Banishing Exercise Guilt

Setting the Stage to Kill Social Security

category_bug_politics.gif Congress is in recess for a couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean they, along with their corporate and media handmaidens, aren't busy cooking up ways to kill everything that benefits people who are not rich - old ones like you and me included, of course.

On Monday, it was Robert Samuelson in his Washington Post column trying to make readers believe that if President Franklin D. Roosevelt were alive today, he would oppose Social Security:

“It has become,” wrote Samuelson, “what was then called 'the dole' and is now known as 'welfare.”

Of course, Social Security is NOT welfare. I'm pretty sure Samuelson knows that and is being disingenuous because he wants to kill Social Security.

“Millions of Americans believe (falsely),” he continues, “that their payroll taxes have been segregated to pay for their benefits and that, therefore, they 'earned' these benefits. To reduce them would be to take something that is rightfully theirs."

Thank god for Dean Baker writing at Center for Economic and Policy Research, in refutation of Samuelson's idiocy:

”Of course Samuelson is 100 percent wrong here. Payroll taxes have been segregated. That is the point of the Social Security trust fund and the Social Security trustees report. These institutions would make no sense if the funds were not segregated.:

Later in his story, Samuelson asserts that anyone retiring today will receive Social Security benefits in excess of the taxes they have paid:

”A two-earner couple with average wages retiring in 2010 would receive lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits worth $906,000 compared with taxes [paid] of $704,000, estimate Steuerle and Rennane.”

Once again, Dean Baker to the rescue to make a gigantically important point that went right by me when I was reading through Samuelson the first time:

”Okay, this is a really nice trick,” says Baker. “Remember we were talking about Social Security? Note that Samuelson refers to 'lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits.' It wasn't an accident that he brought Medicare into this discussion.

“That is because Steuerle and Rennane's calculations show that this average earning couple would get back less in Social Security benefits than what they paid in taxes. That would not fit well with Samuelson's story, so he brings in Medicare (remember this is the Washington Post).”

Samuelson finishes off his dubious assertions by demanding that Social Security be cut.

Paul Krugman, jumping into this fray on his blog, reveals Samuelson's argument for what it really is:

”...the dire fate we’re supposed to fear is that future benefits won’t be as high as scheduled; and in order to avert that fate we must, um, guarantee through immediate action that future benefits won’t be as high as scheduled.”

The danger for everyone is that stories like Samuelson's set the stage to kill Social Security (and Medicare). Not many voters care enough or have the time to read carefully, follow up and determine who is lying and who is telling the truth.

And there are so many of these stories in so many media. It becomes the age-old problem of repeating a lie often enough so people come to believe it. That is one reason we need The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to speak for those programs and for us.

The NCPSSM recently posted a nifty list of 10 Things to Love About Social Security and Medicare. Among them:

Social Security benefits are guaranteed. Unlike savings and investments, you can’t outlive your benefits.

Social Security benefits are protected from inflation. Social Security is one of the few retirement programs that provide an automatic annual cost-of-living adjustment.

Social Security’s administrative costs are low. Less than 1% of Social Security’s budget goes to administrative costs.

You can read the additional seven things to love about Social Security and Medicare at the NCPSSM website. And while you're there, if you can afford it, you might join by giving them a few dollars.

Unlike some other lobby organizations representing elders to Congress, the NCPSSM has acted in our best interests for more than a quarter of a century, and they continue working hard to do so. We really need them.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lia Hirtz: The Road Trip


Thanks for the info for ammo.

Fox News and guys like Samuelson know that if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes the truth; at least it does so in the mind of the uninformed.

I am to the point now that every time a right winger opens his or her mouth, I want to scream. They lie and they have a lot of subjects who hang on their every word as if gospel. And it's on everything like Rep. West saying 80 Democrats are in the Communist Party. It's as though they have been moon beamed back to the 50s for everything they say and think. It is infuriating. Just listening to them for a few minutes has me turning off the TV. Reading the words are bad enough! I do not know what has gone wrong with the people who vote Republican. They are so clueless that they will buy anything that Foxies put out. All we can do is be sure we are working for and donating toward liberal and progressive candidates (and hope they don't sell us out too...)

I wonder if the 15-30% who die before they reach retirement age are part of the equation when the statistics on costs are quoted.

I also wonder why, if this situation is so dire, SS can be claimed at 62 without proof that your work has rendered you incapable of working until 65? It's a well known fact that taking the reduced benefit will net greater total returns than waiting.

Another question: If a man is married 3 times for at least 10 years each, can all 3 wives draw from his benefits?

Why isn't there a plan to 'opt out' of SS if you are very wealthy and prefer to forego benefits?

There ARE some adjustments that can be made to save money without a lot of pain.

"Not many voters care enough or have the time to read carefully, follow up and determine who is lying and who is telling the truth."

Yes, ignorance and apathy are our biggest enemy on this and other critical social issues.

I stand with you on every point you made! We have to fight back.

Keep telling it like it is, Ronni, because so many others can't, won't, and don't.

I did not know about the NCPSSM. I gather so much relevant information from your daily writings. Thanks!

Thanks again for paying attention and bring this to our attention. For most and certainly for more people in the future, Social Security is the only pension plan they will have.

And, to paraphrase Rick Perlstein, the Democrats can be counted on to "compromise" (I call it caving in) and the press can be counted on to normalize the wingnuttery.

Unless we constantly speak out loudly and strongly they will get away with it.

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