Smarter Dems: Let’s Expand Social Security

h/t TPM

President Obama still seems intent on helping right-wing Republicans cut Social Security. But a group of politically savvy Democratic senators are proposing a different agenda. Why not phase out the payroll tax cap and increase the currently meager benefits? The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee and co-sponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would do just that, raising Social Security compensation for all beneficiaries by $70 per month.

Sahil Kapur:

Republicans are eager to cut Social Security, but they want Democrats’ fingerprints on the knife, so they don’t take the blame. The GOP base includes disproportionately older Americans who love Social Security — a fact they were reminded of when they tried and failed to privatize it in 2005. For now, Democrats still largely accept the conservative framing on Social Security and the public sees little, if any, daylight between the two parties. If they change course and force votes on proposals to expand Social Security, it could put Republicans on the spot and clarify who really supports the program and who doesn’t.

Why play the “Republican-lite” game? Put a progressive proposal out there, and let the Party of NO say no to something good. Politicians are motivated by fear, not friendship. Any so-called Dem ought to be afraid to talk about cutting Social Security.

More info: Progressives go on offense with new *Expand Social Security* ad against Mitch McConnell

Update: Unless Social Security Is Expanded with Increased Funding, We Face An Unprecedented Crisis of Millions of Baby Boomers In Poverty

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on November 5, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    You negotiate by starting from a position of opposition. When Democrats start from a position of compromise, they just allow the bought media to paint them as weak.

    This nonsense has been going on for way too long. It’s good to see this group actually negotiating instead of shining shoes while pretending to be an effective opposition.

    PLUS, It’s the best way to win elections. What am I saying? The elections are rigged. 🙁 Try to vote anyway and hope your top election officials are honest. Sherrie Swenson is the top election official in my county, AND she’s honest.

    If yours isn’t, try to do something about it. If the people around you vote against social security and their own self interests at the polls, that could be a sign that your voting system is corrupt.

    I’m always going to be a broken record on this subject. Live with it!

    • #2 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 8:11 am

      Larry, as I’m sure you know, only the CLOSE elections can be rigged. And in a lot of states it’s close when the progressive voters are too discouraged to turn out. So why not encourage them?

    • #3 by Larry Bergan on November 6, 2013 - 4:58 pm


      We have no idea whether the elections are close or not. I don’t have any data on this, but I’ll just bet you elections have become ever closer since the machines, (and that includes the punchcards), were introduced.

      We had an obvious and willful – war dodging – idiot running against John Kerry in 2004, and it was a close election, with the tally reversing after everybody went to bed.

      Saying that it’s me causing a low turnout because I want to see the machines thrown in the harbor is an argument the machine supporters use. I always tell people to vote anyway.

      If you want to ignore the elephant in the living room or the plank in your eye, go ahead.

      • #4 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 5:07 pm

        Sorry, I actually didn’t mean to imply you are part of the low-turnout problem.

        My point is that candidates with progressive policy proposals will bring progressives to the polls.

      • #5 by Larry Bergan on November 6, 2013 - 5:49 pm

        Didn’t mean to get snippy.

        You’re right, but I’m right too. If we had tougher Democrats and hand counted paper ballots, there is no way the democracy they tell us we have – but don’t – could fail.

        • #6 by Richard Warnick on November 7, 2013 - 10:28 am

          Thanks to Nate Silver and other election analysts, we understand that turnout is key. The composition of the electorate is the biggest factor that determines winners and losers.

          Republicans know this, too. That’s why they devote so much effort to gerrymandering and voter suppression.

    • #7 by Larry Bergan on November 6, 2013 - 5:04 pm

      I hate this tiered method of commenting when I’m no longer getting E-mail notifications on new comments. I have to search an entire thread to find out if something new has been said.

      I think it’s easier to just address who we’re trying to respond to by starting with their name. What does everybody think?

      • #8 by cav on November 7, 2013 - 8:21 am

        My vote is in the digital tubes somewhere.

  2. #9 by brewski on November 5, 2013 - 10:38 pm

    $23 Trillion.

    Mitch McConnell is not the one to be worried about.

    Math is what you need to be worried about.

    • #10 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 8:13 am

      Simple fix. Either get rid of the payroll tax cap, or give Americans a raise, or both! Without any changes, Social Security is just fine for 20 YEARS – even according to the pessimistic economic assumptions (1.4% GDP growth, etc.) of the trustees.

    • #14 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 9:56 am

      Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

      Some commentators cite huge dollar figures that appear in the trustees’ report, such as the nearly $10 trillion shortfall through 2087 (or even the $23 trillion shortfall through eternity, a figure whose validity many experts question). Except over relatively short periods, however, it is not useful to express Social Security’s income, expenditures, or funding gap in dollar terms, which does not convey a sense of the economy’s ability to support the program. Expressing them in relation to taxable payroll or GDP, in contrast, puts them in proper perspective. Over the next 75 years, for example, taxable payroll — discounted to today’s dollars just as the $10 trillion shortfall figure is — will exceed $370 trillion, and GDP will be over $1,000 trillion. The shortfall over the next 75 years, as noted, equals about 2.6 percent of taxable payroll and 0.9 percent of GDP.

      • #15 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 11:19 am

        So the CBPP does not dispute the $23 trillion figure. All it is saying is that we can tax future generations more. So the CBPP is agreeing with intergenerational theft.

        • #16 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 11:46 am

          I left out the footnotes. But since you’re such a stickler for sources today, here is the citation for why the “infinite horizon” number is bullshit.

