Another Minor Affliction of Age
Elders and Loss

Valentine's Day, Social Security and Darlene Costner

As many of you are aware, Darlene Costner is a reliable supplier of terrific items for Saturday's Interesting Stuff posts and she often comments here at TGB, at The Elder Storytelling Place and on other elderblogs. (Until last August, she also kept a blog – Darlene's Hodgepodge – which she may yet return to.) Many of us consider Darlene close friend.

However, for awhile you may not see her name so frequently. Not long ago, her son suffered a terrible accident resulting in serious burns to his face, hands and arms that will take a good while to heal.

He was released from the hospital a few days ago and on Saturday, Darlene traveled from her home in Arizona to California to care for him until he further recovers and is able to drive again.

At first, Darlene was led to believe her son's care would involve several months of full-time nursing from her. Fortunately, that is not so. He is doing well and Darlene will mostly be lending emotional and motherly support for a much shorter period of time. Let's wish her well and wish her son a speedy recovery.

Did you see the State of the Union address on Tuesday evening? Because President Barack Obama so frequently waffles on whether he supports the chained CPI to calculate COLAs (lately the answer is, unfortunately, yes), I was paying special attention for mentions of Social Security and there was one although it was not planned.

Thanks to digby at Hullabaloo, we know the president inserted an “apparently spontaneous” departure from the original text:

After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? How does that promote growth?

After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? Why is that deficit reduction is a big emergency justifying cuts in Social Security benefits, but not closing some loopholes? How does that promote growth?”

As Digby comments:

”...we know that cutting SS and Medicare in exchange for some illusory tax reform is the president's patented 'balanced approach.' It's telling, however, that he put Social Security in the speech when it wasn't in the text.

“I'd have to guess that they had haggled over whether it was smart to include it and he changed his mind at the last minute. Maybe that indicates some tension among his advisers about this. I hope so.”

Roger Hickey at Campaign for America's Future gives us this note on the SOTU (god I love when all these other good people do my work for me and all I have to is quote them):

”The President reminded his State of the Union audience that he has put forward proposals for 'entitlement reform' in his quest for a 'grand bargain' to achieve that $1.5 trillion target of additional deficit reduction.

“The fact is that President Obama has never taken off the table his very draconian offers: to impose the so-called chained CPI that would cut the benefits of current and future Social Security recipients...

“Tonight the President talked in general terms about reforming Medicare – including some good reforms, like reducing 'taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies.' But also still on Obama’s table is his proposal to raise the eligibility age for receiving Medicare from 65 to 67. (He hasn’t talked much about this lately, but he hasn’t repudiated it either.)

“And tonight he mentioned the possibility of 'asking more of the wealthiest seniors,' a phrase that is usually cover for reducing Medicare benefits that middle class retirees really need.”

There are only a few weeks until the deadline for the “sequestration” otherwise known as devastating cuts across the board. I'll get back to you before then on all of this.

Meanwhile, it is also Valentine's Day and I send loads of love and appreciation to all Time Goes By readers for your continuing support for this blog. You have no idea how much it means to me every day.

Since it's hard to pass out roses and chocolates via the internet, here is a charming little video of 25 tykes answering questions about love, marriage, dating, kissing and where babies come from produced by the Small Fry blog.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marie Campbell: Mothers – Unsung Heroes


Dear Ronni,
I look forward to your blog every day, learning something, getting a laugh and/or touching my heart. But (you knew there was a but coming) would you consider any revisions to Social Security? Canada, who seems to have reasonable public policies, has a “claw back” for the wealthy from their social security. I am not wealthy but a 1-2% reduction in social security would not affect the quality of my life. I agree there needs to be means testing to be fair to recipients who would be harmed by any reduction. Even knowing that there are many ways to reduce the deficit, I would prefer to be part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem.

Let us be clear: Social Security does not add a penny to the deficit.

Let me repeat: Social Security does not add a penny to the deficit.

Thanks, Ronni! I wish folks would stop equating Social Security to some kind of handout!!

