President Obama Still Wants to Cut Earned Benefits

h/t Democracy for America

Over 80% of Americans oppose cuts to our Social Security system — in fact, 71% want to expand Social Security. Yet President Obama seems committed to taking away Social Security and Medicare benefits, via the so-called “chained CPI” cuts and other proposals that Washington politicians call the “Grand Bargain.” Progressives have re-named it the Grand Betrayal.

This is not the time for austerity budgeting or proposals to hack away at our social safety net. Social Security, the only defined-benefit retirement plan most Americans have access to, pays less than minimum wage. We need economic recovery. The Republican Shutdown cost the economy $24 billion in lost productivity, which we can’t get back. The Tea-GOP has failed, and FreedomWorks chief Matt Kibbe said Friday that divisions on the right could cause the Republican Party to split in two.

UPDATE: Democrats have already conceded earned benefit cuts. Which is one of the reasons the Dems lost the 2010 election. RJ Eskow: What Are Democrats in the Senate Smoking? Caving into Right-Wingers to Cut Medicare Would Be Political Disaster

The viewpoint of a vast majority of Americans — including the vast majority of Republicans, and even of Tea Party members — has been marginalized inside the Beltway as that of “the left,” or even “the extreme left.” Politicians who defend these [earned benefit] programs will have to stand up to the talking heads and lobbyists who, despite all the evidence, continue to deny the truth: their anti-“entitlement” Beltway views stand well outside the mainstream of American public opinion.

That crowd, with its talk of “Baby Boomers busting the bank” and “Social Security gone bankrupt,” is the real political “fringe” in this debate. Unfortunately, this “fringe” has a lot of money behind it.

UPDATE: Public Education Privatizers Join Fight To Cut Social Security

Yes, the astroturf for the oligarchs people invoke class warfare, hoping people don’t realize that means testing is a divide and conquer strategy. The reason everyone receives Social Security is because it is a program for everyone, everyone is a stakeholder. If it was just for the poor, like food stamps, the rich would try to cut it all the time.

  1. #1 by brewski on October 21, 2013 - 3:17 am

    I’m looking forward to hearing your ad hominem response to this math:

    • #2 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 9:08 am

      I actually watched Faux News Channel yesterday, and they are all wailing piteously about “generational theft.” Never mind that in the real world FNC’s hero George W. Bush doubled the National Debt, and deficits have plummeted under the Obama administration.

      Deficits are Rapidly Shrinking, Spending is Flat under Obama

      I got a laugh out of John Stossel’s on-the-street interviews with people, asking them to budget cut our way out of deficit spending — when the answer is get rid of the Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich. Stossel never even mentioned that was an option!

      And of course Stossel completely dismisses the effect of the Republican Shutdown fiasco, which cost America $24 billion in lost productivity.

      The problem with means-testing Social Security and Medicare is that they would become anti-poverty programs subject to Tea-GOP attack – just look at what they are doing to SNAP. In your link, Druckenmiller never mentions the obvious solution – eliminate the cap on payroll taxes, turning a regressive tax into a fair tax.

      • #3 by brewski on October 21, 2013 - 11:23 am

        Nice dodge.

        Deficits have nothing to do with intergenerational theft since deficits as booked by the government are current cash accounting only and don’t reflect future “promises”.

        • #4 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 11:28 am

          The dodge Faux News uses is to eliminate revenue from the equation. They think the only thing to do is cut benefits and/or programs.

          • #5 by brewski on October 21, 2013 - 11:31 am

            Telling me what someone else does or does not do does not answer the question, does it?

          • #6 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 11:43 am

            Here’s the sad truth about so-called “generational theft.” My mother suffered from cancer, and without Medicare neither she nor I could possibly have paid the medical bills. We would both have had to declare bankruptcy.

            If I get less out of Medicare than I have paid in, then that will be my good fortune. Nobody wants to experience a major illness.

          • #7 by brewski on October 21, 2013 - 12:11 pm

            Has nothing to do with the math of generational theft, does it?

          • #8 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 12:20 pm

            Republican claims that Social Security is going broke were dealt a blow by the latest Social Security trustees report, which found that the program will be able to pay every benefit until 2033.

            As for Medicare, the 2013 report of Medicare’s trustees finds that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund will remain solvent — that is, able to pay 100 percent of the costs of the hospital insurance coverage that Medicare provides — through 2026. The 2026 date does not apply to Medicare coverage for physician and outpatient costs or to the Medicare prescription drug benefit; these parts of Medicare do not face insolvency and cannot run short of funds.

            Medicare Is Not “Bankrupt”

          • #9 by brewski on October 21, 2013 - 1:42 pm

            Irrelevant and misleading to the point of a lie.

  2. #10 by cav on October 21, 2013 - 9:50 am

    “… completely dismisses the effect of the Republican Shutdown fiasco, which cost America $24 billion in lost productivity”

    …which itself completely overlooks that oft flogged, totally putrified, malicious old equine, for whom that $24 Billion is about two days of ‘standing UP’ in the world theater.