          See letter from the American Academy of Actuaries to the Trustees of the Social Security System and the Social Security Advisory Board, December 19, 2003,

          • #17 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 12:41 pm

            According to your link, one of the reasons why the authors of that letter think that the assumptions are wrong is because the current system is “unsustainable” (their words) and people will need to work longer to pay for the shortfall of benefits.

            Thanks for the clarification.

          • #18 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 12:46 pm

            Why not just pay higher wages to Americans who work for a living? Wages have been flat for too long.

          • #19 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 12:59 pm

            Wages have been flat for a long time due to several reasons which you ignore:

            1. Total compensation paid to hire an employee includes all benefits and all payroll taxes. Employers don’t just look at “wages” narrowly defined. Since non-wage benefit and payroll tax costs have been going up much faster over the time horizon of your chart, it is wildly misleading to the point of being deceitful. But that is what you people do.
            This graph is more honest:

            2. Compensation is set by supply and demand for labor. The left has been hell bent on increasing the supply of labor. This lowers wages. The left has been hell bent on chasing employers out of the US. This lowers wages.

            The question “Why not just pay higher wages” is a stupid question. It ignores who makes that decision and whose money it is. If you want to start a company and pay your employees more, then you can do so. If not, then you are in no position to have an opinion.

  3. #20 by cav on November 6, 2013 - 7:50 am

    GOP math IS particularly worrisome, yes!

    • #21 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 8:12 am

      Pithy comments ignoring actual math is worrisome.

      • #22 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 8:19 am

        Oh, and after 20 years, Social Security will be able to pay 77% of benefits indefinitely. Without any changes at all.

        Is the distant future of Social Security a big problem when the GOP is threatening to shut down the government in a couple of months, and destroy the world economy?

        • #23 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 8:37 am

          A 23% cut in your benefits is something you are OK with?

          • #24 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 9:36 am

            (1) Like I said, it’s an easy fix. But if they don’t fix it, it’s not the end of Social Security either.

            (2) Remember this is based on the Gloomy Gus trustees pessimistic assumptions of flat wages and 1.4% GDP growth, which are at odds with past economic performance.

            (3) The 77 percent projection includes inflation adjustments, which means in dollar terms more money than now.

            (4) I would be lucky to still be alive in 2033, so grateful for that!

          • #25 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 11:19 am

            Source please.

          • #27 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 12:45 pm

            Are you trying to prove that I am right?

            This link says “Any shortfall can always be addressed in a very straightforward and supremely logical fashion: raise taxes or lower benefits ”

            In other words, intergenerational theft.

  4. #28 by Frank Kafka on November 6, 2013 - 11:11 am

    Might wanna look inside the nonexistent empty “lock box”.

    Nuthin but debt from now on in, expand ssi, destroy the dollar, cheat the world some more. Tough call, especially for a dunderhead executive and congress.

    • #29 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 11:21 am

      Good for you if you’re independently wealthy or have a pension that’s guaranteed. The rest of us are counting on Social Security as our only defined-benefit retirement plan.

      • #30 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 12:47 pm

        SS is a bad deal for you. You would have been far better off saving your own 12.4% for their entire working life. You got screwed and don’t know it.

        • #31 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 12:49 pm

          What you are describing is a 401(k). That totally sucks, even with an employer matching contribution (which not everybody gets).

          • #32 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 1:02 pm

            A 401k is not 12.4% of all your earnings over your entire working life. The lefties limited 401k savings to a much small amount so that they could keep you dependent on the Stadt. They want you to be their little loyal minion voting for the Glorious Leader and singing for the Fatherland.

          • #33 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 1:53 pm

            The 401(k) max personal contribution is $17,500 (or $23,000 if you’re age 50+). That’s a lot more than 12.4% of my income. The total contribution limit, including employer contributions, has increased to $51,000. The problem I have is Wall Street gets hefty fees and delivers anemic or often negative returns on the money we put into 401(k)s. Most employers chip in very little (e.g. 3 percent). It’s a racket.

  5. #34 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    Hefty fees?
    You call 0.17% hefty fees?

    A 3% match on a 6% contribution is a 50% IRR on day one. You call that a racket?

    Anemic returns? The long term total returns are a whole lot better than the zero to negative returns of SS.

    Your math makes no sense at all.

      • #36 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 3:36 pm

        Then don’t put your money in those expensive plans.

        Then pass a law where you put in 6.2% and your employer puts in 6.2% and you have a total of 12.4% and annual fees are 0.10% and come back in 50 years and you will be a millionaire .

        • #37 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2013 - 3:41 pm

          Realistically, a defined-benefit retirement plan offers far more security than a defined-contribution plan, which is what a 401(k) is.

          Hedge fund billionaires hate Social Security because it generates no fees for Wall Street.

          • #38 by brewski on November 6, 2013 - 4:40 pm

            Real defined benefit retirement plans like the Canadian Pension Board have real assets in a real portfolio, and not just the promise to tax people yet unborn.

          • #39 by Richard Warnick on November 7, 2013 - 3:48 pm

            Um, the taxes to pay for my retirement were paid by me, and still being paid. Rich people borrowed the money to give themselves tax breaks, but they will pay it back with interest.

            Understanding the Social Security Trust Funds

          • #40 by brewski on November 7, 2013 - 5:07 pm

            Um, the people you are planning on taxing more aren’t born yet. You have admitted you want to tax these people more. That is by definition intergenerational theft. Why don’t you just fess up?

