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U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) holds the gavel during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 6, 2012.      REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Barney Frank, the next senator from Massachusetts?
If former Rep. Barney Frank does get an interim appointment until a more permanent replacement to fill Sen. John Kerry's seat is elected, he has a plan for dealing with the nightmare fiscal scenario created for the country in the coming few months with the forestalled fiscal cliff. He's advocating for progressive Social Security reform to be part of the mix.
Simply put, he thinks Democrats should push for additional revenue through an increase in the payroll tax for upper-income earners--not just the very rich, but also the near-rich who made out quite well  in last week's fiscal cliff deal. With President Obama backing off of his original pledge to raise tax rates on family incomes over $250,000 and shifting the threshold to $450,000, the Democrats left vitally needed revenues on the table. The answer for the next round is clear, says Frank: Get more money out of the exempted swath of income—from both those whose incomes fall within that window and above it—via the payroll tax.

"We did not get at taxes between $250,000 and $450,000, which makes it good territory for putting it out for the Social Security payroll tax base…There is a segment of income from people who make between $250,000 and $450,000 who we think could sustain an increase in taxes," he said. "If they had been [hit with an income tax increase] I'd say we don't want to double-hit these guys, but now it's a second cut at the apple for this [income range] in a politically popular way, to protect Social Security rather than taking it out on the old woman in Boston living on $15,000 a year."

That last bit of the quote is in reference to the chained CPI, the currently in vogue "solution" to extending the life of Social Security. The current payroll tax cap is $113,000—anyone making more than that pays payroll taxes on just that amount and the rest is clear. It is revenue ripe for the picking, and far more equitable approach to shoring up Social Security than shrinking benefits.

A Sen. Frank, with no real allegiances within the Senate, no need to make friends there, and nothing to lose by raising a little hell could be just the ticket for some common sense Social Security reform.

Sign our petition asking Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint Barney Frank interim U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 02:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The new middle income (31+ / 0-)

    The republicans were declaring that $400K is a middle income salary. Let's hold them to that and increase the Social Security cap to that level.

    "Humankind cannot bear very much reality." - T.S. Eliot

    by fixxit on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:06:31 PM PST

    •  Smack in the middle of the top 1 per cent (12+ / 0-)

      Even $250,000 is within the top 2%.  Preposterous that the GOP would call either "middle income."

      If just a portion of people making more than $100,000 would speak up about the need for tax increases to pay for needed services, it would make a huge difference in the debate.

      Taxes are important. Our infrastructure is crumbling and it's time to re-invest. Where I come from, we call that "you get what you pay for."

    •  I am in the middle quintile of earners (6+ / 0-)

      (that is "the middle one" for the math challenged, in case any GOPers are reading)

      I don't make anywhere near $400k.

      ad astra per alia porci

      by harrije on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:03:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  lets hold them to that (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hnichols, dservgun, little lion, BusyinCA

      And demand a commensurate rise in the minimum wage!

    •  Barney Frank's proposal is excellent. I hope he... (11+ / 0-)

      is selected as the short-term Senator from Mass.
      He knows first-hand how Congress works, knows the people there & knows how to create financial solutions.
      It would be a great way to end his career - working hand-in-hand with Elizabeth Warren. They could become the dynamic duo to bring the nation back to economic health.
      Frank could be a mentor to Warren during this interim, even though he served in the other body. He had to work with the Senate during his entire Congressional career.

      I share a birthday with John Lennon and Bo Obama.

      by peacestpete on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:31:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have heard that $400,000 has the same (0+ / 0-)

      buying power as $250,000 did during Clinton's adm.

      If this is true, then our tax rates and amounts being taxed is the same as during the 1990s.

      In places like the northeast and west coast $400,000 is middle class due to the cost of living in those places.

      It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:50:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The median salary of NYC (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        abs0628, fixxit, redlum jak

        metropolitan area workers is a shade above $50,000. Trust me, I've lived here my whole life and most friends make nothing near $400,000, most average less than $150,000 per couple. They are home/condo owners in nice neighborhoods and are doing just fine. $400,000 is a dream that %98 of NYers will never realize in their lives. If you make over $250,000 no matter where you live in America you're doing fine and can well afford another %3-4. A couple of fancy dinner dates skipped is nothing compared with the sacrifices forced on the lower classes. Remember, the proposed taxes would only be on anything above the first $100,000 which they already are paying, it's not like the proposal would increase their taxes on their total income.

        •  Well said -- soooo sick of this BS argument (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fixxit

          I've lived in WDC/NYC/Boston for combined 20 years -- all super high cost of living areas. As you say the vast majority of folks in cities like this live on much much less than 100k annually -- and we all manage (some better than others).

          The notion that folks making several hundred thousand dollars annually in these cities are in any way struggling -- well sure maybe they're struggling to buy a bigger house or send their kid(s) to private school -- but those are choices that most of us can only dream of and more to the point it is not our job to make it easier for you to upsize or pull your kids out of public school.

          Especially when we have, as my hopefully soon to be interim Senator Barney Frank says, elderly people in Boston living on 15k annually choosing between rent, medicine and heat. Seriously, the yuppies can suck it up and pay their share, for crying out loud!

          "The country we carry in our hearts is waiting." ~ Bruce Springsteen

          by abs0628 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:19:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Is the $50,000 for people who actually live in NYC (0+ / 0-)

          or just for workers who may live elsewhere?

          It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

          by auapplemac on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 09:14:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is the most rational approach (18+ / 0-)

    to fixing this issue which unfortunately usually means that it has no chance in hell of being adopted.

  •  Does this mean raise the payroll cap? (14+ / 0-)

    If so, then I agree.

    We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

    by i understand on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:18:23 PM PST

  •  Why alienate the upper middle class? (5+ / 0-)

    Or whatever label you want to apply to those in the $113k-$450k income levels. Speaking electorally, there's a lot of votes and donations there, so why would Democrats want to piss them off if it can be avoided?

    What about a Middle Class Social Security tax holiday? Let the SS withholding tax end at $113k, but then it kicks in again at a higher level, say, $450k, with NO cap above that. This gives a nice little tax break to all those small business owners, "job creators", etc., whom we've been told to place on a pedestal, while raising a decent amount of money to devote to a SS fix from those who can most easily afford it.

    Is there any reason why this wouldn't work? And would anyone other than the craziest of Teabagger Congressmen vote against it?

