Scrap The Cap

Just Scrap the Cap
There is really only one way to fix Social Security and that is to scrap the cap: raise the limit on incomes that pay into Social Security. Income gains only go to the top few now, so the calculations that established the “cap” are wrong. So get rid of the cap and make the rich pay into the system.
Cutting benefits only shifts costs onto seniors and their kids who will have to support them. This video shows what that will be like for the kids.

Sen. Sanders’ Plan To Actually Fix Social Security

You hear over and over that Social Security is “in trouble” or that we “can’t afford it.” This is as far from true as can be, and the idea behind this is to convince people to just give up on defending the program and let the haters have their way. The people who hate Social Security the most are the ones who say they want to make these changes to “save” it. Well Bernie Sanders loves the program and has introduced a bill that actually will save it.
The Haters
Conservatives have hated Social Security from the start, because it is a program that demonstrates once and for all the value of progressive governance. Social Security is as clear an example of We, the People watching out for and taking care of each other as there ever was. It has made a huge difference n the lives of older people, and their/our families. It works, is cost-effective and requires minimal overhead to keep it going. So they hate it.
A very recent example of conservative hatred for Social Security came from Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who said, that We, the People helping each other makes us weak,

“These programs actually weakened us as a people. … All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.”

Substitute the words “We, the People” or “each other” for “government” in Rubio’s statement and you’ll get the point: people don’t have to worry so much because we’re taking care of each other. He says that makes us weak. Yikes!
Decades Of Attacks
For decades conservatives who hate Social Security have been using every trick in the book to turn people against the program. Over and over you hear, “It’s a Ponzi scheme.” “It won’t be there for you.” This latest attack is that it “makes us weak.” And of course the old classic: “Social Security is broke.”
The “it’s going broke” and “won’t be there for you” attack strategy goes back to a 1983 Cato Institute Journal document, “Achieving a Leninist Strategy” by Stuart Butler of Cato and Peter Germanis of the Heritage Foundation. The document is still available at Cato, and select quotes are available at Plotting Privatization? from Z Magazine. If you have time it is worth reading the entire document (in particular the section “Weakening the Opposition”) to more fully understand the strategy that has been unfolding in the years since. But if you can’t, the following quotes give you an idea:

“Lenin recognized that fundamental change is contingent upon … its success in isolating and weakening its opponents. … we would do well to draw a few lessons from the Leninist strategy.”
” construct … a coalition that will … reap benefits from the IRA-based private system … but also the banks, insurance companies, and other institutions that will gain from providing such plans to the public.”
“The first element consists of a campaign to achieve small legislative changes that embellish the present IRA system, making it in practice a small-scale private Social Security system.
“The second main element … involves what one might crudely call guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it.”
“The banking industry and other business groups that can benefit from expanded IRAs …” “… the strategy must be to propose moving to a private Social Security system in such a way as to … neutralize … the coalition that supports the existing system.”
“The next Social Security crisis may be further away than many people believe. … it could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible. But then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform.”

Here is what to take away from this: Every time you hear that “Social Security is going broke” you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point that is part of a decades-old strategy. Every time you hear that “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme” you are hearing that strategy in operation. Every time you hear that “Social Security won’t be there for me anyway” ” you are witnessing that strategy unfold.
The Problem
The Social Security program is entirely self-funded, separate from the way that the government taxes and spends for other programs. People set aside money in their working years, they get a monthly amount when they retire. (The program also has other benefits including disability benefits, survivors funds and others.) Social Security does not contribute to the deficit in any way.
You never hear that the huge, vast, bloated, enormous, mammoth military budget is “going broke” or “won’t be there for you.” But year after year you hear that Social Security is “in trouble.”
Currently the program has built up a huge trust fund — over $2.5 trillion. This is invested in US Treasury Bonds, and is earning interest. But there are projections that this trust fund will be depleted in approx. 2037, and if this happens the program will have to cut payouts by as much as 25%. (Hey. when does the military budget Trust Fund run down?)
One big reason for this shortfall is that the last time the programs was comprehensively adjusted (1983, Greenspan Commission) certain economic growth and income projections were used to decide how much “payroll tax” to take out of people’s paychecks. They increased the amount taken out of paychecks, and set up an increasing “cap” on the income that would be taxed. Right now 6.2% (temporarily reduced to 4.2%) is taken out of paychecks, and employers kick in another 6.2%, on income up to a “cap” of $106,800. There is no “payroll tax” on amounts above that “cap.”
But something changed between 1983 and now: almost all the income gains have gone to a few at the very top. Instead of people who mostly were under that “cap” getting raises, thereby increasing the amount they pay into the fund, the raises went to people who already pass that amount, so the increased income is not contributing to the program. So that money that was calculated would go into the Social Security Trust Fund instead went to the top few. As a result the program is no longer bringing in enough money to keep the trust fund fully-funded past 2037.
Sen. Sanders’ Solution
Senator Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill to the Senate to fix this, once and for all. In simple terms, this bill will start taxing income above $250,000 a year to cover this Social Security shortfall. So instead of just “raising the cap” it lets that cap stay, and then takes it off again on income above $250,000. In effect it means there will be a gap between the current top income that is taxed, and $250K.
Get the money from where the money went: So because much of the real Social Security problem is that so much income is now going to just a few at the top, this gets the money to fix the problem from those top-level incomes.
Here is Sanders, talking about his bill:

“When [Social Security] was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, poverty among seniors is too high, but that number is ten percent. Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do!”

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Will American Majority Outnumber Gang Of 6?

Our deficit and debt came from cutting taxes on the rich and big corporations, increasing military spending and sweetheart deals with big pharma and health insurance companies. Elite “solutions” always involve cutting back what We, the People do for each other while keeping taxes low for the rich and big corporations. The latest “Gang of 6” solution is being pushed hard, manipulating a sense of inevitability, but is just more of the same. Don’t be fooled, there is significant opposition. Grassroots organizations oppose it, progressives in Congress oppose it and The American Majority opposes it. But you won’t hear that from our elite media.
The Latest Back-Room Deal From Well-To-Do Elites
If you are following the day-by-day accounts of the back-room debt-ceiling “crisis” negotiations, the latest “deal” to emerge out of closed-room, secret negotiations between well-to-do elites is much like all the other deals that come out of closed rooms of well-to-do DC insider types: keep taxes low on the rich and corporations and cut back the things We, the People do for each other and for the non-Wall Street parts of our economy.
These insiders serve the interests of the biggest corporations and the extremely well off, not the interests of regular people, entrepreneurs and small businesses that democracy protects and empowers. Their closed rooms never include low-wage working people, unemployed people, teachers, mechanics, roofers, carpenters, veterinarians, lab technicians, trash collectors, nurses or law-enforcement officers in them.
If all you hear from is America’s elite media you would think the problem is solved and everyone is happy. You would think this is inevitable, and you must go along or be blamed for obstructing. The “gang of 6” deal is supposedly “bipartisan.” They say it is receiving a “warm reception” in Congress. For example, the Washington Post, New debt plan gains support in Senate, describes the “warm response” the proposal received in the Senate,

In the Senate, the plan received a warm response, both during the invitation-only morning session and during separate luncheon briefings for Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.),the No. 3 Senate Republican, offered strong support. And Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a leader in the GOP on budget issues, backed the plan as well, after dropping out of the Gang of Six in mid-May.
“There was palpable relief from folks in that room this morning. Like they were saying, ‘Here’s something we can actually be for,’ ” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), a Gang of Six member who has relentlessly pressed his colleagues to reach consensus.

And the NY Times is on the bandwagon: Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President,

Financial markets rallied on the news. And with time running out before the deadline of Aug. 2 to raise the government’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Mr. Obama’s quick embrace of the plan left House Republicans at greater risk of being politically isolated on the issue if they continue to rule out any compromise that includes higher tax revenues.

Higher tax revenues? Actually the deal lowers tax rates for the wealthy and big companies. It raises revenues by removing things like the mortgage interest deduction for the rest of us.
Not So Fast
But if you look at polls you start to see that the American Majority has come to some very different conclusions about how to fix America’s deficit problems. The pubic says solve this problem the same way most economists say we should solve it. The public wants cuts in military spending, and increases in spending on infrastructure and other job-creation, economy-growing investment. The public wants taxes increased on the rich and big corporations. The public does not want Social Security benefits cut. The public wants health care reformed in the ways that the rest of the world has discovered saves money while providing better care.
Not So Fast, says the CPC
The Congressional Progressive Caucus says, “Not so fast!” Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the Senate “Gang of Six” budget proposal:

House “Gang of 70-Plus” to Senate “Gang of Six”: We Outnumber Your Plan to Slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security
“This terrible plan could cut Medicare and Medicaid to unsustainably low levels and put seniors’ well-being at risk. Anyone who wants to pass it through Congress should remember that more than 70 House Democrats have already pledged their opposition, and more are signing on every day. The letter we sent to Leader Pelosi July 8 vowing to oppose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid as part of these budget negotiations has become a growing wave of House resolve to protect these programs. We’re keeping it open for more signatures, and our Gang of 70-plus has the ‘Gang of Six’ completely outnumbered. Newly minted Rep. Janice Hahn signed on as one of her first official acts as a Congresswoman – that’s how quickly it’s picking up momentum.
Republicans have already said they won’t vote for any package, period, because of their opposition to a functional economy. House Democrats hold the key to whatever plan can pass Congress. That’s why the Senate ‘Gang of Six’ proposal is dead on arrival. Instead of toying with ways to slash vital programs in just such a way as to make different budget numbers align on paper, Congress and the White House should follow the path of our People’s Budget: creating jobs, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, ending corporate subsidies and millionaire tax giveaways, and ensuring our economy works for everyone rather than a greedy few.”

