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May 6, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Social Security can work if left alone

Another view?

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Tom Keller’s comments in his letter, “Social Security needs to be fixed,” are in the right train but on the wrong track.

Social Security is not an entitlement. It is an annuity contract between the wage earner and the most responsible insurance company in the world, the U.S. government. From a person’s first earned dollar, he or she is contributing to a lifetime annuity. The obligation of that contract fulfillment is the responsibility of the insurance company (in this case the government). Social Security does not contribute one cent to the national debt; because the government borrowed the money from the trust fund, it is an obligation of the government just like Treasury notes, bills and bonds.

Social Security is not in an immediate crisis to pay its obligation, since it is estimated to be 100 percent funded into the mid 2030s. One simple two-step solution to extend and fully fund Social Security for the foreseeable future, under current conditions, is to raise the annual payroll tax cap from $113,000 to $250,000 and increase the payroll tax 1 percent on each of the contributors’ sides.

Remember, Social Security is more than retirement; it provides aid to dependent children, survivor benefits and disability benefits (in many cases to veterans). If you question these benefits, check with Rep. Paul Ryan since he and his mother were the beneficiaries of these programs when his father died.

The author is the grass-roots national volunteer coordinator of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

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  1. Social Security is not like an annuity on at least 3 accounts: (1) Annuities earned rates of interest on the payers' contributions; (2) Payers are not taxed on the annuities until the monies are distributed/paid out; (3) Annuities for the most part do not lose money and in jeopardy of not being paid, if the annuitants meet the requirements. At least these are the conditions for the annuities I'm familiar with versus social security.

    Having noted these 3 differences, raising the wages cap on social security, from $113,000 to $250,000, is a tax on the wealthy. Pure and simple. The very people needed keep the Trust fund afloat after 2033 when it's estimated to be unable to pay 25 percent of it's benefits and beneficiaries [according to 5 recent consecutive years of Trustees' reports].
    Carmine D

  2. In Flemming v. Nestor, the supreme court ruled that SS benefits confer no legally binding rights. Congress reserves the right to alter the terms of the so-called contract at its discretion.

    But why is it so commonly referred to as "insurance"? Since its inception, the government has engaged in a massive coordinated propaganda campaign as so many citizens had recognized it for what it truly is; a massive re-distributionist welfare program.

  3. CarmineD -

    1) Social Security Trust Fund assets do earn interest. Currently, the interest earned by the SS Trust Fund earns enough to more than cover the annual deficit and is expected to do that until 2020.

    2)You seem to imply that annuities are purchased with pre-tax funds which isn't true.

    3)No one has lost money on Social Security based on its inability to pay. This is not universally true for annuities written by private insurance companies.

    There are numerous proposals to make Social Security solvent past the mid 2030s and all have been scored. But a Congress whose version of long-term planning seems to be confined to 90-day extensions can hardly be expected to attack a problem 20 years in the future.

  4. We need only look to Greece & Cyprus to see where we are headed if the fiscal insanity is not reined in. Closer to home, take a peek at Stockton, CA.

  5. Hi Jim:

    Annuitants, like me, are provided a statement on a regular bases which shows the actual amount of interest earned during the period and the amount the annuity increased by it. Social Security does not.

    My annuities were rollovers from qualified IRA retirement plans. The amounts were not taxed thanks to IRS IRA tax exemptions every year I paid in.

    I agree with you on the third point, in part. Guaranteed annuities, like mine, don't lose money IF the annuitant abides by the terms of the annuity agreement.

    Carmine D

  6. Sorry Jim, on the last point, legislative action is needed to sure up Social Security after 2033. The last 5 years' of Trustees' reports have all stated so. I agree with the Trustees.

    Carmine D

  7. Jim:

    I almost forgot: Another difference between my annuities and SS. I can designate a beneficiary [s] for the undistributed amount of my annuities after I die. Can't do that with SS. You die, the unpaid amount of your SS contributions, if any, reverts to spouse with reductions of your SS and/or spouse if collecting SS. If not, it goes back to the SS fund for others' SS benefits.

    Carmine D

  8. CarmineD

    I've reminded you on more than one occasion that your contention that the Social Security Trust Fund does not earn interest is inaccurate.

    Annuities funded by IRA rollovers are a distinct minority.

    Your annuity is an IRA, and just like my IRA accounts that are not annuities, I receive statements and have a designated beneficiary.

    A general statement implying all annuities are like yours is misleading.

    Social security is a benefit pool.

    I absolutely agree with the Social Security Trustees' report too. But since we have not arrived at 2033 yet and there is time for changes, my statement stands. No one has lost money on Social Security based on its ability to pay!

  9. Enjoyed the article. Finally we get someone who actually tells the truth about the status of Social Security. And not pounding out an agenda to destroy it.

    The only thing I can add is what I have said before on other comment sections regarding Social Security.

    Social Security is not what the ultra-conservative Tea/Republicans like to refer as an "entitlement." It's an institution. Carved in stone.