    •  alienate them? (21+ / 0-)

      sorry, but down here below 100K, my partner is going to be paying a tax increase (FICA). and I'm unemployed. Since it's gonna hit us, I don't feel really sorry for people making over a quarter of a million a year taking the same exact hit.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:38:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So is everyone else with an income. (6+ / 0-)

        The temporary FICA reduction in the stimulus package was designed to be just that--temporary. That is a completely different issue from dealing with the strains caused by all of the baby boomers who are now beginning to retire in some numbers.

        •  Strains caused by the baby boomers? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob, cybersaur

          Nah. Strains caused by the looting of our Treasury for tax breaks and useless wars--as well as by the crappy gutless way our government has been around the issues of Medicare, health care reform generally, and controlling health care costs in particular.

          And no, I don't just mean Obama; I'm talking about over the last 12-13 years. That whole Medicare part D thing was ridiculous.

          Honestly, if the government could stop engineering massive giveaways to individuals and companies that are already really REALLY rich, maybe we could pay for things that most of us agree are valuable and worth spending some money on.

          if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:42:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Indeed, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SouthernLiberalinMD

            what you point out is a long-term problem, and Medicare D (D for Deficit? Debt?) was truly ridiculous.  Thank you Billy Tauzin, GWB and the GOP Congress.

            That said, Obama's problem is that, AFAIK, he never even proposed revamping Medicare D -- for example, to allow the .gov to negotiate prescription drug prices.  And that's because he made a temporarily-secret deal with Big Pharma that if they didn't oppose what became the ACA, he wouldn't push for that.

            Which, in my book, is a failure of leadership.

        •  yeah, I know. (0+ / 0-)

          I just don't see why I should be overwhelmed with pity for people who are making 1/4 million/year, when I'm trying to support 3 adults on around 120K.

          if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:44:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Alienate me? (15+ / 0-)

      Yes, me. I "cap out", and have for the past 2-3 years. OK, I may lose my job this year, but even if it happens as looks likely, I will cap out before that happens. I thought the 2% "holiday" was a bad idea, and I think the $113K limit is even more stupid.

      Don't assume that if someone makes over that limit that "they" (we) will be alienated, or not vote Dem, or not donate. It's not the case at all. Many of us are offended by it, in fact, because we're the closest to it. We do rely on social security to be there for our own retirement, we know people on disability who depend on it entirely - we "get it" that it matters, and "get it" that the line separating us from those who don't cap out is a fictitious one indeed.

      It's not a huge benefit to me to cap out - I don't make so much money that the few months without that 6.2% tax makes a huge difference in my standard of living. It won't even pay for a decent vacation, really. It's a few more groceries - but we're OK for groceries. It strikes me as manifestly unfair, really, that I get to stop paying.

      I have an alternate proposal, though - what about giving everyone a break on the first $30K of their income, and then taxing (at present rates) up through $500K? Or maybe no cap at all?

      "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

      by paxpdx on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:04:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are unusually altruistic. (0+ / 0-)

        And that is absolutely a compliment. But most people in your bracket are not so inclined, and my proposal is as much political as it is actuarial, so as to attract their support.

        •  I don't think so... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, MPociask, BusyinCA

          And that's not been my experience, either. And trust me, I work with some pretty conservative folks, most of whom make more than me, but still mostly below $300K. "Free money," as Rabel described it below, pretty much sums it up. The difference - we see it, because our checks aren't so huge that it's entirely unnoticeable - but we also get it that what is a little bonusy to us is really significant to others.

          At higher incomes, where people perhaps "pay" only a check or two per year, maybe it'd be more dramatic. For those of us who pay into it most of the year before we cap out, we know that those extra few hundred dollars (or whatever) isn't a good thing. How can I say "Oh, it's my Christmas present money" when a colleague doing pretty much the same thing I do, but a couple years more junior, doesn't get it? It would make me feel a little slimy to be celebrating that extra bump, honestly, when some of my peers don't get it.

          We're not rich, but we know a bit more about how tenuous paychecks can be, I guess. So raise the cap, and make more people more stable.

          "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

          by paxpdx on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 05:11:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know what you mean (0+ / 0-)

            I cap out near the end of the summer each year (earlier if I'm doing better) and it almost does feel a little shady.. knowing that almost everyone else is paying

          •  And Rush Limbaugh caps out (0+ / 0-)

            before his first hour of work is done on Jan. 1 of each year.  Just past the first half-hour in fact.

            Assumption 1: The drug-addled gasbag has a $400M annual contract.  I think that's right.

            Assumption 2: The drug-addled gasbag works a 2000-hour year.  That's actually a highly dubious assumption; I suspect it's significantly less.  In which case he caps out well before that first half-hour of work is done on Jan. 1 (okay, Jan. 2, assuming he's back on the air after the legal holiday).

            Those assumptions yield an hourly compensation of $200,000.

            This is a semi-random thought.  If I weren't fatigue-addled myself I'd find a better way of making it on-topic....  but the bottom line, there's no good reason why incomes like this shouldn't be taxed to pay for decent retirements for normal people.

      •  Same here (8+ / 0-)

        Lonemorriscodem isn't right, at least from my perspective and from people I know who all hit the income cap.  Raise it, we don't care.  It's free money as far as we're concerned when all of a sudden you start getting a little more in your paycheck because you've hit the cap.

        I would say that we should also raise the total amount one can receive from SS based on the income level you've been contributing at. That will make an increase in the payroll tax cap more easily accepted by people making more than $110,000 per year. Raise the cap and raise the maximum benefit amount as well.

        I also don't think the cap should be extended to more than $250,000 or so because once you're making more than $250,000 per year (or 300k, or up to 450k) you have your own sources of retirement income and the money you get from SS when you retire is absolutely, definitely, your money that you deserve (assuming you contributed to SS through payroll taxes) but it's probably just "extra" money you're getting on top of maxed-out 401(k)'s, investment income, etc...  

        Which is the whole point of the payroll cap.  People making a lot of money just don't benefit very much from the benefits they receive from SS when they retire and I sympathize a little bit with them saying that it's somewhat unfair.

        Anyway, this is a great idea and Barney Frank is just the guy to promote this progressive idea.

        [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

        by rabel on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:42:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ditto. Eom. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rabel, ferg

          When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

          by Bisbonian on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:45:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Same here too... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rabel, MPociask, No Exit, BusyinCA, paxpdx

          I know this sounds stupid and callous to those for whom a few extra hundred a month around the holidays would be a godsend, but I actually find the income cap more annoying than anything.

          It seems like once I finally get used to my higher take-home pay, then BAM, January brings a tax increase and I need to adjust my expense budget again.

