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11:29 AM on 07/20/2011
To fix social security, eliminate the payroll tax cap [currently $106,800]; raise the employer contribution part of payroll tax [who said it has to be 50-50]; place a social security tax on capital gains income; place a tax on corporate gross income for the social security fund [maybe 1/10 of 1 percent].

The author of this article suggests, "To make Social Security reform politically viable, Congress needs to package it with measures that attract middle-class voters by helping them save for retirement." That might be fine assuming that middle-class workers with have jobs that last until they reach retirement age. Once upon a time there were pension programs for workers. Those morphed into 401k plans which put retirement income at the mercy of the financial markets. One has to look only at the past 10 years to see that personal retirement savings has been devastated twice during the Bush administration and may face a third hit because of the the childish behavior shown by members of congress dealing with the debt and budget issues.

The author says nothing about those who live paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps he doesn't care about them.

Savers program. Sounds like green stamps to me.
11:06 AM on 07/20/2011
You're going to give money from Sociial Security to the most pathologically acquisitive and corrupt economic elites in the western world?
I believe in facts
11:39 AM on 07/20/2011
I can almost hear them drooling over it.

They've already blown through the 401k money and mortgages.... what's next?
05:34 AM on 07/21/2011
That appears to be his plan.
11:05 AM on 07/20/2011
We don't need to touch SS, that is a crock. What we need to do is to raise revenues by way of getting rid of the free-ride tax cuts the rich jerks in congress gave themselves and their rich friends. This deficit problem is totally manufactured. End your wars, raise the taxes, increase the cap on wages for payroll taxes, negotiate prescription drugs and open medicare up to all. Then see where we are at. The doubletalk isn't working anymore, people are paying attention.
11:30 AM on 07/20/2011
11:45 AM on 07/20/2011
"The doubletalk isn't working anymore"

Let's hope you are right.
11:04 AM on 07/20/2011
Social Security? You aren't joking, but you should be. "Conservatively invested?" The "security" in Social Security means no risk! The people are required to pay into Social Security. They do not need some fund manager of questionable integrity (and doesn't that describe most of them?) substituting for the U.S. government. Moreover, I strongly disagree about your statement that more cannot be squeezed from the Pentagon's budget.
11:02 AM on 07/20/2011
The social security system is currently insolvent. The canard that the system becomes insolvent in 2037 is blantantly and factually incorrect. The system is currently expending more money than it is taking in. Those trust fund IOU's from the treasury are not locked up in an investment. They are only intra ragency iou's. The only source of repayment of those interagency IOU's is from the taxpayers.

""AARP has also recognized that benefit reductions may be needed in order to prevent insolvency of the system in 2037 -- which would force automatic benefit cuts of roughly 25 percent. "
11:38 AM on 07/20/2011
You do not know what "insolvent" means.  You also know nothing of SS or the trust fund.
12:23 PM on 07/20/2011
Since you have such a massive knowledge of SS and the trust fund and since you have such deep intellectual capacity of the financial world - why dont you explain how the system is solvent - and explain what the "trust Fund" really is. Try to explain where the money in the trust fund actually is. Try to explain that the money in the trust fund actually exists and has not already been spent. Explain why the the sole source of funds to pay off the money spent in the trust fund is from some place other than the taxpayers. At that point we can respect you financial and intellectual capacity with regard to the solvency of the social security system and the assets in the Trust Fund.
02:19 PM on 07/20/2011
Mr. Jmpurser

Since you display a superior knowledge of the solvency of the SS system and of the trust fund – perhaps you could share with the other readers as to why the social security system is currently solvent even though it is now expending greater funds than it is taking in, and if the trust fund actually exist, then where is the money coming from to redeem the assets (which have been spent). In your explanation – it would be nice for you to expound on why the money to pay back said trust fund is coming from a source other than the general fund, of which the only source of revenue is the taxpayers.

I appreciate your response. Thank you
Colbert Super PAC unleashed in 2012
11:40 AM on 07/20/2011
So the government IOUs are useless and your idea is since the government took the money, tough luck and take the cuts. How very patriotic of you.
10:47 AM on 07/20/2011
"There are only three potential sources for trillion-dollar reductions in federal spending: Defense, Medicare and Social Security."

