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View Diary: Why is "touching Social Security" in any manner a bad thing? (142 comments)

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  •  costello - I would hope that you have a problem (1+ / 0-)
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    with how I view what is fair for SocSec, rather than me personally. We just have opposing views about how the program should be structured. I have a traditional view that SocSec is program where each worker insures a portion of their earnings and you want to turn it into a welfare program. I am a member of Social Security defenders here at DKOS and we try and let people know about the fundamentals of the program, its history, and the proposals to change it over time. There are many here who agree with you that SocSec should be changed at a fundamental level into an income redistribution program, and many who do not. One of our fears is if the Dems propose scrapping the current system, competing ideas that we don't favor will also have standing to enter the conversation, and compete for political support. Our strongest defense is that we are committed to SocSec's founding principles. It is a very powerful defense we would lose if we proposed fundamental changes.

    Regarding our hypothetical Congressional race I think it would depend a great deal on what district we were running in.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 01:52:04 PM PST

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    •  It would likely depend (0+ / 0-)

      on the income level of the hypothetical district.

      A lot of people on this site (not you, I'm guessing) have argued for straight up means testing.  "If you don't need it," they say, "you shouldn't get it." Now THAT would be the redefinition of the program you describe and fear.  THAT would make it a welfare program and THAT would put the entire program at risk.

      I don't see my proposal as restructuring the program at all--certainly not into a welfare program--and I believe it would ensure that the program is there for everyone, especially those who need it, well into the future and probably forever.  And I don't think it puts the program at risk AT ALL.

      Everybody puts in on every dollar earned.  Period.  That's certainly fair, doncha think?  Do you think it more fair that the rich guy completes his obligation in the first week of the year while I pay on every dollar I earn?  I don't.  I don't think that's fair at all.  And everybody that pays in still takes out.  Everybody.  That's fair, right?  And benefits are still tied to the amount contributed.  Up to a certain point.  At some pre-defined point (no real need to change the point that currently exists), your pay-outs top out.  Now if you want to argue that that's not fair, then you'd have to say a progressive income tax is unfair.  Just as its unfair that we give tax breaks to working couples with children, just as its unfair that we tax investment income at an obscenely low rate, just as its unfair that we give tax breaks to oil companies for exploration and development of alternative energy sources (which, by the way, they take the tax credits but never actually explore or develop anything other than more oil; I remember clearly the Exxon COO, or whatever he was, testifying before Congress that they wouldn't ever explore other energy sources, that it would be a waste of their time, but that the government would have to pry those tax credits out of their cold dead fingers), just as its unfair that we give people tax credits based on home ownership.  I could go on, but the entire tax code is "unfair".  Unless you strip out every single tax credit and deduction in the code and abandon entirely the idea of a progressive tax code (charging everyone one flat rate, across the board--and I've never heard anyone other than Rethugs argue for such a thing), then there is nothing "fair" about taxes.  They aren't supposed to be fair; they are supposed to serve a purpose, which is to adequately fund the functions of the government.  The Social Security tax is a tax; nothing more, nothing less.  And that's how everyone sees it...until they retire and start collecting, at least.

      Now if you want to argue its an insurance program, fine.  I'll go there with you, too.  I have auto insurance as I'm sure you do as well.  I pay in every year--essentially the same amount (it goes up a little, it goes down a little, based on a myriad of circumstances...the age of the car, my driving record, etc., etc.).  I pray to God I never have to collect.  But, if I never have an accident, it's not like I get all of that money back at the end of the (pardon the expression) road.  And, if I do get into an accident--50 years on--its not like the fact that I've been paying in for 50 years entitles me to more coverage than I would have been entitled to in year one.  My "benefits"--my payout--IS tied to how much I paid (how much insurance coverage I purchased) but only up to that point.  That's how insurance works.  That's what insurance is.  And everybody who has a car (outside of Texas, I think) is required to buy insurance regardless of how much they collect or whether they ever collect at all.  Some "take" more from auto insurance than others--maybe some believe the worst drivers collect the most--but nobody has ever called it a welfare program.

      Once upon a time, we had pensions.  But then the government allowed businesses to raid the pension funds to "invest", then they let them drop pensions altogether in favor of 401K programs, then the government permitted the Bain model of purposefully driving companies into bankruptcy through willful mismanagement thus obliterating long ago promised and earned retirement benefits of helpless workers.  Was any of that "fair"?  Now all most of us have is Social Security and Medicare.  This, to the best of the government's ability, helps to mitigate some (just some) of the damage done by unfettered capitalist greed--damage that the government allowed and even encouraged.