    And just like I have typed before, the rhetoric shrilled out there to destroy it won't stop, but I guarantee every single person that comments here that the American people will vote out of power any politician that tries to wreck Social Security. Not only that, but their entire political party will be destroyed and the remnants will only be a footnote in the American political history books.

    Make a move at it, Tea/Republicans. You been warned.

    Spend more energy making it better rather than the constant failed attempts at trying to obliterate it. This Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand viewpoint will go away faster than Social Security will.

    The constant attacks on Social Security by the Tea/Republican Party reminds me of an old classic blues song by the legendary Muddy Waters....

    "Got my mojo workin'....

    ....but it just don't work on you."

  10. Gil Eisner's excellent letter clearly makes the case for protecting Social Security and how to preserve it for future generations. Every mutual insurance company makes adjustments from time to time and here Social Security isn't any different. I agree with others that CarmineD's arguments as to why Social Security differs from an annuity are incorrect. It is true that some pay more into the system than others while receiving less in return. But you can say this about nearly every "tax" Americans pay. The question then becomes if we make the system more "fair" would this be the kind of country we would all want to live in? I think not.

  11. It has been pointed out the Social security is nothing more than a welfare system.

    The defination of welfare is discribed, as being a system (welfare) set up with intent of providing benefits to improverished Americans.These benefits include supplemental income,food stamps,medicaid, and Hud housing.You do not have to contribute one red cent to qualify for these benefits.

    The defination of Social Security is monetary benefits received by retired workers who have paid into the Social Security system, along with their employers,during their working years.No welfare here,just hard working Americans,trying to get back some of what they paid into.

  12. brtaylor says: " late grandfather Jervis Taylor, 'Anytime a rich man comes and tells you he has a better way to do something or it won't cost you anything, you turn around, grab your wallet tightly, and run away as fast as you can. There is no rich man going to do anything to help anyone but himself.'"

    I wholeheartedly agree, brtaylor, and enjoyed your comments. Your grandfather was indeed a very, very wise man.

  13. Thank You Gilbert Eisner ! The new deal is here to stay rich manipulating no accounts- Now lets raise the minimum wage !

  14. The problem here is that too many people define Social Security in contradictory ways. People say, "It is only the money that person X paid in and that which was paid in by their employer." If that was strictly true, there could never be a problem since your benefits would be entirely defined by what you paid in. If I buy an annuity, as some people here liken Social Security, the amount that I get paid by my annuity is based on the amount paid in by the person and their employer. But when people constantly say that we need to raise the income limit, then they must also admit that the annuity analogy is not true. It never has been truly in the annuity mode, since you had early participants who got large multiples of what they paid in.

    The other part of this is the insurance thing which is part of Social Security. It does provide a level of insurance through survivor benefits. This is outside of the disability function of the program as well. So, it is a more complex issue than most seem to think about.

    Still, it is in many ways not a very good use of people's money. Most folks could do better by having their money in other places. This is probably why so many government employees around the country do not participate. When I was working for the Nevada System of Higher Education, I did not pay into Social Security. My portion and the employer portion went into a private retirement fund. Having run the numbers at different times, a person's money would be better off having gotten the rate of return of the S&P 500 over virtually any period and then been used to buy an annuity. This is true even if some is taken out to buy some insurance.

    Like most long term problems, what issues exist with Social Security are best handled sooner rather than later. The costs of doing things later becomes larger and larger. These kinds of things are spelled out in a number of federal budget reports from over the past decade. But it is also increasingly obvious that politicians do not wish to do anything much before they have no other choice and that makes the solutions worse than they might be.

  15. Hey all... guess what? Social Security is working.

  16. Jim:

    "A general statement implying all annuities are like yours is misleading."

    I agree. That was not my intent. The reason I used the caveat I did in my post:

    "At least these are the conditions for the annuities I'm familiar with versus social security."

    Annuities come in all manner of shapes, sizes and forms. You have to shop around for the best deals. Like you said, I have one of the best. At least, I like to think so. I'm not privileged. Others can buy into these annuities too just as I did.

    BTW, as you may know, guaranteed annuities [like mine]have restrictions on how soon you can withdraw the funds. That's how the annuities guarantee the rates of return. In recent years, as interest rates tanked, the annuity holders waived the restrictions on the withdrawals. Allowing my wife and I to start drawing down whenever we like with no penalties.

    Carmine D

  17. "No one has lost money on Social Security based on its ability to pay!"


    As you know three Presidents have stated concerns about the solvency prospects of the Social Security and Medicare Funds[not to mention President Reagan and the Greenspan Commission who actually took actions to reform SS]. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. All 3 establishing bipartisan commissions to study and make recommendations for reforms. Starting in 1996 and up through the now. Nothing yet done.

    Carmine D

  18. Economic collapse, the proliferation of semiautomatic weapons and continual war are long term problems while social security is not.

  19. Carmine,

    It doesn't take a commission to figure out what's wrong with Social Security. All we have to do is point the finger where it belongs. The Social Security trust fund was raided by both parties to a tune of 2.7 trillion and used for other projects,and has not been paid back yet.That's what's wrong with social Security.