          I also agree that there's no need to raise the cap beyond $250k.  This is meant to be a pension contribution from working people's wages, and if you're making more than $250k/year then it's likely that you're not making that much from working a day job as somebody else's employee.

          The political cover for raising the cap is the statistical evidence that higher-income workers tend to live longer lives.  So even if you don't increase the benefits for higher incomes, you can make the argument that they will get more out of social security because they will draw from it longer than those who made less money.

          I've hit the cap sometime around August for the last 3-4 years, and I'm telling you, lifting the cap is NOT a big deal to those in my income bracket, and is a no-brainer way to solve social security's problems forever.

          (One thing I would like to see considered, though, is raising the income cap but compensate for that somewhat by slightly lowering the contribution percentage.  I can tell you that I would much rather pay 5% or 5.5% year-round than 6% for only 7-8 months out of the year.  This would actually be a tax decrease for over 90% of Americans, but I think it could actually increase Social Security's revenues overall).

      •  How about... (0+ / 0-)

        get rid of the payroll tax altogether and just raise the income tax 7.5% (warning: back of envelope math) across the board?  This would make the overall tax system much more progressive and would implement a sort of "automatic" payroll tax cut in times of recession.

      •  Waiving tax on lower end -- yes (0+ / 0-)

        As paxpdx mentioned, another angle at this is waiving the tax on the first 30k or 25k of income, which would help everyone at the lower and lower/middle end of the scale a whole heck of a lot. I would totally support this as long as it was paired with a robust maybe muti-tier tax on the above 113k range to compensate. It would make FICA much more progressive -- and it would be a HUGE stimulus bc all those folks for whom the waiving of the tax would mean more money to spend on necessities and are struggling to get by on 30k or 50k, this would inject a ton of $$$ and fast into our economy.

        "The country we carry in our hearts is waiting." ~ Bruce Springsteen

        by abs0628 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:26:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  alienate them? (10+ / 0-)

      Give me a break.  My crappy GOP governor raised my taxes so he could cut taxes on business and the rich.   I got back another tax increase when the payroll tax expired.   Why aren't you worried about alienating me?

      Screw em.  Raise the payroll cap and sign the petition.   We want to throw as much sh!t into the GOP's game as possible.  

      What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

      by dkmich on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:04:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Willie Sutton approach. (8+ / 0-)

      We have to go where the money is.  There are a lot more people in the $113 - $450K bracket than there are in the higher echelons.  If you can get $10 from 100,000 people, you are better off than getting $20 from 10,000 people.

      I capped out last year, for the first time.  Surprised the hell out of me, and I went to our corporate payroll people to investigate because I was afraid they had screwed up my health insurance deductions or something.  

      The extra money was nice, especially around Christmas.  But I didn't need it, could have done just as well without it, and it isn't something that most people budget on.  Most people budget based on their normal paycheck, and when the cap hits toward the end of the year, it is just a nice little surprise, nothing more.

      I am not alienated.  Raise the cap.  I'll give cookies next Christmas.

      "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." -Thomas Paine

      by sierrak9s on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:34:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A better idea... (5+ / 0-)

      why don't we exempt the first $25k of earnings and remove the cap altogether?

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:35:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some proposals cap out at a certain salary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      basket, BusyinCA

      and then pick back up at a higher rate - in other words you pay incrementally after a certain point which means that you potentially earn more from SS at retirement if you make a higher salary.  These increases are not without reward for people who are paying in - even for the high earners.

      Given the new and breath-takingly extreme range of potential earnings, the current cap seems incredibly low.

      Also FWIW - People making $400,000 a year who fall prey to a bad investment - like the entire stock market was as we saw in 2008 - would likely be pretty happy to have more from the reliable Social Security fund to help maintain their lifestyle.

      My parents managed to put together a pretty healthy 401k and Mutual Fund retirement package for themselves and retired just two short years before the market crashed.  That Social Security was super important to them for a while and they've never accrued the original value of their market holdings that they had prior to the market crash partly because they had to use more funds because of the crash and partly because the rebound didn't hit 20% which is about what they lost.  

      Meanwhile... Social Security stayed consistent.

    •  I don't really feel bad for them. (0+ / 0-)

      As someone who is currently struggling and unemployed, I see nothing wrong with making the upper middle class pay more.

       If alienating them means saving Social Security and progressive taxation, then so be it.

      •  People pay into SS so they receive back (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lonemorriscodem

        a guaranteed pension based on their earnings - it's an ingenious system designed to reward people as they make more but topping out at a reasonable amount so the system isn't paying gargantuan monthly payments. The fastest way to destroy it is to start forcing people to pay into it without awarding them commensurate increases in their benefits when they retire. At that point more people will look at it as welfare, which it isn't. Just give the right-wing that meme to run with. Up until now they've not been successful in peddling it - after forcing this on people they will.

        There are a lot better ways to provide for the long-term health of SS than by foisting off this dumb plan on higher income earners.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:59:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who cares what the right-wing thinks? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NonnyO, cybersaur

          I'm not saying that upper middle class people shouldn't reap the benefits of Social Security. I know they pay into it too.

           With that said and after reading your reply, I STILL don't feel bad for high income earners. If they buy into the right-wing's memes, then we know their true colors.

           What would be a better solution then that won't rip off poor, working and regular middle class people? Anything that favors high income people I personally reject by default. They have enough in their favor already.

          •  Puffed up with hubris (0+ / 0-)

            I've seen every newly-elected President and their "coalition" babble the same crap about SS - and fail.

            "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

            by Shane Hensinger on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:31:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Then what's your solution? (0+ / 0-)

              Clearly you don't care what happens to people like me who aren't high income.

            •  And what hubris? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NonnyO

              I'm angry about economic inequality. I don't see how opposing that is hubris. I fully support Social Security.

              •  How does taxing income (0+ / 0-)

                without paying additional benefits, which is the point of Social Security because it's not a parallel progressive tax system, going to address "economic inequality?"

                "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                by Shane Hensinger on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:39:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Here's my understanding. (0+ / 0-)

                  People of all incomes get the same benefits from Social Security, right? Why should people with higher incomes get more benefits? Why not support that with a progressive taxation system instead of letting high income people off the hook?

                   I'm not an economist, so I don't know. I resent that idea that high income people deserve more from Social Security or that in this recession that they shouldn't pay more since they make more.

                   Why not just set up a flat tax then if you want to save high income people from progressive taxation? Granted that would be horrible, but is that what you want?

