SSSC/SSW mention **
The Moderate Voice (Blog)
What are Progressives Going to do About Obama on Social Security?
“Oh my God,” said Eric Kingson, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security campaign. “That is really very sad. Mitt Romney has written about it in one of his books … It also speaks to a lack of appreciation for the importance of this institution to our country … It really is remarkable that a Democratic president at this point in time would not draw a very dramatic line. They probably have to say, ‘I made a mistake, I misspoke.’”
SSSC/SSW mention **
Business Insider (NAT)
Obama ready to deal on Social Security?
First, let’s get a few things straight. Social Security is solvent. It’s America’s most successful retirement plan to date. It’s extremely popular across party lines . Social Security adds not a penny to the deficit. And, as Nancy Altman has argued , it's “the poster child for fiscal responsibility.” The program is prudently managed, cost-effective, and carefully monitored.
Social Security: President Obama's Biggest Failure in Last Week's Debate
When President Obama links arms with Romney on Social Security, it is not good news for supporters of the program. Nor was the situation made better by the desire to "tweak" the system.
In Washington, tweak is a code word used by people who want to cut Social Security but lack the courage to say it explicitly. For example, their favorite "tweak" is changing the cost of living adjustment formula in a way that reduces retirees' benefits by 0.3 percentage points annually. This would add up to a 3 percent cut in benefits after 10 years, a 6 percent cut after 20 years and a 9 percent cut after 30 years.
New York Times (NAT)
The Policy Verdict I
The history of Medicare is strewed with efforts to control costs by controlling prices. The results are terrible. Providers just increase the number of services, redefine the classification of services or find other ways to get their money back. A study by the Congressional Budget Office found that, between 1997 and 2005, Medicare payments for individual treatments fell by 5 percent, but the total spent on these services skyrocketed by 35 percent. Doctors made up in volume what they lost in reimbursement levels.
David Brooks on Drugs and Medicare
To start, in dismissing the idea that governments can be successful in designing policies that contain costs, Brooks ignores all the evidence from every other wealthy country. All of them have much greater involvement of the government in their health care system (in some countries like the United Kingdom and Denmark they actually run the system) yet their average cost per person is less than half as much as in the United States. And they have comparable health care outcomes, with all enjoying longer life expectancies. If health care costs in the United States were comparable to those in any other wealthy country we would be looking at long-term budget surpluses, not deficits. (We could look to trade to reduce costs, but policy debates in the United States are dominated by ardent protectionists in the area of health care.)
America Blog (Blog)
Why I expect Obama to try to cut Social Security
But Obama has shown us, time and again, that he has made up his mind. He’s of the same mind as Bill Clinton, the entire DLC-led Democratic Party, and the Washington Beltway consensus (Digby’s Village). That betrayal of what the electorate truly truly wants — and frankly, what they really need as well — could sink the party. The Republicans will certainly try. They know they have a generational problem — theirs is dying fast. What better stick to beat the Democrats with to win younger voters than the death-by-paper-cuts dismantling of Social Security the Dems seem determined to attempt.
CNN Money (NAT)
Social Security benefits will get small cost of living bump
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Social Security recipients will get less than a 2% increase in their benefits next year to account for a rise in cost of living, according to an estimate published Tuesday. That's less than half the increase in benefits they received in 2012.
The American Institute for Economic Research, a private think tank, estimates Social Security checks will increase between 1.5% and 1.7% in 2013.
Kansas City (MO)
Obama, Romney offer different paths on Medicare, Social Security
Obama: Said last week that Social Security was “structurally sound” but needed to be “tweaked.” Obama has not proposed any changes in Social Security. But he has said he’s open to raising taxes by taxing some amount of income above $110,100, the annual level at which Social Security taxes now stop. Romney: Would increase Social Security’s eligibility age by one month per year beginning in 2022 and index future program eligibility to life expectancy. He also wants to slow the rate of benefit growth for high-income recipients. While Social Security has received scant attention during the campaign, Medicare has emerged as a dominant issue.
Statesman Journal (OR)
Social Security office has access, visibility issues
Elida S. Perez
There are also few signs to indicate where the office is in the industrial park.
