For a One-Day Blog Interruption
INTERESTING STUFF – 15 August 2015

There's a New Octogenarian on the Block

Yes, I'm talking about Social Security and before I get going, let me tell you a secret about this crucial program as it relates to Time Goes By readers: every time I write about it, traffic drops that day by at least a third and sometimes by half.

Too boring to read about. You won't think so when the Republicans cut benefits and start trying to privatize it again. More about the 2016 candidates below. But first, did you know Social Security provides more than half of all income for two-thirds of elders?

As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reminded their readers this week:

”For 65 percent of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security provides the majority of their cash income. For 36 percent of them, it provides 90 percent or more of their income. For 24 percent of them, it is the sole source of retirement income.”

How would it be for you if your Social Security benefit were cut by 10 percent? Or 20 or 30 percent? Here are a couple more facts about Social Security which is NOT, as Republicans like to say, an "entitlement." It is an earned benefit you have paid into all your working life:

”Without Social Security benefits, more than 40 percent of Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal. With Social Security benefits, less than 10 percent do. The program lifts 14.7 million elderly Americans out of poverty.”


Today is the 80th – that is EIGHT-OH – anniversary of the day, 14 August 1935, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. This is a big deal – that this important, highly successful program has lasted for eight decades while being under assault from conservatives all that time.


As FDR signed that legislation on 14 August 1935, he said,

"We can never insure one-hundred percent of the population against one-hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life. But we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against…poverty-ridden old age.”

Let me tell you, without Social Security, I would be living in deep poverty and I suspect many TGB readers would be too. So just as we celebrate the days of our birth, we must take time today to celebrate the birth of this most successful social program of all time and dedicate ourselves to protecting it.

Eleven years ago in 2004, then-President George W. Bush announced his intention to privatize Social Security. If you have any doubt that it was a terrible idea, recall what happened to investments in 2008. I lost a lot I've never recouped. How much did you lose? Imagine if that had been your Social Security account.

It is crucial to remember that they will tell you something different but the real reason Republicans want to privatize Social Security is to award Wall Street the billions of dollars in fees that would be created to manage Social Security investment accounts.

It took a year of hard work but Americans fought back against Bush's privatization initiative and defeated it. Will we be able to do that next time?

A week ago at Huffington Post, Nancy Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works and the co-author of the best book ever written on Social Security, Social Security Works! subtitled, Why Social Security Isn't Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All, posted the known policy positions on Social Security of all the candidates who participated in the Republican debate:

JEB BUSH: Privatize Social Security, Raise the Retirement Age As High as 70, End Medicare

BEN CARSON: Views unknown

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Make Social Security a means-tested welfare program and raise eligibility age to 69

TED CRUZ: Privatize Social Security, Raise the Retirement Age, Cut Benefits

CARLY FIORINA: May Raise Retirement Age

JIM GILMORE: Views unknown

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Cut Social Security Benefits for People who are unmarried and have no children

MIKE HUCKABEE: Against cuts but erroneously believes trust fund has been stolen

BOBBY JINDAL: Privatize Social Security

JOHN KASICH: Privatize Social Security, Cut benefits

GEORGE PATAKI: Raise Retirement Age, Shift More Medicare Cost to Seniors and People With Disabilities

RAND PAUL: Raise the Retirement Age to 70, Means-Test Social Security

RICK PERRY: Social Security is a "Ponzi Scheme," "Monstrous Lie"

MARCO RUBIO: Raise the Retirement Age, May Cut Benefits, Privatize Medicare

RICK SANTORUM: Raise Retirement Age, Means Test Social Security, May cut cost of living adjustments for current and future beneficiaries

SCOTT WALKER: Raise the Retirement Age

There seems to be a consensus, or close enough to call it that: all Republican candidates want to damage Social Security and therefore harm old people.

See anyone missing from that list? Yes, Donald Trump who, Altman quotes him as saying:

"'Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.' He made clear, 'I'm not gonna do that!'"

Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders both advocate expansion of Social Security.

(You will find links for each candidate's statement at Altman's Huffington Post story.)

