Most Working Families Say Strengthen, Don’t Cut, Social Security

On today’s 78th anniversary of Social Security, a new survey (see video) from the National Academy of Social Insurance finds that most of America’s workers support increasing benefits, protecting benefits against inflation and lifting the Social Security tax cap so that wealthy people pay their fair share as working families do now.

You can add your voice to the call to strengthen, not cut, Social Security by signing this petition from the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Obama’s New Budget: Why He’s Cutting Social Security & Medicare

Dr. Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

Obama’s bargaining strategy and tactics with regard to deficit cutting over the past three years have proven to be an unmitigated disaster. From the idea of seeking a ‘grand bargain’ with Teapublicans in the House of Representatives in May 2011, to the debt ceiling and sequester deals of August 2011 that resulted in $2.2 trillion in spending-only cuts and no tax hikes whatsoever on the rich, to caving in on the so-called ‘Fiscal Cliff’ this past January 1 agreeing to a deal to tax only the richest 0.7%—Obama’s bargaining strategy and tactics have proven a case example of exactly what not to do in negotiations.

Obama’s first error was to believe that by offering hundreds of billions in entitlement cuts back in the summer of 2011 in exchange for revenue hikes that Republicans would agree to raise taxes a mere year before the 2012 elections. Obama and the Democrats subsequently further believed that by linking $1.2 trillion in sequestered spending-only cuts in August 2011, as part of the debt ceiling deal, that Republicans would not allow $500 billion in sequestered defense spending cuts to take effect and would agree to some tax hikes in exchange. Obama then made the error this past December thinking Republicans would continue to discuss tax revenue proposals after they agreed to the minimal $60 billion in Bush tax cut extensions (aka ‘Fiscal Cliff’) on January 1, 2013.

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Boehner’s Failure and the road ahead- Trumka

English: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and ...

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Plan B” failure and the latest fiscal developments:

Speaker Boehner’s failure last night should be seen as one thing: A reset button to listen to the will of the American people. The slate is clean and we call on the President to come forward with an offer that reflects the reasons he won the election. Across the country working people continue to demand no tax cuts for the richest two percent and no benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. At this point, cuts to the Social Security COLA to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent should be off the table. The President and Congress have no obligation to radical Republicans who have no ground to stand on. What they do have is the backing of millions of hardworking women and men tired of being held hostage by far right-wing Republicans who clearly have little interest in governing.

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But it’s only a sliver on a graph!–Or why liberal technocrats are wrong on Social Security.

by Jim Nichols

Something struck me as I was talking to members of my union at work (see: “Obama wants to do what!?!?!?!?!?”) and in the recent public comments from some public intellectuals and labor leaders.

As a union steward you get to know your people. Day in and day out. Through good and bad. You can see responses and reactions to political questions and challenges in a way that some some volunteer making a cold call door knock just before election day–never to be seen for four more years–or some opinion-poll questioner getting a person in the middle of screaming kids, and dinner on the stove, won’t notice or understand.

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Boehner’s Plan for Fiscal Showdown—Cut Social Security COLA to Pay for More Tax Cuts for the Rich

by Damon Silvers

Boehner-s-PlanOn Sunday night, House Speaker John Boehner made clear he would like to make a simple trade with President Obama. He asked the president to extend tax cuts on income between $250,000 and $1 million a year—a tax bonanza of nearly $400 billion over 10 years, about half of which would go to millionaires.

And how will we pay for this very expensive gift to the least needy among us? By cutting $122 billion in Social Security benefits from the neediest, including elderly seniors and people with disabilities who depend on the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (the COLA) to keep inflation from eating away their benefits as they age and incur health care expenses. Moreover, this COLA cut affects current as well as future beneficiaries. Yesterday, press accounts said that President Obama offered to accept this cut to Social Security as part of a larger deal, which Boehner then rejected on Tuesday evening, saying he was going to take his “Plan B,” more tax cuts for the rich, to the House floor.  The AFL-CIO is calling on members of Congress and the president to oppose Boehner’s cuts to Social Security and his Plan B.   Here’s why: Boehner wants to cut the COLA through a technical change to the way the COLA is calculated, called the Chained Consumer Price Index or “chained” CPI. This index underestimates inflation for seniors and people with disabilities, according to 250 economists.

Call the White House at 202-456-1111; tell President Obama you oppose the “chained” CPI.
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Reject the Fiscal Cliff, Tax the Rich

Invest in Infrastructure and Services

Democratic Socialists of America logo

Democratic Socialists of America logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A statement of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America

November 20, 2012

 DSA rejects the “fiscal cliff” hysteria of the corporate establishment and the pressure for a “Grand Bargain” that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow, the government should not impose austerity measures that reduce essential programs that benefit the middle and working classes and that further shred the safety net for the most vulnerable. Rather, government policy should prioritize investments in job creation, public education and healthcare reform, while raising essential revenues by taxing the large corporations and wealthiest citizens who can afford to pay.

