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July 5, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Social Security needs to be fixed

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In his letter to the editor, “Social Security not meant to be a lender,” Dan Olivier has obviously bought into the politicians’ scare tactics that are preventing meaningful fixes to the coming entitlement train wreck. The escalating Social Security deficits are real and are contributing to the debt crisis because there is no money in the looted trust fund to cover them. And retirees are being hit hard by deficit-fueled inflation.

Tea Party proposals to fix the problem by eliminating Social Security and replacing it with a stock market investment scheme were thankfully ditched a long time ago. But denying the problem will only make it worse. It’s time for real fixes such as increasing payroll taxes on the rich and reducing rich retirees’ benefits.

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  1. "Social Security deficits are real and are contributing to the debt crisis"

    Well, not exactly. The deficits are real but they are not contributing to the debt crisis. They are already part of the debt and are not adding to it. The debt was formed over successive administrations over the past 30 years as surplus funds were borrowed fron the Social Security Trust Fund for other government purposes.

    The Trust Fund now holds $2.7 Trillion in assets in the form of Treasury Notes that are already part of the National Debt. For now and until 2020 the interest earned on those Treasury notes will cover the deficit in Social Security and the Trust Fund will continue to grow, albeit by very little.

    After 2020, the Trust Fund will be depleted in 13-14 years (adding nothing to the National Debt) and Social security will thereafter only be able to pay just under 80% of its benefits from then current payroll taxes unless changes are made.

  2. Two previous Presidents, William Clinton and George W. Bush, recognized the problems ahead for Social Security and Medicare and appointed commissions to make recommendations for financial reforms. President Obama did too and appointed a bipartisan commission, Simpson-Bowles, to do the same as his two predecessors. Then proceeded to do nothing for 5 years with the results. Why? There are many answers. The best is that President Obama doesn't want to upset his base which believes that the problems will go away with no action needed. I call this the "ostrich" approach: Ignoring the problem by sticking your head in the sand. It ranks right up there with "kicking the can" down the road. Except, the can kicks back when the road runs out.

    Carmine D

  3. Thank you, Mr. Keller. Now we know the way to fix things is to take from the productive and "redistribute" to the unproductive. Make the "rich" pay more and get less. Great idea. Legalized theft! No, the way to fix our economic woes is for the low-lives in the pig sty known as Washington, DC, to quit being such spendthrifts! Anyone with an ounce of brain-power can see the writing on the wall as to what will happen if they do not and it will happen sooner than later. Look to Cyprus as a prime example. Once the US Government steals 60% of your savings, you will howl like a Banshee but will have no one to blame but yourself for being so self-centered and greedy. The insanity in Washington, DC, cannot and will not go on forever!

  4. What sits in the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are specially designated treasury securities. Those securities belong to a class of debt known as intergovernmental debt. Intergovernmental debt is 40% of our national debt. That being said most of it is owned by Americans and not the Chinese. Americans don't have to have debt if they don't want it. With the debt tax you could eliminated or drastically reduce it in a few years.

    The problem is people have no interest in doing so and the consequences of taking large sums of money and paying off the debt are unknown. It took roughly 59 years to pay off the revolutionary war. As soon as the debt was paid off we had some of the worst times in American history.

    If you want to eliminate unfunded liabilities bring our medical spending down to the next most expensive country which is Norway. That reduction would save Americans over $1 trillion a year. It's medical spending that is sucking the life out of the entire country.

    The medical complex is so vast and so inefficient no one has a clue as to how much is wasted. I think the $700 billion-dollar number is an over exaggeration. Our system is way too expensive in that we pay many times more for every medical procedure than other people do around the world. Being overly expensive and waste are two different things.

  5. Deficit spending exists the world over. It allows governments to give people what they want. Entitlements and low taxes. The demands that are being placed on governments today are unprecedented. We have over 70,000 people in the United States that are 100 years old or more. We still have millions of World War II veterans.

    10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day over a period of almost 20 years. Yet the vast majority of Incorporated businesses pay no taxes. Those that do are paying taxes at the lowest percent of revenues in 50 years. Many individuals pay no taxes. People don't want to pay taxes but have no problem lining up for every entitlement imaginable. That's why deficits exist.