Not So Fast, Says Senator Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders has issued the following statement on a deficit-reduction proposal by a group of senators called the Gang of Six:

“While all of the details from the so-called Gang of Six proposals are not yet clear, what is apparent is that the plan would result in devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and many other programs that are of vital importance to working families in this country. Meanwhile, tax rates would be lowered for the wealthiest people and the largest, most profitable corporations.
“This is an approach that should be rejected by the American people. At a time when the rich are becoming richer and corporate profits are soaring, at least half of any deficit-reduction package must come from upper income people and profitable corporations. We must also take a hard look at military spending, which has tripled since 1997.”

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Not So Fast, Says MoveOn
Here s a statement from Justin Ruben, Executive Director of MoveOn.org on the Gang of 6 proposal:

“While details are sketchy, the “Gang of 6” proposal appears to ask seniors, the middle class and the poor to bear the burden of deficit reduction, with cuts to Social Security benefits, billions in stealth cuts to be named later, and no real effort to make corporations and millionaires pay their fair share. MoveOn’s 5 million members are counting on Leader Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and other Democrats to stand by their promise to reject any benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. We cannot allow a minority of Tea Party led Republicans in the House to hold our nation’s economy hostage in order to protect tax breaks for the rich and corporations, while forcing cuts to programs families depend on. The President and Democrats in Congress must stand up for everyday Americans and not give into politicians more interested in protecting their corporate backers than ensuring our economy recovers.”

Not So Fast, Says Citizens For Tax Justice
Citizens For Tax Justice issued a statement, “Gang of Six” Plan Would Reduce Revenue and Encourage Corporate Tax Dodging,

Because our tax system allows U.S. corporations to indefinitely “defer” U.S. taxes on their offshore profits, it already encourages corporations to move jobs overseas and to disguise their U.S. profits as “foreign” profits by shifting them to tax havens.
There would be even more incentives for corporations to do both these bad things under the “territorial” tax system promoted by corporate lobbyists and included in the Gang of Six plan.

Not So Fast, says Strengthen Social Security Campaign
Nancy Altman, Co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, released a statement (read the full statement here) in response to the release of the Gang of Six’s “Bipartisan Plan to Reduce Our Nation’s Deficits.”

“The Gang of Six proposes immediate and significant cuts to Social Security benefits, and a process for addressing the program’s funding shortfall projected to appear 25 years from now. The process would virtually guarantee devastating cuts. This plan breaks faith with the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose benefit cuts.
“The Gang of Six framework contains very few specifics but one is glaring – the immediate cuts that would affect all 55 million Social Security beneficiaries by changing the way the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is calculated. Their plan would substitute the less accurate and less-generous chained consumer price index (CPI) for the current CPI in calculating the COLA. This breaks a promise made by many politicians to not cut the benefits of anyone over age 55.

Not So Fast, Says American Majority
Polls show the public gets it. Along with the polling data on the American Majority Polling Page, here is some info from recent polls:

  • NBC News/Wall Street Journal, July,58% want tax increases on the wealthy as part of a deficit solution vs 36%.
  • Pew Research Poll, June 15-19, 60% say Keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are vs 32% say change them to reduce deficits.
  • McClatchy/Marist, 64% support raising taxes on income above $250,000.
  • And finally, this Gallup Poll just out today: Concerns About Economy, Jobs Outweigh Worries About Deficit,

    Americans name the economy and unemployment/jobs as the most important problems facing the nation, as they have all year, despite the dominant focus in Washington on the federal debt ceiling. The deficit comes in third as the top problem.

