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There will be much hysteria and flapping of gums today about what CNN and other news outlets will undoubtedly label "the coming insolvency of Social Security" or the equivalent, as the annual Social Security and Medicare Trustees' reports are relased this afternoon. You will hear the word "unsustainable" a lot.  Here's the truth, though - while Medicare needs some action soon, and will get it as part of health care reform, the retirement system is NOT in immediate trouble, and may not be in long term trouble.  And the right-wing's definition - and I include Pete Peterson and David Walker in that category because they have both been campaigning against Social Security for 30 years - of "trouble" for Social Security should not be accepted as any actual version of the truth.  The truth about Social Security follows below the fold - and there is an excellent post by John Lind at Salon that says many of the same things, so here's a link to that as well - http://www.salon.com/...

There are three Social Security trust funds - one for OASI, the retirement fund; one for DI, the disability fund, and one for HI, the Medicare fund.  Reporters will conflate all three and talk breathlessly about "unsustainable entitlements".  However, you must look at the three programs separately to get an accurate picture.

The report for HI will continue the trend of the last few years, namely pointing out increasing outlays because of higher medical costs, and the need for either restraining costs or increasing revenues.  The Obama Administration quite rightly has continued to stress that health care reform has to include controls on increasing costs in health care, because that is what's driving Medicare's financial difficulties.

The DI report is likely to be worse than it has been for a few years, because the economic downturn has a double whammy effect on DI - it worsens the immediate revenue intake as the payroll tax is applied to less payroll because of unemployment, and it drives up applications for DI as people with serious impairments simply can't get work in a terrible job market, and turn to Social Security disability. The DI fund therefore may need some financial shoring up, but the dimension of that increase is not likely to be very great.

The report for OASI, that is old age and survivors' insurance, will probably show lower surpluses over the next few years, because of the dramatic rise in unemployment, and the date when trust fund bonds will have to drawn on to pay benefits may be accelerated by a few years from last year's date of 2018.  The ultimate date when trust funds might be depleted, and we would only have enough revenues coming in to pay 70-75% of promised benefits may also be moved up a few years, from 2042 in last year's report.  But let's put those dates in perspective - in the Trustees' Reports in the late 1990's, the funds were supposed to stop running surpluses in 2012, and the trust funds would be exhausted by 2029.  That changed a few years later to the years the report has stuck with for the last 5 years - 2018 and 2042.  

Update:  The reports have just been released - here's the link to the Social Security website with a brief summary of the reports - http://www.ssa.gov/...  The revision of these dates is 2016 for the cessation of yearly surpluses, and 2038 for ultimate exhaustion of the trust funds, at which point annual revenues would be enough to pay about 75 percent of benefits.  I haven't read the whole report yet, so I don't know yet how much of these changes are because of the DI fund as opposed to the OASI fund.  

Second update:  Here's the summary money quote from the Trustees:

Under the long-range intermediate assumptions, annual cost will begin to
exceed tax income in 2016 for the combined OASDI Trust Funds. The combined
funds are then projected to become exhausted and thus unable to pay
scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2037. The separate DI Trust Fund, however, is projected to become exhausted in 2020.

For the combined OASDI Trust Funds to remain solvent throughout the 75-
year projection period, the combined payroll tax rate could be increased during the period in a manner equivalent to an immediate and permanent
increase of 2.01 percentage points, benefits could be reduced during the
period in a manner equivalent to an immediate and permanent reduction of
13.3 percent, general revenue transfers equivalent to $5.3 trillion in present value could be made during the period, or some combination of approaches could be adopted.

The OASI fund, without the DI fund combined with it, would be exhausted by 2039.

There are a few important points here.