  20. Hi Sam:

    Yes and no. The underlying issue is that more persons are drawing down than are paying in. Social Security at the current and forecasted rates of pay ins versus pay outs is on a path to insolvency and bankruptcy. That's not a personal opinion. It's the Social Security's Trustees' written reports and opinions for the last 5 consecutive years about both the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds.

    Carmine D

  21. Why haven't any of you hypocrites address the fact that American businesses are working with communists? You have no problem calling the president a commie/socialist. You've also been very quiet when it was mentioned that the Koch brothers had dealings with Iran, bypassing American sanctions. I still haven't heard a word about banks laundering drug cartel money or fixing rates. You jump up and down screaming about Democrats and/or liberal policies but never speak about the corruption built into the so-called capitalist system, which is skewed in the direction of corporate welfare.

  22. "resorted to saying what ever pop's into his head....Sort the same way that Carmine does his posting..."

    It's called "brainstorming."

    Carmine D

  23. Hi Joe:

    Ibid. ;-)

    Carmine D

  24. Carmine,

    Where do you think Social Security would be if the 2.7 trillion were in the kitty right now? Would we even be having this conversation, if it were there?

  25. Sam:

    It was: 2.7 T in U.S. IOU's backed by the full faith and trust of the U.S. government to the recipients who paid in. It is an issue. But not the real issue.

    It's the rate of payouts of Social Security versus pay ins to Social Security. The Social Security fund is approaching the point where there are more persons receiving benefits from Social Security than persons paying into it. That's not a personal opinion, Sam. It's the Social Security Trustees' reports and analyses for the last 5 years and still. The Fund Trustees say legislative action is needed to address the issues of the future insolvency and bankruptcy of the Social Security and Medicare Funds, not Republicans.

    When Social Security passed in 1933, there were more persons paying into the Trust fund than being paid out of the fund. The average lifespan of American workers was 63 in 1933. Today it is 78 and going higher. What will it be in 2033? 85 or more? What is being done to address these matters? Nothing yet.

    Carmine D

  26. BTW Sam et al, you may want to verify my ages for longevity. They may be wrong/revised. 63 years in 1933 may be a lower age [I've read in some places 53 years old] and the 78 years today may be higher [I've read 85 years as recently as today].

    Carmine D

  27. PS Sam:

    The Trustees' reports for the last 5 years dismiss the $2.7 T. It's treated as a loan from the SS Fund paid back, with interest, by the U.S. government.

    Did I, and/or the Trustees' Reports, answer your question, Sam?

    "Where do you think Social Security would be if the 2.7 trillion were in the kitty right now? Would we even be having this conversation, if it were there?"

    Carmine D

  28. Carmine,

    Defend it any way you choose.Show me the money (2.7 trillion).IOU's are just that,they are still being paid with tax payer money.This has put a hurt on the Social Security trust fund, big time.

  29. Carmine,
    "It's called brainstorming."

    BS does not stand for brainstorming. I think it has a different meaning.

  30. Good letter. Now please find a way to stop spending more in benefits for those who don't pay into SS than to those who DO WORK and pay in. OK, most of the UNEARNED benefits are paid via welfare programs but why do they get more than SS benefits pay? True EBT SNAP is there for those who get minimal SS benefits. There is sooooo much fraud in food stamps and still we here the PSA's crying for donations to help the hungry????

  31. "Carmine,
    "It's called brainstorming."

    BS does not stand for brainstorming. I think it has a different meaning."

    No Sam, you're thinking of brown storming!

    Carmine D

  32. Teamster:

    Our hero, Jimmy R. Hoffa, is rolling over in his grave wherever that might be. The Truckers' union of Teamsters are pulling their funds out of the Teamster pension. Why? It's going bankrupt! Can only pay 60 cents on the dollar. Shades of Social Security?

    Carmine D

  33. "Why is Obama proposing to cut social security benefits?" Sgt. Rock

    May I add, Medicare too. Leaks about the President's proposed 2014 budget plan, due out next week, indicate that President Obama proposes to cut benefits in and raise premiums for Medicare. Why? Simple. The payouts from Medicare have doubled since 2003 when prescription drugs were covered [thank you George W. Bush]. Premiums and payroll taxes only cover half of the Medicare benefits paid out annually. Simpson-Bowles pointed this out as early as 2010. President Obama didn't act on it. Now he is or, at least, plans to. BTW, there is bipartisan support for the President's recommendations. GOP leaders met with the President recently, when President tried to make nice with them [read get their approval for the Medicare cuts and raises in taxes/premiums]. The GOP gave the President the nod as well as members of his own party. What's next? Sgt. Rock nailed it, Social Security.

    Carmine D

  34. Think about that figure. In one decade, 10 years, the Medicare payouts have doubled. Doubled.

    Carmine D

  35. Tis called BENEFICIARY fraud and provider fraud. Endless streams of people claiming to be over 65 with Medicare coverage (including illegal invaders using SSN's of Americans)--used by providers to bill Medicare for services and devices not provided, not needed, not prescribed.

