s how many people think really, sure they would like a raise at work, but they might not be able to get one, and anyway that’s not rich. Nor do I think everyone could get rich if they only tried.

          It’s just that in some cases trying to get rich may be a better individual solution than trying to change society. Because the 1s declare loud and clearly that noone non-rich is likely to survive. And it’s like the joke about “how many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?” A: “It has to want to change …”. This society HAS TO WANT TO CHANGE. I know the elites are repressive and brutal and all that and will kill to keep their dominance, but still I don’t see the “want to change” in this society. But it could be built over decades? Possibly …

    2. flora

      They also voted to cut SS spousal benefits.

      Standard Third Way DLC manoeuver: pit the midde-class and the desperate against each other in order to protect the 1%’s tax breaks. See Obama’s 2012 trading an unemployment benefit extension in return for making 82% of the Bush tax cuts for the wealth permanent. He gives the 1% what they want by threatening to take away what the bottom 10% need to survive. Now we here cheers that SSDI was ‘saved’ – by cutting it and by cutting regular SS benefits. And Hillary? The Third Way loves her.

      “Here are the Third Way board members who have donated to a Democratic presidential contender this cycle, including the amounts they’ve donated:

      ” Georgette Bennett – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Lewis Cullman – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      William M. Daley – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Robert Dyson – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Derek Kaufman – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Thurgood Marshall, Jr. – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Herbert Miller – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Michael Novogratz – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Kirk Radke – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Ted Trimpa – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton
      Joseph Zimlich – $2,700 – Hillary Clinton ”


      1. OIFVet

        That PBS article may be incorrect about file-and-suspend where survivor benefits are concerned. “Deemed filing never did apply to survivor benefits, and it doesn’t now, said Floyd. “Widows and widowers can still file a restricted application for survivor benefits while their own benefit builds delayed credits,” she said.” . Just in the interest of accuracy, and because this is the strategy I designed for my mother as a widow. I hate to say it but it was a relief for me when I found out that survivor strategies are not affected. But yes, this is a terrible deal that hits women in particular very hard. Thanks 0bama and democrat party…

  3. jrs

    “And I don’t favor it because it might be fine for somebody like me”

    You mean someone who insider trades cattle futures and serves on the Walmart board? Okay, yea it’s really meaningful to talk about that way outlying scenario of someone like you Hillary, isn’t it? And they say Trump is the narcissist!!! How many standard deviations is your life from anything anyone would relate to Hillary?

    “but the vast majority of working people”

    Yes, the vast majority, I like to call them: THE 99%

    “who have worked hard and have had a difficult, maybe last couple of decades trying to continue to work, it would be very challenging for them. If there were a way to do it that would not penalize or punish laborers and factory workers and long-distance truck drivers and people who really are ready for retirement at a much earlier age, I would consider it.”

    and those who can’t get work due to age discrimination must be included right?

    “And I want to look at raising the cap. I think that’s something we should look at how we do it, because I don’t want it to be an extra burden on middle-class families and in some parts of the country, there’s a different level of income that defines middle class.”

    Only there REALLY ISN’T in terms of median income. What are we talking about anyway Manhattan or San Francisco proper? Alright for those limited cases maybe Hillary is correct. But even in NYC as a whole, expensive city, but many people aren’t earning all that much. Look at Los Angeles, high cost of living, and yes the median income is going to be higher than Kansas, but it’s really not that high (maybe 50K something household). It’s only high in those cities that have managed to drive out ALMOST ALL the poor and middle class people and become near entirely enclaves for the rich.

    1. cwaltz

      It’s disingenuous for her to pretend she was ever even going to be relying on Social Security. It isn’t like she won’t be getting a pension.

      1. craazyboy

        Maybe she and Bill will pass on using the post presidency Secret Service security guards they get in their golden years and save the country a few bucks???

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I am in the minority, but I believe the government should budget what it spends…such as Bill’s guards.

    2. anon y'mouse

      That first quote reveals to me that there may be some idea afloat to make the retirement process for everyone as arduous as those attempting to qualify for SSDI now endure.

      Imagine applying for regular SS retirement benefits, and enduring a nearly two year appeal process, hiring a lawyer to go before a judge in order to prove that your job really was strenuous enough and/or your industry really does engage in sufficient age discrimination, that you really do “qualify” for retirement.

      In what universe does someone receiving SSDI, suffering from a disability, have a lower cost of living. Translation: if you are broken, go homeless and starve.

  4. Ed Walker

    Pretty much what you’d expect from Clinton: a three point plan to deal with a problem raised solely by all Republicans and neoliberal Democrats. There is no Social Security problem, except that those bipartisan hacks all want to cut it.

