Social Security News, Wednesday 1-16-13

Columbia Journalism Review (NAT)

The Frank Luntz script for Congressional Republicans

Trudy Lieberman


So when journos hear the words “strengthen and save” Medicare or “personal responsibility and earned success,” they, too, should know that a pollster crafted them, and they should work to pin down the pols on exactly what those finely-honed words mean.


Economic Policy Institute 

AARP comes out against COLA cut



AARP unveiled new research from its Middle Class Security Project yesterday, with related papers focusing on topics ranging from rising health care costs to credit card debt. At the release, AARP CEO Barry Rand gave a rousing speech, coming out strongly against a proposed cut in the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), echoing a similar stance by the New York Times this Sunday. Rand focused on the need for both solvency and adequacy, emphasizing that Americans don’t want Social Security reform to be part of deficit reduction talks and were willing to contribute more to strengthen the program.


Wall Street Journal (NAT)

How to Save the Federal Safety Nets



The fiscal cliff has been averted, preventing immediate economic calamity. But for long-term economic growth, we must get serious about entitlement reform and government spending. In December, I joined more than 170 CEOs of America's leading companies to call upon President Obama and Congress to demonstrate principled compromise and put America on a path toward fiscal stability by increasing revenue, modernizing entitlement programs, and reducing overall spending. They acted on the first part by increasing revenue. But they delayed action on spending reforms that are essential if we are to address our nation's deficits and debt. The math on debt is clear: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security consume 42% of the federal budget and are projected to account for half of the budget by 2020.


Associated Press (NAT)

Business CEOs call for raising retirement age



WASHINGTON (AP) — An influential group of business CEOs is pushing a plan to gradually increase the full retirement age to 70 for both Social Security and Medicare and to partially privatize the health insurance program for older Americans. The Business Roundtable’s plan would protect those 55 and older from cuts but younger workers would face significant changes. The plan unveiled Wednesday would result in smaller annual benefit increases for all Social Security recipients. Initial benefits for wealthy retirees would also be smaller.


CNN Money (NAT)

Entitlement America: Who benefits?

Tami Luhby


"Our concern is that entitlements and safety net programs have been growing so rapidly over time, regardless of the economy," said William Beach, who just stepped down as Heritage's director of the Center for Data Analysis. "The numbers are becoming unsustainable or already are." The largest of the programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, are not financially viable over the long run so they need to be addressed to ensure they survive.

"The programs need to be reformed so they'll be there in 10 years," he said.


Reuters (NAT)

AARP urges entitlement reform on broad issues, not deficit

David Morgan


It endorsed a healthcare strategy that would lower prescription drug prices, boost transparency on the cost and quality of medical services, implement policies to promote high-value integrated medical care. AARP also reiterated its staunch opposition to two proposals that have emerged in deficit talks: raising the enrollment age for Medicare to 67 from 65, and retooling Social Security cost-of-living adjustments to a slower-growing inflation measure known as chained-CPI.


PBS NewsHour (NAT)

Solving for Solvency: A Menu for Closing Social Security's Long-Term Budget Gap


Put them all these menu options together, and they fully close the 75-year Social Security solvency gap, and do so in a balanced way, combining benefit cuts and revenue increases, while protecting economically vulnerable seniors. These measures make the most sense to me, but there are, of course, other choices. Note, for example, that this menu excludes directly raising payroll tax rates or increasing the retirement age. The point is, while many will object to one fix or another, a functional political system would generate a solvency compromise containing measures like these, especially if folks would stop running around talking about an "entitlement crisis" and start focusing on plausible solutions.


Huffington Post (NAT)

AARP Kinda Hates Chained CPI

Arthur Delaney


During a Q&A after the speech, I asked Rand and other AARP honchos if they still hate chained CPI even if it's paired with extra money for older retirees and poorer ones. That’s what the White House has been interested in, and that’s what Simpson-Bowles wanted, after all. “We think there are better ways to talk about Social Security than chained CPI,” AARP’s Debra Whitman. “We think it should be done more comprehensively.” So, they’re very against it, but not interested in saying flat-out they’d never go along if it were part of a broader reform bill that includes things they might like, such as an increase in the taxable wage base. See you next time, chained CPI.


CNN Money (NAT)

Debt ceiling: Is Social Security at risk?