Politicians In Peril
Politicians who are fooled by this manipulated sense of inevitability, and who ignore deficit solutions the public wants, are asking for trouble. If they support these back-room deals made by elites the public won’t support them.
In addition Democrats who support any deal that cuts Social Security and/or Medicare undermine their ability to campaign as the defenders of the people, of Medicare, of Social Security over the interests of the wealthy and giant corporations.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Businesses Hire When Customers Are Coming In The Door

Another bad jobless claims report… and this time Washington seems to have finally noticed that there are some unemployed people out here in the sticks. But instead of jobs programs the geniuses are proposing … what else? … even more tax cuts. (And after a few hours they’ll go back to complaining about deficits but blame “spending.”) And of course, they are once again trying to “appeal to Republican lawmakers” without getting it that Republican lawmakers are doing everything they can to slow job growth so they can win the next election.
Bloomberg: Payroll-Tax Break Said to Be Discussed by Obama Aides Amid Slowing Economy,

President Barack Obama’s advisers have discussed seeking a temporary cut in the payroll taxes businesses pay on wages as they debate ways to spur hiring amid signs that the recovery is slowing, according to people familiar with the matter.
. . . The talks reflect the political constraints the White House is operating under with the Republican majority in the U.S. House pushing to cut federal spending. A hiring stimulus based on a tax break for employers may appeal to Republican lawmakers, many of whom have called for measures to help businesses.

Companies Only Hire When Customers Are Coming In The Door
Here is something the geniuses haven’t noticed, in all their geniosity: It doesn’t matter how much more money you give to business owners, businesses are not going to hire any more employees until they have a REASON to – and that reason is customers coming in the door.
OK, That was bold and italicized. Maybe if I make it ALL CAPS the geniuses will see it? Let’s see: BUSINESSES ARE NOT GOING TO HIRE ANY MORE EMPLOYEES UNTIL THEY HAVE A REASON TO AND THAT REASON IS CUSTOMERS COMING IN THE DOOR.
Businesses are not going to hire people just to sit around and listen to iPods or read the paper, waiting for a customer.
Terrance Heath, in America’s Unhappy Anniversary: Ten Years Of The Bush Tax Cuts For The Wealthy,

Republicans claim that preserving the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy is in the interest of small businesses, but small business owners are starting to demand a repeal of the Bush tax cuts.

We are fed by our consumers, not by our tax breaks,” says Rick Poore, owner of Designwear, Inc., a screen-printing business based in Lincoln, Neb. “If you drive more people to my business, I will hire more people. It’s as simple as that. If you give me a tax break, I’ll just take the wife to the Bahamas.

Businesses are fed by their customers, not by tax cuts. Tax cuts only feed deficits. Customers coming in the door is what causes businesses to hire. In case you missed that: Customers coming in the door is what causes businesses to hire.
Direct Job Creation Is Needed
Until there are more customers businesses are not going to hire. Why should they? So it is up to us (government: We, the People…) to create some customers. The way to do that is to hire people to do some of the things that it is government’s job to do anyway, but government has been putting off because of so many tax cuts.
Fix the infrastructure: Our infrastructure is crumbling. In Obama Should Call Chamber’s Infrastructure Bluff I linked to an Urban Land Institute report on the country’s infrastructure, showing how we are falling behind countries like Brazil, China and India, and to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card, that says a $2.2 trillion investment is needed just to bring the country’s infrastructure back up to current standards.
This infrastructure work has to be done no matter what. The longer we delay it the more our country falls behind. It is millions of jobs that need doing at a time when millions need jobs! (And by the way the government can borrow at nearly zero interest rates right now — one more reason to do it now.)
Green jobs: And then there are the green jobs you should be creating. You should be hiring people to retrofit every home and building in the country to be more energy efficient. This pays for itself because we stop sending so much money to the oil-producing countries, stop putting so much carbon in the air, and our economy becomes more efficient. And put more money into alternative energy, too. I mean, jeeze, geniuses, what part of this is hard to get?
Jobs fix deficits: Hiring people to fix up the infrastructure takes them off the unemployment rolls and off the other assistance programs, lowering government spending on those programs. Having those jobs means they are paying taxes again, raising government revenue. And fixing up the infrastructure makes our businesses more competitive again, growing the economy. It’s a no-brainer which should mean even the DC geniuses can figure it out.
Fix Trade
Because of bad trade deals, much of any revival of our economy just means that we send more money out of the country. The trade deficits, especially with China, are also economy deficits. We are not just sending jobs and money out of the country, we are sending our chances of coming out of this economic slump out of the country as well.
And these trade deals pit exploited, underpaid workers in non- or weak democracies against our workers who had been benefiting from the good wages, workers protections and other non-“business friendly” things that democracy brings along with it.
Our trade deals have made our democracy and the resulting high standard of living into a disadvantage. Who were the geniuses that let that happen?
Restore Long-Term Incentives
Tax cuts have cut the incentive for long-term business models. It used to take time to build a fortune, so businesses had to place themselves within healthy communities with good schools, well-maintained infrastructure and solid, well-funded public structures like the court system. Cutting top tax rates changed business models to make more sense “harvesting” those things in a hurry and moving on to the next community with resources to plunder. Low top tax rates encourage quick-buck schemes.
Propose The Right Thing
Propose the right thing and do it publicly, instead of trying to appease a political ideology bent on destroying government. Doing the right thing is also the right thing politically. If the job situation doesn’t get better you’re going to be thrown out of office. So come one, geniuses, get smart and start hiring people to fix up the infrastructure and make the economy more energy efficient.
10 years of Bush tax cuts is enough! Click here to demand your representative supports the Fairness in Taxation Act so the rich contribute their fair share.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Close The Social Security “Cap” Tax Loophole!