  36. SS was not "fixed" to cover the costs when the feds began (and accelerated) benefits paid to SSI and SSDI--disabled and handicapped people who often did not pay in a dime. These people were previously on Welfare but not get federal benefits. That's probably OK but we never adequately funded it or adjusted other benefits to pay for it. AND, the feds are giving benefits to "disabled" illegals. Anyone with kidney problems severe enough to be on dialysis gets SS benefits--unless they are so new to the U.S. that they're still going in to UMC for "emergency" dialysis on a recurring basis--costing Nevadans upwards of $130K each per year.

  37. Carmine, Medicare payouts have more than doubled because we pay providers to provide. We pay for doctor visits so they can write RX's for drugs we don't need and that actually hurt us--tis why our life expectancy is way behind the civilized countries. AND, we pay, no questions asked, for every possible procedure and intervention for end-of-life "care." This is when someone is terminal, has pain meds, little to no chance of consciousness let alone survival, and the "providers" often bill Medicare for upwards of $500K for "care." To fix Medicare and American health care we must STOP paying doctors for inappropriate and harmful "care." We don't need Obamacare or health insurance for those who can't afford it or Medicaid. We need availability of APPROPRIATE health care. Sure some "free" clinics with sliding scale fees for those TEMPORARILY unable to pay their way.

  38. Carmine,

    "No Sam,you're thinking of brown storming."

    Actually that is not what I was thinking,that is something Chris Brown has done on "Good Morning America"on March 22,2011, when he stormed off of the set.That is where brown storming came from. What came to mind with me was Bull....,I'm surprised you missed that.

  39. "You don't know what you're talking about.

    I'm holding the current copy of the TEAMSTERS

    It's solid as a rock.

    And well run." Teamster

    You are in denial, not just with Social Security but also the Teamsters' union pension fund for truckers. About 800 members are ready to bail. Remember you heard it from me first!

    Carmine D

  40. Sam:

    I'm neither a Brown or Bull fan, sorry. Brain is my specialty: 3 ounces, 95 billion neurons.

    Carmine D

  41. Roslenda:

    The Trustees' reports for the last 5 years predict Medicare, at the current rate, will be insolvent within 10 years. For now, that is the 700 pound gorilla in all budget negotiations that has to be recognized and dealt with. And Obama Care takes $700 Billion from Medicare, over the next 10 years, to defray Obama Care costs. What was President Obama thinking?

    Carmine D

  42. Carmine,

    You don't have to be a Brown or Bull fan.The only qualification needed,is be arrogant,sorry.

  43. Sam:

    It's not arrogant to be right. It's smart. As in brains.

    Carmine D

  44. CarmineD: As I've shown on other threads, "life expectancy" or "longevity" are misleading terms when talking about SS. True, overall life expectancy has increased greatly since 1933. But that is true only for the expectancy of a child BORN in 1933 as opposed to one BORN in 2013. A large portion of that increase is due to the GREATLY lowered death rate of infants and children over that period, as well as such things as deaths of hale and hearty males in industrial accidents (rates are way down) and for hale and hearty females in childbirth (again, rates are way down.) In some cases, that overall life expectancy has gone up by 20 or more years.

    Much more significant is the remaining life expectancy for a person entering SS in 1933 vs that for one entering SS today. That has gone up far less: somewhere around 6-8 years. Granted, there are more people living a bit longer on SS today. But also granted, the number of people living to reach SS age, and paying FICA taxes for all that time, has also gone up - drastically in some cases.

  45. Samspeaks (sam pizzo): You argued on April 6 at 6:33 a.m.: "IOU's are just that,they are still being paid with tax payer money."

    You obviously have no understanding of finance. Yes, the SS trust fund holds IOUs. But those IOUs were originally issued to cover CASH that taxpayers paid into the fund and that Congress decided it had "better" uses for. Those IOUs are not being "paid" with taxpayer money. They are being REpaid with taxpayer money, just like ANY government borrowing. Remember Wimpy? "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!" We had ate that hamburger years ago. It is now Tuesday.

    Want to destroy the United States? Insist that Congress put it on a straight COD payment system.

  46. Roslenda (Roberta Anderson): Ref your post of 2:08 p.m., yesterday.

    Not long ago, conservatives were AGHAST at your idea! Remember the Republican'ts decrying the "death panels" in the proposed Affordable Care Act? And that responsible liberals kept saying we already HAD - run by the insurance companies?

    When you argue that "To fix Medicare and American health care we must STOP paying doctors for inappropriate and harmful 'care'", you are advocating government-sponsored "death panels"!

    Don't get me wrong. I DON'T disagree with your position! The primary purpose of health care is to either cure conditions or, as a minimum, to improve quality of life. "Health care" should NOT be used to buy a few more days of insentience. To do so is to invoke a travesty of the concept of the "sanctity of life."

