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10:22 PM on 02/02/2012

One of the most popular myths is that welfare is a serious drag on the economy. Actually, it barely registers on the radar screen. Another myth is who gets welfare.

Mention the word "welfare" and most people automatically think of the poor. But the fact is that corporations and the rich receive far more welfare than the poor.

During the 80s, government spending on individuals increased for everyone except the poor. The reason is because the poor cannot afford lobbyists to defend their interests in Washington; consequently, politicians find the poor easy targets for budget cuts.

"Take the Rich Off Welfare", Zepezauer and Naiman

"If you cut 26 percent of the welfare now given to the rich you have instantly balanced the budget." "If you cut out wealthfare, you could pay off the national debt in 11 years."
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11:32 PM on 02/02/2012
A huge number of Midwestern and Great Plains American rural farmers get an average of 44K a year in "welfare" for land that is not working...only they call it subsidies to make the rednecks feel better about receiving it. When it is a human not working, that is known as welfare. When it goes to oil barons, it is also called subsidy . They oil barons call my pension I and my employers of 45 years paid in 12.4% of my salary each year "entitlements" as if the word is somehow a negative. They make it sound like it is a theft from their taxes. Funny thing is that for all those years of work, it is likely my tax rate exceeded theirs.
never moon a werewolf
08:07 AM on 02/03/2012
...' "If you cut 26 percent of the welfare now given to the rich you have instantly balanced the budget."....'

I strongly suspect that you are not speaking honestly.

However I could be wrong.... please provide the links showing the monetary figures that prove your statement of fact.
11:57 AM on 02/03/2012
it is complete teacon "mittspeak" (another poster offered this term - i cannot take credit)

facts are irrelevant
11:58 AM on 02/03/2012
Zip Zinzel
If a Nation expects to be both Ignorant & Free . .
09:58 PM on 02/02/2012
You only made ONE really good point,
When most of the Wealthy's Income escapes taxation by being defined as something other than "ORDINARY INCOME" we are in the land of Reverse-Robinhood

1) Means-Testing would only be appropriate if SS was a welfare program, OTHERWISE everybody that pays in, gets the appropriate payout

2) Social Security is already dangerously close to being a welfare program, since it is not fully self-funded for long-term sustainability.
We need to increase FICA taxes, and tighten up eligibility rules
take the program away from Congress and have the Trustees run the program, with the power to put a set of adjustment before the voters every 10years. Congress cannot make any changes that aren't some type of giveaway.

REPUBS ONLY WANT TO PRIVATIZE for the benefit of WallStreet

DEMS ONLY WANT TO EXPAND THE PROGRAM without requiring the recipients to pay the full cost of those expansions
09:57 PM on 02/02/2012
Two comments:

1. All Congress has to do is remove the ceiling on earnings subject to SS withholding and Voila! - SS becomes permanently solvent overnight!

2. Before SS, most people over 65 lived in ABJECT POVERTY. Why did Republicans vote en bloc against SS in 1936 and why do they want to get rid of it now, when America has the LOWEST SAVINGS RATE of any Western country?

I'll tell you why:

Because there's a fortune in $$$ in the SS Trust Fund. Republicans want to get their hands on it, and also force people to invest in things like mutual funds, so their enablers on Wall Street can get even more rich!

Remember what happened to the stock market right after Congress blocked Bush's efforts to privatize SS? It lost 50% of its value, meaning many people lost their retirement nest eggs. That's what would happen in the future, too.

It's entirely appropriate to DEMAND that Republicans describe in detail what they would put into place of SS, and let the American people decide which is the greater Ponzi Scheme: SS or the Stock Market...
Extreme cat and dog lover
11:56 PM on 02/02/2012
Fanned and faved.
Banned from commenting, so?
02:41 AM on 02/03/2012
Before Medicare also. They could not get health insurance. Its worse now. That and SSI saved generations.
09:57 PM on 02/02/2012
As a resident of Indiana, I can tell you that everything Mitch Daniels says is suspect. If his mouth is moving, he's probably lying. Can't wait to be rid of him. However, I am afraid of who his replacement might be. Indiana has been leaning Republican for too long. Thanks to this article, I now have some things to rebut my crazy, right-wing sister-in-law with. So to you, Mr. Eskow--Slainte! --from an South Bend Irish girl
Banned from commenting, so?
02:43 AM on 02/03/2012
I'm in the last bastion of Democrats in the NW. You know we're hated down in Marion County.....
09:17 PM on 02/02/2012
Lifting the cap on wages is the obvious solution to the SS "problem". Only problem is the folks who would have to vote on it sorta like only paying the tax for seven months. And then the TV people who might bring this idea to the publics attention kinda like the idea of only having the tax deducted from one or maybe paychecks in January.
08:23 PM on 02/02/2012
Yup! Sounds like the Republicans figure that they can do the same thing with SS means testing as they did with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Originally designed to remove 'special deductions' for those making over a million, Republicans gutted it and made it apply to the middle class..........oh, and by the way, the millionaires have new ways around it thanks to their Republican buds.

