Columbia Journalism Review (NY)
What a higher Retirement Age really means
In responding to our post, reporter Stephen Olemacher, who wrote the story, pointed out that the AP did tell readers—toward the end of its piece—that “raising the retirement age is a benefit cut for future generations, because they would have to wait longer to qualify for full benefits.” But that statement confuses rather than clarifies. And in an emailed comment, Olemacher argued, incorrectly, that “raising the retirement age does not by itself result in lower monthly benefits.”
We went back to Nancy Altman, a respected Social Security expert who co-directs the advocacy group Social Security Works, and asked her why raising the age is a benefit cut. Contrary to what the AP reported, she said, “with all due respect to Mr. Olemacher, raising the age does result in ‘lower monthly benefits’ than one would receive under current law.” The chart Altman prepared, below, shows how much of a benefit reduction people retiring at different ages would experience.
The Hill (DC)
House Democrats pushing hard from the left on budget as 'fiscal cliff' nears
But members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) are warning that they'll fight to kill any budget package that would cut Medicare coverage, Social Security benefits and safety net programs for the poor — all elements of the Simpson-Bowles plan.
"Somehow it's gotten this patina of balance and continues to be held up as a framework for a grand bargain," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a member of the Simpson-Bowles commission, said Wednesday during a CPC forum on budget issues. "That notion is misguided."
Schakowsky praised the Simpson-Bowles plan for putting military cuts on the table, but she summarized the liberals' concerns by warning that it "would not invest in the economy, would not create jobs, does not raise enough in revenues and doesn’t protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
Fire Dog Lake (Blog)
House Progressives React Against Grand Bargain, but Less Vocal on Discretionary Cuts in Fiscal Cliff
I do see resistance to rubber-stamping a deficit reduction plan that could do harm to the safety net. I’m not sure it would matter. The whole idea behind a grand bargain is to capture enough votes in the middle so that the far left and the far right become irrelevant. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is actually big enough to upset that possibility, but I’m not certain they will have the ability to whip their members.
Hernando Today (FL)
Medicare vouchers would shatter safety net
Ryan's plan might save money -- but it's not about doing the most and the best for seniors. It's about giving private insurers another huge bite at America's health care pie, at the expense of seniors' budgets and peace of mind. A voucher plan will slouch us back to near where we were before 1965, when poverty among the elderly was one of this nation's most persistent diseases.
Sure Medicare is expensive. It cost the country $551 billion last year. What payroll and other taxes exist aren't nearly enough to cover future rising costs. And with seniors' numbers increasing, so will Medicare's costs increase. But two simple fixes could bring in the necessary dollars to cover Medicare well past the half-century mark, when the senior bulge will end: raise the Medicare payroll tax by half a percent, split between employer and employee, and end tax-free employee health care, a $250 billion-a-year hand-out that makes zero sense. Those two fixes alone would ensure Medicare's viability for years.
National Journal (NAT)
How Bowzer of Sha Na Na, Social Security and Politics Go Together
Few celebrities are brave enough to invite the press to birthdays past the age of 29. But Jon Bauman, better known as Bowzer of Sha Na Na, is going so far as to use his 65th to launch a political campaign.
As part of a grassroots effort to defend Social Security, the rock 'n' roll artist will enroll in Medicare at a Sept. 14 rally in Ohio. The event, part of a "Truth Tour" sponsored by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, is designed to educate voters about the candidates best suited to preserve the two programs. They target seniors and boomers, but this year they're expanding their reach to women and younger voters that will be affected in the future by changes to the program.
"We want people to really see the breakdown of the myths versus the facts," said Pamela Tainter Causey, the group's communications director. "There are a lot of myths being conveyed publicly in a lot of these speeches at the conventions, etc. We want people to be armed with the facts before November."
New York Times (NAT)
Looking Toward Retirement
In case you missed the special retirement section on Wednesday, it’s worth having a look, particularly if you’re a boomer heading that way. It’ll give you a lot to think about. Paul Sullivan has a more than a little worrisome story on how hard it is for retirees to rely on Social Security alone, “The Tightwire Act of Living Only on Social Security.” The numbers are not on our side. According to the Social Security Administration, 23 percent of married couples and 46 percent of singles receive 90 percent or more of their income from Social Security. And that’s not easy to live on: The average monthly benefit puts a person about $3,000 above the poverty line.
New York Times (NAT)
Checking Social Security Benefits Online
Back in the spring, I wrote about how the federal government, to cut costs, has stopped mailing annual Social Security statements to most workers. Instead, the agency now invites workers to register and check their benefits online. It’s important to check your statement, to make sure your annual income — the basis for calculating your retirement benefits — is correctly recorded. I was skeptical that I’d remember to check my statement each year if it didn’t prompt me by arriving in my mailbox, but I was willing to give the system a try. After a bit of a hassle about choosing a password and security questions, I was able to register online in May. I then promptly forgot about the whole thing. Until last week, that is, when I got an e-mail from the Social Security Administration, reminding me to go online to check my statement. So far, so good!