                  •  No - Social Security benefits RISE (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    DSPS owl

                    the more you pay into the system - they are not equal at all. There's a maximum and a minimum and levels in between based on income earned over your lifetime. So it does depend on how much you pay.

                    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                    by Shane Hensinger on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:53:20 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That's true. (0+ / 0-)

                      I was just reading up on how it works, trying to education myself. Apparently FICA is a regressive tax. The way I see it, changing it to progressive taxation during and hopefully after the recession sounds like a good idea. Make high people pay more since they earn more. They can afford to pay into it at higher rates.

                       Perhaps it should become a system that benefits everyone equally with a progressive tax.

                      •  *educate myself (0+ / 0-)

                        Ugh. I'm so worked up over this. I'm sick of the rich getting their way and low income people getting the short end of the stick because of this country's love affair with those said rich people.

                        •  FDR put Social Security in place (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          DSPS owl

                          He was hardly a Republican shilling for the wealthy. He recognized that this was the best way of making sure everyone felt they were part of the program. The surest way to destroy it is to turn into what can be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a welfare program.

                          "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                          by Shane Hensinger on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:24:43 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I know the history. (0+ / 0-)

                            I know what Social Security does. I just wasn't clear on how FICA worked.

                             Anyhow I have no good answers of my own.

                          •  One last thought. (0+ / 0-)

                            Keep in mind Shane none of this is personal. I don't know you outside of DailyKos, so I can't judge your character.

                             If Social Security as a whole and FICA in particular could be turned into a thoroughly progressive system, in other words if it had a progressive tax scheme and distributed benefits equally, that seems like it would be an improvement over what we have now.

                             I can't bring myself to feel any concern for high income people. They can afford higher taxes and already have a plethora of tax cuts in their favor. Reducing the burden on the rest of us and making sure we all equally benefit from Social Security sounds way more important than high income people saving more money or what the right-wing thinks.

                          •  It's similar to all other pension plans (0+ / 0-)

                            The more you pay into the system, the more you get out. I like it that way and I don't want to change it - other than maybe increasing the tax so the system is viable for 100 years. It's not a progressive income tax not should it be - we do not need two progressive income tax systems operating in tandem.

                            "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

                            by Shane Hensinger on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:08:24 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

  •  is there a graphic somewhere that will show (4+ / 0-)

    how a cap increase bolsters social security and by how much and how long?

    because jesus god, there sure needs to be one if there isn't already.

    this is not an argument we need to be having, it should be painfully obvious.

    I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

    by wretchedhive on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:33:51 PM PST

  •  Social Security is not in crisis. Social Security (9+ / 0-)

    does not need saving.

    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 Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:45:58 PM PST

    •  "Tweeking".... n/t (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hnichols, Eyesbright, rabel, Onomastic, ferg

      “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

      by LamontCranston on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:48:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Social Security will be in crisis, i.e. having to (9+ / 0-)

      cut payments, in a measurable time -- 30 years?  Unless we tweek it.  Waiting til the last minute is ineffective and foolish.  Let's begin building the needed buffer.

      Barney Frank's proposal is excellent.

      --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

      by Fiona West on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:02:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of assumptions there. LOTS. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quill, MPociask, equern

        First, the projected shortfall is built on assumptions that the economy will hover on the edge of recession for the next 25 years straight. An economy that grows at a healthy historical average rate sees no shortfall, ever.

        Secondly, there's nothing foolish or ineffective about waiting to the last minute - because when SS "saves for the future", it simply loans money to general government, who spends it on current operations. "Saving ahead", rather than maintaining pay-as-you-go, is what created this political crisis in the first place, by creating a large intergovernmental debt on which the political mandarins of both parties want to find a sneaky way to default one. Doing something to "save" Social Security now would, instead, make that intergovenmental debt, and the incentive for politicians to find a way to discretely void it, even larger.

        Government is not a household. Reasoning about "saving ahead" which applies to household finances turns about to be absurd when it comes to governments.

        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 Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:14:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wrong. Wrong. And Wrong. (4+ / 0-)

          The date the projected shortfall occurs has been adjusted from 2032 to 2031.  That's just prudent economic forecasting and is absolutely NOT based on the current economy hovering on the edge of recession as you have been told.  The 2032 projection has been in place for a decade at least.

          It is absolutely foolish to wait until the last minute.  Geeze, I don't understand why I'd have to explain that to anyone.

          The surplus money that the Social Security Trust receives is invested in government securities. These are the safest investments on the planet and there's nothing wrong or foolish with that plan.

          For a huge benefit system like Social Security you have to save those surpluses to use when there is more outgo than income, such as when the baby boom generation starts collecting. That's really all there is to it.

          Finally, there is absolutely nothing, NOTHING, wrong with intergovernmental debt.  What the hell are you talking about?  

          Wait a minute... is that troll toe jam I smell?

          [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

          by rabel on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:49:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The *sole* reason we're talking about now is (0+ / 0-)

            the purely political crisis of the fact that FICA, which had for decades provided, via its surplus, a revenue stream for general government, will cease doing so, and Social Security will be expecting repayment of that loan, so SS becomes a net negative cash flow on general governance. So politicians of both parties are looking for a back-door way to default on that intergovernmental loan. That is the only reason people across the political spectrum are looking for ways to cut SS benefits is that they don't want the FICA gravy train to stop, and don't want to have to pay back SS what they owe it.

            All "fixing it now" does is restore the gravy train cash flow to the  DC crooks who want to suck on the FICA tit for a few decades longer - and merely kicks the ball down the road while increasing the political incentive to stiff SS.

            Oh, and on the troll accusation - mind yourself.

            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 Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:21:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, and your claim about the economic forecasting (0+ / 0-)

            being prudent is irrelevant - because it doesn't speak to the assumptions behind the forecasts. If you dig into the numbers, the projections about SS and Medicare's futures are based on long term GDP and wage growth rates that are abysmal; Medicare's assumptions are compounded with unrealistic assumptions about interest rates and the % of GDP spent on medical care growing without limit (an obvious absurdity).

            As for the numbers being stable for a decade, that's bullshit. Going back to the Greenspan reform, the "SS runs out of money date" has always been "25 years from now", plus or minus a few, precisely because the economic projections used by the SS Trustees are so unrealistically dismal; the economy always outperforms the projections, and the "insolvency" date gets pushed off. The only reason they've been stable recently is because, for once, because of the Great Recessions, our economic growth rates have mirrored the assumptions the SS trustees use.

            There have been multiple diaries on this subject by Bruce Webb, the front pagers, and the like. Fucking read them before you start pretending to be informed enough to sniff out trolls.