Don't trust either party, but when it comes to Republicans, it's not a matter of trust. It's a virtual guarantee that they're going to steal from the poor to feed the rich.
Zip Zinzel
If a Nation expects to be both Ignorant & Free . .
10:41 PM on 02/02/2012
Thanks for this post RadX-

Regarding any GUTTING of the program, I haven't been able to confirm that.
INITIALLY I went out to wiki, and they do mention that significant changes had been made over the years, but apparently those changes were too complex to document.
The closest that I came is here:

It appears from that document that most of the changes were relatively minor.

RIGHT NOW, the most important fix that should be applied is that the IRS should automatically and routinely adjust the AMT for inflation.
The GOP wants to block this common-sense fix because
1) Ultimately, they want to kill the AMT altogether
2) They like having a yearly update required on must-pass legislation, so that they can tack on other amendments & 'riders' that would never get enacted otherwise.

1) make it a little easier to determine if the AMT applies
2) Allow deductions for State Taxes, many states have no taxes, and some states have sort of high tax rates.
08:22 PM on 02/02/2012
Social Security is not just a retirement plan, A certain percent goes to widows and orphans, I think about 10%. There should be no cap on this 10% as everyone should pitch in to help widows and orphans.
religion, ideology, partisanship are delusional
10:44 PM on 02/02/2012
I think you're talking about SSI, which mostly goes to disabled (or those who pretend to be. There are also survivor benefits that you talk about, but I don't think they cost 10%
I think for myself, what's your excuse?
08:11 PM on 02/02/2012
Payroll taxes are the most regressive and part of the reason the middle class is shrinking. It also makes American workers less competitive with all foreign workers. The working American is getting hit from all sides; lower pay, fewer jobs, climbing costs and steadily increasing regressive taxes like sales tax.

I for one am getting tired of the working folk carrying the burden of this country while the wealthy gather all the benefits. If trust fund babies are job creators, let's give them some incentive to do more than play polo and attend opera.

This country stopped thinking progressively a long time ago and this is where it has brought us. Taxes are not penalties. They are a means of supporting society and if people don't want to pay their fair share, they know where the door to their private jet is and don't let the hatch hit you on your way out.
Democrat in the South
Empathy, the most important word
09:55 PM on 02/02/2012
Hear, hear!!!!!!!
religion, ideology, partisanship are delusional
10:52 PM on 02/02/2012
Spot on, I seldom hear that! But Obama is cutting payroll taxes, and I believe he is working toward eliminating them. __ But even more regressive is private health care plans. Medicare and single-payer like Canada are based on taxes, flat or even progressive. The rich pay the most, seniors and the poor pay nothing. __ But here in US we pay the same for health plans, regardless of income! It's a poll tax, the most regressive of all. The average family policy costs $14K, comes from workers, either as their contribution or employers, which they take from workers pay (like they do their payroll tax). It costs workers the same whether they make $50K or $500K. __ Note that aside from tax credits for the very poor, ACA is no different, it's a poll tax. I'm 61, retired with no income but living on assets. I would be forced to pay same price (tax) as Romney for my mandatory full-blown overpriced medical plan, covering checkups, tests and drugs I do not want or need. But I already violate his Romney Care here in MA, wants me to pay $1000 a year for drug coverage alone! And I'll violate ACA too. It's not insurance, it's an AMA and Big Pharma subsidy.
Without Economic Justice, There Is No Justice!
08:09 PM on 02/02/2012
The only way we are ever going to reverse the horrible transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich is if we increase taxes on the wealthy and cut them on the poor and middle class. What someone earns in any year is really irrelevant to what they should pay in taxes. We don't want to punish hard work and success, what we do want to punish (tax) is accumulated wealth.

The massive accumulation of wealth in the hands of a small group of Americans is the root cause of every one of our economic problems today. The only fix is to tax wealth not income.
Zip Zinzel
If a Nation expects to be both Ignorant & Free . .
11:03 PM on 02/02/2012

I am a Progressive DEM

I somewhat disagree with your thesis.
Just raising Taxes on the Wealthy alone, WHILE CORRECT, AND VERY NECESSARY, is inadequate, in, and of it's own.
The Federal Government needs much more revenue, with an unstoppable, and un-reversible commitment to completely pay off ALL the National Debt over a period of 20-30 years.