    When our pets reach a certain state of advanced ill health, we consider it compassionate to ease their suffering. When our closest relatives and "loved" ones reach that very same point we insist they MUST be required to suffer interminably rather than be allowed to pass in peace and dignity. An interesting set of priorities.

  47. Robert:

    If people are living longer today than in years past, they are collecting longer. Longer payouts mean larger payouts. Couple that with fewer and lesser pay ins and you have the perfect storm for insolvency.

    Carmine D

  48. Byrenorobert,

    "IOUs(social security) were originally issued to cover the cash that taxpayers paid into the fund and that congress decided it had "better" use for."

    March 16,2011 Sen.Tom Coburn Republican Oklahoma uttered the following words during a Senate speech.

    "The the Secial Security trust fund is empty.Congresses under both Republican and Democrat control,both Republican and Democrat Presidents have STOLEN MONEY FROM SOCIAL SECURITY and spent it.THE MONEY'S GONE,it's been used for other purposes.There is no MONEY OR ASSETS of any kind in the trust fund.The only thing it has is those WORTHLESS IOU's that cannot be used to pay benefits or anything else. The actual money was replaced with NON-MARKETABLE PRE-GOVERNMENT IOUs.

    I suggest that you do your homework before you point any fingers.

  49. renorobert: It is NOT a death panel when the patient is clinically dead but "providers" try to preserve vegetation and call it life. There must be a reasonable expectation of improved quality of life and continuity of consciousness BEFORE a provider takes every imaginable experimental idea to "preserve" vegetation. I say vegetation because it is not life that they preserve--when a comatose body is on a ventilator... It just is not life when there is no functioning other than machines replacing critical organs (heart, lung, brain....)

  50. Cool your jets guys. Life expectancy seems to be decreasing again--in the U.S. Thanks to "health care" that actually harms us. You know, the Hep C risk when you have "preventive" care like colonoscopy. And stats say women are dying off more--chronic conditions in women under age 50 in the South and West. U.S. is 17th or so to start with. And about 50th in infant mortality. This data gets worse whenever we authorize additional "preventive" procedures, "check ups" and insure more people.

  51. Carmine,

    "Sam: It's not arrogant to be right.It's smart.As in brains."

    It's arrogant to blow your own horn.

  52. Sam:

    Not when the melody is on tune and in perfect pitch.

    Carmine D

  53. Roslenda:

    What's decreasing is the U.S. birth rate [thank you abortion, 40 million dead since 1973 and still counting]. Fewer persons paying in compared to that and those being paid out.

    Carmine D

  54. Sam:

    Here's the part about Coburn's [a Republican and physician] Senate speech you forgot and/or omitted[fortunately the Social Security Fund Trustees' didn't in their annual reports]:

    "John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn, said: "The language isn't strong at all. If a person shoplifts with the intention of returning merchandise that is still shoplifting. That's precisely what Congress has done with the trust funds. Politicians, of course, promise they will pay back the money they've stolen but we can only make good on that promise if we can borrow to do so."

    "IOU, however, is just another way of saying bond. These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. No president or Congress would risk defaulting on these bonds because it would ruin the nation's financial standing.

    The bonds are a real asset to Social Security and Medicare, but -- here's where it gets complicated -- they also represent an obligation by the rest of the government. Like any entity that issues debt, such as a corporation, the government will have to make good on its obligations, generally by taking the money out of revenue, reducing expenses or issuing new debt. The action taken really depends on the resources available at the time. There is nothing particularly unusual about this, except that the U.S. government is better placed to make good on these obligations than virtually any other debt-issuer."

    Carmine D

  55. Sam:

    Let me pose an example. Stockton, California just voted to declare bankrupt. Up until now its bonds were being bought and sold on the financial markets. Those bonds and holders now MAY have a worthless asset IF, and it's a big IF, the bond holders take the bulk of the loss for the city's bankruptcy. The option is to let the union employees suffer equally in the financial losses associated with the bankruptcy. Why? By most accounts, the payouts of the employees' pensions and salaries are what bankrupt the city. If that doesn't happen [union members and bondholders share the loss equally] here's what will definitely happen. Stockton, California will never be able to sell another bond issue as credible debt to raise private capital. Watch the bankruptcy proceedings in Stockton very closely. Why? They will likely serve as a model for future city bankruptcies in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and a host of other cities around the country that will follow the same bankruptcy suit as Stockton.

    Carmine D

  56. Carmine,

    "Not when the melody is on tune and in perfect pitch."

    Arrogance,Is is to keep blowing your horn longer,and louder even when you are wrong.

  57. Carmine,

    "Politicians, of course, promise they will pay back the money they've stolen but we can only make good that promise if we can borrow to do so."

    Sounds like Sen.Tom Coburn Republican Oklahoma was right on the money with what he said."THEY"VE STOLEN THE MONEY."And replaced it with WORTHLESS IOUs, NON MARKETABLE PRE-GOVERNMENT IOUs.

    I believe what Sen.Coburn a Republican is saying, who calls it like he sees it.It is what it is,and you can't change it with shifty placed words.