    Sanders doesn’t agree that there is a problem, except that benefits are too low to provide a decent life for most retirees in a land that has abandoned the pension and made saving money a fool’s proposition. He has a 2 point plan: 1. impose FICA taxes on incomes above $250,000. 2. Raise benefits and COLAs. https://berniesanders.com/issues/strengthen-and-expand-social-security/

    In a nutshell, that defines the differences between these two. Sanders denies the existence of problems created by an evil alliance of neoliberals Democrats and all Republicans. He won’t try to solve those fake problems. He wants to talk about real problems. HRC buys the neoliberal line every time, and offers compassionate neoliberalism to solve them.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will he just take money from the Military Industrial Complex, instead of more taxes (save that for something else later), to pay for more benefits?

        1. kimsarah

          Heaven forbid. And don’t even dare suggest a high frequency trading financial transaction tax.

  5. Tom Ford

    Why oh why do politicians always talk about Social Security as if it exists in a vacuum? What would happen if more people had full-time work — like the millions and millions of jobs that have been off-shored (hello giant sucking sound)? What if wages were higher? A bigger pool of bigger paychecks would solve the solvency problem overnight, would it not?

    1. redleg

      It’s Trickle DOWN economics. Giving the peons at the bottom more income to stimulate the economy will never work. They need to take on more debt.

  6. Moneta

    When I was in university, I met this guy whose family lived in a duplex. His maternal grandparents lived upstairs and paid a little bit of rent and the paternal grandmother roomed with them on the main floor and contributed a little something also. This grandmother had been poor her entire life, yet she managed to live quite well on her 6K per year with this arrangement. She would help with meals and managed to buy herself a fur coat, a long time dream. The duplex was paid off in no time and the parents would go on a cruise annually knowing there were trusted sitters for the kids.

    All this to say that we have to question how we have structured our entire system. It is based on unhealthy and IMO unsustainable levels of individualism. I do not believe we can ask the young to support millions of boomers who still have mortgages in retirement, living independently in their own homes just because that was what was promised by the American dream. Yes, many can keep on working but an estimated 40% will be forced into early retirement due to illness or restructuring.

    I believe the system will force many into some form of the above workable arrangement. However, many will fight it or will not have the extended family and end up squeezed.

      1. Norb

        Then why do such people not work for a stronger social contract between us all?

        The elite use the power of family and social network to maintain their privileged position deserved or not. This is where the concept of divide and conquer take on meaning. Standing alone you are vulnerable to the predation of others. Why do you think the elite want to change the inheritance laws?

        The overwhelming trend is that the safety net will be broken if people don’t demand a public support system.

        1. sharonsj

          Norb–Because when you’re young you don’t think of such things. Women think they’ll have a family one day, and then they don’t; or the family lives too far away, or is estranged. I’d say most of my friends (including me) ended up in one of those scenarios and now we’re struggling to pay bills and not lose our homes. And trying to earn money when you’re in your seventies is pretty damn difficult. I constantly write my reps (state and federal) and they ignore everybody except those with money. Thanks, Judge Alito.

    1. Norb

      The current system, capitalism, is the problem. Promoters of the capitalist system have prevailed in the struggle to prevent the creation of a more just and equitable system. But the question becomes how long can this arrangement last?. The elite and their minions delude themselves that they will always control things. The example you note of the extended family is a case in point. Family members working together toward a common goal is just one means to survive a hostile world. Both social and the natural world.

      Individualism American style is a recent perversion that the world at large is finally rejecting.
      This notion that the world is looking to emulate American culture and society is misguided at best and probably delusional in truth. It is shocking to me that the powerful elite think that creating a weak, deluded citizenry will benefit them in the long run. At some point the system breaks.

      I would agree with you that change comes about by force. Events force situations to move in one direction or another. As more and more people are driven from participating in the current system, I believe the hope for a better future will lie in people creating new social arrangements driven by the necessity of survival at first, then as an acknowledgment that cooperation and community is a better way to organize society. Rejecting individualism and rediscovering the American tradition of community based self reliance is a move in the right direction. It’s the realization that the privatizers must be rejected.

      As part of the looting ethos, capitalists have taken the natural relation of community and public space and turned it into a commodity, just as they strive to turn the entire natural world into a commodity. Resistance begins by not buying what they are selling and create different public spaces. Reject the notion that everything is for sale.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Everything is for sale.

        If your fellow villagers get together and help you build your hut, that’s debt of gratitude you can never fully repay.

        If you pay a contractor, after it’s built, you don’t own anyone any debt.

        Buying and selling, and from many other numerous small acts, we build up our individualism that we see today…less and less dependence on friends.

        1. Norb

          Is there any hope for human creativity? To see the world with a vision of awe and wonder. To live in a world where everything is for sale is probably the best definition for hell ever created by the human mind.

        2. c_heale

          You repay it by helping build other people’s huts and the next generation’s huts…
          This kind of debt is what creates a society.