First, this is a system primarily funded with a dedicated tax - the payroll tax - and the only way to maintain that "dedicated" character is to have a trust fund to which yearly surpluses of revenues over and above what's necessary to run the system can be credited, and then drawn on when necessary.  This is what's SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN - and has happened many times before in all three trust funds.  In fact, in 1983, the OASI trust fund was practically gone by the time we enacted the 1983 financing legislation - we are NOWHERE near that point right now, and may never be.  You will hear lots of talk about the trust funds "not really existing" - hogwash.  They are dedicated government bonds, every bit as real as any other type of government bonds, and cashing them in, just a bit at a time, would not have any impact on the overall government budget if we had not had Bush's disastrous war and run up in the debt over the last eight years, in addition to the recent demands of the bailout of the financial industry.  Lind's headline on his Salon piece is exactly right - does any Democrat seriously think it's a good idea, in policy or in politics - to cut Social Security benefits to in effect pay for the banker bailouts and bonuses?  

Second, Social Security costs are NOT "out of control" - they are exactly what demographers and actuaries have been projecting for years.  Social Security does not spend too much - in fact, benefits are too low for most low and moderate income workers who get less than $1000 a month in benefits.  All the talk you will hear about "unsustainable" has nothing to do with Social Security benefit expenditures - it is simply that payroll tax revenues under the current structure may not be able to continue exceeding outlays the way they have in the past decade.  Proposals to cut Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age or changing the benefit formula are not just unnecessary - they would cause real suffering both in the short and long term for the elderly who already get lower benefits from Social Security than other industrialized countries provide for their elders.

Third, the long run deficit may or may not materialize - it all depends on the pace of economic growth, and to some extent on working patterns if Americans decide they cannot retire at 62 because their other sources of retirement income have disappeared.  But even if it does, the shortfall is far from dire, and would require relatively modest measures to fix - increasing the wage cap, or putting more non-payroll tax revenues into the system would be relatively painless steps we could take to cover the about 1 percent of GDP necessary.  Let me repeat that - we're talking about 1 percent of GDP over 75 years - that is not an emergency, it's a relatively minor problem. By the way, Social Security already gets substantial funding from non-payroll tax sources - the revenues from income taxation of Social Security benefits goes into the trust funds, as does the Federal government's employer share of payroll taxes for Federal employees.  So increasing the "general revenues" source of financing would not break any ground.

Why all the hysteria?  This is all part of a continuing right wing campaign against Social Security that was crystallized about the time the 1983 Amendments, that resolved the financing crisis then, were enacted.  There was a famous memo (Lind talks about this in his Salon piece) that laid out the groundrules for an unrelenting Republican and right wing war on Social Security.  The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Concord group, funded with Peterson's money, have been very successful in defining the problem in imaginary and horrible ways, in order to incite panic on the part of the public, while giving right wing politicians an opening to cut programs they have hated and fought against since 1935.

The Democrats - and I'm talking to you, Steny Hoyer - would be insane to play into this.  I think the Administration has so far been right to emphasize getting Medicare on a better track - but we need to help re-frame the Social Security retirement part of the issue.

Here's my suggestion:  Social Security benefits currently provide the bare minimum of income support for the elderly.  We need more Social Security, not less, and if payroll taxes prove inadequate, then we need other sources of financing (perhaps a dedicate estate tax, as the late Robert Ball, long time Social Security commissioner, suggested, or other dedicated funding) to make up the difference.

What we DON'T need is to reduce the only secure source of old age income for American workers at a time when their employer provided pensions have disappeared, and their 401(k) balances have been cut in half or worse.  Do not let the fear mongers - and this includes the TV media who love a disaster story and will do all they can to hype this story with the help of the Peterson people - win on this.  Social Security is the people's program - it's OUR program - and we cannot let the right wing undermine the most successful social program we have.  The answer to those wringing their hands about today's reports is - calm down and work on health care reform.  We can develop more revenue sources for Social Security when it is clearer that the program needs them - but that time is not today, this week or this year.

Originally posted to geordie on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:22 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Assuming our economy recovers, the impending (0+ / 0-)

      period of inflation (high inflation) will render this topic moot.