Most people don't realize that the Bush Tax Cuts WERE NOT targeted at the Rich, using the $250 income level; they are about 25% for the wealthy, and 75% for everybody else
- ALSO, in the past we used to give tax deductions for dependent children, NOW EVERY YEAR the taxpayers write a $1,000 check for each and every one of them
Many people think this is OK because they think it is just the Government that is writing those checks,
- Also I would eliminate ALL PELL Grants, instead of really helping anyone, in reality, they are just part bidding up the cost of nonstop tuition increases

Captial-Gains, Dividends, Carried-Interest(HedgeFund MGRs) & etc.

Collect Overseas Taxes on ALL Corporations EACH & EVERY YEAR
04:50 AM on 02/03/2012
the only reason the "rest of us" got more (in dollars, not per cent of income) from Bushe's tax cuts is because there are so many of us.... the ones who made big bucks (per person)were the very wealthy!

Flat wages for 25 yrs.--so you get a couple hundred as a tax break (what do you think happened? paid a bill or two maybe?)

Already rich--got hundreds of thousands of dollars to increase WEALTH -- money making more money to get taxed less to make more money etc. etc. etc.

As for pell grants.... we established public education to get our next generation prepared to make a living and become self sufficient ... first "reading, writing, and arithmatic" then high school diploma (at least for most) if you need a college diploma to get hired for most middle class jobs (or equiv. in trade school--we still need plumbers etc.) then collage should be treated like high was a couple of decades ago!
Public funding (for good grades, of course)........the world has changed -our idea of an education should change also.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
11:31 PM on 02/02/2012
Besides the arguable unconstitutionality and practical impossibility of taxing wealth (how do you tax people stashing their wealth in art, antiquities, gems, or other physical assets, among many other problems), taxing things that people have just makes no sense. In every civilized society taxation happens when money is exchanged for goods or services, that is it. If you boil down every situation where taxation occurs it comes down to that. The one exception is companies moving offshore income onshore, somehow the government thinks double taxing that is ok.
Banned from commenting, so?
02:49 AM on 02/03/2012
There are high tax and low tax countries. Multinationals and the rich try to shift money to low tax countries. think Ireland (which accounted for their jobs boom). Germany and the UK have the same problem the US does. though we were stupid enough to let the rich bring their overseas money back to the US with no taxes once if they invested it here. They didn't. they want to do it again. Mitt closed his Swiss account once it was something that had to be reported to the IRS. And that was by the Swiss.

We have the lowest actual corporate taxes in the world. As opposed to the 35% the rich and Fox yammer about. Mitt rolled over hundreds of millions from Bain, to his kids or mutual accounts. Or overseas. You know like other crooks who hide their money like drug dealers.
Without Economic Justice, There Is No Justice!
08:05 PM on 02/02/2012
You can always tell when a Republican is about to steal from the poor and middle class to give to the rich, they first say they are only concerned about the middle class.
Banned from commenting, so?
02:50 AM on 02/03/2012
They want to put SS into Wall Street. Those guys didn't blow enough last time Bush had to bail them out.
07:51 PM on 02/02/2012
The Republicans are searching for and finding ways to make excuses to eliminate people from receiving their social security retirement benefits that they PAID into all their lives! Why does the GOP hate middle-Americans so much to go after them on EVERY front! It's time for middle-American to go after the GOP by voting them out of office!!!
GOD Please help us
10:00 PM on 02/02/2012
they have to do something to cover up the fact that they've "borrowed" from the trust and don't want to pay it back---I think SS needs a COMPLETE FINANCIAL INVESTIGATION
Banned from commenting, so?
02:52 AM on 02/03/2012
The money is put into Treasury bonds. That's where the debt is. And the deficit. We the American people are owed most of it. Not China, nor any other country (and China is not the highest holder of bonds). Now money is put in to pay the outlay monthly (as bonds are bought), problem with the raising the debt ceiling is money to pay out is not the same time of the month as the paying in is.
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Gravity rules!
07:48 PM on 02/02/2012
How about we still let everyone collect SS but make all income SS taxable instead of stopping at about $110,000. The vast majority of us have all our income available to be SS taxed. If we can bear it so can the rich bear all their income made taxable.
Banned from commenting, so?
02:53 AM on 02/03/2012
We need to cut taxing SS when its paid out also. That should be tax free at the state, Federal and any other level.
07:29 AM on 02/03/2012
In 2010, the Social Security trust funds collected $23.9 billion from taxes on social security benefits. Someone who only has social security income pays none of these taxes.

