Monday Morning Politics: Obama's Social Security Concessions

Monday, April 08, 2013

Ezra Klein, columnist at The Washington Post and MSNBC contributor, discusses the latest from Washington, including the proposed cuts to social programs in President Obama's newest budget and the next round of budget negotiations in Congress.



Ezra Klein

Comments [22]

I am left in wonderment about the absolute refusal of NPR/NYC to have Senator Bernie Sanders as a guest. He knows his stuff, and has an excellent grasp of facts and history. But above all he is a true public servant who knows the ordinary janes and joes as well. Bernie has no lobbyists supporting him. And NYC/NPR are afraid of someone who speaks truth to power. Better to stick with all the "don't rock the boat" gamers.

The facts are that the SS program can be fixed by means other than reducing the benefits to the least among us, as can Medicare. Medicare could do somethings too, such as negotiating the price of drugs, for example. But as you can see, the lobbyist and corporations are in charge in DC, just ask that health care negotiator, who represents the people, Senator Conrad.

Apr. 08 2013 01:29 PM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

@MC - We (barely) survived Bush II, we will survive Obama.

Why does the GOP get a pass on the $11T swing in national debt under Bush? When GWB took office, we were running a surplus and projected to PAY OFF the entire national debt in ten years. This stimulus produced a $4T increase in GDP, NONE OF IT GOING TO THE MIDDLE AND BOTTOM. [That increase in income WOULD have sparked an inflation which would have hipped us all that something was wrong. Instead, it was eaten up in bubbles and increases in income to the 'investor' class.]

Now, the so-called deficit hawks want to find a way to skeeve out on the social security commitments that the government has made. This only makes the theft permanent, in my opinion.

Apr. 08 2013 11:19 AM

Thank you for having the Young Ezra White House Conduit on your program this morning. It had almost seemed for a brief while moment after Obama finally came out of the Cut SocSec Closet that he was not in complete agreement with the WH and Obama budget ideas. This program makes it apparent he is in agreement.

Plus he thinks SocSec does not have a separate funding stream from FICA -- or shouldn't, at least. It should be funded from the general budget and cease to be considered "self funding." There lies a great way to keep people afraid that SocSec WILL NOT be there for future generations. Unitary executives need a unitary budget. I get how Young Ezra sees it now.

On CPI, yes, as some things become more expensive, those on fixed incomes in particular or income with little discretionary spending indeed do, for example, substitute lower priced chicken for, say, beef or lamb. When chicken goes up in price, chicken is eaten less often. Or they cut out those products unless they find a really good sale. Which, for the economic quintiles whose actual buying power has been stagnant since the late 70's (Listen to the Barbara Garson (sp?) program on Lopate's show), is what most of us do.

When prices increase even further, the extreme metaphor for changing spending habits is that poor people eat cat food. Hence Obama's Cat Food Commissions and now his Cat Food Proposals. Or those who are ambulatory and somewhat agile dumpster dive. Or begin to starve themselves of needed protein entirely. I used only meat protein for this example.

For those who don't check out cat food prices, the better ones have been going up sharply in price.

A lower standard of living, for the lower economic quintiles, is the objective for Obama and his crew and Young Ezra.

They really believe that Americans of the lower economic quintiles have too high a standard of living and need to be brought down closer to the international level of how the lower quintiles live. Globalization is for the wealthy to make more wealth, but for the lower and middle class to simply make less.

80-85% of the public are against cuts to SocSec, raising the age of entry for full payment of SocSec, and most are strongly in support of raising the cap on income to keep the SocSec Trust Fund fully funded.

Too bad we have a president who speaks clearly to his Big Money and Powers That Be supporters, but not to the voters. When he talked about SocSec to the public, especially close to elections, he was weasely and extremely careful with his words, in order to bamboozle those voters.

Apr. 08 2013 10:47 AM

You pay Medicare Part B & Part D premiums out of your Social Security + deductibles on all types of medical expenses + copays for all office visits, in-patient stays, Part D Rx drugs.

Part B/D premiums take a minimum of $1100 per year out of benefits before all other expenses.

Apr. 08 2013 10:40 AM

As one of his newest constituents, I am amazed that Rep. Rangel has not come out against Chained CPI.

For whatever reason, he finds it necessary to betray his constituents.

Apr. 08 2013 10:30 AM
Susan Conheim from Mantattan

Mr. Klein totally ignores the fact that many seniors have to pay a double tax on their SS income which is a Reagan tax that was supposed to back up the trust fund. The double tax has obviously failed. FICA taxes are not the only taxes SS collects. And the double tax reduces benefits by thousands when a retiree has only the standard deduction and no loopholes. See Time magazine, "The Really Unfair Tax", by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, February 3, 2003 (!). As one caller stated, the chained CPI is flawed and not the way to reform SS. Cutting a retiree's benefits with a double tax is also not the way to reform SS.

Apr. 08 2013 10:28 AM
carl from queens

pres. bush gave away our first surplus in years, saying,''its your money'', when we owed close to 6 trillion bucks...nobody was worrying about the ''grandkids''in 2001... he also started 2 wars with no plan for paying for them...because of all this, we found ourselves in the i.c.u.,on life support...the patient is currently off life support, barely breathing on his own, the only medicine that will get the patient back on his feet, is called inflation... our gov. knows this, and thats why they are pulling this cutie now...they know most of us don't know whats going on, and won't put up a suckers holler at the moment when inflation is very low... after, when inflation hits double digits, and when we get meaningless s.s. increases, , we'll be screaming bloody murder, but it will but too late...the books will be balanced on the backs of the poor, despite the billionairs being responsible for this tragedy...