      However much money is in the "trust fund" will be worth a whole lot less when bread is $20/loaf.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:47:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  this is why you needed a lawkbox (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnG

      as al gore would call it

    •  Isn't the answer really (10+ / 0-)

      to just remove the cap on SS paid by the employee.  There is no earthly reason to cap it at $75,000 or $100,000 annual income, is there?  If the cap was removed then it would be funded forever, in my way of thinking.

      JMO. . .and I am certainly no economist or mathematician.

      *the blogger formerly known as shirlstars

      by Shirl In Idaho on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:13:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You got it Shirl... but the Repubs would (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shirl In Idaho

        scream bloody murder!  Oh god.  

        •  And just Why TF are Dems (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DawnG, ilex

          so frickin afraid the the R's screaming and tantrums.  They are so down and out now this would seem the perfect time to do just that and let them rant and rave all they want.  People love and depend upon SS. . .they will have the peoples support in numbers far greater than they think.

          *the blogger formerly known as shirlstars

          by Shirl In Idaho on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:35:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  but it beat shutting the whole thing down. (0+ / 0-)

          which is, ultimately, what republians want to do.

          You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

          by DawnG on Tue May 12, 2009 at 02:29:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That's what I was referring to in the diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shirl In Idaho

        The wage base is set right now at $106,800, indexed every year to go up with increases in average wages.  The traditional target is for the wage base to cover 90% of wages in the economy - we're probably at no more than 85% now, so even just getting it to 90% would do a lot - of course, it would mean the base would go up to probably $130 -$150K which would hit a lot of upper middle income people, a lot of Obama's political base, which is why he suggested his "doughnut hole" base increase, to increase it only for those making $250K and more.  There are a lot of problems from a tax perspective with that, though.

    •  What about this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilex

      http://www.nytimes.com/...

      WASHINGTON — For the first time in more than three decades, Social Security recipients will not get any increase in their benefits next year, federal forecasts show.

      There are several other recent healthcare/Medicare/Medicaid stories in the NYT in the past two weeks.

      One is about cutting Medicare.

      Another is about allowing corporations to go after employees who smoke, are overweight, and this is real stuff.  This is all being discussed!

      •  Broken link (0+ / 0-)

        and as a smoker, I say corps should be allowed to go after their workers who are health risks. If someone wants to discriminate against recreational drug use, smoking, alcohol, or overcomsumption of Twinkies, that's fine.

        If a doctor diagnoses someone's weight problem as simple overeating, and not an actual medical condition, and a company decides to fire them over it, that's their call.

        Harsh, but there's no law against it -- nor should there be. The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of freedom, right? The overweight person is free to overeat, and the corp is free to fire them for raising their health insurance costs.

        Of course we could get a public health care plan and nip this all in the bud. But until then, I can't say as I blame companies for unloading employees who jack up health care costs, especially when benefits now represent over 25% of salaries.

    •  The Ultimate Truth is found in "footnote b" -- (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, geordie, ilex

      on this page, which computes dates for trust fund exhaustion and the cutback in benefits thereafter.

      The important thing to know is that, despite the centrist seduction of the "intermediate cost" scenario, for the last 10 years, almost uniformly, the "low cost" scenario has been borne out as closer to the truth.

      So, what is the exhaustion date for the Social Security Trust Fund as reported today by the trustees?  That, my friends, brings us to the table projecting the health of Social Security out until 2083, that has a blank in the space giving the year in which the trust fund will be exhausted under the "low cost" scenario, except for a hyperlink to footnote b.

      And what does "footnote b" say?  It says:

      The fund is not estimated to be exhausted within the projection period.

      - Peace, NDd

      "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

      by New Deal democrat on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:32:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank You! Tipped and recd n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Why can't people donate their estates to OASI? (5+ / 0-)

    tax free..

    Lots of people who dont have kids would like to..after they are gone..