“We had a little bit of a problem (finding it),” said Dovie Desirey, of Dallas. “I expected a bigger sign.” Desirey and her husband drove from Dallas to sign a release form at the office. When they drove into the industrial park, they circled a couple of times to find the front entrance. There is one small round Social Security Administration seal on the front door of the office of the nearly 62,000-square-foot-building. There is also no sign on the street to indicate the office is there.
New York Times (NAT)
Pew Poll Shows Romney Advancing
Mitt Romney’s strong performance at the debate last week has wiped out President Obama’s lead in the latest national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center. Two-thirds of voters said Mr. Romney did a better job than Mr. Obama, including 39 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents. And Mr. Romney has improved his standing on most issues and personal characteristics.
Washington Post (NAT)
Virginia Senate debate: George Allen, Tim Kaine face off in Richmond
The debate was hosted by the state’s AARP and the League of Women Voters, and their influence loomed large in the conversation. Both candidates were asked about what they would do to preserve Medicare and Social Security. Allen said he favored raising the eligibility age for people younger than 50 and reducing benefits for wealthier seniors. Kaine said he opposed privatization of either program.
Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Allen, Kaine attack in debate; charges begin at outset
Wesley P. Hester
Allen and Kaine also drew sharp contrasts on the topics of Medicare and Social Security. To protect the solvency of both programs, Allen stressed the need for a gradual increase in the age of eligibility for those currently under 50 and income adjustments.
“For those who are millionaires, they don’t need to have all the same benefits as those of lower income,” he said, accusing Kaine of proposing tax hikes on the elderly and poor as governor. Kaine countered by noting Allen’s vote in the U.S. Senate for a partial privatization of Social Security, saying “that would have been a huge catastrophe prior to the collapse of Wall Street.” Rather than increase the retirement age, Kaine said he would support raising the payroll tax cap over time to support the solvency of Social Security. He said he would save Medicare costs by allowing the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, which he said would save $250 billion. As expected, the issue of looming defense cuts made its way into the debate, with Allen continuing to assail Kaine for his support of last year’s bipartisan debt deal, and Kaine accusing Allen of failing to offer specifics on how to avoid the cuts.
Romney’s Pre-Existing Conditions Vow Puts 36M at Risk
The Republican presidential nominee says he would shield workers with coverage from being dropped if they change jobs. Romney’s plan doesn’t explain what it would do for many others, such as those with ailments seeking health coverage for the first time. Without specifics, he would leave it to the states to find solutions for everyone not covered under his proposal. Health-policy specialists say Romney’s plan echoes such protection already in a 1996 U.S. law and doesn’t show how it would help at least 36 million sick people at risk of being denied coverage. “It’s a complete mystery what he’s talking about,” said Joe Antos, a health-care economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington policy group. “He’s clearly asserting that he’s got a new policy, but he hasn’t said what it is.” …
LA Times (NAT)
Healthcare remains a stumbling block for Romney
Asked on CBS' "60 Minutes" what he would do about Americans who lack health insurance, Romney replied that the country already had a system in place for them: emergency rooms. "We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care," he said. That answer flew in the face of universally accepted wisdom that ERs are the most expensive places to provide routine care, and also contradicted Romney's own statements. Two years ago, he said in another televised interview: "Look, it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care, for which they have no responsibility." Either of those might be dismissed as slips of the tongue, or perhaps defended as statements of fact that Romney didn't intend as road maps of policy. What has been more difficult for Romney has been crafting a message about Obamacare that doesn't implicitly disavow his own plan in Massachusetts, which has inevitably come to be known as Romneycare.
Huffington Post (NAT)
Mitt Romney Pre-Existing Conditions Plan Has Huge Gaps
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, an insurer "may not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion," the law says. Romney is stressing his pre-existing conditions plan as he works to soften his public image in the homestretch of a campaign that has tightened since his strong debate performance versus Obama. "I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions," he said during last week's debate. The Romney campaign has not spelled out details other than it would help those who have maintained continuous coverage. That would entail incremental changes to insurance laws and regulations, and may or may not whittle down the number of uninsured, 49 million nationally. "It will solve some of the problems," said health economist Gail Wilensky, a longtime adviser to Republicans. "It won't solve the problem of people having gone for a long time without health insurance."