    Any touted ‘need’ for austerity is a LIE.

  3. #11 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 2:00 pm


    You are entitled to your own opinion, however wrong. But the facts are the facts. “Generational theft” is right-wing bullshit. Almost nobody wants the YOYO (You’re On Your Own) society that the Tea-GOP is pushing – not even the teabaggers themselves, who are mostly on Social Security and Medicare.

    Druckenmiller debunked here:
    Billionaires Against Social Security

    The biggest lie in Druckenmiller’s crusade is the premise that the income distribution problem is somehow generational and that he, as a billionaire, has anything whatever in common with most college students or most recipients of Social Security. One of his pitches to students is that Social Security is excessive because he, a very wealthy man, receives it but doesn’t need it.

    But for the vast majority of the elderly, Social Security is a lifeline, and a meager one at that. Some two-thirds of all seniors depend on Social Security for half of their income. Fully 46 percent of elderly widows and other unmarried seniors depend on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.

    The entire projected 75-year shortfall in the Social Security trust funds that conservatives make such a big deal about is around one percent of GDP per year. We could make it up with modest tax increases on wealthy people like Druckenmiller.

    Since Social Security is financed by payroll taxes — on wage and salary income — the real Social Security crisis is the crisis of stagnant wages. If average wages had continued to track average productivity growth during the past three decades, as they did in the three decades after World War II, Social Security would be in perpetual surplus.

    The real crisis facing the elderly is not that Social Security is excessive but that it’s inadequate — especially with the collapse of traditional pensions in favor of far less reliable 401k plans (another counter-revolution made on Wall Street.)

    There is a certain moral blindness and chutzpah of very wealthy people trying to enlist students in a generational movement against the alleged affluence of their grandparents. The real issue here is not generation, but class, specifically Druckenmiller’s class.

    Look, young people are not stupid. If Social Security and Medicare were not there for their aging parents, who do you think would have to shoulder the burdens?

    More here: Deficit hawks’ ‘generational theft’ argument is a sham

    Payroll taxes have more than covered what today’s average retiree will receive back from Social Security. They won’t cover the average payout on Medicare, but that’s an artifact of uncontrolled healthcare costs, not of the structure of Medicare itself.

    …Let’s not forget, too, that the people who will really suffer from gutting Social Security won’t be today’s seniors, who will escape the worst of the cutbacks — they’ll be today’s young people, for whom Social Security would become much less supportive when they retire.

    What about the debt load we’re supposedly imposing on future generations? This is another transparently Petersonian feat of sleight of hand, based on the assertion that while it’s we who incur the debt, it’s our children who will have to pay it off.

    All the hand-wringing over today’s borrowing conveniently assumes that the debt buys nothing, which makes it easier for debt hawks to pretend that it’s only an expense and not an investment.

    But money borrowed for the stimulus has bought jobs and unemployment benefits, which have helped sustain families through the Great Recession. (At least a few of those families have children, wouldn’t you guess?)

    In a larger sense, money borrowed by every generation is typically invested in programs and infrastructure — highway, schools, research and conservation, for example — that will add to future generations’ wealth.

    …The “generational theft” argument is a sham. It’s an attempt to get around the fact, so distasteful to the enemies of government social programs, that Social Security and Medicare are hugely popular.

  4. #12 by brewski on October 21, 2013 - 3:14 pm

    Math is not “my opinion”.

    This is not an arguable point about what is “hugely popular”.

    Your entire argument is that of a little girl. Grow up and learn arithmetic.

    • #13 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 3:28 pm

      Sorry, the “generational theft” bullcrap is getting old, and nobody is buying it. If the rich paid their fair share of taxes, and the pay of working Americans was in line with increases in productivity, we would not have a federal deficit.

      People like Bowles, Simpson, Peterson, and Druckenmiller ought to be ashamed of themselves.

      • #14 by brewski on October 21, 2013 - 4:11 pm

        Tell it to the actuaries, to the CBO, to the OMB, to anyone who understands 3rd grade math.

        • #15 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 5:02 pm

          They all say Social Security is just fine for another 23-25 years with no changes.

      • #16 by brewski on October 22, 2013 - 11:04 am

        False. Look it up.

        Also, you just admitted to intergenerational theft. You don’t even realize you just did. Thank you.

        • #17 by Richard Warnick on October 22, 2013 - 11:50 am

          In the right-wing YOYO America, children would be directly responsible for all of their aging parents needs. That’s what the “generational theft” propaganda ignores – fortunately the young people are not buying the BS (by which I mean Bowles-Simpson). The 1 Percent don’t care about Social Security and Medicare, but everybody else does.

          • #18 by brewski on October 22, 2013 - 1:41 pm

            Explain to me how when the ratio of workers to retirees drops how that is going to work for future generations.

            you just admitted to intergenerational theft. You don’t even realize you just did. Thank you.