Jeanne Sahadi


It wouldn't be without precedent, noted Steve Bell, the economic policy director for the Bipartisan Policy Center. During a debt ceiling standoff in the mid-1990s, Congress gave Treasury authority to issue enough securities to cover Social Security payments for the month of March, according to the Government Accountability Office.


Common Dreams (Blog)

The Progressive Caucus: Enabling Obama's Rightward Moves

Norman Solomon


The failure of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stand up to President Obama on many vital matters of principle is one of the most important – and least mentioned – political dynamics of this era.


Market Watch (NAT)

Be honest about the Social Security COLA

Alicia Munnell


That said, the COLA is probably fair game in restoring balance to Social Security.  It is the only way to have current retirees contribute to the effort.   My view is that we – the over 55 crowd – have not behaved very well.  It has been very clear since the early 1990s that Social Security would need additional money to maintain current benefits.  Yet, the baby boom, instead of raising taxes on itself, kicked the can down the road.  Now that we are over 55, we want to foist the burden on younger generations.  That does not seem fair.


Washington Post (NAT)

In ‘fiscal cliff’ deal, a blow to Obamacare

Sarah Kliff


When Congress struck a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, it also dealt a quiet blow to President Obama’s health overhaul: The new law killed a multibillion-dollar program meant to boost health insurance competition by funding nonprofit health plans.


Columbus Dispatch (NAT)

Hit back against higher Social Security taxes

Mark Williams


By now, most working people have noticed that their paycheck is smaller in 2013.

Blame the drop on an increase in Social Security taxes, which had been cut for two years by 2 percentage points as a way to stimulate the economy.


Pantagraph (IL)

Recipients earn their entitlements


I taught 38 years before I earned a pension. I pay more than 14 percent taxes and see my house taxes go up every year. Teachers don’t get Social Security and I pay toward my health care every month. I’m not entitled to lifetime health care after a term in office. I had to work eight to 10 hours a day, not a partial day on Tuesday and leave for home on Thursday with holidays six to eight times a year!




The Hill (NAT)

Sandy Levin: Tax, entitlement reform can only come after debt ceiling, sequester

Bernie Becker


Levin added that, after the debt ceiling and sequester were resolved, he would be happy to sit down and discuss programs like Medicare, where Republicans have pushed to find savings. Social Security, another key entitlement program, is in stronger fiscal shape, Levin said.


CBS News (NAT)

Fischer: Entitlement reform requires "political courage"



"It's no secret that to cut spending, we must find ways to reduce the costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid - the primary drivers of our national debt," Fischer said. Although she cautioned that we must keep our promises to those in or nearing retirement, she added, "In order to save these popular programs, we must reform them. If not, they will no longer exist for future generations and will bankrupt us in the meantime."


Roll Call (NAT)

K Street Files: Business Roundtable Weighs In on Entitlements

Janie Lorber


The group asked lawmakers to raise the Social Security retirement age from 67 to 70 and shift to the chained consumer price index for calculating the program’s cost-of-living adjustments. The business lobby also wants lawmakers to raise the eligible age for Medicare to 70 and consider means-testing the health program’s benefits to ease the costs of caring for upper-income beneficiaries. The proposal would not affect anyone currently over age 55.


New York Times (NAT)

For ‘Party of Business,’ Allegiances Are Shifting



WASHINGTON — Not for the first time, the White House made known on Monday that top administration officials had reached out to corporate executives for their help in getting Republicans in Congress to compromise on pending budget issues. But as both President Obama and industry chieftains are finding, today’s Republican Party is hardly so quick to bow to big business.


Washington Post (NAT)

Another GOP Senator recognizes the inevitable

Greg Sargent


Reality seems to be enjoying a sudden burst of momentum this afternoon, as more Republicans and conservatives are coming out and acknowledging the debt ceiling will have to be raised. The latest: GOP Senator Susan Collins.


Washington Post (NAT)

Time for politicians to get past the debt bluster


WITH THE federal government less than six weeks away from hitting its legal limit of $16.4 trillion of debt, the fiscal-policy gap between President Obama and his Republican opponents in Congress seems unbridgeable. The GOP rejects additional revenue increases on top of the $600 billion Congress accepted to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” And Republicans insist they will not raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts to match. The president, for his part, likens this demand to hostage-taking and refuses even to consider any trade of debt reduction for a debt-ceiling increase.


Washington Post (NAT)

Hitting the debt ceiling would be much worse than a government shutdown

Ezra Klein


Repeat after me: Breaching the debt ceiling is not the same thing as a government shutdown.





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