      Social Security would only be put at risk if the changes to the program could reasonably be argued to be a welfare program.  Direct means testing would do that.  Rich people pay in but they never take out.  That's wealth distribution.  That's welfare.  But having everyone pay in on every dollar earned, and having everyone take out but only UP TO a defined cap....you can argue otherwise until you're blue in the face....no one, save a few accademics and a lot of rich Republicans, is ever going to believe that's welfare or even wealth distribution.  The vast majority of Americans are going to see that as fundamental fairness.  And, so long as the vast majority of Americans see the program as fundimentally fair--and so long as Social Security is solvent--no amount of arguing to the contrary is every going to put the program in jeopardy.

      "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

      by costello7 on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:12:50 PM PST

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      •  You're using the wrong analogy for insurance (0+ / 0-)

        SS's closest analogy is life insurance converted into an annuity.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 03:36:52 AM PST

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        •  All you're telling me (0+ / 0-)

          is that there are multiple models for insurance.  Fine.  Why not choose a model that strengthens the Social Security program, ensures its long term viability and hurts no one?

          For the life of me I can not understand the desire to reject the best possible solution to a long term problem (in order to continue the program precisely as is) which WILL inevitably lead to solutions that are less effective and in which real people will suffer.

          They are going to change the program.  They absolutely are.  When a Democratic President gleefully offers up chained CPI at every negotiation and when Congressional Democrats have embraced chained CPI saying that, absolutely, they could support that...in the right deal, you know changes--bad changes--are coming.

          The end result of chained CPI, signed into law by a Democratic President, is going to be an electoral wipeout in 2014 that makes 2010 look like a good year for Democrats, and a permanent Republican majority.  And, on a personal level, more and more seniors will, more and more, fall into poverty.

          What we need to do, given that changes are coming, is to come together behind changes that truly strengthen the program and preserve full benefits for everyone while actually hurting no one.  Lifting the cap on SS tax while maintaining a cap on benefits is a sane, rational solution that makes the program stronger, maintains the program's financial health indefinitely (it would never be a target again), and hurts no one (I do not weep for millionaires and billionaires, who have robbed the working class blind to begin with, paying a little more in taxes).  We need to forcefully gather behind and push this solution because every other proposal on the table is designed to cut benefits, which weakens the program and hurts real people.

          Already, on an allegedly progressive web site, we have people embracing chained CPI (since Obama proposed it), saying, "Oh, c'mon, it's not so bad."  Yeah, just tell grandma to switch to a cheaper brand of cat food is all.

          But but but Republicans.  Frankly, I could give a rats ass about Republicans.  I'm worried about the Democrats.  If Democrats make cuts to Social Security, we are royally fucked.  We will never restore benefits, if it is Democrats who make the cuts, and, instead, more and more cuts will follow.  What's more, if it is Democrats who make cuts to Social Security--if a Democratic President signs such a bill into law--the Democrats won't be winning a whole lot of elections going forward.  They sure as hell won't be getting my vote.  Not for dog catcher.

          Every time the government needs money, they attack the programs that our most vulnerable depend upon and they usually do it by claiming that they are overstating inflation, which is utter bullshit as anyone with a brain and eyes, and making less than $100,000 a year, knows.  The original CPI was just such a trick.  Well, they said, its actually wrong to include food and energy costs because those get factored in to all the other prices, so its like counting them twice.  Complete and utter bullshit designed to siphon more money from the poor to the rich.  Now its the chained CPI because "people make adjustments".  More complete and utter bullshit designed to siphon even more money from the poor to the rich.  But its bullshit that people who say things like "keep your government hands off my Medicare" might see as plausible.  Moreover, its bullshit they can use to satisfy their own weak minds and black hearts so that they can sleep soundly at night in their mansions.

          Thanks to CPI (and, soon, chained CPI), Social Security is already a wealth redistribution plan--from the poor to the rich.

          If we don't all get behind lifting the cap and push it with all our might, we're going to end up with chained CPI which is going to cut benefits in real terms and hurt real people (and destroy the Democratic party).  We'll probably end up with chained CPI anyway, because neither party represents the people, anymore; they both serve the 1%.  And chained CPI is what the 1% wants.

          "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

          by costello7 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 08:37:47 AM PST

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