    Now tell me that Sen.Coburn a Republican is a rogue Senator,from the Republican party.

  58. Sam:

    Coburn like you is a good and decent man. He's on the money with raiding the Fund, as are you. And I credited you and him for saying it. But it doesn't change the fact that the SS and Medicare funds would still be in trouble even if it they were not raided. As the Trustees for both of the Funds have pointed out in their annual reports.

    Now, if the U.S. economy were sailing along at the growth rate and pace that it was in the 5th year of the Reagan Presidency [1986], you and I would not be having this discussion. As I recall at the same time into the Reagan recession, GDP was 5.2 percent and holding steady. Now it's less than 1 percent and going negative.

    Carmine D

  59. Carmine, we Boomers have been hearing it since we were in grade school. The demographics are long known--so our SS contributions HAD TO BE invested with ROI IF Congress has ANY SENSE OF STEWARDSHIP. If not then wouldn't that almost be treason--since the obvious neglect means our economy/dollar has little chance of recovery? The "only way" Congress can deal with anything financial is to devalue the currency and pay out benefits at the going rate--but the going rate will be worth less than half of what "a dollar" is worth today. We don't need millions and millions of illegals to break the declining demographics--because the illegals include way too many indigents and takers and few who are willing to work--and those who work are NOT highly skilled nor highly paid--little contribution to improve things. We need SOME ag workers but not as many as in decades past--we've mechanized a lot in the orchards and fields.

  60. Roslenda:

    The key question is whether Social Security recipients are better served in retirement if their work contributions had not been invested ONLY in the public debt of the U.S. government? Would they be better off financially had they had the option ALSO at some point to invest in other public debt and/or private businesses, if they so chose.

    Carmine D

  61. Carmine,
    2.7 trillion (raided from Soc.Sec.) can change a lot of things. Trying to second guess where we would be if the were not raided,is just a guess and nothing more.

  62. CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio): You stated that "If people are living longer today than in years past, they are collecting longer." Very true. But it also means that, when people live longer they also PAY longer. Especially considering that the greatest share of the overall increase is from fewer people dying very young.

    My purpose in looking at life expectancy is to counter the common argument that people are living 10, 15, 20 years longer than they did 80 years ago and are collecting SS all that time. The real increase, for those actually collecting SS, is as I noted in the neighborhood of 5-8 years. Correcting the system for that requires a relatively minor tweak. But given Republican'ts REAL goal, the question becomes moot - that goal being today what it was 80 years ago - the elimination of SS altogether.

  63. "But it also means that, when people live longer they also PAY longer."

    No, Robert. Not if they are eligible to collect at 62 and 65 as they always have. Make the ages higher, like 65 and 67, and then I would agree with you.

    Carmine D

  64. "Trying to second guess where we would be if the Soc. Sec. fund were not raided, is just a guess and nothing more."

    True in both cases "for" and "against" doing so [raid and/or borrow].

    Carmine D

  65. Carmine,

    True in both cases"for" and "against" doing so [raid and/or borrow].

    The correct answer is never touch the Social Security trust fund.Leave it for it's intended use,and nothing more.

  66. I don't disagree Sam. And said so. But sooner or later, whether it was or wasn't [raided], the fact remains: Both the Social Security and Medicare Funds will be insolvent unless legislative action is taken.

    Carmine D

  67. Carmine,

    "Whether it was or wasn't [raided],the fact remains: Both the Social Security and Medicare funds will be insolvent unless legislative action is taken."

    Unfortunatly that is a question that can't be answered by you or anyone else.The raiding of the Social Security trust fund leaves a lot of unanswered questions of where the fund would be today if the raid never happened.

    Surely the politicans back then, never gave it a second thought.The Social Security trust fund was the place to go if you needed money,as it was always a solvent fund with money to spare.

  68. Like I said Sam if the GDP was 5.2 percent now and holding steady, as it was at the same time during the Reagan Administration, you and I would not be talking about a Social Security Fund insolvency in 2033 and the $2.7 Trillion.

    Carmine D

  69. Carmine,

    "You and I would not be talking about a Social Security fund insolvency in 2033 and the $2.7 trillion."

    I stated that very thing to you on April 5,8:57 PM.
    Here is what I said at that time,"Would we be having this conversation if it were there?" [2.7 Trillion].

    Why the change of heart?

  70. Not the same, Sam. Two entirely different issues: One, a $2.7 T loan paid back with interest. And Two: A 5 year sinking U.S. economy that can't, if not reversed or changed legislatively, provide the resources to pay the future obligations of the SS Fund. Two very different financial issues. The first is a one time matter, resolved and over. The second is ongoing and needs to be addressed. Soon.

    Carmine D

  71. Carmine,

    Like I said before we would not be having this conversation if the Social Security trust fund were left intact. You can shift the words around if you like.

  72. It doesn't matter, Sam. The loan/raid [call it whatever you like] was paid back with interest. It's a moot point with regard to the Social Security Fund's future insolvency. As I said, even the Trustees agree on that fact. They are the experts not you and I. The President should listen to them.

