Time to Shut Up the Republicans on the Impact of Social Security on the Deficit

Since the Republicans consider Social Security as just another “Government give away“, they continue to promise and pledge to fight to reduce it in order to lower the deficit. How long and how many times have we heard this argument from the Republicans.

It is now time to shut them up, once and for all, by letting their anointed Republican god, Ronald Reagan, explain the impact that Social Security has on the deficit…

What Happened to My America

Statue of LibertyGive me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I am lucky enough to have grown up in America in a time when it was truly the model for the rest of the world of what a freedom-based, democratic country was all about. A country where everyone had the opportunity to live a good life; everyone was provided a good public education; a society that cared about its citizens; health care was available to all; your home was your castle; your privacy and rights were golden and protected; church was what Sunday was all about, where you could go to practice your religion of choice; people were civil to one another; we welcomed freedom-seeking immigrants from other countries with open arms; we had an environment where you felt safe and secure; and we had a government that represented the people and protected all of these freedoms for us. What happened to my America?

Statue of Liberty CryingFast-forward to today. America is no longer the model that the world wants to emulate. We have become a country that is divided into two classes: the “haves” and the “have nots”; public education is in shambles (not because of the teachers); higher education costs are putting students into long-term debt; our society is morphing into a “you’re on your own” mentality”; health care has become capitalistic and almost unattainable for most; our rights and privacy have been totally eroded – all in the name of security; religious fanaticism and intolerance has gone rampant; civility and proper societal behavior is gone; immigrants are now just fodder for cheap labor and abuse; being safe and secure is evolving into a “Police-State”; and our Government has become totally corrupted by big-money and controlled by corporations. What happened to my America?

What Happend to My America pic - 555x365How did “we the people” let this happen? How did we let our government turn into such a totally dysfunctional entity that does not hide the fact that it favors the rich and corporations over the needs of “we the people”? How did we let our rights and our privacy be taken away so easily? How did we get so enamored with guns and the rights to carry them openly in society? How did we let religion transition from worship, prayer and all things good into being an apparatus for politicians and fanatical ideologists to manipulate? How did we let our television, radio, and newspapers become propaganda and misinformation tools? Obviously, this list could probably go on-and-on, enough to fill a book. What happened to my America?

The point is that all these changes have happened in small, incremental bits over time. Until you can stop and take the time to look back to see how far, and how much, things have changed, you won’t see the big picture and really understand. Analogy: what if you hadn’t looked in a mirror in thirty years; then one day you take the time to stop, and look into one. The first reaction would be…who is that? Then…that can’t be me. Then…I couldn’t have changed that much…Then…how did I let this happen to me?

Sheeple Image“We the people” have become gullible, submissive, and intellectually lazy.  Everyone is running so hard and fast just to survive, they don’t have time to pay attention to what’s going on around them. We have become a populace of sheep, such that we just follow along, don’t ask questions, and do whatever we’re told to do by the talking heads on television and radio. Case in point: Teabaggers and their followers.

Consider this: the next generation, today’s young adults and children, are not going to know anything different. They are growing up in today’s society and will only have this time as their “point of reference” when looking back in the future. Today will be their “good old days”…

This is my first in a series of blogs on this topic. I really want to hear your comments on this blog and the topic.

What do you think about the status of our country and the direction it’s going?

[ All images used in this blog can be found in the public domain ]

9 Key Facts About the Upcoming Retirement Crisis in America

Retirement Fund picWe have a major retirement crisis on our hands; and it will affect all of us…eventually.

Unless we get serious and do something about it now, we are very quickly heading into a massive retirement crisis. And it is not just for the huge aging Boomer generation, but for generations to come. It has to be fixed, but our leaders are intent on making it worse.

Two thirds of working Americans will not be able to maintain their standard of living when they retire, sending many into poverty or near poverty. And none of it is our fault. Millions of Boomers, Gen Xers and on have not been able to save for the future. Pensions have disappeared. Wages have been flat. Healthcare costs have spiraled. Private plans like 401Ks and 403 Bs haven’t kept up. There have been recessions, waves of high inflation and unemployment.

So, Social Security and other benefits have to be fixed and expanded. The frustrating part is that it is all easily fixable. But the political establishment is hard at work to make it worse, by cutting benefits, not expanding them.