Most people don’t know that there is a huge loophole in the Social Security tax. Believe it or not, after $107K income you don’t pay the Social Security tax at all. This loophole is called the “cap.” The “cap” loophole is bigger than the looholes that let big corporations get out of paying their taxes because while not all corporations avoid taxes the “cap” applies to everyone making over $107K. Closing this loophole would fix all of Social Security’s so-called “problems.”
The “Cap”
Working people pay into their Social Security account from every dollar they earn but high-income earners only pay on a fraction of what they earn. Most people don’t make enough to take advantage of this loophole, so they don’t even know about this loophole. But once you reach $106,800 of income you stop paying anything into Social Security.
The Social Security “Problem”
Social Security has built up a huge trust fund of money that people have set aside for their retirement. This trust fund covers everyone’s Social Security benefits well into the future. But under some economic assumptions and with continuing concentration of wealth this trust fund begins to run out, and could be gone by approximately 2037. After 2037 the amount coming in from money people set aside could fall short of the amounts going out, and predictions are that without some changes the amounts paid out could be as much as 25% short. Of course, because of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), benefit checks will be larger than now, even with this potential 25% cut. But this will be a blow to retired people, and should be avoided.
Proposed Solutions
There are several proposals to solve the problem of this potential cut in benefits in the year 2037. Many of these solutions involve schemes to cut benefits now, instead of in 2037, to avoid having to cut in 2037. But for some reason many people are skeptical and do not see the logic of making big cuts in Social Security now in order to avoid possible small cuts later.
Other solutions involve raising the retirement age beyond the current retirement age of 67. People who do not sit at desks in their jobs and have to stand, lift, bend or use their hands worry that they will be unable to work until they die, and would rather see a solution to fixing the problem of a potential shortfall way off in the future than making them continue to work. Also, longevity studies show that people in higher incomes — the very people receiving the “cap” loophole — are living longer but not people who make less.
Still other solutions involve “means testing” — excluding some people from receiving benefits everyone has paid for. This is undemocratic — we are all in this together and have an equal stake and are entitled to equal benefits. That is what the word “entitlement” means: in a democracy we are all equally entitled to certain things.
These proposals all involve cutting or delaying benefits for recipients. But there is another solution that does not involve benefits: raising the cap on the level of earnings that pay into Social Security.
Raise The Cap
The one solution that is seemingly off the table in plutocratic circles is called “raising the cap.” This means fixing the loophole that lets people making over $106,800 stop paying into the Social Security fund. This would, of course, solve the problem of any potential shortfall in Social Security and could even enable restoring a lower retirement age, which would help alleviate the chronic unemployment problem as well.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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NY-26 Lesson: Don’t Mess With Medicare — Or Social Security!

In 2010 Republicans and corporate front groups ran ad after ad after ad after ad claiming that Democrats had “Cut 500 billion from Medicare.” Those ads brought them the senior vote, and they took the House. Confident in their ability to “create their own reality” they came out with a plan to privatize Medicare and told the public it would save Medicare. Well, last night’s win by Kathy Hochul in the NY-26 special election — with pretty high turnout in a Republican district — shows that the American people are smarter than they look, and figured out what was what. The lesson: don’t mess with Medicare.
Soundly Defeated
Yesterday’s NY-26 Congressional election turned on Medicare and the candidate who supported Medicare won. The candidate who supported the Republican plan to privatize Medicare was soundly defeated.
House Republicans voted to change Medicare from a single-payer plan to a private-insurance voucher plan as a measure to “cut government spending.” Republicans had talked themselves into believing the public hates government as much as they do and therefore gutting it is what the public wants. Instead of working to control health care costs they just shifted those costs away from the government into “personal responsibility” land. In plain non-propagandized English personal responsibility means each of us on our own, alone, instead of all of us watching out for and taking care of each other.
The public figured it out and voted to keep the Medicare-gutter out.
American Majority
The American Majority understands what is going on. They know that our budget problems come from tax cuts, military spending and the lack of jobs. Those are the things the public wants the Congress to fix.
Where the deficits come from:

What the public wants:

Gallup Poll, January 14-16, 2011

  • 64% oppose spending cuts to Medicare.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll, February 24-28, 2011

  • 54% believe it will not be necessary to cut spending on Medicare to reduce the national deficit.
  • 76% believe cutting Medicare to help reduce the budget deficit is mostly or totally unacceptable.
  • 60% oppose turning the Medicare system into a government-issued voucher program, which would require the beneficiary to purchase private health insurance.