I could write all day about the good that Social Security does and why maintaining and expanding it are an important reason not to vote for a Republican candidate in 2016.

Here are a few good links about Social Security:

Did you know that Thomas Paine may have been the first person to think up Social Security. If you are historically minded, Nancy Altman explains.

ABC News lists the modest changes that would ensure Social Security for everyone for the next 75 years.

The National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) lists the top ten facts about the program everyone should know.

AARP has a page of facts about Social Security for each state of the union.

The CPBB link I gave you at the top has a lot of charts worth checking out that explain all the great, good things Social Security does for so many millions of Americans.

So let's hear a Hip Hip Hooray for Social Security. Let's also congratulate, in absentia, all the wonderful, unnamed people who for 80 years have fought so hard to preserve Social Security against its powerful adversaries - and let's all pledge to be one of them during this endless presidential election season.

Happy 80th SS


The following statement was the most important piece of information in your blog today. It should be shouted from the roof tops whenever the topic comes up ---

"It is crucial to remember that they will tell you something different but the real reason Republicans want to privatize Social Security is to award Wall Street the billions of dollars in fees that would be created to manage Social Security investment accounts.

Is it no wonder they keep banging on the door to get control of the "prize"?

Happy Birthday Social Security! I am very happy to have met you in person on my 62nd birthday. That let my darling hubby stop driving the school bus, we had to have an extra check. He was 70. I was also excited to meet your younger kin, Medicare. I hadn't been to a doctor in years because I had no insurance.

So I am blowing out candles & eating cake in honor of your 80th year. I will celebrate with balloons and humor.

YES! Happy Birthday Social Security! And thank you, Ronnie, for these posts!

Happy Birthday, Social Security ... Here's to another successful 80 years and more!

Ha! I often read your post specifically when you talk about Social Security? Does that help any when other readers drop off that day?

I really hate it when the rich guys in D.C. start talking about cutting Social Security and maybe it's hard/scary to read about them wanting to do so?. I didn't not know that Lindsey Graham wants to cut benefits for people who are unmarried and have no children. That makes no sense what-so-ever! That's the group who has no family to fall back on in hard times, no one to take us in.

I'm shocked readership drops off on the days you write about Social Security. I find those days some of the most interesting. Thank you again for all you do to keep us informed.

Ronni, I usually don't comment on SS blogs, but I always read them and usually end up lost in the links provided, so don't get back to comment.

It seems to me, the rhetoric regarding it being a give-away package by the government, could be better rebutted by those who understand the cooperative idea on which it is based.

Thank you for lighting the candles for the birthday cake. I will assist in blowing them out and making a wish for continued health of this program.

I also depend on Social Security to survive. The Republicans who want to cut/privatize/eliminate Social Security are (mostly) getting a government pension that is greatly in excess of the pittance that we SS recipients receive, so they are not affected by the actions they intend to take. I have been a registered Republican all my life, although I vote as an independent; here in Florida, the majority of politicians run as Republican, so I never changed my affiliation. I am doing so this year, as there is not a single Republican that I could stand to vote for. My daughter is single and unmarried. She works three part-time jobs to make ends meet. She has no benefits. She pays into Social Security on her W-2 income, and both the employer and employee portion when she pays taxes on her self-employment income. And "they" think it would be a good idea for her to be unable to benefit from SS when she finally hits retirement age. Unbelievable.

FYI, just because I don't comment doesn't mean I don't read every email you send out, because believe me, I do, and I frequently share the information that you post with my friends. Thank you for taking the time to blog. This is a needed site, and I enjoy it. I also like your new formatting!

Happy 80th anniversary Social Security, and a big Thank you! for making my life 'secure'. I shudder to think where I would be without it.
Thank you, Ronni for this important post and letting us see the list of candidates exposed with their beliefs.

I'm sure those who advocate cutting Social Security are all wealthy enough to not need it and also unable to identify with those of us who do. And like you, Ronnie, I bristle every time one of them calls SS an "entitlement." That's my money, earned in a deal I made with the US government decades ago. Honorable men (and governments) honor their contracts.