    Public Option is Unproven Experimental Procedure
    We KNOW that single payer WORKS!

    by Andiamo on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:26:29 PM PDT

  •  401k (8+ / 0-)
    Good overview!  Especially with 401ks no longer being a full solution, and pensions no longer existing, social security is even more important than ever

    One minor technical quibble.  The trust fund doesn't need to be paid back into 2026 or so, because interest income from the bonds plus the payroll taxes will be more than expenses until 2026.  The 2018 date only uses payroll taxes and expenses, but skips the interest from the bonds.

    "At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game." Sen. Ben Nelson

    by ferg on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:29:13 PM PDT

    •  401(k)s were never a full solution. (9+ / 0-)

      They are a huge scam brought about by the financial services industry to bring more cash to them and their cronies, the corporatists, by moving pension responsibilities from employers to employees.

      Most of the mid-range boomers didn't have long enough to work or make enough money to save any amount of money in the first place, and with the recent downturn of the market, lots of those gains are long gone. Many of us didn't even become eligible for our company 401(k)s until the mid-'90s. Unless you saved 50% of your pay, it would never be enough to retire on. Oh, unless you played the market, and not everyone is knowledgeable enough for that.

      They are possibly the biggest scam ever foisted on the baby boomers.

      And reliance on them is going to eventually lead to massive poverty in the elderly if we do not change some things in this country.

      "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

      by Brooke In Seattle on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:12:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Brooke In Seattle... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ferg, ilex

        Yep, a ReaGun scam to make middle class people think they were part of the "Wall Street" generation.  It allowed the corporations to be able to convince the unknowing that they were better off to invest their money than to have their company provide a lifetime pension!

        Ah... little did we trusting Americans know what they were doing to us.

  •  excellent explanation (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, sja, paige, victoria2dc

    I love it when I learn things here I had no real clue about.

    Thanks

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:30:06 PM PDT

  •  Agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sja, bfitzinAR

    Well said.  Recommended.

    Seat Al Franken! Boot Arlen Specter!

    by Paleo on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:30:31 PM PDT

  •  During one of my stints of unemployment (11+ / 0-)

    I took insurance licensing training (yes, I passed the test.  no, I never managed to actually sell any insurance) and discovered that Social Security retirement is just a life annuity with disability and dependent riders.  Well, a superior life annuity with disability and dependent riders since half the premiums are paid by the employer and it goes from job to job with the worker (and its administrative costs are about 10% of a "private" policy).  If I were a violent person, I'd slap the next person who called it an entitlement (and that includes President Obama).  FDR said when he signed it into law that he requested the employee input so that it could never be called an entitlement program (I'm paraphrasing here) - of course FDR wasn't up against modern day Rs (he had enough trouble with the ones of his own day, but at least the media didn't let them get away with just making stuff up all the time).

    I'm glad somebody knows Social Security is not in trouble and the only way to make it be in trouble is to let the Rs privatize it.

    •  Wrong definition of "entitlement." (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, Eddie in ME, Catte Nappe, bfitzinAR

      It IS an entitlement. People have paid in to the system, therefore, they are ENTITLED to draw benefits at the qualifying age.

      My mom never worked outside the home, she never paid in to Social Security, therefore she is NOT ENTITLED to draw benefits. It certainly isn't an entitlement program to her or anyone like her. You just don't run across them very often, so you probably don't even know they exist. They do.

      There is nothing wrong with using the word "entitlement" to describe these programs because that is exactly what they are. The problem is the same as "liberal" -- it has become a pejorative thanks to bad PR over the years from Republicans and Libertarians and uninformed Democrats, and thanks to an increasing lack of education about our language in the schools.

      So, slap if you must, but they ARE, by definition, entitlements.

      "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

      by Brooke In Seattle on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:50:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BfitzinAR... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bfitzinAR

      If I were a violent person, I'd slap the next person who called it an entitlement (and that includes President Obama).  FDR said when he signed it into law that he requested the employee input so that it could never be called an entitlement program (I'm paraphrasing here) - of course FDR wasn't up against modern day Rs (he had enough trouble with the ones of his own day, but at least the media didn't let them get away with just making stuff up all the time).