The Third-Party Candidates: Where Do They Stand on Social Security, Medicare and Retirement Security?
Libertarian Party: The Libertarians’ candidate, former GOP Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, is on the ballot in 43 states. Libertarians generally support personal autonomy, an unfettered free market, and privatizing most services and benefits now provided by the government. Johnson has pledged to cut $1.4 trillion in federal spending and says bluntly that “you have to start the discussion with Medicare, Social Security and military spending.” The party’s platform criticizes a “failed” Social Security system. Liberarians stop short of calling for the abolition of Social Security, but they want individuals to be able to opt out of the program completely, so they can divert what they would have paid in taxes in private investments. To make up for the loss in revenue needed to fund current retirees’ benefits, Libertarians would auction off the “trillions of dollars” worth of government assets and property that they see as unnecessary to fulfill functions spelled out in the Constitution. Similarly, Libertarians would eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, replacing them with tax-free medical savings accounts that individuals could use to put away money to cover future medical bills. They also pledge to eliminate federal subsidies for housing and the Food Stamp program, both of which help to provide seniors with retirement security. Here’s a Daily Show interview with Johnson.
Amhert Patch (NH)
Letter: Romney/Ryan Plans Would Be Devastating To Seniors
Older adults, and anyone who cares about them, should pay close attention to this year’s electoral campaign. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have advocated proposals that fundamentally threaten the primary programs for older adults: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
First, take their position on Social Security. For years, Paul Ryan promoted the partial privatization of Social Security for individuals under age 55. The 2012 House budget bill, which Paul Ryan wrote and introduced, includes a provision that would enable Congress to fast-track major changes in the program. The Republican platform states that Social Security “is long overdue for major change” and promises to set “it on a sound fiscal basis that will give workers control over, and a sound return on, their investments” (p. 23).
The Register Citizen (CT)
Former U.S. comptroller David Walker touts fiscal restraint on tour
NEW HAVEN — Former U.S. Comptroller David Walker asked the 50 some people who filled a room in the Yale University School of Management “how many people don’t think we have a financial problem?” Nobody raised their hands.
Walker, who stopped at Yale Saturday as part of his “$10 Million A Minute” national month-long bus tour to promote fiscal responsibility, explained why the nation is in such financial peril and what can be done to reverse the ever-deepening debt. Also the former trustee of Social Security and Medicare and current CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, Walker’s tour will visit 17 states.
“The problem is not where we have been and it’s not where we are, it’s where we’re headed,” said Walker. “We are projected to have Third World debt status, and that just doesn’t work. We can’t sustain that.”
Market Watch (NAT)
Groups in 30+ Cities to Demand Romney-Ryan & Congressional Republicans Abandon Effort to Extend Bush Tax Cuts for the Richest 2%
National and state groups today released hard-hitting web ads and are staging protests in more than 30 cities against the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan tax plan to make the Bush-era tax cuts permanent for the richest 2 percent and members of Congress who recently voted for a Republican bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent.
The protests, most of which are outside GOP offices, feature five-foot posters of six-figure checks payable to "Millionaires" from Mitt Romney and from GOP members of Congress who voted to extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent. The sponsors of the protests and web ads include the Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund, Health Care for America Now, the Alliance of Retired Americans, Working America and numerous state groups.
Dems hammer returning Paul Ryan
Using their megaphone on Capitol Hill, Democrats are reintroducing Ryan’s budget to voters as a dangerous document that guts Medicare, cuts funding for education and infrastructure and includes tax policies that favor millionaires. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will make those points Thursday morning when she rolls out a video titled “Welcome Back, Mr. Ryan.” It will feature TV clips of Ryan explaining his proposals for Medicare and taxes.
The New Republic (NAT)
Obamacare Is Working, Cont’d
The Census Bureau this morning released its annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance. My colleagues will be back later to discuss the income findings, but I want to flag the health care numbers right away. For the first time in three years, the proportion of Americans who have health insurance went up, from 83.7 percent in 2010 to 84.3 percent in 2011. And what explains the shift? The breakdown by age offers some clues. Relative to last year, the percentage of young adults with health insurance rose by 2.2 points. That was the largest increase of any group. And it was the second year in a row that coverage among young adults increased. Overall, according to Census officials, the percentage of young Americans has gone up by about 4 percent during that span.
Business Insider (NAT)
Obama Gets A Gigantic Bounce In The New Fox News Poll
President Barack Obama got another huge post-convention bounce in a new poll, this time from a Fox News, which shows him leading Mitt Romney 48-43 among likely voters. The poll gives Obama a 6-point swing from the last Fox News survey, which gave Romney a single-point lead.