            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 Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:29:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Meme Kill Alert! (0+ / 0-)

          Can we PLEASE (pretty, pretty please?) come up with an effective meme that KILLS the meme equating government finances and household finances?

          A government is NOT a household.

          Their finances are NOT managed in the same manner.

          We need to stress this at EVERY opportunity, and can not be stressed enough.

          What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

          by equern on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 10:14:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It does need reform though (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gosoxataboy

      We shouldn't let things become a "Crisis", we should act before it becomes one.

      •  There never will be a crisis. (0+ / 0-)

        Shortfall looks 1-2 years off, raise FICA. No crisis.

        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 Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:16:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And when the mass of baby boomers retire (0+ / 0-)

          and there are insufficient new workers and jobs to make up the difference?

          •  Yes. Because, once again, if you plug historical (0+ / 0-)

            average GDP and wage growth into the models, there is no shortfall.

            The notion that the boomers' retirement is a problem is a red herring. The boomers' retirement is accounted for (hence the Greenspan reform and the growth of the trust fund above the 1-year reserve level).

            Even in the scenario the SS Trustees paint, using unrealistically dismal economic projections, the shortfall in SS' ability to meet promised benefits amounts to about 2 points of increased FICA on both worker and employer - substantially softened if the cap has been raised to keep pace with the historical goal of capturing 90% of wages.

            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 Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 09:59:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  And it doesn't seem like he's advocating (4+ / 0-)

    raising FICA. It seems like he's saying "raise the payroll tax for the rich because we can't manage it on income taxes". Is he advocating using payroll as a backdoor income tax?

    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 Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:47:36 PM PST

  •  2 things. 1). The government just needs to pay (6+ / 0-)

    back its debts and we're fine for another 30 years and 2). Let's stop playing with the cap, get rid of it entirely, it's regressive and quite frankly offensive.

  •  FDR was smart not to make Social Security a (8+ / 0-)

    general welfare program supported out of income tax, but to make it a social insurance program in which people pay on a portion of their income and collect in accordance with what they pay.  It has helped keep SS form being undermined in periods when welfare programs have been under attack.  It sets SS apart and helps protect it.

    All the same, there's been a lot of inflation since the 40's, and a general drift upward in our social stratification.  The role that millionaires used to fill is now filled by billionaires and multi-billionaires.  It's time for the cap to rise significantly.  I don't think it should be done away with -- but definitely raised.

    --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

    by Fiona West on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:07:50 PM PST

  •  How much are the Senators "Welfare" costing us? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allenjo, little lion, No Exit, NonnyO

    Healthcare, Pensions, wages for not working......Put THAT on the table!

    "Much violence is based on the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not to be shared. " ~ Henri Nouwen

    by Paddy999 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:08:03 PM PST

    •  Badly needed reforms for congress are needed (0+ / 0-)

      and particularly the taxpayer funded trips on the military's luxury jets, staffed with their own doctor, less they get a headache, and the jet filled with booze. Staying at luxury hotels on the taxpayers.

      Congressional Junkets and all the trips their staffers take, should be taken away until the economy improves, at the very least.

      And reworking their overly generous pensions, their gym and trainers, their beauty and barber shops, the free health clinic -and on and on it goes.

      A now all in the senate - all 100 of them have their hidie-hole suites in the basement -  as expensive as office space in DC is, all that square footage could certainly be put to better use for other needed federal offices, and why do senators need to hide away while they are "working" anyway?

      "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

      by allenjo on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 05:14:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would LOVE to see Barney Frank in the Senate. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tom Anderson

    But if he runs,does that mean he's out of the House too if he loses?  We can't afford to lose him altogether!

    --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

    by Fiona West on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:12:37 PM PST

  •  No cap for anyone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib, No Exit

    We all benefit from SS. We should all be paying in and, likely, paying more. It's all of our responsibility.

    •  There's a cap on benefits (5+ / 0-)

      I have extreme liberal views but I sympathize with people making more than $450,000 per year paying $64,000 per year in payroll taxes for a maximum $30,156 yearly benefit.  

      Ok, I don't sympathize THAT MUCH, but that's the logic behind the payroll cap.  I say raise the maximum benefit amount at the same time the payroll cap is raised.

      NO, they don't have to match - I'm perfectly fine with some people paying more in payroll taxes than they receive in benefits but there should be a limit of some sort.  Almost any limit is good, $1,000,000 per year?  I don't know, but there are smart people who understand these sorts of things that can come up with a fair and equitable number, greater than the current $110,000 cap and $2,513 maximum benefit.

      And I'm sick and tired of people who make their income from stocks and other capital gains getting a tax break. Capital gains over $250,000 per year should be taxed at the normal tax rates at minimum.  This special 15% rate is horseshit.

      [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

      by rabel on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:59:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about just stop fucking with Social Security (7+ / 0-)

    and stop putting it "on the table" while leaving prosecution of banksters and war criminals "off the table?"

    “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

    by Sagebrush Bob on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:22:10 PM PST

  •  Go for it, Barney! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO

    If you earn more, you should pay more.

     For any of you who are within that upper middle class range and don't like the idea, this is all I have to say to you:

     http://youtu.be/...

  •  Eliminate cap but reduce rate? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rabel, reflectionsv37, MPociask, No Exit

    I wonder whether, if the cap is completely eliminated, it would be possible to reduce the rate slightly.  This would ease the pain of ending the payroll tax cut for people in the lower income range.  However, social security tax rates can't be progressive because that defeats the concept of it being insurance.

    •  Good idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      No Exit, word is bond

      That's a great idea.  Ease the rate, increase the cap, increase the maximum benefit amount.

      There, problem solved.  Next!

      [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

      by rabel on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 05:00:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Signed the petition (0+ / 0-)

    asking Governor Patrick to appoint Rep. Frank to become Senator Frank.

    I added a note "I am way down in Alabama so I can't help you with my vote.  But I sure would like to see Rep. Barney Frank become Senator Frank.  Then my two favorite Senators would be Frank & Franken!  

    I'll put on my glasses.... and tell you how sweet your ass is. (w/ apologies to Señor Bega)

    by mHainds on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:30:05 PM PST

  •  Put SOcial security in a lockbox (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bisbonian

    It shd not be use to fund deficits.