      Anyone who is disabled and had to fight for their insurance to pay them knows exactly what you're talking about.

      They are going to put the screws to that too... now they're talking about x number of fraud investigators, x number of disability determination people in the states... they'll change the rules again and make it more impossible for disabled people to collect on their own insurance.

      It's going to get worse before we can get rid of these politicians and replace them with people who are there to protect the constitution and work for the people of the USA.

      •  I sorry to say I know exactly what (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilex

        you are talking about.  Not only did we go through that in the months before my momma died, but I worked for a disability lawyer for two years.  Although actually I expect things to get better under Obama's administration.  The automatic first-round denial is a Republican invention - Social Security didn't do that under Bill Clinton and I'm hoping Obama will take Social Security back to the "Clinton" rules.

  •  I guess whoever wrote this is also wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    The financial condition of the Social Security and Medicare programs remains challenging. Projected long run program costs are not sustainable under current program parameters.

    The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

    by deathsinger on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:42:05 PM PDT

    •  NO, that's not true (7+ / 0-)

      You're singing the Peterson tune, but it's simply not true.  Projected long term program costs are perfectly sustainable, through some payroll tax increases (like raising the cap on wage taxes) and some general revenues infusions, and some economic growth.  Enough of the last, and we won't need the former.  

      •  The projections (both kinds) are bogus (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        opinionated, Ken in MN

        until we actually survive this economic downturn and have any kind of clue what our economy looks like and our currency, it's all myth.

        But I'll tell you this: FICA is regressive.  And having a cap on it is even more regressive.  Poor people pay for the bulk of it and they are the least able to pay.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        -Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:50:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Raising the cap makes it more progressive (8+ / 0-)

          It's actually a flat tax, and the effect is regressive, absolutely - but raising the cap would capture more upper income dollars, and that would NOT make it more regressive.  Just the opposite.

          •  it would also make it NOT (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rainmanjr

            a self financing system where what you get out is contingent on what you put it.

            you change the very nature of what it is.

            •  "Self-financing." What a hoot. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rainmanjr

              Medicare goes ON BUDGET in another five years or so?

              And any increase in our debt makes the problem worse?

              Social Security was great for the time.  But now I think, especially if we want to make American Industry recover, we need a national retirement plan that companies can buy into so that 1) retirement can't be raided by a company going into bankruptcy, 2) doesn't disappear if the company goes bust, 3) little companies can offer their people retirement, too, 4) there is a public option to 401(k)'s.

              Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
              I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
              -Spike Milligan

              by polecat on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:00:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  That's not the point (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ferg, polecat, opinionated, ilex

              Your benefits under Social Security are NOT based on what you pay in - they are based on your earnings, not on your taxes.  This is an important point that is usually missed in Social Security discussions - and in fact, the system gets non-payroll tax revenues from a number of sources, as I pointed out above.  In addition, when the program was enacted in the 1930's, the designers always anticipated that general income tax revenues would be needed to supplement the payroll tax eventually.  Adding general revenues, and raising the wage base, would have no effect on fundamental program principles.

            •  that's not what social security is (0+ / 0-)

              social security has always been a generational compact.  The workers of today support the retirees, so the workers of tomorrow will support them.

              That's how social security was designed at the very beginning.  There's zero change here.

              The taxes and benefits need to be tweaked every decade or so because of population changes or economic growth.  That's part of the design of social security, and was intended from the beginning.  The tweaks we may need to make in a decade or so, like eliminating the fica cap, are perfectly normal, and part of the original design.

              "At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game." Sen. Ben Nelson

              by ferg on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:24:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  No, it is still regressive, just as all flat (0+ / 0-)

            taxes are, but it somewhat less so by not having a cap (and thus having rich people pay a larger amount).

            But to make it actually progressive, you'd have to get less from the poor folk than the flat amount.

            So we can violently agree with each other.

            Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
            I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
            -Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:57:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Of course, you ignore ROI (0+ / 0-)

            The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

            by deathsinger on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:02:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ??? ROI ??? return on investment ??? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ilex

              Retirees On Ibuprofin?

              Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
              I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
              -Spike Milligan

              by polecat on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:04:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Return on Investment (0+ / 0-)

                In this case meaning return on taxes paid.  If you make $20,000 per annum SS has a fairly decent return.  You make the maximum and it sucks.  (If you prefer return on taxes (ROT)

                Example

                Payback for 2012 Retirees
                Unmarried, maximum earners may actually get a negative return on their contributions. For example, a maximum-earning, single worker retiring at 66 in 2015 will need 47.1 years to get back his and his employer's taxes (compared to 25.3 years for a married retiree with a noncontributing spouse).

                Moderate-income workers will do better. A single worker with average earnings retiring at 66 in 2015 will need 29 years to get back combined employee-employer taxes, while a couple with a noncontributing spouse retiring with average earnings will require 17.1 years.

                Low income earners do much better than moderate income earners.

                The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

                by deathsinger on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:32:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I quoted the third and fourth sentence from the (0+ / 0-)

        Trustees Report.  Glad to know that you are more knowledgeable then they are.

        The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

        by deathsinger on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:01:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's not a stretch (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          opinionated

          I would bet that that I have forgotten more about Social Security than Geithner, et al, the titular Trustees, will ever know.  Obviously I don't know more than the actuaries, but you left out the part of their statement that I quote above, suggesting the kinds of changes that could be made to address any possible financing shortfall over the long term.  In addition, all of these estimates are highly volatile once you get more than 25 years out - it was not so long ago that the trustees report only looked at 25 years because the actuaries felt any period beyond that was too much of a guessing game.

  •  A simple suggestion (0+ / 0-)

    Raise the age at which one is eligible for the OASI and Medicare benefits to, e.g., 73 or 75.

    Lower everyone's taxes to reflect the reduced expected payouts.

    Smiting trolls on the tubes since 1977!

    by blue aardvark on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:43:32 PM PDT

    •  And those of us over 50 (4+ / 0-)

      who can't get work or afford insurance now?

      What shall we do for the next 25 years? I mean, besides die?

      "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

      by Brooke In Seattle on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:51:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh really? (6+ / 0-)

      I think you're on the wrong web site - this is a progressive site, not Red State.  Making people work until 75 is simply impossible - for one thing, who is going to employ them?  People being laid off at 55 are finding it extremely difficult to find people willing to hire "older workers" - who's going to hire a 70 year old, in any job other than WalMart greeter at $6 an hour?  Ridiculous suggestion.  And I speak as someone who worked on the law to raise the age to 67 in 1983 - it's not "raising the age", it's a benefit cut, as we cannot force people to keep working, and if they lose their jobs, they have to take Social Security to stay alive.  I know this from personal family experience as well as years of work in the field.

    •  Rethink that (5+ / 0-)

      I've had numerous conversations with people approaching retirment age (not that I'm all that far from there myself). There is a substantial difference in ability to keep working between, say, a college prof and a roofer. 73 is a ridiculously high age to expect many people to keep working.

      "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." Ogden Nash (on universal health care?)

      by Catte Nappe on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:59:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am 67. I could not hold down (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, Brooke In Seattle, ilex

      the kind of job I held at 50, my mental and physical faculties would not permit it.  Would you have me sit in my walker and hand out flyers at the grocery store/

      the answer is NOt to make people work longer.  the answer is to have the cap removed on paying into the system.

  •  I don;t think it wold take much to successfully (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revgerry, ilex

    reframe SS, considering that people are so petrified of losing it.

    Ablington is a scab at the bending factory. Relentless!

    by ablington on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:44:55 PM PDT

  •  A very fine diary (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    I do not believe you can be too early in debunking lies and other untruths.

    Already Bloomberg TV is scrolling across its screen that Social Security will be bankrupt in 2037.

    Remember there are three kinds of lies; lies, damn lies, and Republican Party talking points.