            I thought you said that you were quite happy to take a 23% benefit cut.

          • #41 by Richard Warnick on November 7, 2013 - 6:04 pm

            Get rid of the rest of the Bush-Obama Tax Cuts For The Rich, restore the millionaire’s tax and the financial transactions tax. If we do it now we’re asking living people to pay their fair share.

            You clearly don’t understand that Social Security is here to stay, and that the full faith and credit of the United State Government can be relied upon forever. Which is odd because you’re such a believer in infinite economic projections.

          • #42 by cav on November 7, 2013 - 7:41 pm

            Some of my earlier jobs might have produced $1.75 per hour, but I could still pay the rent on my tiny apartment, buy food and give my ride to work some gas money as needed. Rectify THAT with all your long term projections and blather about ‘generational theft’.

            It’s faith-based, now, have some faith.

          • #43 by brewski on November 7, 2013 - 7:46 pm

            The evidence is that no matter how high our tax rates have ever been even in the good old days of 92% tax rate, the fact remains that we never ever collected more than about 20% of GDP.

            So no matter what you want to do it does not matter, we still will not collect more than 20%. So if you keep promising more than 20% in expenses then you are lying.

            You clearly don’t understand that you can’t keep promising more than you can deliver.

            You are Greece,

            You are Detroit.

            You are Stockton.

            You are San Bernardino.

          • #44 by cav on November 7, 2013 - 8:19 pm

            I am Sparticus1

  6. #45 by cav on November 7, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    I think I’ve stumbled upon some assistance in understanding GOP (and by association – brewski’s) mathematics.

    Go read.

  7. #46 by Larry Bergan on November 9, 2013 - 1:55 am

    There’s more then one way to sleep without drugs.

    Charts and graphs about GNP, GDP, nominal dollars, rates of exchange, stock market fluctuations, Kardasians…

    Give me some of that meat and potato democracy I’ve been hungering for. Let me vote!

  8. #47 by Richard Warnick on November 19, 2013 - 4:32 pm

    • #48 by brewski on November 20, 2013 - 9:49 am

      She is incredibly stupid. That speech is incredibly stupid. It is clear she has no idea what words in the English language mean. She is going to end up with the same fate as Dennis Kucinich. Loser.

      “Another” smart Dem? I am waiting to hear about the first one.

      • #49 by Richard Warnick on November 20, 2013 - 10:19 am

        See above. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, plus Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) all propose Social Security expansion.

        Pensions don’t exist for most people who work for a living. Wall Street’s 401(k) experiment was a failure. We need a defined-benefit retirement plan, and Social Security is it. Let’s make it better.

        • #50 by brewski on November 20, 2013 - 11:24 am

          They are all wrong. Ponzi schemes don’t work. They are by mathematical fact intergenerational theft.

          What else do you want your nanny to give you?

          • #51 by Richard Warnick on November 20, 2013 - 12:01 pm

            You don’t know what a Ponzi scheme is. Ponzi schemes are illegal in the USA.

          • #52 by brewski on November 20, 2013 - 12:11 pm

            Lots of things are illegal in the USA unless it is the government who does it. Like committing fraud, misstated financial statements, and trading on insider information. Not to mention murder.

            I know exactly what a Ponzi scheme is and this is it.

          • #53 by Richard Warnick on November 20, 2013 - 12:22 pm

            Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, not even analogous to one.

          • #54 by brewski on November 20, 2013 - 12:36 pm

            Quoting moronic liars is worse than being a moronic liar.

            “In practice it has turned out to be strongly redistributionist, but only because of its Ponzi game aspect, in which each generation takes more out than it put in. Well, the Ponzi game will soon be over, thanks to changing demographics,”

            Paul Krugman


          • #55 by Richard Warnick on November 20, 2013 - 12:44 pm

            Ponzi schemes are short-term scams. Social Security is the most popular government program ever, and has been since 1935.

          • #56 by brewski on November 20, 2013 - 1:48 pm

            Social Security is a scam. It is just a much bigger and intergenerational scam, as Krugman points out.

            “the Ponzi game will soon be over, thanks to changing demographics,”

            Paul Krugman

  9. #57 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 20, 2013 - 6:02 pm

    you have a link to back that up, And I don’t mean some winger blog site with sourceless innuendo.

    SS is not a ponzi scheme, its the only functioning part of the retirement system in the United States, SS has paid every dime promised sense its inception, 401K’s have not, pensions have not, IRA’s have not.

    The only way to show SS as having problems is by using delusionally conservative projections, that requirement unemployment to stay above 5%, for wage growth to continue to under perform inflation, and population growth and immigration to stay at recession levels.

    And even then something as simple as raising the minimum wage and setting it to the inflation rate would wipe out the supposed shortfall projected by such a delusionally pessimistic future.

    We are headed into a retirement boom, this will force the unemployment rate down, and create upwards pressure on wages at the same time, while also creating demand for immigration which also increases revenue to the SS trust fund.

  10. #58 by brewski on November 21, 2013 - 7:31 am

    Back what up? There is nothing to back up. SS was designed that current workers pay for the retirement of current retirees. Future retirees benefits will be paid for by future workers. That is the way it is. If the number of future retirees goes up and the numbers of future workers goes down due to demographic changes, then the whole thing doesn’t work. Everyone says this. The CBO says this. The OMB says this. Krugman says this. Third grade math says this. So your assertions about the past are totally irrelevant. Madoff’s fund paid every penny in the past. So what. It does not change the fact that the math is unsustainable.