Apr. 08 2013 10:28 AM
Peg from Brooklyn

E-Z ways to adjust spending for "chained CPI" cuts - cat food instead of that pricey tuna fish.
Does the Beltway have more suggestions, like take your medication just on alternate Mondays....

Apr. 08 2013 10:27 AM

The caller with experience hasn't read ALL the literature.

The CPI-E is still the best measure for disable/retirees who have very little "substitution" opportunity due to medical expenses, Rx expenses (since Medicare can't negotiate directly for its needs).

Add in geographic & income factors & substitution is a non-starter just like Chained CPI.

Apr. 08 2013 10:27 AM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

The implication of the "chained CPI" is that people make money from inflation, because when they are financially squeezed the amount it makes them smarter is greater than their loss of purchasing power...

believe it? or is it someone getting lost in statistics?

Apr. 08 2013 10:26 AM
sp from nyc

One key problem with chained CPI is that while the elderly eating lobster may downgrade to steak, the elderly eating peanut butter will be forced to downgrade to catfood, and those already eating catfood will be dumpster diving.

Apr. 08 2013 10:26 AM
sp from nyc

One key problem with chained CPI is that while the elderly eating lobster may downgrade to steak, the elderly eating peanut butter will be forced to downgrade to catfood, and those already eating catfood will be dumpster diving.

Apr. 08 2013 10:26 AM
sp from nyc

One key problem with chained CPI is that while the elderly eating lobster may downgrade to steak, the elderly eating peanut butter will be forced to downgrade to catfood, and those already eating catfood will be dumpster diving.

Apr. 08 2013 10:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

How can a society that has decided to kill off its children, or has decided not to have sufficient numbers of children - for whatever reasons, - yet where life spans are increasingly growing longer, not expect to run out of tax revenue? It's not that we have a retirement problem. We have a deficiency-of-children problem that in the past we tried to make up by increasing immigration, but that latter "solution" comes with its own problems.

Marriage and family is a failure. We will eventually need to move the production of children away from the "cottage industry" called "family" and industrialize it. At some point children will have to be produced the same way we produce tanks and drones. By government contracts given to corporations to do the job.

Apr. 08 2013 10:25 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

I may not agree with Klein's politics, but he certainly knows the issues well.

Apr. 08 2013 10:23 AM
William from Manhattan

Right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats are allied because both prefer orthodoxy to solutions. The only long-term solution to Washington dysfunction is to vote ALL the bums out. I like my current House representative, Carolyn B. Maloney, but I am voting against her because the only way to fix the mode of discourse in the House is for every member to realize they can be voted by centrists for not passing viable legislation.

Apr. 08 2013 10:22 AM

The best cure for the budget deficit is real jobs @ higher, livable wages for US workers.

The best reform for Social Security is simply to remove the salary/wage cap for FICA/FISA taxes. Then add "carried interest" & all other same-tax-year income to income to the income types subject to both taxes.

Best cure for Medicare/Medicaid is to merge them so that all preventive care dental, hearing, vision, mental health & rehab + nutritional support including SNAP & needed supplements to counteract organ damage from chronic Rx drugs.

Also, no one mentions that the funds borrowed from the SS surpluses will be returned.

Pension funds, IRAs & 401-Ks have all been robbed by takeovers, Wall ST fees, etc.

As usual Mr. K. doesn't tie everything together.

Apr. 08 2013 10:22 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"CPI" or Consumer Price Index has always been a government scam. The government makes a "basket" of goods, but can change that basket at will. Basically it means is that people reliant on a government check are going to get less.

Apr. 08 2013 10:13 AM

Calling all DC interns. Your Country Needs You!

Keep another DLC a**hole from selling out the 99% to the 1%.

Your moment is NOW! Destroy One Marriage, Save The Country!

Apr. 08 2013 10:08 AM
Robert from NYC

Gee, I can't believe I agree with the basic premise M Chuzzlewit's statement although from the opposite direction; i.e., the America we so-called all love isn't the America of the Reagan/Bush. Unfortunately I have to stretch all the way back to FDR for that and I just just born after he died! Anyway Obama is a wimp and seems to love to oblige those who seek and have sworn to destroy him and his administration... and they are succeeding.

Apr. 08 2013 10:06 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

All we can do is hope that the America we love (and have all lived very nicely in) survives this man's directionless Presidency....
.... and that the permanent damage is minimal.

Just 1382 days and a few hours remain.

Apr. 08 2013 08:13 AM
Ed from Larchmont

This past week a new issue surfaced in the pro-life struggle: if a child survives and abortion and is born, is the hospital required to treat the child, or can the child be allowed to die? (President Obama as a congressman voted for the latter four times.)

This goes way beyond Roe and is unconstitutional, since once born the child is a U.S. citizen.

Planned Parenthood of course says it's 'up to the doctor and mother.' Really? They're showing us what abortion really is. Will the U.S. make infanticide legal?

Apr. 08 2013 05:49 AM

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