  •  2037 is the new date (0+ / 0-)

    It's already the top story on Google news.

    Seat Al Franken! Boot Arlen Specter!

    by Paleo on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:45:32 PM PDT

    •  getting closer fast (0+ / 0-)

      in 2008 it was 2041 = 33 years away

      in 2009 it is 2037 = 28 years away

      •  2039, if diarist is correct (0+ / 0-)

        The OASI fund, without the DI fund combined with it, would be exhausted by 2039.

        "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." Ogden Nash (on universal health care?)

        by Catte Nappe on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:03:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i was speaking of this section (0+ / 0-)

          of the report

          The year-by-year relationship between income and cost rates shown in figure II.D2 illustrates the expected pattern of cash flows for the OASDI program over the full 75-year period. Under the intermediate assumptions, the OASDI cost rate is projected to increase rapidly and first exceed the income rate in 2016, producing cash-flow deficits thereafter. Redemption of trust fund assets will allow continuation of full benefit payments on a timely basis until 2037, when the trust funds are projected to become exhausted.

          and comparing it to the same section from last year.

  •  Why did Al Gore want a lock box? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yoduuuh do or do not

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Tue May 12, 2009 at 12:46:27 PM PDT

  •  Answer to your question... (0+ / 0-)

    does any Democrat seriously think it's a good idea, in policy or in politics - to cut Social Security benefits to in effect pay for the banker bailouts and bonuses?  

    I can think of one, the President.  He talks about balancing the budget, or getting closer to that, by "entitlement reform."   Just what do you think that means......higher pensions or medical outlays?

    Don't be silly.  Entitlement reform means cutting social security benefits to pay for the bankers bailouts.

    •  Enititlement reform could mean giving more to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, Brooke In Seattle

      people that need it.

      The definition of "Reform" is sufficiently vague as to be meaningless -- like "change."

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:07:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He has been very clear that that's Medicare (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, Catte Nappe, Brooke In Seattle, ilex

      Obama has said repeatedly - as recently as his townhall last week, for the 100th day thing - that his focus is Medicare, and that he would fix Social Security by raising the wage base, not raising the retirement age or cutting benefits in some other way.  It's his staff I don't trust and you're right to be suspicious of them - Summers in particular, and the OMB people below Orszag, are bad eggs in this respect.

  •  It would seem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilex

    It would seem then that the reasonable course would be to decrease war profiteering in favor of securing long-term security for American citizens. That doesn't appear to be a difficult decision.

  •  I'm more concerned about inflation. (0+ / 0-)

    If we see serious inflation, SS payments will have to go up significantly to maintain the same quality of living for recipients.  That means we're either going to see a very large increase in elderly poverty or the fund will be exhausted much sooner.

    •  not really (0+ / 0-)

      Because Social Security is funded by todays payroll taxes, any general inflation will also inflate salaries and automatically raise the amount from the taxes.  So inflation isn't a problem for Social Security.

      It's wage stagnation that's the big problem.  If working people aren't getting raises, or the unemployment situation gets worse, then the payroll taxes paying for Social Security would be a lower.

      "At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game." Sen. Ben Nelson

      by ferg on Tue May 12, 2009 at 01:30:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yea, inflation should be our big worry (0+ / 0-)

      Unemployment at 8.9 percent.

      SP/Schiller-Case Home Price Index at 144.56 (Composite 20) in February 2009; down from 206.10 in May 2006 - an almost 30 percentage point drop in the index.

      Watchout - inflation is on the way.

  •  Good ammo against media hype and lies. Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    for this important diary.

  •  The problem with republicans... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilex

    ...is that when faced with problems with "entitlement programs" (which arguably neither SS nor Medicare are), they have no interest in fixing the problems.  Their solution is to get rid of the system entirely.

    There are very good reasons these programs exist, and unless we want to learn them all over again, we have got to stop viewing them as anything CLOSE to optional.

    You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

    by DawnG on Tue May 12, 2009 at 02:28:04 PM PDT

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