    ” In practice it has turned out to be strongly redistributionist, but only because of its Ponzi game aspect, in which each generation takes more out than it put in. Well, the Ponzi game will soon be over, thanks to changing demographics, ”

    Paul Krugman

    • #59 by Richard Warnick on November 21, 2013 - 9:35 am

      Not “the way it is.” My generation paid extra payroll taxes so that we could finance the retirement of the generation ahead of us as well as our own retirement. Now many Washington politicians are talking about benefit cuts – NOT gonna happen!

      • #60 by brewski on November 21, 2013 - 11:40 am

        Why do you keep talking about “extra” payroll taxes if there is no such thing as intergenerational theft? ‘Splain that to me Lucy.

        I keep telling you that you have been lied to and yet you can’t tell me where all of these assets are that are supposed to pay for your retirement. You have nothing other than the expectation that people not even born yet are going to pay 30% higher taxes than you did to pay for you.

        Are you calling Krugman a liar?

  11. #62 by Frank Kafka on November 21, 2013 - 3:18 pm

    The demographics, are, were, inevitable. Of course it is generational theft, and simple demographics defy any fixing of it.

    How you will know that it is theft Is when the money to pay out the entitlements won’t be there. Obama already gearing up his ssi cuts speechs , he’s got nothing to lose..the big bad job is done.

    • #63 by Richard Warnick on November 21, 2013 - 3:31 pm

      I’m willing to bet there will be no cuts to Social Security. My generation has already borne the extra payroll tax and the push-back of retirement age. We’re through making concessions.

  12. #64 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 21, 2013 - 5:30 pm


    Again, links, aka put up or shut up.

    Kurgman never said that, or you are taking him grossly out of context.

    SS projections are produced by the SS trust fund, not the CBO(who’s projections are swayed by models using legislative changes to predict outcomes).

    And the OMB is not a good source for projections as they are very ignorant continuation projects that simply follow the slope of the graph as it currently is. *its only good for a ruff idea of short/mid term budget performance(10years or so)*.

    As has been pointed out SS having a shortfall depends on several laughably unlikely events to occur.

    SS is fine.

    • #65 by brewski on November 22, 2013 - 4:33 pm

      Links already provided.

      Krugman said it.

      I am sorry if this makes your head explode.

  13. #66 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 22, 2013 - 5:08 pm

    What link, where, And no, krugman didn’t say it, or you are taking him wildly out of context.

    • #67 by brewski on November 22, 2013 - 10:14 pm

      What was that big “KABOOM” I just heard? Sounded like a head exploding.

    • #68 by Richard Warnick on November 23, 2013 - 12:15 pm

      brewski can’t give a link to Krugman’s 1997 Boston Review article.

      • #69 by brewski on November 23, 2013 - 2:13 pm

        I already did.

  14. #70 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 23, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    What little I was able to find searching “boston review article krugman”, seems to indicate that the rw blogs are taking him wildly out of context anyway.

    Either way this is about as stupid as quoting pre depression john maynard keynes,

  15. #71 by brewski on November 23, 2013 - 4:00 pm

    I guess pre Depression Keynes is like quoting any liberal pre-Obamacare fiasco.

    Here is the same link the second time.

    He said it. No “out of context” bullshit.

    • #72 by Richard Warnick on November 23, 2013 - 5:42 pm

      Your link is not to the original, but to a “synopsis.” Nice try, brewski.

      Paul Krugman on The Ponzi Thing:

      Well, I gather that a lot of right-wingers are quoting selectively from a piece I wrote 15 years ago in the Boston Review, in which I said that Social Security had a “Ponzi game aspect.” As always, you should read what I actually wrote.

      …Notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t say that the system was a fraud; I didn’t say that it would collapse. I said that in the past it had benefited from the fact that each generation paying in to the system was bigger than the generation that preceded it, and that this luxury would be ending in the years ahead.

      So why did I use the P-word? Basically because Paul Samuelson had done the same; he was basically just being cute, and I was emulating him — which now turns out to be a mistake.

      But anyway, anyone who uses my statement as some kind of defense of Rick Perry and all that is playing word games. I explained what I meant in that Boston Review article, and it was nothing at all like the claims that Social Security is a fraud, is destined to collapse, and all that. Social Security is and always has been mainly a pay-as-you-go system, which is nothing at all like a classic Ponzi scheme.

  16. #73 by cav on November 23, 2013 - 7:45 pm

    Well played Mr. Warnick.

  17. #74 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 23, 2013 - 9:36 pm

    aye, this SS is a ponzi scheme nonsense needs to be put down.

  18. #75 by brewski on November 23, 2013 - 9:57 pm

    So Paul Krugman says it is a Ponzi scheme and then years later tried to walk it back. Sounds like George Wallace campaigning that he was never a segregationist. It is Krugman’s misfortune that he can’t erase history and pretend it didn’t happen. It is also his misfortune that math doesn’t lie, only newspaper columnists and Stadt-ist presidents do that. It is what they do and then they either lie about it later saying it never happened or their Propaganda Ministers say they “misspoke”. Neither of which erases history, or math or the Truth.

  19. #77 by cav on November 23, 2013 - 10:56 pm

    In the grand scheme of things, whether you would rather have a rain of nukes upon your city or be played in a Ponzi scheme suggest the relativity of two evils. the lesser of which is clearly being played in a Ponzi scheme. Being the lesser of two evils actually makes this a ‘good’ thing.