    When they say to save social security they want to increase surplus to increase revenues to cover the deficit.  in other words widening the tax base or getting revenues from the working class and saving the wealthy from paying more tax.

    wall Street Casino is the root of the problem. Don't call them banks.

    by timber on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:30:30 PM PST

  •  I'm in favor of using the actuarial formula (0+ / 0-)

    or whatever way they figure it out so it remains an insurance program.  To keep it solvent, if it really is in danger, then yes.  People get out what they pay in based on formulas. Some don't get any back or not near what they pay and some live longer and get in more but it balances out.  Adjust the formula to balance it out and raise the cap to what is needed.

    Guns don't kill people...people with GUNS kill people.

    by thestructureguy on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:34:06 PM PST

    •  It already does this, to some extent (0+ / 0-)

      Everyone gets something now, though. You're suggesting a more extensive form of means testing. Thing is, we don't need to do that because there aren't THAT many seniors who don't really need SS.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:50:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not suggesting means testing at all. It's (0+ / 0-)

        a formula that determines the cap not a number out of thin air.  The cap number should be raised to whatever it is to balance the inflows and outflows. It's not a political decision per se, though it certainly will be turned in to one unfortunately. It's an actuarial formula.

        Guns don't kill people...people with GUNS kill people.

        by thestructureguy on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:56:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not giving some people any benefits that (0+ / 0-)

          they've earned is means-testing. I understand the logic and in some way agree with it--Warren Buffet can do without his SS and Medicare. But there are political problems with that that many progressives don't like, because it makes these programs more like welfare, and thus presumably easier to kill. I don't necessarily agree with that. If SS was truly retirement insurance than it would be needs-based, meaning that some wouldn't really need it and thus shouldn't get it. But I doubt that that's politically feasible now.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 05:19:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wish you were right, but more than one Dem is (0+ / 0-)

            in favor of means testing Social Security.

            There's a video of James Clyburn on YouTube saying that he supports means testing Social Security.  Many of the DLC-types have no problem with it.  And once they go ahead with implementing broader means testing for Medicare (President Obama supports raising the percentage of beneficiaries who are means tested from 5 to 25%), it will just be a matter of time before this is also applied to Social Security,  The good ole "camel's nose under the tent" scenario.

            Mollie

            “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

            by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:56:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  To be honest (0+ / 0-)

              I've never really been comfortable with the notion that if we means-test SS, it will turn it into a welfare-like program that will be easier to kill, and thus more likely to be killed. That's overly politicizing a potentially helpful reform because of what MIGHT happen, stemming from LW insecurity about optics. Whether or not SS is means-tested should be based on whether it'll actually improve its finances substantially, not whether the loss of support for it among affluent retirees could kill it, which I doubt.

              And we're already means-testing it, in the sense that there's not a linear relationship between what you paid in and get out of it. We're just not cutting anyone off. But rich retirees are getting less return for the payroll taxes they've paid than poor retirees are. If we lift the cap, then SS would have to be even more so, or else there's no point in lifting the cap.

              My guess, though, is that means-testing it wouldn't be all that helpful. Making SS more progressive and lifting the cap seem like much better solutions.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:28:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  kovie, couldn't agree more, with your point that (0+ / 0-)

                we shouldn't worry about "loss of support for Social Security among affluent retirees."  After all, what are they going to do?  No one is likely 'to walk away from the program,' after having paid into it for years.  And it's mandatory, anyway, with the exception of a handful of exemptions, such as the Amish, etc.

                And yes, I too am in favor of lifting the cap considerably.  And even decreasing the replacement value for really wealthy individuals.

                We could change (decrease) the replacement rate at $250,000, but requiring collecting payroll taxes on all W-2 income over $113,700, up to One Million Dollars.

                Heck, there're countless combinations.  I'm sure that I don't know which one would be best.  That would be for some government bureaucrat to figure out, LOL.

                !

                Mollie

                “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 11:22:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Instead of the taxable wage base maxing out at (0+ / 0-)

      $113,700, raise it to One Million Dollars.

      Then, change the replacement rate to 7.5% for taxable wages over $113,700, indexing this "floor" to inflation.

      [The upper limit for taxable wages can be raised, as needed.]

      Mollie

      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:49:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sen. Frank... would make my day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright

    or four months... whatever the time frame might be.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:34:20 PM PST

  •  Nonsense (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bryduck, Gjetost, reflectionsv37, basket

    Enough of this divisive socialist class warfare. We need to save the rich by cutting Social Security a little. It's not like seniors have to eat gourmet canned cat food every night. The dry stuff out of a bag should be ok for most meals. Add a little hot water and top off with some ketchup, and it's a nice meal.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:37:20 PM PST

  •  How about making the payroll tax progressive (0+ / 0-)

    across the board, just like income taxes, with brackets and all. The first X dollars don't get taxed, then it gradually bumps up to its maximum rate. Sure. this would make it redistributive, but so what? I never understood the problem with that. Why does everything have to be "earned"?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:45:54 PM PST

    •  "Why does everything have to be earned?" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thestructureguy

      Terrific question. The answer lies in incentives. If people don't have to earn the things they get they won't earn them. Pretty easy. If you have an option of working to earn things or having them given to you everyone would select option two. However, that would soon lead to having no incentive for anyone to earn and thus no one to pay for everyone else.

      There is nothing wrong with a social safety net and taking care of those that can't take care of themselves. Those that can't work and can't take care of themselves wouldn't be affected by the incentive to work and earn anyway because they are unable to do those things.

      But we must provide effective incentives for those that can work to work so we can even afford to take care of those that are most vulnerable.

      http://www.freakonomics.com/

      by Common Cents on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:54:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well thank you George freaking Will (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        No Exit

        I KNOW why it's a good thing to earn what you need to live. But not everyone is in a position to do this, especially in old age given how poorly people plan for retirement, how many people have been cheated out of their savings and pensions, and how little SS now pays. The system is absolutely rigged against non-rich people making the idea of earning a decent living till you die out of reach for many. Long term, we have to make things fairer in terms of getting out of the labor you put in the value you should be getting out of it, which the "market" is really, really bad at valuing in any moral sense of the word. But in the near term, we have to take care of the neediest so they don't suffer or live beneath a level that no one should live beneath whether it's their fault or not.

        Btw, I resent your insinuation that there are lots of people who can work but choose not to. I.e. they're bums. Sure, there are those, but they're vastly outnumbered by people who want to work but can't find work, or can only find low-paying work that's beneath their talents and ambitions. Your comment sounds right out of the Heritage Foundation.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 05:15:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You didn't even read what I said apparently. (0+ / 0-)

          I clearly stated we had to take care of those that can't take care of themselves.

          There is just nothing wrong with expecting those that can work to work. And incentives to work is something that is so special about earning things. If people have no incentive to work there are no people to tax to pay for social services.

