Social Security reform: the more Bush talks, the worse it gets

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thomas Veil, May 7, 2005.

  1. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #1
    George Bush has ended his 60-day tour to promote Social Security private investment accounts, with public opinion on his idea as low as if not lower than when he started.

    Privately, even Republicans are admitting the idea is a non-starter. Yet Bush, stubbornly, insists we're merely entering "a new phase" of the issue:

    It sounds like Bush is trying to do one of two things: replace the private accounts idea with this benefit cut, or use the benefit cut as a stick to scare people into supporting private accounts.

    Either way, it sounds stupider, if possible, than his original plan. Democrats have merely to say, "Why cut benefits? Why not simply raise the taxable amount so that those who are better-off pay a little more into the system? That will solve the problem, and it won't hurt the middle or lower classes at all."

    Of course, that'll have Republicans screaming about those damn tax-raising Democrats, but I think people would see through that...especially if the Democrats emphasize that it's only those above $90,000 that will be taxed more. (Or am I dreaming to think that the public will prefer that idea?)

    Meanwhile, the Republican PR war machine continues to drum on:

    *Gag!* [​IMG]

    Link 1 Link 2
     
  2. StarbucksSam macrumors 65816

    StarbucksSam

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    #2
    There is no way this will pass in Congress. They can't be THAT stupid.
     
  3. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #3
    The newest tactic is to turn Social Security into a welfare program, thus making it unpopular with everyone who isn't poor. The problem with Social Security as it stands now isn't that it doesn't work, but that it does. Both private accounts and the latest proposal are designed to undercut public support for the program over the long term, with the ultimate aim of doing away with it entirely.
     
  4. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #4
    I guess I'm just frustrated by the whole thing. Over the last few decades, at one time or another, the leadership people of both the Democrats and the Republicans have looked at the demographics of the US as to aging, birth rates, longevity and all that and have said that at some point SS will be in trouble. So: Have they all been mistaken? Have they all been lying?

    It doesn't matter who comes up with what idea about "fixing" it: ASAP politics of some sort come into play, with any "fix" getting lost in the posturing. Number-crunchers, working from the same data, come up with opposite views as to whether or not there is a problem and what if anything would make it all better for the next twenty to fifty years or whatever.

    In the FWIW department, I don't doubt Bush's sincerity of belief. That doesn't mean he's correct. Seems to me that some Republicans may well want the whole deal to become private sector instead of public sector, and not only (they hope) make it all better, but have more profits in the private sector. Well, if that works, fine. Obviously, if it doesn't work, Deep Doo-doo.

    The Democrats want to see it stay public sector, backed by the "full faith and credit" of the US government. One problem I see there is that with the decline of the buying power of the dollar, the program will continue to provide money, but the COLA won't keep up with true, real-world inflation. They call for raising the cap on earnings, and some call for increases in the % rate of withholding. I can only note that 35 years ago, I paid more in FICA than I did in income tax.

    Momentary digression: For many people, FICA plus state and local taxes are the big hickey as to taxes. The actual IRS stuff is much less than the sum of other taxation.

    As far as FICA, it seems to me that the growth of Medicare costs will be an additional taxation requirement. Further, the Bush "free meds for old farts" idea that originated with Al Gore's Tallahassee campaign speech in 2000 is gonna become a helluva burden.

    So knowing that you'll have income during your old age, over and above whatever you've set up for yourself, is a Good Thing. The questions are how much do you contribute into whatever programs; what sort of programs; and how well should you be able to live if all you have is SS.

    And, of course, how much of that monthly paycheck stays in your pocket as discretionary spending over and above the necessities...

    The more "news" comes out, the less I know...

    'Rat
     
  5. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #5
    Well, if it makes you feel any better, 'Rat , I'm frustrated too. Back in the '80s we faced a similar situation with Social Security. That time both parties worked out a solution that made the system solvent for many more decades. The big difference today is that Republicans (those who are calling the shots, anyway) are determined to impose an ideological solution that eventually if not sooner drives a stake through the heart of the last big New Deal government program, every ounce of which is an anathema to them. I repeat for emphasis that they're aren't on this warpath because the program doesn't work, but quite the opposite. They are bound and determined to prove their proposition that the government can't do anything right even when they do something right. They are taking Reagan's "government is the problem" dictum to its illogical conclusion.

    The cash flow problem in the Social Security Trust Fund can be solved. Easily. Slow growth in benefits by changing the indexing method (for everyone) to whatever is required to balance the books. Raise the cap for the payroll tax. Index that against inflation too. Done. Now we can move onto more pressing matters, like Medicare. Won't happen. I know why, and I suspect you know why too.

    Yeah, I'm frustrated. Sprinkle in a bit of anger and you've got my feelings on the matter.
     
  6. Thomas Veil thread starter macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #6
    Both the motives and the solutions you mention are exactly right, IJ. I might add that the SS problem in the '80s was solved with only two months of solvency left to go. I'm not suggesting we wait that long, of course, but this "urgency" to fix a problem that is still 35 years off is obviously manufactured.

    Too, last time around Reagan was also determined not to raise the $90,000 cap, so we ended up solving the problem by raising the retirement age to 67. So we saved some comfortably-off people some money at the expense of forcing all seniors to work longer. In a country where people are working harder and longer than ever for less pay, that's hardly a great solution.
     
  7. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #7
    1 solution: Federal sales tax? Non-existant on the essentials (food, clothing, alcohol (kidding)), low on regular items, higher on "luxury" items?
     
  8. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #8
    Oh really?

    Bingo. The problem isn't that SS can't be fixed, it's that fixing it goes against the principles of those in charge. So excuse me for not believing them when they tell me they've thought of a a way to fix it that looks suspisciously like a way to actually kill off the program.

    On a side note, sooner or later the right is going to ideologically screw themselves good once taxes have been cut to the minimum and spending has risen as it continues to do. At some point they will find themselves in the position a few have already found themselves in at the local and state level... having to actually advocate raising taxes because there's no money and they, unlike the feds, can't run a deficit.
     
  9. Thomas Veil thread starter macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #9
    You're right, it's already starting to happen. Federal cuts to the states, along with the bad economy overall (which is also the federal government's fault), have put the states in bad shape. Been that way for a while now.

    I know in my own state, the prospect of running a gigantic deficit has caused the state to turn around and tell the cities and counties that it will be cutting money to them. Cities will be the ones forced to ask for tax hikes. Just last week my own town asked for approval of a school levy to make up for what it's losing from the state...and the levy was turned down flat. People don't like being asked to pony up bucks to cover for the federal government's blundering economic policy.

    Our city manager aptly compared the situation to the Three Stooges, where Moe turns around and slaps Larry, Larry turns around and slaps Curly, and Curly turns around...to find no one left to slap. "Low man again!"

    When you can see such obvious parallels between your government and The Three Stooges, you know you're in trouble.
     

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