    We must look for the pluses and ponies in our good fortune of not being nuked to atoms.

    Worse for brewski, Krugman said it (SS) only had an aspect of Ponzi. One might as least consider asking just which aspect, and just where in the SS program that aspect was found before hauling out the ‘everything is a big fat lie lie lie’ we’ve all found to be so nonsensical and trollish.

  20. #78 by brewski on November 24, 2013 - 2:52 pm

    The aspect is that later workers pay for later retirees, and if there are more later retirees and fewer workers, then it doesn’t work. Just like the Madoff fund worked up until the point that he ran out of later “investors” to pay for later withdrawals.

    This is not the way the Canadian Pension Board works or the Australian Superannuation funds work or pretty much any retirement plan works. It does work exactly like the way the Madoff Fund worked. Whom do you want to copy?

    In total, he and his wife, Ruth, have given $238,200 to federal candidates, parties and committees since 1991, with Democrats getting 88 percent of that. Overall, Madoff and other individuals at his company, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, gave $372,100 in campaign contributions since 1991, with 89 percent to Democrats.

  21. #79 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 25, 2013 - 5:51 pm

    The trust fund handles the temporal difference between retirement rate and the birth rate.

    SS isn’t purely a pay as it goes system, that was changed back in the 1980’s.

    low birth rates, that create the situation where you have more retirements then workers(or at the very least a close ratio nearing 1:1), Have a few inherit self correcting features, One this creates wage pressure, which increases SS revenue, And two is entirely temporary, as that retirement boom eventually leads to a death boom, which would then create a period of large SS fund growth which prepares SS for the next retirement boom(assuming things don’t even out more over time as they generally do which would also work out fine).

    SS is kept separate of the general fund for a reason, allowing it to buy general fund debt and collect interest.

    The Madoff fund had no real assets, and depended on people continuing to buy into it. Market burps where bound to crash the fund sooner or later.

    SS both has real assets(T-bills), and is funded via taxes, while they fluctuate up and down, they don’t suddenly stop.

    To buy your argument one would have to believe that the US government won’t be able to tax in the future, and anyone who believes that governments won’t or can’t tax is an idiot.

    As only via directly lowering SS’s tax revenue or, conservatives finding a way to maintain a greater then 5% unemployment rate through the coming retirement boom, while suppressing immigration, and forcing wages to stagnate for another 30 years(to the extent of around 50% of Americans making the equal of around $18,000 2013 dollars or less by 2035). ( SS projections are based on a continuation of that last several years adjusted for population and inflation, not any fundamentally sound idea of what the economy will look like in the future).

    You silly rw think tank links can’t hide the truth of the matter. The number fraud that fuels them and the billionaire interests behind them are full of it.

  22. #80 by brewski on November 25, 2013 - 6:44 pm

    What do you mean by “SS is kept separate of the general fund for a reason”? Explain to me how it is separate.

    Or do you think that Ezra Klein is a rw liar?

    “At the end of the day, there is one federal government. It raises a certain amount of money, engages in a certain amount of spending, and a dollar it uses for one purpose is a dollar that it cannot use for another purpose. When I talk about Social Security and Medicare, I often get e-mails from liberals saying these programs are self-financed and they don’t have any relationship to the deficit. That’s true in the sense that they are not increasing deficits now, but it’s untrue in the sense that they are projected to vastly increase deficits later. When their revenues stop meeting their expenses, in other words, they will begin increasing the deficit. They are not separate in any serious way.”

    – Ezra Klein

    If you don’t get that we only have one government then you can’t get the reality that there is no trust fund, there are no T-bills, there is no interest earned. All there is is the ability to raise taxes on people not yet born by Congresses not yet elected.

    So your assertion that you have to believe that “one would have to believe that the US government won’t be able to tax in the future, and anyone who believes that governments won’t or can’t tax is an idiot” show how uneducated you are.

    You really don’t get math.

    It is not the ability for the government to tax in the future. It is the ability and the willingness of future Congresses not yet elected and taxpayers not yet born to increase their taxes on themselves by 33% more than today’s generation and today’s Congress is willing to.

  23. #81 by cav on November 25, 2013 - 9:05 pm

    “All there is is the ability to raise taxes on people not yet born…”

    I may never understand why the cap can’t be raised. Why the wealthy can’t anti up more skin for this game. Some of them talk of having skin in the game when the really do not.
    Instead, every effort is made to take from those who did, in good faith, put their money into this SS system (only to have it ripped for stupid criminal wars) – that when they retired or became disabled, there would be something other than stark poverty for them. Meanwhile some of the con-men-rich, often war profiteers themselves, utilizing rules set forth by their duly purchased representatives, claw, claw, claw at every dollar they can to make it their own.

    Really, it’s about more than math, by far. Namely: Morality.

  24. #82 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 26, 2013 - 12:25 am

    SS will never increase the deficit, as has been pointed out before, to prove this you would have to show that the government would have engaged in less spending in the absence of SS, and that is delusional at best.

    The only thing that occurs when SS cashes in a T-bill is the owner of a bond changes hands from SS to a different private owner, the amount of debt held by the general fund remains unchanged.

    ” show how uneducated you are. ”

    This has long sense been settled, and by founding fathers no less, yes Governments can collect taxes.

    “It is not the ability for the government to tax in the future. It is the ability and the willingness of future Congresses not yet elected and taxpayers not yet born to increase their taxes on themselves by 33% more than today’s generation and today’s Congress is willing to.”