Scary as you have mentioned in past posts that so many will vote Republican not realizing they could be cutting off their noses despite their faces. Ironic how ill informed but well-meaning folks can be led to slaughter so blindly by big money and hate-mongering politicians.

Flipside: Happy Birthday Social Security!

So much for the shabby days ahead . . . "A promise made, is a promise kept", or is it more like "“every politician has a promising career. Unfortunately, most of them do not keep those promises.”
First promise made to this 18 year old VNam era vet:, "go for it! Anything that happens will be covered with life time health care" Ask me about it - now 55 years later. Ha!
Second promise, "Just keep paying those FICA taxes for a federal program that provides benefits for retirees, the disabled, and children of deceased workers. You'll get yours" And I did!
What Huckabee is for, "Against cuts but erroneously believes trust fund has been stolen" I agree with him. No one seems to remember Gore's pledge to "not touch the SS Lockbox". Do you not remember when the Bush era raided and emptied the lockbox? The promise was to pay it back - they can't even pay the interest on what they 'borrowed'. Ask yourselves what they used the money for.
I agree there are many out there who within the top 1% would not pass a means test to qualify for these programs. As a consolidation prize perhaps they should be given their investment back. Thus eliminating any doubt these programs are simply a Ponzi scheme.
Raising the retirement age will require more longitudinal research. Are people really living longer and are more self sufficient; can they easy get jobs to provide for their our welfare? Remains to be seen.
All the GOP posturing is aimed at those who have it all - or nearly all. None want share the wealth that they earned by sitting in one of their homes watching "Jim Cramer's Mad Money Show" and from the hard work most of all us performed.

A promise made, is a promise soon forgotten . . . .

A number of studies show that the richer you are, the longer you live. There are a couple of charts showing this wide discrepancy at a recent article in the Atlantic.

Further raising the Social Security retirement age (already at 67 for full benefits) hardly helps the less affluent who also are the ones who most often work physically challenging jobs that wear out their bodies at a younger age than others.

Social Security is responsible for the roof over my head. Without it I would be living in a refrigerator box over a subway grate somewhere. While I grumbled every time I looked at my paycheck and saw the amount they took out for my social security (and that's at least 50 years of paying into the system) I knew it was something I would be getting back when it was time for me to retire. How dare they tell me they want to cut my benefits. IT'S MY MONEY YOU CROOKS.

I am not wealthy but I live comfortably because of my social security check. If it were any less than it is, my whole life style would immediately change. Of all places to make cuts, this should be off limits. We earned this money and the government has no right to take away what is rightfully ours nor should they break a promise that was made 80 years ago.

So typical of this party to promote their greed and not worry about others doing without.

Your posts about Social Security always get my attention. Like others have mentioned, my life would be very different without it. I too have a single daughter, no children, who is working and I worry that she might not have what she has paid into all her life. Sometime back, perhaps it was when GWB was wanting to privatize Social Security, somebody said that if they were ever successful in getting rid of it, "we would never get it back." In this present climate that would be true.

I resent SS benefits being presented as an entitlement. Any of us who worked in qualified jobs payed into the system for decades. We earned our benefits! And we should not forget that SS also helps when a family member becomes disabled, or when a child is totally handicapped. It also kicks in early if someone too young for retirement benefits comes down with a debilitating disease. This latter program needs reform, IMO, but it can be a lifesaver for a family whose breadwinner is diagnosed with ALS, or some other awful disease.

Privatizing SS is the real Ponzi scheme, IMO. Right now it provides a safety net for us elders, and for our younger relatives too.

Why is it that those who do not need Social Security benefits are h+&^%*-bent-for-leather on eviscerating the program for the rest of us? The simple answer is because they think they can. As Ronni points out in her post, "follow the money" (straight to Wall Street) explains a lot, too.

The thing some TGB readers, including me, have a hard time processing is why many middle and working class elders seem to lean Republican, with quite a few leaning Far Right. They are NOT wealthy and will need the full SS benefit they have earned--and yet, they vote against themselves. That's their right, of course, but do they not see that they are also voting against the financial well-being of their adult children and grandchildren?

