Elder Comedian - Mrs. Hughes
The Perversion of American Democracy

The Non-Social Security Crisis

[REMINDER: For those who want to switch to a new carrier for your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, you have 12 more days until the enrollment period expires on 31 December.]

category_bug_politics.gif A lot of the presidential candidates, Democrats included, refer to the Social Security "crisis" in the same terms President Bush did, a couple of years ago, when he was trying to privatize (read: kill) the most successful social program in the history of the world.

Let me be clear again: Social Security has no chance of failing any time soon and it will take only a couple of tweaks to keep it solvent for the long term. This is important to know as the candidates blather on about things they, apparently, know nothing about and we make our choices - for president and Congress alike - over the coming year.

Now, thanks to the good folks at the Entitled to Know blog, who cover Social Security and Medicare matters with great authority, we are directed to one of the best and most comprehensive stories refuting the political propaganda against Social Security, published last week in The Dallas Morning News and written by Bob Moos.

"To say, as some politicians have, that Social Security is going broke is not just wrong but also counterproductive," said Thomas Saving, a Social Security trustee and director of the Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M University. "It needlessly scares people," reports Mr. Moos.

He also quotes other experts:

"Social Security can afford 78 million boomers and, with some reforms, future generations as well," said Virginia Reno, vice president for income security at the National Academy of Social Insurance.
"The public has been led to think Social Security is out-of-date and on its last legs," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "Haven't we been scared enough?"

As Mr. Moos points out, Social Security will run a surplus this year, after paying benefits, of $189 billion and annual surpluses will continue for about another ten years. In 2017, the system will begin paying out more than it takes in. Interest on the surplus will be used first to pay benefits, then the reserves themselves.

In 2041, if nothing is done, the reserves will be used up, and Social Security will be able to pay only 75 percent of benefits on a pay-as-you-go system.

However, it doesn't take much to ensure Social Security - IF Congress makes changes soon.

Moos lists most of the possible correction choices that we discussed here two years ago during the president's kill-Social-Security campaign. An overview:

  • Raise retirement age
  • Change the cost-of-living adjustment
  • Raise the earnings cap
  • Use the estate tax
  • Invest part of the trust fund in stocks
  • Encourage private accounts

You can read short explanations of these ideas in Mr. Moos's story along with a brief overview of each candidate's proposals.

Now here's the coolest part. Mr. Moos links to "The Social Security Game" at the American Academy of Actuaries website. In the game, you can choose which fixes you like best and at the end, you'll see whether you have covered the future shortfall in Social Security. This isn't just for fun; it will inform you about whether a given candidate's solution makes sense.

Plus, there is a lot of material at the actuaries' site to help you understand the Social Security issue so you will know when the candidates are trying to snow you.

The 2008 election is undoubtedly the most important in our lifetimes. Our country is in deep trouble on many fronts and there are a lot of issues we need to be on top of to make informed choices at the ballot box - not that any of those choices are anywhere near ideal. But they're all we've got.

[The Christmas season is nigh upon us so today at The Elder Storytelling Place, Nancy Leitz recalls a childhood holiday ritual in Christmas Shopping 1939.]


Comments

Social Security is a battle cry for people 60 and over. Happy holidays Ronni !

I just read the Bob Moos article and played the game. My score was 100% by tweaking three logical reforms. I was proud of myself only to be told at the end that it's not that simple. I agree with James Carville -- "Keep it simple stupid."

Just let the bureaucrats mess with it and reform will never happen.

The modest amount of tweaking that I suggested (removing the cap on earnings subject to social security withholding) worked during the game.

One issue which folks tend to overlook is that by making Social Security more secure, we're also tempting Congress to keep borrowing from those funds for such wonderful projects as wars and missile defense systems.

I hope that if/when Congress revisits Social Security, some brave soul revives the notion of a "lock-box."

I also got 100% but agree with Darlene and Carver....it's not that simple.
Thanks for the info, Ronni. We all need to be doing lots of thinking for this upcoming election.

Opps! That was meant to Be "Carville"....doing too much thinking here. (smile)

Gee Ronni I don't know I wish I could share your enthusiasm about SS, who you gonna believe the congresional budget office CBO or the people who are driving this administraion who checked their brains in at the door.
Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report

Capitol Hill Watch | Health Care Costs Will 'Consume' U.S. Economy, CBO Director Says
[Dec 14, 2007]
Estimated increases in U.S. health care spending in future decades will place the federal budget on an "unsustainable path," which might "seriously harm the economy" without significant reductions in spending or increases in revenue, according to a report released on Thursday by the Congressional Budget Office, CongressDaily reports. According to the report, Medicare and Medicaid spending will increase by an estimated 500% growth over the next 75 years (Kreisher, CongressDaily, 12/13).

http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=49416

Hey Ronnie, one of the articles you wrote a little while back just came home to roost. I agreed with you and Elderwoman 125% "who other than an elder has the experience to see and warn us of what lies ahead" You warned us about this administration who has no regard for the rule of law taking us a facist path and even showed a couple of videos for references.
My editor had me take the article down and replaced it with another,more political correct ,it was too radical! she said" Well I wonder if she thinks that now! Facism is very similar to elder abuse, you never notice it until it happens to you or a very close fam member, then you see it everywhere!
My friends writes" I am in Stuart, Florida. At a friend's house. I have been here since yesterday.