      2. jrs

        Right. In the current system if one wants to keep extended family it’s often a liability not an asset. Because moving for jobs is far more beneficial financially.

    2. jrs

      Uh for many people their family of origins are unhealthy. They refuse to have extended contact with extended family out of psychological survival. I know it’s an ugly and inconvenient truth but sometimes it’s just the case. If they were to choose a non-individualist path non-family of origin might be far better to them mental health wise, communes maybe, but rooming with strangers or friends anyway.

      1. Norb

        Just the notion of having to work as part of a group in order to survive is a step in the right direction. How one describes one’s family should be based on bonds of mutual support wherever they are found.

  7. Steven D.

    FDR set up Social Security as an insurance program, not a welfare program with special concern for the neediest. It’s supposed to have a wide constituency. That way, Republicans, and now devious Democrats, aren’t supposed to be able drown it in the bathtub.

    1. Jim Haygood

      That’s widely believed, but there is a well-concealed welfare element in Social Security, in the benefit formula. Specifically, in step 5 of the formula in this SSA publication, the first $826 of average indexed monthly earnings are credited at 90%; the next tranche from $826 to $4,980 is credited at 32%; while amounts over $4,980 are credited at only 15%.


      So there’s a heavy subsidy of those with average indexed monthly earnings of $826 or less, by workers with higher monthly earnings. Likewise, highly compensated workers (over $4,980 monthly) earn only a paltry 15% additional benefit on their higher pay.

      1. Torsten

        Similarly, in humane insurance, the healthy subsidize the sick and the long-lived subsidize those who are taken before their time. Insurance, properly understood, doesn’t cover the lucky in direct porportion to their luck.

  8. Merf56

    People are living longer. A lot longer, in many cases, than they would have in the early years of SS. But all the evidence I have seen is that there are a large number who are not living healthfully and fully functional during those ‘extra’ years.
    Expecting these people to work – what- to 75 or beyond is just not in the realm of possibility. And with vastly reduced disability payments?
    Don’t lecture me on anecdotes! But this one is illustrative In my close circle I know a previously healthy slim active working woman who at 67 had to have multiple vertebrae replaced with titanium and bone from her hip. She had contracted a bone infection that went undiagnosed for at least a couple of years. Her doctor thought it was just back pain from her active lifestyle. So did an ortho and a PT. Apparently these things can hide in the spine and are hard to diagnose? She had a desk job. Can she sit? Yes. Can she walk – yes. Can she do weekly grocery shopping and bath herself – yes. But she had a job where detail is vital and she is in constant pain and is a diabetic – though very well controlled. Do you REALLY want her in that job going forward? I sure don’t. I could give four more of these in just people I know well and I can’t be the only one who knows people like this ….
    We need not just to raise the cap but to eliminate it entirely. Period.

    1. flora

      Raising the retirement age again will stall job openings for young people. And the one thing young people have too much of is job prospects. /s

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One solution to that (young people waiting – longer now, under her proposal – for seniors to reach retirement) is to delay adulthood.

        Make 25 the legal adult age.

        (End of sarcasm)

        Retirement could kill you. Perhaps not being able to retire as early as before isn’t such a bad thing.

        (More End-of-Sarcasm)

        “70 is the new 50.”

        (Not sarcasm. I do push ups and reduce caloric intake for that purpose).

      2. neo-realist

        In the firm I work in, they are weeding out older, well paid workers w/ layoffs and dismissals due to bogus performance issues and hiring younger trainees for around the $15 minimum wage. So some are getting an opportunity, but at chump change prices.

        1. redleg

          And let me guess- the billable rates of the new $15/hr people is the same as the experienced people they kicked to the curb.

    2. jrs

      Good point of do we want people who are too disabled (not old because old by itself isn’t necessarily incapable) to do their jobs well, to work, if some other option were available. All capitalism’s triumphs, and they can be impressive, even though ultimately they are destroying a livable ecosystem, are rung out of desperation. Can we build a system without desperation as the driver?

  9. Ché Pasa

    The retirement age for full Social Security benefits should be lowered — it should have been lowered substantially (say to 60 or even 55) at the onset of the financial unpleasantness that still besets the Lower Orders. The retirement age should never have been raised in the first place (now 66, soon to rise to 67.)

    In addition, Social Security benefit amounts should be increased, doubled or even tripled for those receiving the smallest benefits, by a reasonable but relatively modest percentage for everyone else.

    Social Security benefits have been effectively declining for years given the fact that benefits have not kept pace with cost of living for the elderly. The Social Security Commission has repeatedly refused to approve COLA increases at all. The few times they have approved COLA increases lately, the amount was not sufficient to cover increases in basic living expenses for recipients.