    Again, 33% from current rates of a real difference of 2.2%, And again that assumes that a linear projection is correct based on the last several years of taxes, This is likely unnecessary, at only needed at a significantly lower amount.

    Either way I don’t see the issue with an insurance fund(SS, private, or otherwise), adjusting it rates on occasion.

    I very much do get the math, I see the overuse of a really ignorant means to project funds into the future to blatantly lie to the general public about the quality of SS, I see you like many who are so intellectually corrupt that you will ignore such gross malfeasance because your ideology happens to agree with the net result you believe the lie would achieve.

    SS is the only part of our retirement system that works, 401K are a criminally corrupt joke, pensions ever sense Reagan’s “reforms” have been falling apart, We need to expand SS, and end 401K’s, undue Reagan’s pension reforms or gradually phase pensions into SS(companies don’t want them but workers still need them).

  25. #83 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 4:50 am

    Where do you get 2.2% from? This number is clearly false. Nevertheless I take it that you just agreed that generations yet born and Congresses yet elected will need to increase taxes on themselves to pay for future retirees. That is exactly intergenerational theft that Richard keeps denying. It also proves the Ponzi scheme that SS relies on a system to take one group of people’s taxes to pay for another group’s benefits. That works fine as long as the ratio of workers to retirees either grows or stays the same. It does not work when that ratio plummets, as it will. This demographic change is what will cause SS not to work, as Krugman already said. This is the math that matters, nevermind that your 2.2% is wrong.

    You are just admitted that when retirees need to be paid their benefits that the Treasury will need to go out and find new borrowers. That also proves the negative cash flow that SS will have until all the Boomers die, which is probably about 36 years from now or more. That negative cash flow can only be made for by more third party borrowing or higher taxes on those fewer future workers. Again, intergenerational theft and Ponzi scheme.

    Your treatment of inter-departmental accounting “borrowing” as being the same as third party borrowing is a bit insane. Ask yourself this. Is it easier for Buick to “borrow” from Chevy all within the GM corporate umbrella, than it is for GM to go to the outside and to borrow from third party lenders? Of course it is and of course it is not equivalent to borrow inside an organization using inter-departmental receivables and payables which net to zero than it is to go create real third party debt. Apparently you have never executed public capital markets transactions as I have.

    As Ezra Klein said:
    “They are not separate in any serious way.”

    In other words, Klein thinks your way of thinking is not serious.

    To remove the cap would do a few things:
    1. Expose the lie about what SS is. If it is supposed to be an earned benefit that people pay for, then how is it that someone would pay X to receive X and another person would pay 5X to get X. Then it ceases to be an earned benefit and it becomes a simple redistribution program. If that is the case then we can just get rid of the pretense of the flat payroll tax and just throw it on the progressive income tax.

    2. It would make the marginal tax rate 54.9%. If you don’t think taking more than half of a person’s marginal income from them affects their working and investment decisions, then I have a few courses in behaviorial economics to share with you. This has been tried before and it doesn’t work.

    3. I will let you run on the platform of increasing marginal tax rates to 54.9%. It will lead to you having about as much political success as Cynthia McKinney. Politicians generally like to win elections, not lose them.

    • #84 by cav on November 26, 2013 - 9:20 am

      ” Nevertheless I take it that you just agreed that generations yet born who themselves might just retire or someday be disabled, Congresses yet elected , and Corporations who make use of every system put together by this society (and not as ‘persons) will need to increase taxes on themselves to pay for future retirees”

      Fixed that for you.

      A concept that is not completely understood by everyone, be they number-crunchers for large corporations or minimum wage workers as some fast food franchise,does not become a Lie simply because it is repeatedly labelled that by those who somehow see their investment in such a concept as taking still another dollar from their own pocket.

      Call it redistribution if you wish, Fact is, the only way the billionaires became billionaires is by redistribution of the communities wealth (some of it thoughtlessly, brutally greed-driven).

      Now, even though the millionaires are of such a small number, we wouldn’t want to encourage their sense of ‘entitlement’ would we?

      • #85 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 12:01 pm

        “Fact is, the only way the billionaires became billionaires is by redistribution of the communities wealth ”

        Really? You mean there is a fixed amount of wealth on the planet and every time someone increases their wealth it is only because it is taken from someone else? You really believe that?

    • #86 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 26, 2013 - 10:52 am

      You should know I always have a link to back myself up!,

      “Option 2: Increase the Payroll Tax Rate by
      2 Percentage Points Over 20 Years
      Whereas Option 1 would increase taxes by a fixed
      amount in 2012 and later, this option would raise the
      combined payroll tax rate gradually, by 0.1 percentage
      point (0.05 percentage points each for employers and
      employees) every year from 2012 to 2031. By the end
      of that period, the rate would stand at 14.4 percent—
      7.2 percent apiece for employers and employees—a
      total of 2 percentage points higher than the current rate
      of 12.4 percent.
      The Social Security payroll tax rate would increase by
      16 percent under this option relative to current law,
      but Social Security revenues would rise a bit less because
      the option would not affect income taxes on benefits.
      This option would improve the 75 year actuarial balance
      by 0.6 percentage points of GDP and would extend the
      trust fund exhaustion date to 2083. As a result, payable
      benefits would be higher for people who receive benefits
      in 2039 or later.
      Lifetime payroll taxes would increase by a small amount
      for people born in the 1960s and by about 15 percent for
      those born in the 2000s. After the option is fully phased
      in, the percentage increase in lifetime payroll taxes paid
      would be similar for people in all categories of lifetime

      Again based on overly pessimistic linear projections, and even then its the worse case scenario.

