Huffington Post (NAT)
Reflections on the Importance of Security -- Social Security -- on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11
Nancy Altman & Eric Kingson
A Social Security Administration employee's story about 9/11: "The most difficult, and at the same time most gratifying, work I did was to help relatives of 9/11 victims file for Social Security... One woman, in particular, stands out in my mind.
Her husband was only in his 40's and she had 2 young boys. She ... came to my office with a picture of her husband, a tall, handsome man, with his arms around her and the children. We sat in the lobby of my building, with tears rolling down our cheeks, oblivious to the other[Social Security] employees walking past us. The human tragedy of that terrible day became so personal that it will always be part of my life. I always feel that the work I do is vital and of great service to the public, but never more so than during those months when we helped the 9/11 relatives"
Fiscal cliff: All talk, no deal-making
Jake Sherman and Jonathan Allen
The only lawmakers negotiating right now belong to the Senate’s Gang of Eight, a salon of solvency hawks with little sway so far. They meet this week at 5 p.m. Tuesday. But their group has been huddling for months with little to show for it, and the real players — Obama, House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — aren’t engaged, and neither are the staffers who do the heavy lifting on legislative deals. Boehner and Reid haven’t had any recent talks about the fiscal cliff. The last time they spoke in person was in June, when they negotiated a deal on the highway bill, according to an aide. The pending budget cuts, known as “sequestration,” weren’t on the agenda, and neither were the expiring tax cuts. Likewise, Obama and Boehner haven’t huddled since May 16, when congressional leadership snacked on Taylor Gourmet sandwiches at the White House. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has no plans to talk with his Democratic colleagues to prevent budget cuts from hitting the Pentagon. He wants a plan from them before sitting down.
Moody's Warns Of Downgrade If Congress Doesn't Move On Fiscal Cliff
What we know for sure is if Congress does nothing, Bush-era tax cuts that have been in place for nearly 12 years will expire and $1.2 trillion of across-the-board cuts will be triggered come Jan. 1. What's less clear is what happens to the U.S. economy as a result. Many economists — including the non-partisan CBO — predict that with the economy in such a vulnerable place, rapid changes like these can push it back into recession. Today, Moody's sounded one more alarm saying if Congress remains in a stalemate, it would downgrade the U.S. credit rating from a AAA to a AA1.
New York Times (NAT)
Working Until 70 May Not Solve Savings Shortfall
Research from the nonprofit Employee Benefits Research Institute throws cold water on the notion that working until age 70 will set most Americans up for adequate retirement income. Jack VanDerhei, research director at E.B.R.I., says some studies have suggested that by working to age 70 — five years past the traditional retirement age of 65 — nearly 80 percent of preretirees, including lower-income Americans, could have adequate retirement income. But such models, he said, don’t fully take into account changes in the retirement system, such as the shift away from pension plans and toward 401(k) accounts, or the potential for a catastrophic health event that would require a stay in a nursing home.
CBS News (NAT)
Social Security errors that can cost you thousands
(MoneyWatch) Social Security benefits are the bedrock of most Americans' retirement security. So it's well worth your time to learn how to get the most from these valuable benefits -- and avoid making mistakes in how you collect them. To help you in this endeavor, I checked with two of the nation's foremost experts on Social Security: Andy Landis, author of "Social Security: The Inside Story," and Jon Peterson, who wrote "Social Security for Dummies." Between Andy, Jon and I, we came up with four common errors that you should avoid and that will help you optimize your Social Security benefits. Mistake #1: Starting retirement benefits too early
Huffington Post (NAT)
Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes?
John R. Talbott
I have watched my native Kentucky lose its manufacturing plants overseas and have its union plants busted up solely by the threat to outsource jobs. Manufacturing wages in my parent's home town in Kentucky have declined from $15 an hour plus benefits to $7-$8 an hour with no benefits. You cannot raise a family on seven dollars an hour even if both parents work. We are killing this country. CEOs, entrepreneurs, bankers, lawyers, doctors and politicians at the top of the pyramid are all benefiting from the lower cost of labor for their employees and the lower cost of goods imported from low-wage countries. But our workers, our dear workers are getting crushed. This is not the America I grew up in. And this shall not stand.
Washington Post (NAT)
At end of life, Medicare beneficiaries spend thousands out-of-pocket
Medicare is among the fastest growing line items in the federal budget. Even with over $500 billion going toward the program annually, it still does not cover all of seniors’ health costs. A quarter of Medicare beneficiaries end up spending all their assets on health care in the last five years of life.
State Journal (WV)
Bowles, Simpson push for bipartisanship in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has long said he thinks the Bowles-Simpson plan is the best one to fix the nation's fiscal problems. On Sept. 10, Manchin brought the plan's namesakes to West Virginia to discuss the plan and what the federal government can do to prevent another recession. Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Erskine Bowles, who served as chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, were tasked by President Barack Obama in 2010 to form a debt commission and take a look at some of the fiscal issues facing the country. Their report identified four major fiscal issues facing the United States: health care, defense spending, the tax code and increasing interest rates. The men also said politicians need to buckle down and compromise to do something about the nation's finances before the end of the year. That's when Bowles said the nation will go over a financial cliff.
New York Times (NAT)
The Ryan Sinkhole
Thomas B. Edsall
What people have not been talking about enough is that the Ryan budget contains an $897 billion sinkhole: massive but unexplained cuts in such discretionary domestic programs as education, food and drug inspection, workplace safety, environmental protection and law enforcement. The scope of the cuts – stunning in their breadth — is hidden.
Talking Points Memo (NAT)
Dems: Romney Purposely ‘Misled’ On Pre-Existing Conditions
Democrats are accusing Mitt Romney of purposefully misleading on the issue of pre-existing conditions in order to win over undecided voters.“Mitt Romney literally went on ‘Meet The Press’ and misled the American people,” Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the DNC, said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “He acted as if he supports something that he clearly does not.”
Tampa Bay (FL)
Romney's clumsy pivot on health reform
Mitt Romney who was for health care reform before he was against it, now sounds like he's for it again. Or maybe not. The Republican presidential nominee said over the weekend that he would keep key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law he vows to repeal. Then a Romney aide said that wasn't exactly right. In any event, this clumsy pivot toward a general election campaign underscores the popularity of some portions of health care reform and the foolishness of Romney's unqualified pledge to kill it.
Talking Points Memo (NAT)
Conservatives: Romney’s Policy Secrecy Will Be His Downfall
Conservatives are increasingly worried that Mitt Romney’s vagueness about tax reform and other policy issues will be his downfall on Election Day. Romney’s sympathizers are raising red flags, after he and his running mate repeatedly declined to provide details during a round of Sunday interviews about the loopholes he’d close to pay for large tax rate cuts. “If you don’t start telling people what you believe — if you really do, in fact, believe in anything — and if you don’t start telling people, yes, these are the tax exemptions that we’re going to get taken care of … unless you have somebody that’s willing to do that, Romney’s going to lose,” said conservative Joe Scarborough on his MSNBC show Monday. “The Romney people think they can run a Bob Dole campaign, a John McCain campaign … Republicans do not win by running these types of campaigns.”
North Field Patch (MN)
Obermueller to Hold Medicare, Social Security Round Table in Northfield
Second Congressional District candidate Mike Obermueller will hold round tables with voters across Rice and Dakota Counties on Wednesday, Sept. 12 to discuss Medicare and Social Security policy. The meeting times and locations are as follows