 

Immediately after the election, Wall Street-backed foundations such as Third Way and the Concord Coalition organized a “Campaign to Fix the Debt” to spin the election results as a mandate for a “bi-partisan” focus on reducing the deficit as the highest national priority. For decades the billionaire Pete Peterson has funded groups that claim that the universal entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting the nation and that their future growth must thus be drastically trimmed.  These neoliberals scored an initial success in 2011 when the Simpson-Bowles Congressional Commission put to a vote a long-term “budget compromise” that would have instituted three times as much in budget cuts than in tax increases. But despite President Obama’s evident willingness to reach such a one-sided compromise, Tea Party insistence on no tax increases, even on the wealthiest, scuttled the deal. The “resolution” of this manufactured, alleged “budget crisis” was to postpone a decision on further deficit reduction until the end of 2012, hence the contrived “fiscal cliff.” Continue reading

Grijalva: I will not support it

When a crisis faces our nation, and decisions have to be made, we look to our elected officials to provide the guidance and direction that will help us persevere.  In the face of this manufactured debt ceiling crisis, many Members of Congress have failed to lead and are willing to substantially weaken many of the programs that make our nation great.

I will not support the emerging debt deal.

I will have no part of a deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to appease the farthest reaches of the right wing of the Republican Party.  It is unconscionable to put these programs on the chopping block and ignore the voices and beliefs of the millions of Americans who trust us to lead while continuing to give handouts to the ultra wealthy and the largest corporations.  There is no human decency in that.

Rather than fly the standard of the working Americans who voted them into office, some Members of Congress are content to raise the white flag and call it “bipartisanship” or a “grand bargain”.  Many elected officials yearn to be leaders, but this debt deal shows that too many of them settle for being politicians. Continue reading

Medicare cuts are not acceptable !

Against Congressman Lungren

by Duane Campbell

The Alliance for Retired Americans, affiliated with the AFL-CIO and some twenty unions, held a Town Hall Meeting on the Crisis in Social Security Funding today in in the Rancho Cordova (Sacramento,) California district of U.S. Congressman Dan Lungren. Some 80 people turned out to analyze the attacks on social security and Medicare in the Ryan Republican Budget. Speakers from OWL (Older Women’s League) , the Alliance and Health Access as well as retirees from numerous unions discussed the attacks on Medicare, on Medicare, and the current Republican imposed crisis of refusing to increase the debt ceiling. Analyses of the effects of the proposed Medicare cuts and Medicaid cuts to the specific 3rd. Congressional District of California were shared. The current Congressperson in the 3rd. in Republican Dan Lungren who barely survived a close election challenge in 2010. Literature on each of these topics can be found at the Alliance web site at http://www.retiredamericans.org.
The meeting was attended by at least 80 people. The great majority were over 50 years of age and affiliated with unions. The Ryan Budget bill was described by speakers as an assault on Medicare and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act of 2009. Speakers also discussed the Republican sponsored effort to pass a regressive Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Speakers argued that the Republicans are holding the country hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling; they will only do so if the federal government caps domestic spending at a fixed percentage of GDP and passes a balanced budget amendment. Both of these policies would have disastrous long-term results for the U.S. economy. The Republicans also refuse to raise taxes, even by permitting the last set of “temporary” Bush-era tax cuts to lapse. Continue reading

Dean Baker: Statement on Gang of Six Plan

by Dean Baker

Dean Baker

The budget plan produced by the Senate’s “Gang of Six” offers the promise of huge tax breaks for some of the wealthiest people in the country, while lowering Social Security benefits for retirees and the disabled. Despite claiming that they will “reform” Social Security on a “separate track, isolated from deficit reduction,” the plan includes cuts to Social Security that would be felt in less than six months, as the plan calls for a new inflation formula that will reduce benefits by 0.3 percentage points a year compared with currently scheduled benefits. The plan also calls for a process that is likely to reduce benefits further for future retirees.

The proposed cuts to Social Security are cumulative. This means that after ten years, a beneficiary in her 70s will see a cut of close to 3 percent. After 20 years, the cuts for beneficiaries in their 80s will be close to 6 percent, while the reduction in annual benefits will be close to 9 percent by the time beneficiaries are in their 90s. For a beneficiary in her 90s living on a Social Security income of $15,000, this means a loss of more $1,200 a year in benefits
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The Attack on Social Security Is About to Intensify

By Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

The current offensive underway against Medicare by Paul Ryan and the House Republican majority is well known. Less well known is the somewhat hidden undermining of Medicare in the 2010 Obama health bill, that will take effect in a few more years and cost retirees a significant increase in out of pocket costs and caps on benefits. In contrast to Medicare, Social Security retirement and disability programs were, according to the Washington political consensus, to be delayed from cuts until after the November 2012 elections. But there is new evidence that the growing coziness between Obama and mainstream Republicans, on the one hand, and corporate interests on the other is about to result in a new offensive against Social Security before the 2012 elections. What this means is that the ‘old age retirement’ benefits fund as well as the ‘disability insurance’ fund programs of Social Security are now, like Medicare, about to become prime targets for cuts in the 2012 budget this fall.
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