Social Security Works (DC)
Social Security News: September 14, 2012
(Video): "This week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Dave Loebsack all stepped up to fight for our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid systems."
Senator Rockefeller (WV) YouTube
Rockefeller Floor Speech on Ryan-Romney Plan
Sen. Jay Rockefeller
“Social Security is a contract the American people have made with themselves. Virtually everyone pays in throughout their working years so that everyone has a safety net when they retire, or become disabled, or die young and leave a surviving spouse and children to struggle on without them.”
Morning Star (NAT)
Fact Finding on Social Security
Social Security critics argue that the Social Security Trust Fund is an accounting gimmick because its assets have been lent to the government via special-issue Treasury bonds. I pointed out that the bonds are "full faith and credit" obligations of the government--therefore, they are real assets.
"How can you possibly believe that the special-issue bonds represent real assets?" writes John Dewey in a typical response. "The special-issue bonds are nothing more than IOUs from one part of the government (the taxpayers) to another. There is nothing in current law that requires these bonds to ever be redeemed."
In fact, under federal law, the financial assets held by the retirement and disability trust funds can be used only to meet the obligations of these programs. (See Section 201(d) of the Social Security Act.)
It's also important to understand that the special notes aren't just sitting in a vault--they are being redeemed regularly. Steve Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, describes the process:
US News (NAT)
Medicare, Social Security Literally Extend Lives
In other words, people who were further from retirement had time for their financial and physical well-being to recover. And those near the age at which they could begin taking early-retirement benefits from Social Security (age 62) or begin using Medicare insurance (age 65) did not suffer the kinds of ill health effects and reduced life spans as younger people in their later fifties. "Interestingly, we find that unemployment shocks at or after age 62 have no long-term negative health effects," they concluded. "The availability of Social Security at age 62 and Medicare at age 65 may play an important role in this finding."
Naked Capitalism (blog)
Stealth Attack on Social Security: Raising Retirement Age to 69 Will Lower Monthly Benefit by 13%
Nothing could sound more reasonable than one of the “reforms,” meaning attacks, on Social Security: raise the retirement age from 67 (the level for those born after 1960) to 69. People are living longer, right? That means they can work longer, right? Well, aside from a few inconvenient facts (the life expectancy of low income black women is actually falling, and middle aged people who lose their jobs often find it difficult to get any kind of paid work), on the surface, this seems not too bad.
But this plan is actually a sneaky way to cut monthly benefits across the board, and for an age cohort where retirement is so far away that they won’t focus on details and subject this scheme to the criticism it deserves. The fact is that like those fine print “gotcha” clauses in credit card agreements, the way that benefits are calculated for Social Security by statute, raising the retirement age cuts monthly benefits significantly. I’m taking the liberty of reproducing a discussion by Social Security Works (hat tip Columbia Journalism Review; click for larger image):
Times Free Press (TN)
Social Security: Going back to work can boost your benefits
Q: My neighbor, who is retired, told me that the income he receives from his part-time job at the local nursery gives him an increase in his Social Security benefits. Is that right?
A: Retirees who return to work after they start receiving benefits may be able to receive a higher benefit based on those earnings. This is because Social Security automatically recomputes the retirement benefit after crediting the additional earnings to the individual's earnings record. Learn more by reading the publication How Work Affects Your Benefits atwww.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/
Chicago Tribune (NAT)
Leaving your job? But maybe your 401(k) plan stays
Janet Kidd Steward
Increasingly, however, employers themselves are muscling into the mix, so it's important to understand how your plan stacks up to the outside investment world, particularly now that plans are disclosing detailed fee information.
After the State of Oregon's retirement plan recently implemented a toll-free number and a "transition counseling program" for state workers leaving their jobs, 90 percent of the 116 workers who went through the program kept their money in the plan, said Gay Lynn Bath, deferred compensation manager for the Oregon Savings Growth Plan in Salem, Ore. Overall, though, most employees take their money and run.
Washington Post (NAT)
Congressional report: Social Security backlog may add to agency financial woes
Social Security is so overwhelmed by disability claims that some officials are awarding benefits without adequately reviewing applications, potentially adding to the program’s financial problems as it edges closer to the brink of insolvency, congressional investigators say in a new report. "We have some pretty aggressive companies actively seeking rollovers," she said.
GOP Fed Up with Bernanke
Mitt Romney says he would fire him. A South Carolina state senator recently called him a “traitor” bent on “rotting out our republic.” Angry House Republicans say he’s making a power grab on powers the Constitution gives to Congress.
Sounds like the kind of righteous conservative anger usually aimed at President Barack Obama. But it’s not.
USA Today (NAT)
Obama's lead poses test for Romney
WASHINGTON -- A presidential race that has been neck-and-neck for months suddenly isn't.
In the week after the political conventions ended, President Obama has opened the most significant, sustained lead in the daily Gallup Poll since Mitt Romney emerged as the Republican nominee last spring. Disappointing unemployment statistics released last Friday haven't stemmed Obama's rise, and Romney's sharp criticism of the president in recent days during the unfolding crisis in Libya has opened a new line of partisan attack against the challenger.
The Hill (DC)
Parties trade blame for 'least productive Congress' in decades
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had a lengthy argument on the House floor Friday afternoon in which they alternatively blamed each other for the failure of the House to address issues like jobs and the deficit.
The exchange, which could be the last of their weekly colloquies until after the November election, included moments in which Hoyer laughed at Cantor's prescription for job creation. Cantor could occasionally be heard muttering things like "here we go" as Hoyer launched into a new criticism of GOP policies.
The Hill (DC)
Ryan gets heroes welcome upon return to Hill
Erik Wasson and Russell Berman
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan got a hero’s welcome from his colleagues on Thursday as he returned to the Capitol for the first time since being named by Mitt Romney to the GOP ticket.
The Wisconsin lawmaker was greeted with hugs and shouts, posed for photos with colleagues and took some good-natured ribbing about his newfound national status.
New Jersey Spotlight (NJ)
Medicare and Social Security: Fighting Words in South Jersey's 3rd
Medicare and Social Security are among the defining issues in this year's elections -- not just at the top of the ticket but in the Congressional races as well.
Democrat Shelley Adler wants to make sure those two topics stay in the spotlight. Yesterday she picked up the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in her quest to unseat U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan in South Jersey's 3rd District. Medicare was one of the most often cited "extremely important" issues by New Jerseyans surveyed in the latest Quinnipiac University poll. It was named by 44 percent of likely voters, behind the economy, healthcare, taxes, and the budget deficit. "When we talk to people, this is one of their primary issues," said Adler, a lawyer and former Cherry Hill councilmember who is seeking the seat held two years ago by her late husband Jon Adler. "They are concerned about this program."