      • #87 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 11:59 am

        I appreciate the link and the source.

        The problem with the CBO report is that it still treats the “Trust Fund” as though it is not part of the Federal Government. So it is looking only at the fiction of the accounting for that fund only and not the net cash outflow from the Treasury and the Treasury’s future borrowing requirement. Their assumptions are false so their analysis is false.

        Nevertheless, the CBO statement above still says “Lifetime payroll taxes would increase … by about 15 percent for
        those born in the 2000s.”

        That is intergenerational theft, by definition. So the CBO just proved the intergenerational theft and it also implicitly proves the Ponzi scheme by stating that the “pay as you go” game can only survive by bringing on more money from later generations, or it will all collapse. Just like a Ponzi scheme. Thank you.

  26. #88 by Richard Warnick on November 26, 2013 - 7:45 am

    Or, we could pay a living wage to all Americans who work full time. Then there will be no problem with the Social Security System, ever.

    Oh, and remember the right wants to have a distracting debate NOW about a projection of a hypothetical situation 25 years in the future. Why aren’t we talking about the job-jobs-jobs the Republicans promise us in every election?

  27. #89 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 8:41 am

    Who is “we”? When you say “we” you really mean “someone else” meaning not you.

    How many more millions of unemployed are you willing to create? How many people earnings zero would make it worth it?

    • #90 by Richard Warnick on November 26, 2013 - 8:59 am

      Every time raising the minimum wage comes up for debate, right-wingers yell that the sky is falling. Every time we increase the minimum wage, capitalism survives and thrives.

      • #91 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 9:02 am

        Thank you for not answering any of my questions.

        • #92 by Richard Warnick on November 26, 2013 - 1:10 pm

          Rhetorical questions don’t require answers.

  28. #93 by cav on November 26, 2013 - 9:33 am

    The more people who earn Zero, the greater the likelihood of crimes related to their coincidental want, and the sooner the day when the real culprits will be relieved of ‘their’ unseemly gargantuan portion of ‘the community’s assets.

    Should the planet live so long.

    That’s the Math I’m talking about.

    • #94 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 9:45 am

      Yes, and Richard seems to advocate more people making zero. Don’t ask me why he wants that.

  29. #95 by cav on November 26, 2013 - 9:41 am

    I’mma just jam this in here…It’s for brewski mostly but…

    “The most telling rebuttal to US multinational corporate claims of US taxation at 35% as among the ‘highest in the world’ is that US corporations have been paying almost no tax on corporate profits earned offshore—while they have simultaneously been redirecting US earned corporate profits to their offshore subsidiaries to avoid paying US taxes as well. This game is made possible by ‘internal corporate pricing’ maneuvers. It works like this: charge the US operations high prices for goods made offshore and imported back to the US, so that there are little profits to book in the US. Then shuffle foreign made profits around to those countries with super-low tax rules and rates. Book the profits there and pay the lowest rates. Finally, refuse to pay the US foreign profits tax on even those reduced profits booked offshore.”

  30. #96 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 9:59 am

    Cav, I am actually an expert on this topic as I have professionally done a lot of multinational corporate tax structuring as described in your #91. So I know exactly how this this stuff works. Nevertheless, the point by counterpunch is 180 degrees backwards.

    US corporations AND non-US corporations do avoid paying US taxes by either investing more elsewhere (meaning more jobs elsewhere) and by shirting taxable income out of the US when they can. Either way, both are undesirable outcomes. The reason they do both is precisely because of the 39.1% rate (including state income taxes). So to defend the 39.1% rate by saying that no one pays it is exactly the point. The 39.1% fails to collect actual taxes and it fails to attract new investment and jobs at the same time. So there is no defense of a double-bad outcome. The US would collect more revenue and also attract more jobs if it had a tax rate which was in line with other countries.

    Canada’s tax rate is 26.3%. Think about that. GM can lower their total tax bill by 32.7% simply by shifting production to Windsor from Detroit. So GM will end up hiring Canadians and paying Canadian taxes rather than hiring Americans and paying US taxes. Why is that the outcome you want?

    This is your result. Own it.

  31. #97 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 26, 2013 - 12:19 pm

    Your confusing rate of change, with the rate itself, that is if you have a tax rate of 10% and increase it by 10% you have a rate of 11%., This is what the CBO is talking about.

    • #98 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 1:13 pm

      I know what the CBO is talking about and I know what I am talking about. I didn’t misunderstand anything.

      Doesn’t change the reality that the CBO just acknowledged intergenerational theft and Ponzi scheme.

  32. #99 by cav on November 26, 2013 - 4:39 pm

    Can you see how the fighting words ‘inter-generational theft’ is really meant to ramp up anti-baby-boomer sentiment, as though economic structure and the phenomenon of a swollen demographic were of anyone’s personal doing. Certainly not mine or Ronald’s.

    Try to stay civil.

    • #100 by Richard Warnick on November 26, 2013 - 6:35 pm

      Maybe “generational theft” was poll tested before hedge fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller started going to college campuses with the latest right-wing attack on Americans who work for a living. But it’s not working.

      College students and recent graduates need… what was it the Republicans have promised again and again? Jobs-jobs-jobs!