First Focus and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Poll, April 13-18, 2011

  • 70% oppose cuts/changes to the Medicare system as described in the House Republican Budget.
  • 49% support not reducing funds to Medicare.
  • 53% believe replacing the current Medicare program with a voucher system in which retirees will receive vouchers to use to purchase subsidized insurance from private insurance companies for those 55 or older is totally or mostly unacceptable.

CBS News/The New York Times Poll, April 15-20, 2011

  • 61% believe that Medicare is currently “worth the costs.”
  • 76% think government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage to the elderly.
  • 49% believe higher-income beneficiaries should pay more in taxes.

Bloomberg News Poll, March 4-7, 2011

  • 54% oppose replacing Medicare with a system in which government vouchers would help participants pay for their own health insurance.
  • 76% oppose reducing benefits for Medicare.

Pulse Opinion Research for The Hill Poll, April 28, 2011

  • 53% said they would oppose a reduction in Medicare benefits in order to get the deficit/debt under control.

Pew Research Poll, March 8-14, 2011

  • 65% oppose changes to Social Security as a way to reduce the budget deficit.

More recent polling shows the public has moved to an even strong support for Medicare, and will remove from office anyone who votes to cut it.
Social Security The Same
Those polls don’t just test public support for Medicare, they test support for Social Security as well. The public feels just as strongly that politicians had best keep their hands off our Social Security.

In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Social Security, which is the retirement program for the elderly?
Ohio: 16% support, 80% oppose
Missouri: 17% support, 76% oppose
Montana: 20% support, 76% oppose
Minnesota: 23% support, 72% oppose

Reality Restored
During the Bush years the idea of a “reality-based community” circulated after an article by Ron Suskind about a meeting he had with “a senior advisor to Bush.” In the article he described how the aide scoffed at people who bother with reality:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Republicans and their corporate money tried to create a reality that let them gut Medicare without the public rising up to do something about it. It didn’t work.
Do The Right Thing
Well, reality is coming back. The public is figuring things out. Politicians should learn the lesson of NY-26: don’t mess with Medicare — or Social Security. To fix the deficit fix the causes of the deficit: invest in jobs through maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, restore top tax rates to where they were before we had huge deficits and, by the way, the Soviet Union is long gone so cut military spending back to maybe only twice our nearest potential competitor.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Don’t Make Us Work ‘Till We Die!


There was a time on this country when We, the People were in charge, and our government worked for us. Through our government we did things for each other and for our economy, and when we had economic success we paid back toward more such investment. Things are different today and We, the People are no longer in charge. In fact, We, the People are thought of now as “the help.” And lately the Powers That Be have been thinking they aren’t getting quite enough work out of us. So they want to make us Work ‘Till We Die.
The country has a budget deficit caused by tax cuts for the rich, huge increases in military spending, wars, covering problems caused by the Great Recession, and interest on the Reagan/Bush debt. To address these deficits the Powers That Be are coming up with plans to raise the retirement age, eliminate Medicare and cut the rest of the things We, the People do for each other — while, of course, dramatically cutting taxes on the rich.
In response the Strengthen Social Security campaign is launching Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die — a website, actions, video and petition.
Local Actions April 28!
Click here to find an event near you.
Virtual Rally!
If there is no event near you, you can participate in their Virtual Rally.
This is great. Print out a sign and take a picture of yourself holding the sign. Email it to: [email protected] with your City & State in the subject line, and be part of the Virtual Rally.
Sign ideas:
* Don’t Make Me Work ‘Til I Die
* Don’t Make My Kids to Work ‘Til They Die
* Make Your Own

What Others Are Saying
Left In Alabama: Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die,

There will be rallies in 18 states — 52 of them at last count — on April 27 and 28 where current retirees will demonstrate how hard or even impossible it would be for them to continue working at the jobs they retired from.

Digby: Don’t Make Us Work Until We Die.

Evidently, this is the new fate for many more of the elderly. Between raising the retirement age, skimping on the benefits, wage stagnation and economic wipe-outs like the Great Recession, young and old alike will be competing for all those low paying jobs. But since three and four generations will all have to live under the same roof, perhaps they can come up with some sort of job share concept so that they can work in shifts and someone will be at home to take care of the children. As long as it doesn’t inconvenience the employer, of course.