Warren addresses supporters during her victory rally in BostonHowever, Senator Elizabeth Warren has already taken up the fight for us. In a recent address to the Senate she said the following:

“Social Security isn’t the answer to all of our retirement problems.  We need to find ways to tackle the financial squeeze that is crushing our families.  We need to help families start saving again.  We need to make sure that more workers have access to better pensions.  But in the meantime – so long as these problems continue to exist and so long as we are in the midst of a real and growing retirement crisis – a crisis that is shaking the foundations of what was once a vibrant and secure middle class – the absolute last thing we should be doing is talking about cutting back on Social Security.

“The absolute last thing we should do in 2013 – at the very moment that Social Security has become the principal lifeline for millions of our seniors — is allow the program to begin to be dismantled inch by inch.

“Over the past generation, working families have been hacked at, chipped, and hammered.  If we want a real middle class — a middle class that continues to serve as the backbone of our country — then we must take the retirement crisis seriously.  Seniors have worked their entire lives and have paid into the system, but right now, more people than ever are on the edge of financial disaster once they retire — and the numbers continue to get worse.

“That is why we should be talking about expanding Social Security benefits — not cutting them. Senator Harkin from Iowa, Senator Begich from Alaska, Senator Sanders from Vermont, and others have been pushing hard in that direction.  Social Security is incredibly effective, it is incredibly popular, and the calls for strengthening it are growing louder every day.”

Here are 9 key facts about the upcoming retirement crisis to keep in mind:

  • Americans over age 65 are projected to increase from 14 percent of the current population to about 21 percent of the population by 2035.
  • The Social Security Trust Fund had a surplus of $2.54 trillion in it at the end of 2011, and is projected to be solvent until 2033.
  • Though most people don’t know it, Congress has cut Social Security payments by 24 percent since 1983, via delayed cost of living increases and higher taxes.
  • One-third of seniors live only on SS benefits, which is an average only $1,274 a month per retiree.  For two-thirds of retirees, the Social Security benefit is more than half of what they live on.
  • The wealth gap is skewed extraordinarily by race. For every dollar a white person has in savings, a Latino person has only 6 cents and a black person has only 5 cents.
  • Gender is a huge issue: Seven out of 10 seniors living under 125 percent of the federal poverty line ($14,360) are women.
  • Social Security is also the largest federal government program helping children, with 6.5 million recipients, totaling 8 eight of every 100 children in the U.S. in 2012.
  • Many people also don’t realize that no social security taxes are paid on incomes over $117,000—so the wealthy get off very easily. Slightly raising Social Security payroll taxes would more than cover and sustain the expansion of Social Security.
  • Huge numbers of Americans support Social Security reforms, with 87 percent of the population in favor of scrapping the $117k cap and 82 percent in favor of slight Social Security tax increases.

Why do wealthy power brokers want to cut social security taxes when they grossly underpay social security taxes themselves? That is the question at hand. There is no other issue in America where those in power are so out of synch with the voters and the people.

A series of simple, fair minded fixes would not just make Social Security solvent for decades, but would allow us to expand the benefits so no American falls into poverty as they age. That is a worthy goal for all of us, don’t you think?

[ Source: AlterNet.org | Don Hazen ]

[ Source: Washingtonpost.com | The Plum Line | Greg Sargent ]

[ Image Credit: Dreamstime.com ]

“Expanding Social Security”: The Fiscal Scolds Driving The Cut-Social-Security Orthodoxy Have Deservedly Lost Credibility

mykeystrokes.com

For many years there has been one overwhelming rule for people who wanted to be considered serious inside the Beltway. It was this: You must declare your willingness to cut Social Security in the name of “entitlement reform.” It wasn’t really about the numbers, which never supported the notion that Social Security faced an acute crisis. It was instead a sort of declaration of identity, a way to show that you were an establishment guy, willing to impose pain (on other people, as usual) in the name of fiscal responsibility.

But a funny thing has happened in the past year or so. Suddenly, we’re hearing open discussion of the idea that Social Security should be expanded, not cut. Talk of Social Security expansion has even reached the Senate, with Tom Harkin introducing legislation that would increase benefits. A few days ago Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a stirring floor speech making…

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