            Ooops. You lose.

          • #19 by Richard Warnick on October 22, 2013 - 2:10 pm

            You’re ignoring the Social Security Reform Act of 1983, which raised taxes to generate a large short-term surplus of funds to cover the added retirement costs of the “baby boomers.” My generation got to pay for the generation ahead of us, and for our own retirement too!

          • #20 by brewski on October 22, 2013 - 2:13 pm

            No I am not.

          • #21 by Richard Warnick on October 22, 2013 - 2:21 pm

            So-called “generational theft” is another right-wing blame-the-victim strategy. But it’s not working, not even a little bit.

  5. #22 by Richard Warnick on October 21, 2013 - 3:50 pm

    Love this story. Fix The Debt Tries Twitter Q&A; It Does Not Go Well

    When billionaire Pete Peterson’s Fix The Debt decided to hold a Q&A session on Twitter to sell corporate America’s austerity agenda, they must not have expected to be trolled.

    …By the time the whole real-time conversation was called off, the stream for #FixTheDebtQA was 100% opposition.

  6. #23 by brewski on October 22, 2013 - 11:06 am

    “By 2038,
    under the extended baseline, federal debt held by the
    public would reach 100 percent of GDP (see Table 1-2
    on page 11)—nearly equal to the percentage just after
    World War II and almost triple the percentage in 2007—
    and would be on an upward path. That trajectory for federal
    debt would ultimately be unsustainable.”


    • #24 by Richard Warnick on October 22, 2013 - 11:48 am

      “In the long run we are all dead. ” — John Maynard Keynes

      Plenty of things can happen between now and 2038. Obviously. For example, if more Americans had jobs and wages were going up instead of flat, the trust funds would get more money wouldn’t they? Twenty-five years is a long time, especially in politics and economics.

      Since you put so much stock in projections: If we continue national security spending at current levels, with no future increases, the total cost would be $63 trillion, based on the figures in President Barack Obama’s latest budget.

      David Cay Johnston: Social Security is not going broke

      • #25 by brewski on October 22, 2013 - 2:35 pm

        There is no trust fund.

        The Democrats are chasing jobs out of the country.

        You cite projects when you like them and you dismiss them when you don’t.

        I plan in being alive in several years and so does my daughter. Your dismissal of the long term and future generations is abhorrent. Under your philosophy we should ignore climate change since we will all be dead by then.

        Try again.

        • #26 by Richard Warnick on October 22, 2013 - 2:43 pm

          I plan on being alive in 2038 as well, and collecting my Social Security that I paid for. My point, which is what Keynes was saying, is that long-term projections are garbage.

  7. #27 by Richard Warnick on October 22, 2013 - 2:32 pm

    Robert Reich:

    The biggest debate in Washington over the next few months will be whether to whack the federal budget deficit by cutting future entitlement spending and closing some tax loopholes, or go back to the sequester. Some choice.

    The real triumph of the right has come in shaping the national conversation around the size of government and the budget deficit — thereby diverting attention from what’s really going on: the increasing concentration of the nation’s income and wealth at the very top, while most Americans fall further and further behind.

  8. #28 by brewski on October 22, 2013 - 2:38 pm

    If you like Reich so much:

    “Robert Reich: Obama’s Dubya-like Deal with Big Pharma Undermines Democracy”

    “But as Reich points out, the deal is not only bad for all of us. It’s bad for democracy.”

    I guess you must think the DailyKos are a bunch of Tea Partiers and racists.

    • #29 by Richard Warnick on October 22, 2013 - 2:46 pm

      Why would I disagree with Robert Reich about Obama’s secret deal with Big Pharma? You’re not making sense. Oh wait, I forgot the brewski rule is change the subject when you’re losing an argument.

      • #30 by brewski on October 22, 2013 - 3:14 pm

        I never have so I wouldn’t know.

  9. #31 by Larry Bergan on October 25, 2013 - 4:52 pm

    Just one more example out of thousands which shows how easy it is to win an argument with the truth, even when you’re outnumbered and don’t control the mike.

    The moderators of this stupid program look a little frantic, don’t they. And they have wall-to-wall stock market graphics all around to make the rich horny.

    These ridiculous money programs are a waste of precious electricity and time.

  10. #32 by cav on October 27, 2013 - 8:13 am

    The regulator of mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Friday announced $5.1 billion in settlements with J.P. Morgan Chase.

    The pacts would resolve a lawsuit alleging the bank misled Fannie and Freddie about the quality of mortgages it sold to them during the housing boom. The amount J.P. Morgan is paying is less than the $6 billion initially sought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator of Fannie and Freddie.

    The settlement includes $4 billion to end a lawsuit over securities disclosures and $1.1 billion covering mortgage repurchases.

    I’m pro-slashing JPM’s entitlements.

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