Richard Eskow at Ourfuture.org: Work ‘Til You Die: The Alternate American Reality – And The Reality

The retirement age is already scheduled to increase, and raising it even more is nothing less than cruel. That idea’s part of the political trend toward “austerity economics,” a resurgent anti-government ideology that’sengendered a wave of enthusiastic – no, make that orgiastic prose – from well-fed pundits. Their display of almost snuff-movie-like excitement should have been predictable, but I found it shocking anyway.

AFL-CIO Now Blog: Tell Lawmakers, ‘Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die’,

There is a scary scenario in store if the Republican budget, drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, is ever implemented. Take a look at this new video from Strengthen Social Security, Don’t Cut It, that takes us to a new dimension where “politicians are cutting our Social Security and Medicare and forcing us work until we die.”
The Serlingesque video is part of a new campaign to fight back against the Republican budget and other proposals to raise the retirement age, turn Medicare over to Big Insurance and slash Medicaid for seniors, children and people with disabilities.
Next week on April 27 and 28 in more than 50 cities in 18 states, activists from the Strengthen Social Security, Don’t Cut It coalition—the AFL-CIO and the Alliance for Retired Americans are part of the coalition—will hold events at congressional district offices to tell their lawmakers hands off Social Security. Click here to find an event near you.

The Main Street blog

Everyone who has worked in a physically demanding job knows what increasing the retirement age will mean. It’s one thing to preach the necessity of this from behind a desk in a cushy office. It’s another thing to be a miner, nurse, truck driver, cook, carpenter, janitor, or a waiter at age 67 – if our bodies last that long. For those who are among the still unemployed/underemployed, and over the age of 55, the promise of Social Security in the future is what keeps us going. We can’t let them pull the rug out from under seniors who have worked long and hard, and paid in to the Social Security Trust Fund.

Dean Baker at CEPR: Why Do Real Men Want to Cut Social Security?

It really speaks volumes about the nature of politics in Washington that in order to be accepted as a serious participant in the budget debates, it is now necessary to affirm a willingness to cut Social Security. This is bizarre from many different angles.

RootsWire
BennyHollywood,
Blue Hampshire
Suburban Guerrilla
Ellen’s Illinois Tenth Congressional District Blog: Days of Action to Protect Social Security/Medicare,

April 27th and 28th will be days of action to protect Social Security and Medicare. The themes are “Don’t Make Me Work Until I Die” and “Don’t Make My Kids Work Until They Die.” Here’s the video:
… If you’re ok with foregoing retirement and health care when you need it most so some CEO of a multinational can walk away with billions (trillions) and take his jobs to India, China and Pakistan, then go ahead and vote for Republicans and do nothing on April 27th and 28th, but if you want US jobs and a US middle class that provides for a dignified retirement, then join Strengthen Social Security for its events, virtually if you cannot make a meeting.

Crooks and Liars
Treehugger
susan the bruce
Dirigo Blue: SAVE THE DATE: Day of Action for Social Security: Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Social Security “Cannot Exist” Says Rep. Cantor, House Majority Leader

From Campaign for America’s Future:
Help Fight Cantor’s Quest to Eliminate Social Security

Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said out loud what he really thinks: He believes Social Security “cannot exist.” At all. For anyone.
This week NPR played Cantor’s remarks to the conservative Hoover Institution: He declared: “So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? For – you know, listen. We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”
These guys say things like this at right-wing think tanks, expecting that the folks back home won’t hear them. We want to make sure every person in Rep. Cantor’s congressional district hears those words straight from his mouth.
The Campaign for America’s Future isn’t letting Rep. Cantor get away with it. We have a TV ad that will let his constituents know about his extreme opposition to Social Security. But we need your help to get it on the air. The more you can donate, the more we can get his constituents to see the ad and the more we can spread the truth, and put him on the hot seat.
Click here to help us keep this ad on the air »

Here is what CAF sent out in an email:

Help us expose Rep. Eric Cantor’s plan to make sure Social Security “cannot exist.” Contribute $10, $25 or $50 to our ad campaign.
This week NPR played Cantor’s remarks to the conservative Hoover Institution: He declared: “So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? For – you know, listen. We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”
These guys say things like this at right-wing think tanks, expecting that the folks back home won’t hear them. We want to make sure every person in Rep. Cantor’s congressional district hears those words straight from his mouth.
Check out our hard-hitting ad. Then help us get it on the air.
Help us expose Rep. Eric Cantor’s plan to make sure Social Security “cannot exist.” Contribute $10, $25 or $50 to our ad campaign.
A significant ad buy in Rep. Cantor’s central Virginia district would only require 100 supporters to donate $50 each.
But the more you can donate, the more we can get his constituents to see the ad and the more we can spread the truth, and put him on the hot seat.
Help us expose Rep. Eric Cantor’s plan to make sure Social Security “cannot exist.” Contribute $10, $25 or $50 to our ad campaign.
All year, the Campaign for America’s Future has been leading the fight to protect Social Security. And our polling shows that big majorities across the country want to strengthen Social Security – including in Cantor’s district.
We helped stop the President from embracing disastrous Social Security cuts in his State of the Union address. Now, let’s make sure the Republicans know what they’re in for if they try to abolish one of American’s most successful, and most popular programs.
Thank you for all of your support.
Sincerely,
Roger Hickey, Co-director
Campaign for America’s Future

IMPORTANT: Call Now To Save Social Security

Today is a national call-in day to let Senators know that there is support for keeping Social Security out of the budget debate.
Here are some facts. Social Security cannot borrow, so it does not contribute to the deficit. In fact, working people have been paying a large share of their earnings into Social Security to save for their retirement, and because of this the program has been running a huge surplus. The government has been borrowing FROM Social Security to fund tax cuts for the rich. This borrowed money was used to purchase Treasury Notes, just like China does when we borrow from them, and those notes earn interest, just like China’s, which also helps fund the program. So all of this money people have been putting aside for their retirement adds up to a huge trust fund, which doesn’t get used up until approx 2037 — if the economy doesn’t get better; later if it does. Even then it only runs a bit short.
So the only threat to Social Security is that if nothing is done there might be some cuts in benefits in 2037. The solution is not to cut benefits to avoid cuts in benefits. That doesn’t make sense. The solution is to “raise the cap.” Today only incomes below about $100K pay into Social Security. Raising that $100K “cap” fixes the problem. Better yet, remove the cap on incomes above $250,000.
The following is from the Strengthen Social Security coalition, of which Campaign for America’s Future is part:
We need you to call your Senators and demand that they vote for the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment.
Senator Sanders and Majority Leader Reid are leading the fight in the Senate to protect Social Security from drastic cuts.
Their amendment simply says:
Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries should not be cut and Social Security should not be privatized as part of any legislation to reduce the Federal deficit.
Call your Senators RIGHT NOW at 1-866-251-4044. You’ll be given a choice of which of your state’s two senators to be connected with. Call BOTH of your senators if you have the time. It only takes a minute each.
Tell the person who answers the phone:

  • I am a voter/constituent living in [your state]. I am calling to tell the Senator:
  • I oppose all cuts to Social Security and
  • I urge them to vote yes on the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment.

Please take the time for this very important effort today. This is for all of us who depend on Social Security.
Call Today: 1-866-251-4044.
AFTER YOU CALL:
Stay involved, the threat to Social Security continues. Please click to stay involved in the fight.

Call Today To Save Social Security

Call Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday!
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led a press conference and rally to save Social Security yesterday:

Senate Majority Leader Reid, Other Democrats, Join Hundreds to Demand No Cuts to Social Security
Sens. Reid, Harkin, Sanders, Franken and Blumenthal Follow Emotional Speeches by Americans Who Depend on Social Security and Oppose Cuts
… Under the slogans “Back Off Social Security” and “Hands Off Social Security,” more than 350 fired-up retirees and others packed a meeting room on Capitol Hill to hear from the Senators and program beneficiaries, and to demand no benefit cuts, no retirement age increase, and no privatization. The large public event happened as the battle heats up in Washington between those wanting to sacrifice Social Security as part of a deficit-reduction deal and those demanding that it not be cut.

The following is from the Strengthen Social Security coalition, of which Campaign for America’s Future is part:
We need you to call your Senators and demand that they vote for the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment.
Senator Sanders and Majority Leader Reid are leading the fight in the Senate to protect Social Security from drastic cuts.
Their amendment simply says:
Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries should not be cut and Social Security should not be privatized as part of any legislation to reduce the Federal deficit.
Call your Senators RIGHT NOW at 1-866-251-4044. You’ll be given a choice of which of your state’s two senators to be connected with. Call BOTH if you have the time. It only takes a minute each.
Tell the person who answers the phone:

  • I am a voter/constituent living in [your state]. I am calling to tell the Senator:
  • I oppose all cuts to Social Security and
  • I urge them to vote yes on the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment.

Please take the time for this very important effort today. This is for all of us who depend on Social Security.
Call Today: 1-866-251-4044.
AFTER YOU CALL:
Stay involved, the threat to Social Security continues. Please click to stay involved in the fight.