    Those — like Hillary and too many others who claim progressive or liberal cred — who argue for or agree to or toy with raising retirement ages and reducing benefits that are already too small are serving the interests of the wealthiest and greediest among us. They have no interest in the well-being of the majority of the population nor of the well-being of society in general.

    1. rusti

      You’re exactly right in identifying raises in expenses as a primary culprit. I think one of the most effective things that could be done (in parallel) is to make living much less expensive for seniors by fighting back of a lot of the rent-seekers that require them to have higher cash flows to begin with.

      The gentleman who lives in the condo above me is 77 and I presume he’s not particularly wealthy. However, I live in a country with single payer health care and he rides the bus for free (as do all seniors for certain bus routes and times) to one of the many public libraries in the city every day (where he meets other seniors) and can go for walks in the many nice parks around us. His public pension almost certainly covers the modest HOA fees and groceries, and things like TV, mobile phone service and internet access are cheap compared to the horrendous monopolies in the US. I suspect he could live comfortably on $10k per year.

      Of course many of the things I mention favor urban dwellers, but I’ve always been hesitant to endorse raising social security payouts without taking simultaneous steps to ensure that it won’t just line the pockets of those who would exploit them.

    2. craazyboy

      I’m a firm believer that we should be asking corporations what retirement age is rather than morticians. We’d probably find out the answer is more like 55.

      ‘Course if you want to believe in the current fantasy that it is 65,66, 67 and should be going higher, then we will have to keep those jobs from young people and the current youth/college graduate unemployment problem gets even worse.

      All considered, the old mantra of “work ’till you drop” is being re-defined as “drop when you’re outta work.”

      1. home_for_wayward_trout

        It’s not just manual laborers that are unable to do their job at 65.

        I am 59 and work in microelectronics and I am in conference calls daily with 34 year old PhDs that we have imported from around the world.

        Every year it is more difficult to keep up and recite project details off the top of my head that may have been defined months ago.

        1. Larry Dallas

          In the IT world, it is extremely difficult to keep a job after age 40. Ageism is extremely rampant in the industry.

        2. Buck Eschaton

          I don’t see the importance of people in their 50’s and god forbid 60’s continuing to be pushed into 40 hour/week, year-round jobs. There’s so much more they could be doing in their communities and families rather sitting around in some pointless office job. Maybe starting their own small businesses, or running their own stores or finally getting to do something constructive with their lives.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If one over-uses one’s body in one’s 30s, it will be hard to enjoy one’s 50s or 60’s, much less 70s or 80s.

          Everyone is different.

          For some, putting in 40 hours a week in the 30’s is not healthy at all, if one needs 2 hours each to prepare and enjoy a non-toxic, locally grown and fresh meal thrice daily.

  10. PQS

    What’s maddening about Clinton is that she always seems to prefer complicated schemes that are hard to implement, much less explain to people.

    Lower the retirement age to 60. Eliminate the cap. Open Medicare to all. Increase benefits.

    These are all simple ideas that can be fleshed out with detail. But she seems unable to do so, preferring to delve into nine million details and Rube Goldbergesque structures. Obamacare all over again. (And, unlike Lambert and others here, I think Obamacare is a tentative step in the right direction. But that’s another post.)

    1. JTMcPhee

      I for one will be waiting breathlessly for that post that explicates a virtue of Obamacare, and the outline of what the next two-steps in the right direction are, and what that direction is…

    2. kimsarah

      Hillary acts if simple answers come from simple minds, and that extremely complex solutions come from the brightest minds.

    3. redleg

      Complexity is the smoke screen for the pillaging. When someone points out that there’s pillaging taking place, and that it somehow is legal, the masters can claim that the situation is somehow being misunderstood because it is really complex and that there’s nothing to see here.

  11. BEast

    We should also be conscious of racial and gender disparities in life expectancy. It may have changed in the years since I read this, but I once saw that if the retirement age were raised to 68 or 70, the average black man would die without ever collecting Social Security.

  12. kimsarah

    My guess is that not only are gains in lifespan stalling out due to a host of health reasons, but if one looked at the income levels of those who are living longer it would show that those with the most money who can afford the best health care at any cost are pulling up the average lifespans, not those in the lower to middle tiers who aren’t living longer and would be punished the most with a retirement age increase. Maybe there is data that could show that.
    Instead, they should raise the income cap on SS contributions. And stop government borrowing from SS to pay for other budgetary items.

  13. patrick k

    Hillary will do whatever her finger in the air tells her to. Listening to her day to day on the stump is not for serious people. “Marriage is between a man and a woman”. Oh wait, wait, my finger is now telling me something different.

    She has no core. She’ll make the perfect president in today’s America.

    1. redleg

      She’s a wind sock *and* a corporate sock puppet. That’s versatility – presidential! – let’s crown her now!
      Again, /sarc.

Comments are closed.