I got pulled over for speeding on the way to her house. It took the cop 5 minutes to come to the side of my car, and then all of the sudden,..there were 8 squad cars and 6 sheriff's with their guns drawn on me.

The cop said that when he ran my tag,..it came up as a stolen car,..in Florida and in Canada! They made me turn the car off, throw the keys out of the window and step out of the car qith both hands up and on top of my head. They told me to pull my shirt up from the top of my neckline to show my midriff and so thet could see I had no weapons. I was told to turn around and around until they said stop.
Once they told me to stop,..the had me walk slowly backwards to the sound of their voice and not look back, not take my hands off of my head and I did it in a straight line. Once I was told to stop walking backwards, they grabbed my hands and put me in hand cuffs. I was lead to the side of the grassy shoulder of the road and told all would be explained to me. They were shouting on the P.A. system to my car,..saying; "Occupant of the car, come out witth your hans up and on top of your head,..but no one was in the car. Again they shouted the same instructions,..and threatened to send the canine dog unit in to get them,..but no one was in the car. 3 officers walked up to the empty car and then they saw it was empty.

The officer came back to me and asked for the registration to the car and I told him in the glove box,..and the took everything out of the glove box and found it. Then I was asked for the telephone # of the owner of the car and I gave him Erich's cell phone number and they called him. He was at his parents house for dinner and a movie nite. They told him that they had stopped me for speeding and that they ran the tag on the car and it came up stolen in U>S. & Canada. They finally took the cuffs off and explained things to me and worte me a warning fro doing 90 in a 70 zone Fl. Turnpike, Martin County, Fl.

I was like,..WTF?? I satyed quiet the whole time and did everything they said to do. I also made a cell phone call to Amy to tell her I had been pulled over and she said; 'Leave the cell phone on so I cam hear what they say" ,..so I did and she couldn't believe what they put me through over a speeding infraction,...she was ready to call the cops when she heard them demand me to pull my shirt up, up higher, higher, she thought maybe they were bad cops and exploiting me,..

It is not clear why the tag came up as a stolen car,.I am in Stuart and I fear driving back and getting stopped and going through all of that again,..My husband said he would get it figured out so I could drive back home asap
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Gee Lori I am glad they din't shoot your car it sounded like it came very close! and I am sorry that you have holed up in Stuart and are afarid of driving home, without actually having done anything wrong.
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Ronnie I travel a lot and that doesn't seem normal, maybe we better run that article again while we can still talk about it!
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America is Going Fascist
The signs are all there for anyone to see, and time is getting short for action by by Michael Nenonen
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7534

We must not forget for a moment that most of American media is owned by corporate interests whose political priorities are not the same as those of the public they profess to serve. The truly free press is best exemplified by the screen you are viewing right now.

Yes, it will be an enormous challenge for American society to provide necessary services in support of 20 percent of the population (those over sixty-five); however, innovative solutions initiated by those over sixty-five themselves will give us the best chance of a sustainable future.

What we often fail to bring into our problem solving was alluded to by W. Churchill: “We are shaping the world faster than we can change ourselves, and we are applying to the present the habits of the past.”

Ray:

It's important to separate Social Security from Medicare. They are separate programs requiring different solutions. Social Security is in good shape, as the story above explains for several years, although fixes need to be made soon to keep it that way.

Medicare's difficulties, mainly due of soaring healthcare costs, are much deeper and more complex to fix. One solution is a single-payer/universal healthcare plan for everyone.

But that's a topic for another day.

Medicare's difficulties, mainly due of soaring healthcare costs, are much deeper and more complex to fix. One solution is a single-payer/universal healthcare plan for everyone.

But that's a topic for another day.

Ronni,

I hope that "another day" is soon. We really do need some hard-headed, common sense discussion on that issue, and you're just the blogger to provide the wise input.

When you do so, please do us all a favor and distinguish between "socialized medicine" (the scary meme of the right) and universal access to health care.

They are entirely different concepts, although you wouldn't know that from the administration's comments.

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