    Carmine D

  73. Carmine,

    "Sam,loan/raid [call it what you like] was paid back with interest."

    The last I heard the raided money is still owed 2.7 trillion [social security trust fund].This is the first time I've heard anywhere that the raided money was paid back with interest. Please show me where it was paid back.And who paid it back?

    I'll stay with Sen. Tom Coburn a Republican who clearly stated that THEY'VE STOLEN THE MONEY,AND REPLACED IT WITH WORTHLESS IOUs. Now that is the real truth and the real story.

  74. Sam:

    The answer is in the Trustee's Report. The IOU's are U.S. marketable securities [aka bonds earning interest] just like all the Social Security Trust funds are invested in. Backed by the full faith and trust of the U.S. government. I've posted it here several times in recent weeks probably on this thread too, if you back and reread. Do a search on it, find, and read. If you can't find it, let me know. I will post the link again.

    Carmine D

    PS: The Coburn statement was 2010. This is 2013. Things change, Sam.

  75. Here's the most recent Sam: 2012. If you want to see the others just type in the year.

    Carmine D

  76. Here's an excerpt, Sam. It should look very familiar. I post it all the time. The same statement has appeared in the last 5 annual Trustees' reports. BTW, Sam look at the names and signatures of the Trustees. Note they are all Democrats.

    "Both Medicare and Social Security cannot sustain projected long-run program costs under currently scheduled financing, and legislative modifications are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.

    Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare. If they take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits."

    Carmine D

  77. Here's an excerpt for you Sam. Trust this ends the confusion:

    "For nearly three decades Social Security produced big surpluses, collecting more in taxes than it paid in benefits. The government, however, spent that money on other programs, reducing the amount it had to borrow from the public, including foreign investors. That's why some advocates complain that Congress has "raided" Social Security.

    In return, the Treasury Department issued special bonds to Social Security. The bonds are now valued at $2.7 trillion. They are accounted for in two Social Security trust funds, one for the retirement program and one for the disability program.

    The bonds pay interest like other Treasury notes and are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government."

    Carmine D

  78. Carmine,

    You have stated in your post on April 10,9:12 am that the Social Security trust fund was paid back.It was not paid back,it is still owed 2.7 trillion.Show me where and when it was paid back,and by who.

  79. Carmine,

    "The answer is in the trustee's report the IOUs are marketable securties."

    The above was posted by you April 11,4:04 am.The fact is there is no MONEY OR ASSETS of any kind in the Social security Trust fund. THE IOUs ARE NON- MARKETABLE-PRE-GOVERNMENT IOU's. So your statement is false.

    Here are a couple of links supporting the raid on Social Security trust fund.There are other links that also support that the fund was raided and replaced with NON- MARKETABLE IOUs. should level with public about Social Security Trust fund raid.

    FedSmith.Com The looting of Social Security trust fund.

  80. Carmine,

    "6:04 am here's an excerpt for you Sam.Trust this ends the confusion."

    There is no confusion on my part I believe the Social Security trust fund was raided and was replaced with NON- MARKETABLE IOUs.You do not believe any of the facts and continue to shift your words around,and try to talk about something else.

  81. Sam:

    Here's what I posted:

    "The IOU's are U.S. marketable securities [aka bonds earning interest] just like all the Social Security Trust funds are invested in. Backed by the full faith and trust of the U.S. government."

    You missed the brackets. US bonds earning interest. The SS fund has always been invested in non-marketable securities. Why? Because the buyer and the seller is the U.S. government.

    If your argument [that the U.S. hasn't paid back the $2.7 Trillion] is based on the fact that the securities are non-marketable then I disagree. Since 1933 the Fund has always invested in non-marketable securities, not marketable securities. Why? Because the buyer and seller of the Funds in the Social Security fund is the U.S. government. They were NEVER meant to trade on the country and world financial markets.

    Carmine D

  82. In other words Sam, the market for the bonds in the SS fund is the U.S. government. The best insurer and underwriter of debt in the entire world, bar none.

    Carmine D

  83. Sam: This excerpt comes from the SSA web page. You can do a cut and paste and go directly to it. It is a "FAQ" Frequently Asked Questions page.

    "Why do some people describe the "special issue" securities held by the trust funds as worthless IOUs? What is SSA's reaction to this criticism?"

    " As stated above, money flowing into the trust funds is invested in U. S. Government securities. Because the government spends this borrowed cash, some people see the trust fund assets as an accumulation of securities that the government will be unable to make good on in the future. Without legislation to restore long-range solvency of the trust funds, redemption of long-term securities prior to maturity would be necessary."

    "Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government."

    "Many options are being considered to restore long-range trust fund solvency. These options are being considered now, over 20 years in advance of the year the funds are likely to be exhausted. It is thus likely that legislation will be enacted to restore long-term solvency, making it unlikely that the trust funds' securities will need to be redeemed on a large scale prior to maturity."