Why should some age groups have to pay these taxes and the ones who follow get exempted?
04:59 AM on 02/03/2012
at least up to a reasonable level! Say, first million?
And I still think all gov. employees should be in SS! (esp. elected officials )
Why should people with a separate system be in charge of the one I have to rely upon?
Leave No Trace, Just a Good Impression
07:39 PM on 02/02/2012
mitch, bad for Indiana, worse for America!!
Banned from commenting, so?
02:54 AM on 02/03/2012
Good for the 1% iin Indiana and corporations though. Just google what this clown has done to the state......
06:58 PM on 02/02/2012
As a person approaching retirement, I'm very much in favor of means testing Medicare. The government shouldn't be apying rich folks to get vaccines and other day to day care that they can easily afford. It is precisely the insurance subsidy that makes ours the most expensive and often ineffectual Healthcare System in the world.

Social Security is an entirely different matter. A great deal of maoney has been taken from employees and employers on the basis that these sums would be available upon retirement. It would be a BREACH OF CONTRACT to renege. Talking about means testing Social Secutiy is unconscionable. Guys like George Kaiser and Warren Buffett can always dip into the
Federal Treasury for a few $100 Million to subsidize their meager retirements, but the rest of us don't have that kind of PULL.
Tangled up in blue..
08:49 AM on 02/03/2012
Fanned and faved. Means testing SS is the first step towards ending it, which is the Repug goal.
06:43 PM on 02/02/2012
"Because Social Security benefits aren't "pension checks," despite Daniels' rhetoric. They're benefits from a fund that every working person in this country contributes to with every paycheck. If a millionaire's receiving Social Security, they paid for it throughout their working life."

Clear as mud. If SS is not a "pension" then it is redistribution of tax dollars from the wokring young to the old. If it is "paid for" then it is a pension, in other words they "get what they paid for". What if they get more than they paid for? Then it is an insolvent pension fund.

As for your solution, please be honest. If it is something "pay for", then increasing the limit will changed nothing as those who pay in will get what they "paid for" back. It is then a pension plan.

If it is just a new funding source, please state out loud:

"I want to increase the income tax rate on incomes above $106,000 by 6.2% and I want to tax companies 6.2% of the payroll on employees who earn more than $106,000".

I may agree with the above statement, but I don't agree with your process of going about it.

Lastly, the point made by most conservatives is that you should get rid of it completely and send checks to old people who earn less than $20,000 per year, which helps get rid of the whole bureaucracy. To honestly state the oppositions position takes courage, and that is what is lacking.
Banned from commenting, so?
02:56 AM on 02/03/2012
Technically its not a pension system, its an insurance. Die before you hit 65 you get zilch, though your survivors may get it. Its funded for a good 30 years or so. That's enough to just about get through the Baby Boomer generation.
03:26 PM on 02/03/2012
"TechnicallĀ­y its not a pension system, its an insurance."

Again, clear as mud. I don't care what you call something, I care how it acts, how the cash flows work and the triggers. First, if you die before you hit 62.5 your kids, if minors, get benefits and so does your spouse. Only single, childless people's estate's get nothing. Second, if it is forced premiums on insurance, then everyone should get the same benefit for each dollar of premium paid, which is also not true. So again, it looks and acts like a pension plan, unfortunately one that pays out more than it takes in.

The 30 year number assumes cash accounting which is a really bad way to view long term liabilities.
05:29 AM on 02/03/2012
don't know where you worked-- but a pension was a BENEFIT for working at my company ( I never paid a dime into it).... it was figured as part of my total compensation and the amount paid per mo. at retirement was based on years worked and salary.
My company also did it the correct way-- money held by a independent firm (no "borrowing" by company to pay the bills or CEO bonuses!)... my age group (20+ yrs with the co.) was the last to get it-- they switched over to 401ks only for younger employees

So he is correct-- SS is not a pension.

The only thing my pension and SS had in common was they were both to be paid after retirement for as long as I live. Before retirement and after death pensions have no value.(some do have spousal benefits-- mine did not)

SS is unlike "normal" insurance in that it pays for staying alive instead of paying death benefits....
so if I had died at 50 (kids grown) I would have received nothing for the money I had paid into SS-- the ones already retired are the ones who benefit.

The ones who survive to old age get back more than they put into the system (but you have to realise the dollars put in 30+ yrs ago were worth more than the dollars today -- I am not even going to try to do "the adjust for inflation" thing!
03:31 PM on 02/03/2012
"don't know where you worked-- but a pension was a BENEFIT for working at my company ( I never paid a dime into it).... it was figured as part of my total compensation .."

So if it had not been part of your total compensation you would have asked for more dollars so you could have bought an annuity that paid the same amount at retirement. Salary plus benefits equals compensation.

So both are annuities? Annuties are not insurance plans, they are just forecasted cash flows (hey, FASB accounting says pension plans are just forecasted cash flows). You can call it a cow but if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it is a duck.

Not sure the point you are trying to make, but either we have a welfare program (tax workers to pay old people) or we have a pension plan (tax workers and return workers the money plus interest later). Pick one.