    • #101 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 8:46 pm

      There would be no issue of generational theft and no anti-baby-boomer sentiment if SS was not structured in the way that it was. If baby boomers had saved 100% of their SS contributions over the last 40 years there wouldn’t be any problem.

      Having said that, baby boomers are indeed the root of everything that is wrong.

      • #102 by cav on November 26, 2013 - 9:22 pm

        Now yer just trying to live up to your reputation.

        Things will surely improve – to perfection even, under your even-handed guidance. Excuse me while I vomit.

      • #103 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 27, 2013 - 2:27 am

        “If baby boomers had saved 100% of their SS contributions”

        Then it would have went up in flames during the conservative(both parties conservatives) crash of 2006-7, and they would have nothing.

        And you won’t find very many who will buy in the multi-generational theft nonsense, we saw what happens to retirement savings when its in the hands of wall-street.

        SS isn’t just a retirement insurance system, it protects the buying power of our senior population through market crashes, College students understand this, just as much as their parents on SS understand this.

        2006-7 would have seen a far deeper dive in the economy without SS, Even for those of us paying into it right now, we can appreciate the jobs available to us because our grandparents don’t drop out of the economy every time someone pulls a Romney on private retirement savings.

        • #104 by brewski on November 28, 2013 - 6:26 am


          It wasn’t 2006-2007. It was 2008-2009. Get your history straight.

          There is no reason why they would have lost a penny.

          It wasn’t Wall Street which cratered the economy. It was the government who did.

          College students understand this? Poll college students and they will tell you they SS will be gone by then. They know it is a lie.

          • #105 by cav on November 28, 2013 - 9:14 am

            “It wasn’t Wall Street which cratered the economy. It was the government who did.”

            The government appointed by essentially one ‘supreme’ court justice. The ‘government who lied us into at least two disastrous, costly wars. A ‘government’ owned by the MIC and the 1%.

            Happy thanksgiving! That very ‘government’ persists. Yay1

          • #106 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 29, 2013 - 1:12 am

            Wall street was the center of the crisis, trillions of derivatives taken on bad mortgage derivatives, in a situation where the bank could sell their liabilities as an asset.

            The Government’s largest contribution to the crisis was deregulation, as it wasn’t government action that made the banks do this, it was government inaction that failed to stop them.

            And Wall Street certainly had help from the supply side idiot running the fed, Tho at the end of the day, removal or leverage limits and enabling universal banking are more at the heart of the matter then the Fed. And allowing derivatives to go unregulated for so long certainly compounded the problem as well.

            Poll college students and they will tell you they SS will be gone by then.”


            Done, guess what, your supposition is incorrect!!!, college age adults want to preserve SS. And support for maintaining SS only expands with age.

            side questions such as, “Adult children providing for an elderly parent”, shows that 3 out of 4 Americans agree we have such a responsibility.

          • #107 by brewski on November 29, 2013 - 3:47 am

            When you start saying like “The Government’s largest contribution to the crisis was deregulation” then you are showing that you have no idea what you are talking about. That is displaying your lack of education and lack of expertise in this topic to make any conversation pointless. I would be happy to discuss this after you educate yourself a lot more. I would recommend the OECD economists’ analysis of the crisis.

          • #108 by cav on November 29, 2013 - 9:15 am

            Oh please brewski, give it your best ‘Black Friday’ nut-shelling. I’m sure more than just Ronald would be enlightened.

  33. #109 by cav on November 26, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    “…if today’s debt is borrowing from future generations, can’t we simply use tomorrow’s debt to borrow from later future generations indefinitely for the infinite future? Yes, yes we can.

    Money and debt are mere tools of social goals. They are not the real resources of the economy but records of transaction and ownership claims. We can change the rules at any point to suit our social desires – debts can be forgiven, defaulted on, inflated away, or they can be used to justify war.”

    • #110 by brewski on November 26, 2013 - 8:48 pm

      Is that supposed to be a joke?

  34. #111 by cav on November 26, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    edit dup

  35. #112 by Ronald D. Hunt on November 29, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    And we have seen first hand the deficiency of your right wing economists,

    Sadly the Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, circulated a paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt”, is still a central figure in many countries economic policy.

    And this is very common among right wing economics,

    Yes i know dailykos link, I love the posters description of the problem.

    • #113 by Richard Warnick on November 29, 2013 - 4:09 pm

      Love this quote:

      Here’s the issue: When someone has created a special world where they’re always right and 2+2=Potato, you can’t actually sit down and debate them like you would anyone else, because according to their own rules, they’re right. And if you’re not careful, you’ll end up playing by their rules.

      Not just right-wing economists. Maybe the same goes for right-wingers in general.

  36. #114 by brewski on November 29, 2013 - 4:03 pm

    Two points:

    1. None of your links support your statement “The Government’s largest contribution to the crisis was deregulation,” So you just proved my point for me.

    2. All of your links are basically popular press op-ed pieces. So you just proved my point for me.

    Thank you.

  37. #115 by cav on November 29, 2013 - 4:45 pm

    1. WMD were indeed found in Iraq.

    2. Deregulation was innocent.

    3. All sources but yours suck.

    4. You’re welcome.

    • #116 by brewski on November 29, 2013 - 4:59 pm

      None of that is even close to what I said. I gives me comfort that you have to make shit up that isn’t even analogous to what I said in order for you to kid yourself that you are making a point.

  38. #117 by cav on November 29, 2013 - 5:00 pm

    It’s your comfort we’re after, sir.

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