    Sam: This excerpt above comes directly from the official web site of the Social Security Administration about the Social Security Fund and its investments. Not from me.

    I don't know what else I can post to you Sam that are the official Government statements and written commentary about the Social Security Fund other than what I have already posted. If you refuse to believe your what your government says, not me, your government, then I can't change your mind. You can believe what you choose and I will believe the government.

    Carmine D

  84. Carmine, You still have not provided proof that the Social Security trust fund was paid with interest.You have stated this on your post on April 10,9:12 am.

    You are the only person that seems to think that the Social Security trust fund was paid with interest.Can you please show us where you got this information,without wandering to far off on my question?

  85. Sam:

    I included an excerpt about US Government Securities; Marketable and non-marketable. So you can see and understand the difference.

    "A United States Treasury security is a government debt issued by the United States Department of the Treasury through the Bureau of the Public Debt. Treasury securities are the debt financing instruments of the United States federal government, and they are often referred to simply as Treasuries. There are four types of marketable treasury securities: Treasury bills, Treasury notes, Treasury bonds, and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). There are several types of non-marketable treasury securities including State and Local Government Series (SLGS), Government Account Series debt issued to government-managed trust funds, and savings bonds. All of the marketable Treasury securities are very liquid and are heavily traded on the secondary market. The non-marketable securities (such as savings bonds) are issued to subscribers and cannot be transferred through market sales."

    Sam: WRT interest, read the FAQ from the SSA page. I posted it above. Here it is again:

    ""Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government."

    NOTE SAM: "The government has always repaid Social Security, WITH INTEREST."

    Sam: Do you really think that the United States government is lying to us? If you do, heaven help us.

    Carmine D

  86. Carmine, You claim that the Social Security trust fund was paid with interest.Show me where it was paid.The fund still is owed 2.7 trillion that is not what's called paid.This is what's called paid zero balance now exists,all debts have been satisfied.Heaven help us if you think the has a zero balance owed to it.

  87. Sam:

    You said: "Carmine, You claim that the Social Security trust fund was paid with interest."

    No, I don't claim any such such. I don't know whether it was or not, I don't manage the Fund. Neither do you or Senator Coburn or the author of the link you posted.

    I excerpted, as you asked, the Social Security's Trustees' statement/report for 2012 and posted it above. That is what you asked of me. Right? I did. It says the raid/loan [call it whatever you like] was repaid with interest. If you disbelieve it [not me], then you should take it up with the Social Security Administration and the Trustees [all Democrats] who operate the Social Security Fund. Not me, Sam. I don't operate and manage the SS fund. That belongs to people at a higher pay grade than me. They are called the Trustees. They are the experts, Sam. Not you and me.

    Carmine D

  88. Carmine,

    April 10,9:12 am "Sam,loan/raid[call it what you want] was paid back with interest."

    These are your words not mine.However I do not expect you to ever admit that you wrote them,because that's not who you are.

  89. I was quoting the Trustees, Sam. They're the experts. Democrats. They're right.

    Carmine D

  90. Carmine,

    Like I said it's not who you are.No expectations from me to think any different about what you say.

  91. I'm glad you have no expectations then you won't be disappointed.
    Carmine D

  92. I realized a long time ago not to expect a straight answer from you.So yes no expectation no disappointment.

  93. No Sam, you want the answer you expect. That's why you get disappointed when it is not forthcoming.

    Carmine D

  94. No Carmine,

    There can never be disappointment when I'm reading Poppycock.

  95. Try eating it.

    Carmine D

  96. Carmine,

    "try eating it."

    Your better at it then I could ever be, when eating poppycock.

  97. Really? Never touch the stuff. Bad on the waste line and the brain. Too much sugar.

    Carmine D

  98. Poppycock comes in many forms and tastes,you probably don't realize what your eating.

  99. You're right for the wrong reason. If I don't eat it [period], I can't/don't know what it tastes like.

    Carmine D

  100. I think you do but won't admit to it.

  101. Not the first time your thinking is wrong. And probably not the last.

    Carmine D

  102. If I'm thinking wrong,which I have done from time to time.You are the king of wrong thinkers.

  103. Are you sure your name isn't Sam Pinocchio? You sure do exaggerate a lot. There's another word for that and it starts with 'L.'

    Carmine D

  104. Name calling is a big part of who you are. The real Carmine comes out when someone does not agree with you even from your own party.Low self esteem is probably a better explanation for it.

  105. You know what the old wise Italians use to say Sam: If the shoe fits, wear it!

    Carmine D

  106. I'm sure you are doing just that.There's another old Italian saying that goes along with that Carmine: Don't spit in the wind.

  107. Depends on which way the wind is blowing Sam.

    Carmine D

  108. You'll know if it comes back and hits you in the face.

  109. No Sam, that's how you will know.

    Carmine D

  110. It's you that spits in the wind.Didn't anyone caution you as a young boy about what happens when you spit in the wind?

  111. No, Sam. They gave me valuable life lesson advice. Not lectures about spitting.

    Carmine D