    In the next 50 years there will be a quad trillion dollars worth of economic activity in this country. The debt, Social Security and Medicare are tiny fraction of that output. Given that people still refuse to pay for these things.

  6. @brtaylor,

    Your post at 7:38 is right on the mark. "Privatize" the profits and "Socialize" the losses is exactly what happened repealing the Glass Steagal Act allowing banks to become "Too Big to Fail." Supply side economics is destroying this country in all areas, social security, health care, insurance, manufacturing, war, etc. The banks in Europe are suffering from the bad (shi**y) bundled deals they invested in here in America. It's the wealthy playing their at their financial games that caused our economy to collapse, not the working poor or shrinking middle class.

  7. It's amazing to me the way people constantly blame politicians for their own shortcomings. The savings rate in this country is and has been absolutely abysmal. Two thirds of the people in the country have no money put away for contingencies. Yet people blame politicians for everything.

    Medicare and Social Security were set up because people didn't have enough money for retirement or medical expenses. Things haven't changed a bit.

    At some point people have to accept the fact that they are at least partially to blame. Blaming Bush or Obama for the countries shortcomings is a bunch of hogwash.

    Saving and investing lead to independence. Half the people in the country don't even have retirement accounts much less anything else. look at all that high school dropout deadbeats we have in this town and the problems they cause.

    Notacon.. The affluent don't need Social Security. The average Social Security check is about $1100 a month. The money should go to the people that need it and be phased out at incomes over a certain level. The fact that Warren Buffett gets a Social Security check every month is absolutely ridiculous. Entitlement programs were set up to help the needy, not the billionaires.

  8. "A former adviser of Ronald Reagan has some choice words for George W. Bush."

    "David Stockman, Reagan's budget director from 1981 to 1985, slammed Bush and his former boss in an op-ed in The New York Times Sunday. Stockman argued in the piece that Reagan's view on the deficit "created a template for the Republicans' utter abandonment of the balanced-budget policies of Calvin Coolidge."

    "(Reagan's deficit policies) allowed George W. Bush to dive into the deep end, bankrupting the nation through two misbegotten and unfinanced wars, a giant expansion of Medicare and a tax-cutting spree for the wealthy that turned K Street lobbyists into the de facto office of national tax policy," Stockman wrote."

    "Stockman, also a former Republican congressman from Michigan, resigned from Reagan's administration in 1985 in protest over deficit spending. Bush and Reagan aren't Stockman's only targets in the piece; he attacks lawmakers, Federal Reserve and Treasury officials and Wall Street for a combination of easy money and deficit expanding policies that he argues will lead to another Wall Street bubble explosion in the near future."

    "Stockman may have a point when it comes to Bush's policies, at least. The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined with the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy will account for nearly half of the debt the U.S. will owe by 2019, according to a February analysis from the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, a left-leaning think tank."

  9. Vernos:

    I haven't heard anything about or from David Stockman in years and years. What has the man done and been doing since 1985? That was almost 30 years ago. Why now?

    Carmine D

  10. I'm with Sgt. Rock on this one. The Social Security fund is based solely and entirely on the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. There are no intrinsically valuable assets in the fund just paper IOU's and the government's a promise to pay. A promise becoming more and more difficult to keep.

    Carmine D

  11. Vernos,

    I am familiar with Stockman and he is correct. But again, you draw the incomplete conclusion that 'it's the Republicans'. Reagan started it, Bush accelerated it, but all of Congress has participated and continues to participate and so does President Obama.

    If we don't force changes, which include term limits, public financing of campaigns and lobbying reform, the powerful forces; the FED, K Street and their lobbyists, the Treasury and its officials, all the other powerful interests looking for advantage and all the Congress members who continue to become wealthy over long 'careers' in Congress will continue to do what they do until our country is destroyed.

    We cannot fix this by blaming Republicans or Democrats. They are all in it, Vernos, up to their necks... and it will not change unless WE force the change. The corrupted Congressional system must change.

    PS Carmine: 40 years or not; Stockman was correct when he resigned when Reagan refused to implement the cuts he had committed to make and he is right today as well. Reagan did some good things but he was far from perfect.


  12. Reagan had to work with a Democratic Congress: Tip O'Neil.

    Carmine D

  13. "Hmmmmmm....I didn't realize that the "gipper' didn't have the power of veto....Wow!"

    Congress has the power to override. It all evens out.