          And I have no idea what you mean about the moral value of labor. But that is neither here nor there.

          http://www.freakonomics.com/

          by Common Cents on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:19:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who the hell is talking about incentivizing (0+ / 0-)

            people to sit around doing nothing and not work? Where did that straw man even come into the discussion? Again, your approach to this issue reeks of RW boilerplate references to phantom welfare cheats and other deadbeats.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:19:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  So try to sell another tax increase? (0+ / 0-)

    I think we got all the tax increases we're getting for a while and that's probably for the best.

    http://www.freakonomics.com/

    by Common Cents on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:47:30 PM PST

  •  Link SS to nominal GDP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    We should not even be talking about linking SS benefits to measures of CPI, we should start from the proposition that it is linked to nominal GDP. Retirees should get a share of the expansion of the economy. And of course this would require tapping all income, including capital gains, dividends and interest.

  •  The bigger story here is.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No Exit

    If Barney Frank puts in a few months in the US Senate, until after the special election, I have a strong feeling that we, and he, will wish he was running for the seat in the special election.  He is so bright and articulate, and, as a US Senator, he'd only have to run every six years, so he could relax a bit, (as opposed to US House members who are constantly running for reelection),  he could relax on the constant campaigning and focus on legislating.  

    He is already doing a better job than anyone else who is running on either side.  Where is Scott Brown or any of the other Democrats?  He speaks intelligently and people from all backgrounds respect his opinions.  He would certainly make the US Senate a more interesting and productive body.  He knows how to cut deals to get the job done, in the spirit of Ted Kennedy and other great legislators.

    I know he wants to enjoy an well earned retirement, but, wow, what a talented guy, we could sure use him in the US Senate.

  •  Why not allow the maximum SS (0+ / 0-)

    contribution to rise with the rate of inflation so you could argue to Repubs the tax rise is not real? You could even use the chained CPI to make it more palatable for them.

    •  The taxable wage cap for Social Security does rise (0+ / 0-)

      every year.  Whether it is accurately tied to the rate of inflation, I'm not sure.

      But that should be implemented without trading a very regressive and punitive policy, like changing to the Superlative (Chained) CPI.

      Mollie

      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:01:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  eliminate the SS cap, I'd go for it in a minute - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No Exit

    even though it would cost me $ every November and December when I go over the limit today.  Why should there be a limit to SS withholding?  There's not for Medicare...That alone would save SS forever.  As for Medicare, means-testing benefits for folks with incomes over $500K would be totally justified.

  •  Agreed and then.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No Exit

    We should seriously increase the fees charged for oil and gas leases, grazing leases, and user fees for a national gun registry.

  •  Barney is such a cool guy. (0+ / 0-)

    Articulate.  Smart.  Funny.

    Great picture of him!

  •  No, do not support n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 05:25:40 PM PST

  •  The hell I didn't get hit with a tax!!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shane Hensinger

    I make about $300,000 per year.  Not only did the amount to earn to be exempt from social security taxes grow from about $106,000 to $113,000, but since the payroll tax exemption died, that means that I am going to be paying $2400 per year more in social security taxes than I did last year.  Not a gargantuan leap, but these things do become additive.  When you take $10,000 of cash flow net income away, it takes $30,000 to $40,000 of gross income to pay for that.

    I have had no problem paying my fair share, but before we decide to start plundering the $250K to $400K demographic, why wouldn't you raise social security taxes on those making over $1 million including those who live on capital gains?

    Barney Frank has always acted like he was on the side of the middle class, but when digging a bit you find he is deep in the pocket of Wall Street and has been for some time.  

    If you talk about more taxes, why the group from $250 to $400, why not the group above $400?  Nobody wants their ox gored, and mine is already bleeding...leave that bastard alone.

    •  Barney Frank may/may not be for the middle class (0+ / 0-)

      but you are not in the middle class - not even close.  So your opinion about whether or not he is helping the middle class should not be based on what he proposes to do to you.

      Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

      by Terrapin on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:22:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never claimed to be middle class (0+ / 0-)

        I have worked my ass off to be where I am. My point is that people don't think about the pre tax earnings necessary to pay increased taxes, no matter the income.  I am already paying $2400 more per year, right now.  How much more do you think I should pay? $10k, $20K and why?  

        Frank is very disengenuous to target this segment instead of people making over $450K.

  •  god, the senate is so old and in the way! (0+ / 0-)

    the number of senators i respect i can count on my digits, and i'm not a circus freak...

    i despise the haughtiness, the chumminess, the fakery, the wealth, the disdain for working people...it sickens me no end

    by all means let barney frank (72 years old, btw) in there to throw some pies at some huff n puff senators

    Howard Fineman needs to have a chat with Chris Cilizza about Grecian Formula and its effects on punditry

    by memofromturner on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 05:40:55 PM PST

  •  I said (0+ / 0-)

    the very same thing to myself and in a couple of comment threads.

    It goes without saying that I think this is a great idea.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 06:11:12 PM PST

  •  near rich? (0+ / 0-)

    I hope any fix they do includes some sane cost of living/inflation math as well.

  •  Help me understand this (0+ / 0-)

    In less than a century the "sacred trust" that was supposed to be kept by the government to aide in the secured retirement for the citizens of this country, has been borrowed against, then mixed with the general funding, and now is insolvent by the hands of the government. Now our solution is to give them more money in order to save it.

    Is it irrational to not have any faith in this approach?

  •  Almost Perfect (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cordyc

    Frank has got the right idea, but ideally Social Security and Medicare taxes should:

    1. Exempt the first X of income (on a refundable basis), with X equal to about 130% of the federal poverty line;

    2. Apply to all income (earned and unearned) with no cap;

    3. Be set to a tax rate that is revenue neutral on a total cohort basis for those earning $250,000 or less;

    4. Retain the PPACA's Medicare surtax.

    •  Yes, let's capture some tax on "unearned" (0+ / 0-)

      income like net profit from rentals and capital gains from stock/option trading.  Some people make their living via this kind of income and don't earn wages.  Nor are the reported as an individual business which does pay payroll taxes.

      There are a lot of people who pay no payroll taxes when they make their living from those sources.

      Congressional elections have consequences!

      by Cordyc on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:16:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Social Security does not need "saving," but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    lifting the earnings is a proposal makes a lot of sense.

    However, Social Security should not be part of these discussions. It does not add to the deficit. Including SS in sequester/debt ceiling negotiations increases the likelihood that SS will be used as a bargaining chip as part of a larger deal.