Thanks, too, for sharing that sweet kids' video! Happy Valentine's Day!

Dear Darlene....we wish you and your son the best of days this Valentine's day, and a return to health for your son.

Dear Ronnie....You know you are my first wake-up blog read every morning. You poke my thinking and give my days a jump start. Glad you like us too. Cute video.

Happy Valentines Day...

Darlene here comes a huge Canadian hug for your strength and love for your son.

take care.

Darlene, another huge hug for you and your son. Wishing him a speedy recovery!

Ronni, Happy Valentine's Day to you, and thanks for the marvelous job you do with this blog.

Thanks too for repeating that Social Security does not add to the deficit.

And to may have a large SS benefit and/or additional income. Good for you. Most of us do not have either....any reduction is a hardship. This is not an entitlement...we earned it. We and our employers paid for it. It is cheating us and them to take any of it away.

I confess I did not watch the SOTU address, nor have I read a lot about it since then. I've reached a point where I believe very little of what any politician says at any particular moment in time. They lie, they prevaricate and obfuscate, they pander, they change their stances from one hour to the next, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum. Since the election, I've pretty much been on hiatus from political news. It's just too frustrating as a 24/7 diet.

Speedy well wishes to Darlene and Son - and thanks Ronni for your patience and insightful writing. As for SS and Med. without them we would have nothingto live on. So there!!!!

Thank you for the news of Darlene; I've been wondering about why she hasn't posted anything for so long and been afraid to ask. Fortunately, I see her name on comments and so I'd been letting myself think she was just fed up with the blog or taking a break. I'm really sorry to know the real reason, but very grateful to know that her son is getting better. Best wishes for better and better, Darlene.
And, Ronni, I wonder whether you have any idea of how much your blog means to me and so many others, EVERY DAY.
Thank you.

Happy Valentine's Day to you Ronni, Crabby, and Ollie!

Best wishes to Darlene for her son's speedy recovery and for Darlene's safe travels back home to Arizona.

I, too, have been missing Darlene. Thank you for news and I wish her and her son well.

And another grand thank you to you for all you do.

Applying means testing to Social Security is a toxic idea. Means testing, by definition, is an investigation into whether a person is financially eligible for benefits--i.e., if you're poor enough to qualify. It therefore casts SS as a charity handout, which it emphatically is not.

That this notion has become acceptable to so many otherwise sane people is an example of the mindset fostered by vermin like Paul Ryan, as part of the rightwing plot, since its inception, to destroy Social Security.

At the moment, my SS check is the only thing keeping me fed and a roof over my head. And as Ronni has reminded us many times, we will have to fight to keep our benefits intact and untampered with by those who would use our earned benefits to "reduce the deficit."

People are entitled to Social Security because they worked and paid into it. It is not a welfare program and should not be treated as such.

Those with higher income pay taxes on a portion of their Social Security income. That's as "means tested" as the program should be.

Darlene, I have been missing your Facebook posts since you stopped those. I hope your son gets better soon. I miss you and am really glad Ronni posted about you.....

Ronni -- Thank you for taking a stand on Social Security -- as always!

Darlene: I'm keeping good thoughts for you and your son in this difficult time. I hope he mends quickly and you are back home soon!!!

Darlene, I am so sorry to learn of your son's accident, but happy to know he is on the mend. Hope that continues!

Dear Darlene, Good to know your son is doing better than the doctors first expected. My thoughts are with you and your son tonight.

Dear Darlene, So sorry to hear of your and your son's awful ordeal. There is nothing more painful than feeling your child's pain. I am sending many healing thoughts, and holding you both in the light.

Many thanks to Ronni for informing everyone as to why I have not been commenting. And a big bunch of virtual roses for Valentine's Day to those who wished me and my son well. I deeply appreciate all of your kind comments.

An update - my son is doing much better than predicted and is being fitted for pressure gloves this morning. They will enable him to drive once he is able to bend his fingers. I am only offering moral support at this point, so I am not taxing myself and I am fine.

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