    BTW, thank you for the concern. The bubble and brain are both doing well. As big and bright as ever.

    Carmine D

  14. "The "gipper used the veto 78 times during his 8 years as president. Only 9 of those vetoes were over ridden....that's a mere 12%."

    39 of the vetoes were pocket [no action taken by President Reagan in the required timeframe]. 39 were regular [President Reagan vetoed]. 12 percent of total vetoes [pocket and regular] were overrode. 23 percent of regular vetoes overrode.

    That evens out. And are the correct totals and percentages.

    I pray that you do a better job in the future getting your facts and analyses correct and complete. Then I won't have to for you.

    Carmine D

  15. "That's funny! EVERYTHING I said is true. You can split hairs all you want but I was 100% correct with my statement..."

    For a poster who supposedly prides himself on historical completeness and accuracy, your average on the Reagan vetoes is 50 percent correct. Vetoes are always separated into two distinct categories: Pocket and regular. Percentage of vetoes overrode are also.

    Carmine D

  16. " Veto success rate only includes regular vetoes"

    In Reagan's case, the veto success rate is 77 percent using the override percentage of 23. Not 88 percent using the override percentage 12.

    Carmine D

  17. You my little friend are trying to defend the part of your anatomy you don't use.

    Carmine D

  18. My little friend I suggest rather than quote Mr. Lincoln, a Republican, you follow his advice.

    "Veto success rate only includes regular vetoes"

    Carmine D

  19. ""Pocket Vetoes" can only occur after a session of Congress has adjourned and can not be overridden by Congress."

    President Reagan's 39 pocket vetoes can't be used [as you did] to determine his veto success rate. Why? Because Congress can't override. So the override rate is 23 percent [as I said] not 12 percent as you said.

    You get 50 percent correct and accurate.

    Carmine D

  20. So my little friend that you can understand the math if not the factual history:

    50 percent correct and accurate makes you 50 percent wrong and inaccurate. That makes you even. As I said: It all evens out.

    Carmine D

  21. My little friend practices April Fool's Day all the time.

    Carmine D

  22. When the facts are on my side, as they are for vetoes, no retort is necessary. Just the good sense for you to research further and admit you are wrong.

    You cut and paste a link on vetoes from the internet and then proceeded to calculate and interpret the veto percentages wrong. You forgot the key ingredient for the percentages [difference between "pocket" and "regular" vetoes]. You fell for my trap like a blind pigeon.

    Only "regular" vetoes not "pocket" vetoes are used in the President's veto success rate. Why? Simple. Congress can't override "pocket" vetoes.

    What amazes me is that I gave you several opportunities to correct yourself. You didn't. You NEVER got it. Instead sticking hard and fast to your half-right half-complete position. You proved Abe Lincoln wrong. All people can be fooled all the time, if they are like you.

    It just took me awhile to figure out how. But I did.

    You have a right to your opinions. Not the facts. They belong to those of us who know and understand them and their nuances.

    Carmine D

  23. SS benefits are an issue. But here's a bigger one: those who don't qualify for SS benefits often COST TAXPAYERS MORE. The career indigents get FREE housing, food, health care....simply by refusing to work. Perhaps we need another SS such as a default benefit where those who didn't earn SS benefits cannot get more in free benefits than those who worked. Might sound strange but think it thru. A large part of the reasoning for cutting SS "entitlements" is to leave the funding there for those who don't get SS benefits.

  24. My little friend: The 12 percent and the 23 percent are the issue. The first is your figure and is not substantiated by any record or account of history. It's fiction. Meaningless. The second is the factual historical account of President Reagan's veto override percentage [remember ONLY "regular" vetoes are used in the calculation]. For someone who likes to invent history, like you my little friend, there is someone who knows history like me to set you straight. Sadly, you are not smart enough or wise enough to stand down and accept the correction. Even when you are overtly wrong.

    Carmine D

  25. My little friend wants to run with the big dogs but is too small to keep up.

    "Congress has the power to override. It all evens out."

    Since Congress can't override "pocket" vetoes, only "regular" vetoes are included in the President's veto success rate. Not "pocket" vetoes.

    That gives President Reagan a 77 percent veto success rate not 88 percent.

    "It all evens out."

    "He who laughs last, laughs best."

    Carmine D