Without SS, much more of younger family members' money and resources would have to be redirected towards support for elderly parents instead of a college fund, paying off the mortgage or funding their own retirement. How does that make sense? But then, I shouldn't expect conservative Republicans to make sense!

They never stop. The Republican's ultimate goal is to do away with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid entirely and knowing that this is toxic they are trying to do it in small steps.

The Republican party is relentless and if they don't change as a party I predict their demise by a people's peaceful revolution. We must start using our people power as that is the only weapon left in our arsenal. Inform your friends and acquaintances about what they are up to and DO NOT VOTE REPUBLICAN !!!!

I just finished reading a NYTimes editorial by Timothy Egan about what has been achieved lately--the Iran deal, Obamacare, and a number of other improvements in our lives. And how the Republicans want to take it all away--Social Security, Medicare, etc.
included, of course. I so fail to understand this, even though I get it about their alliance with Wall Street. What used to be the loyal opposition (mostly) has become the Great Wrecking Ball. I also fail to understand how they manage to get votes--but I suspect that many of the folks who need help most, e.g. the working poor, are so busy trying to put food on the table and so anxious they don't keep up with the news (I do wish they would, nevertheless). Hence, many whose lives would be decimated by Republican policies are likely to vote for a Republican.

I am confused...why is nearly every comment Republican bashing?? Personally, I do not think we are in very great shape as a country after 7 years of Democrat Obama...don't get me started!!

I agree that Social Security needs to be saved...but why must we bash an entire party? I did not see your list of all the Democratic candidates and their views on this topic...why?

I so appreciate your blog and read it religiously. I am just confused...

Why would anyone collecting Social Security ever vote Republican?

Jane, you are absolutely wrong about Obama. Read this:

The data shows people with investments have been far better off under Obama. Look at the data, don't listen to pundits bashing Obama. Look at the numbers!

Thanks to Wall Street and the Big Banks with their crooked money and mortgage schemes the money we put aside for a comfortable retirement has vaporized. We currently depend upon Social Security for our income, and it's not a "comfortable" retirement, but one we can at least live on if we're very careful.

It's not a new thing for the Republicans to try to do away with the program, but the GOP mindset seems more intent than ever to destroy it. They put two wars on a credit card and now want to starve seniors to pay the bad debt. If only all those rich so-and-so's paid FICA on ALL their earnings, as we peons had to do.

The two main Democrats are listed. The latest ones hadn't been in the race long enough to have said anything yet about Social Security.

Perhaps someone can tell us wht any Republican candidate is proposing that would be good for ordinary people and not just the rich.

Happy Birthday, Social Security! I am almost exactly the same age as SS. I also would be struggling financially without it. I am a dyed in the wool Democrat---but the quotes from ?Donald Trump make me understand his appeal....Perhaps.

Thank you, Ronni, for all you do .

The interesting thing about raising the retirement age is that companies are circling the older workforce trying to downsize them ...thus creating a group of people close to retirement, but not there. Ronnie, I think you have experienced this as have I. I know literally dozens of folks that are let go, laid off, or out right fired as soon as they reach the upper 50's and early 60's. So you say...go get another job. Right! It is almost impossible to get a job at even 50 percent of what you were likely making as a tenured employee...if you can get a position at all. "Why did you leave ______?"
"Well we can't match that salary." ect.

If the retirment age is raised, then we really need tougher laws regulating age discrimination...and we all know that won't happen. :)

The reason so many comments are hostile to the Republicans is that all their candidates are hostile to the lives of most of us. They only seem to care about CEOs and their families, the 1 percent who make out like bandits. Ordinary people just aren't included on their radar.

The Democrats are also too dependent on Wall Street, but they tend to behave when enough of us beat them up.

If you don't like what your country is becoming, get and stay active!

Do you suppose Republican candidates would not be so against SS if it had been signed into law by a Republican president rather than FDR? Just a thought.

And Ronni, I don't comment very often, but I read your blog every day you post. It is the most important thing I read!

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