    Social Security is too important to be a bargaining chip. It should be dealt with on its own, out in the open, so the public can see where everyone stands -- not part of some backroom deal Obama and Boehner hash out.

  •  Rethink Your Proposal, Barney (0+ / 0-)

    I usually agree with former representative Frank, and proudly voted for him several times when I lived in his district, but on this one, I think we part company.  Social security was not envisioned to be a program based on a sliding scale of contributions or benefits based on classism.  While it may seem inequitable, there's a valid reason why there is a tax threshold, irrespective of total annual income.

    Let's not forget that wealthier Americans earning over $400K will again be presumably and rightfully paying higher taxes on IRA and 401K savings upon withdrawal.

    Assessing the rich a disproportionate share of social security taxes without additional benefit not only runs contrary to the intent of the program, it also lends credence to claims of Democratic socialism.  Is that a fight we really want to engage in at this point?
     

    "The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain." --George McGovern

    by Progressive Pride on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:40:39 PM PST

  •  No Need for Another Damn Petition (0+ / 0-)

    As a Massachusetts voter, I won't be adding my name to petition Governor Patrick to appoint former representative Frank as interim senator.  Mr. Frank has made his desire to serve clear to the governor, and there is more than enough reason to believe he will exercise his power judiciously to appoint someone well-suited to the three-month post pending the special election when all Massachusetts voters will again have a chance to be heard loud and clear.

    I too believe Frank would be an excellent choice, but the governor doesn't need me or a barrage of out of state people attempting to influence him one way or the other.

    Now, if Mitt Romney were still in charge...

    "The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain." --George McGovern

    by Progressive Pride on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:52:18 PM PST

  •  Another supporter for Senator Begich's bill. Glad (0+ / 0-)

    folks in the Senate (and about to be in the Senate) are talking about this.

    Heck, I thought Barney was already in....No?

  •  I've been advocating this herein for years... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cordyc

    ...and also adding a 1% "payroll" tax to dividend income, so as to prevent kiting money paid as salary to dividends and avoid paying the equivalent amount.

    We have an incredibly regressive tax in place for social security and medicare, and eliminating the payroll tax cap -- a flat tax!! Isn't that what Republicans want?? would not only solve the Social Security and Medicare "problems" forever, it would allow the tax rates to be lowered on everybody. (Everybody except the freeloaders about $113.5K. We didn't hear about them in the 47% conversation, did we?) And don't we want lower taxes??

    MAKE THEM PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:40:39 PM PST

    •  Let's also tax short term cap gains and net rental (0+ / 0-)

      income.  While small business owners and the self employed pay payroll tax Landlords and Day Traders do not pay for Social Security or Medicare.

      Congressional elections have consequences!

      by Cordyc on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:32:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Payroll tax is flat so conservatives should love (0+ / 0-)

    it and of course flat taxes apply to everyone equally, right?
    How can conservatives argue for keeping the cap especially as Congress has been using payroll taxes in figuring the budget deficit?

  •  My husband just received a major promotion, (0+ / 0-)

    which means that if he works extremely hard, and we are very lucky, we might be able to reach $250K at some point. As such, may I just say, RAISE THE DAMN TAXES.

    If we are fortunate enough to be so successful, thanks to public schools and the government created internet, we would consider it our obligation and extreme privilege to be able to pay more back to society.

    "The Democrats are the lesser evil and that has to count for something. Good and evil aren't binary states. All of us are both good and evil. Being less evil is the trajectory of morality." --SC

    by tb92 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:30:25 PM PST

  •  Let Me Just Dissuade You for a Moment (0+ / 0-)

    At the risk of being painfully self-referential, I just covered this topic here, where I list four ways to make Social Security healthy without raising the cap.

    And, do you really want a bunch of rich people to be part of the program?

    Let's fight the progressive tax battle on the income tax. There are really excellent arguments that we should increase the top rates by far more than we have. For one thing, the top 1% of households have the bulk of the assets. Shouldn't they be paying for the bulk of the cost of the government?

    And, in any case, this proposal is all about taxes. The problem is the lack of jobs, the lack of good jobs, and the lack of money that comes from holding a job. We have an income problem, and that problem comes from our poor trade policy. Let's cut to the chase and work on that.

    So, soon-to-be-Senator Frank, let's cool it here on this and focus on something that's a problem. Right now, workers are making half what they should be making. What's your plan for increasing their income?

  •  the cap is already $3k higher than last year (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.ssa.gov/...

    and raising the cap means higher payouts, unless one wants to start tinkering with the benefits structure.

    http://www.ssa.gov/...

    PIA formula

    For an individual who first becomes eligible for old-age insurance benefits or disability insurance benefits in 2013, or who dies in 2013 before becoming eligible for benefits, his/her PIA will be the sum of:

        (a) 90 percent of the first $791 of his/her average indexed monthly earnings, plus
        (b) 32 percent of his/her average indexed monthly earnings over $791 and through $4,768, plus
        (c) 15 percent of his/her average indexed monthly earnings over $4,768.

    15% of a higher number is a higher number.

    would raising the income cap require different bend points in the PIA formula? should we lower the percentage on AIME over $4768?  is that politically feasible? what level of income cap squares the math?  is that politically feasible?

    and check it out:  if done right, i.e. granting extra stipends to the elderly poor, broadening the qualifications for SSI or something, chained CPI does the exact same thing as the payroll tax, only with stealth because it's not a tax increase.

    we all know good and well that for every senior who NEEDS social security, there is one for whom it is pocket change.  

    For nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security provides the majority of their cash income. For more than one-third (36 percent), it provides more than 90 percent of their income. For one-quarter (24 percent) of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security is the sole source of retirement income.[21] (See figure below.)
    why in Dog's name shouldn't the government pay less to those who don't need it? as long as a portion of the savings are dedicated to those truly in need, what is so god-awful about it?  especially since there seems to be consensus that the current metric overstates inflation.

    krugman pegs CCPI at a difference of 3% over 10 years.  the median age at death for women -- who live longer -- is 80.  so the maximum difference it would make for the majority of seniors is 4.5%.  many won't even notice it, and we can protect those who would.  so seriously, what is really so god-awful about paying those who don't need it a little less?

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 09:11:58 AM PST

  •  is this the best Mass democrats can do? (0+ / 0-)

    if anyone belongs in Jail over the financial disaster caused by the mortgage market melt down, it's Clown Frank.  it would make more sense to pull Bernie Madoff out of prison and making Him Senator Mass (D) for Christ's sake

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