What a basket of lies and misdirection.  In the first place trying to make meaningful changes in the deficit without raising revenue is doomed to fail before you start.  Secondly Social Security is funded by IT'S OWN TAX and has never contributed  a nickle to the deficit so attacking it under the cover of deficit reduction is a shock doctrine game being played upon us.  So that leaves Military and Medicare.  Let's take a  look at those two line items.

We spend more on our military than THE REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED.  Yet while both major parties blithely talk about the need to force senior citizens to survive on cat food neither party stands up for ending these mindless wars for the fun of it or for SLASHING defense spending.  Indeed, the pentagon got an $18 billion dollar INCREASE this year.

So what happens if we cut the pentagon budget?  We kill fewer people.  That's the "downside".  These people aren't attacking us.  We're not being "defended" from the Afghan goat herders we're blowing up with our drones.  We're just burning and churning billions of dollars through the military industrial complex.

What happens if we cut Medicare?  We kill MORE people.  The ONLY thing wrong with Medicare is it tries to prop up an utterly failed market driven health care model.  Obama had a once in a life time opportunity to do something here and instead he opted to protect corporate profits at the expense of American lives.  So now, because our politicians failed to take care of the nation on the LAST round, we're being told we should cheer them on to failure in the SECOND round.

If you're SERIOUS about doing something about the deficit then you must address the top three contributors to the deficit.  And those are the Bush era tax cuts (which to be sure Obama owns today), end the Bush wars for the fun of it (again, a disaster begun under Bush and now championed by Obama) while slashing military spending, and create a true Keynesian stimulus package to address the economic slump.

If you are SERIOUS about the deficit then you MUST do all three.  Certainly no one who is not serious has any business touching either Social Security or Medicare.  And today neither party can be considered "serious" on this topic.
01:06 PM on 07/20/2011
I think we could take a serious look at end of life care, but that would require people not yelling 'death panels'. Otherwise, good points!
03:09 AM on 07/21/2011
Excellent post. Thank you.

10:35 AM on 07/20/2011
I wish I had been allowed to opt out of Social Security when I was younger
12:06 PM on 07/20/2011
Many people make that claim.  Here's a story about a whole group of people who did just that.  Don't you wish you were one of them?
10:34 AM on 07/20/2011
How deeply offensive that these business types, who probably benefited from the government pouring the public coffers into their pockets, now demand more to feed their endless greed. For ultimately, they pay less taxes than those who fund their bailouts and now they want to slash the security investment of the majority who are actually experiencing economic hardship opposed to those who measure their worth by a rallying stock market.Still, they will posture as if they are motivated by cutting waste or preserving social security for the future, except there is nothing wrong with social security and it doesn't contribute one iota to the deficit. they would rather the brunt of the cost be the burden of those already overburdened especially if it leads to the road where they might get their greedy paws on even more.
too soon old, too late smart
10:33 AM on 07/20/2011
When the Republicans cut all the programs that benefit the poor and middle class.................will that balance the budget?

Why should it?

They were running deficits all during the Bush Administration (raised the debt limit 8 times) when the economy was good, and the Federal Government was taking in 20% more in tax revenues then they are today.

So where did the money go? Tax cuts for the wealthy. Which in 2005 the Congressional Budget Office told Congress was one of the two leading causes of the budget deficit (the other being wars in the Middle East).

Robbing Peter to pay Paul makes no sense.

Cutting programs that help the majority to give tax breaks to the very very wealthy makes even less.
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a.k.a. crowsnest
10:30 AM on 07/20/2011
My sincere apologies to the readers. I am a right-handed computer-klutz with a history of inadvertently touching either the esc or the Ctrl button with my left hand at the wrong time.
10:26 AM on 07/20/2011
Buy an annuity? It's not enough that the insurance companies have made cat's meat out of our health care system; here come the life insurance guys hell-bent on getting their version of yet another government subsidy. I have no problem with tax advantaged savings programs to support the aged in retirement, but you don't use the additional revenue to disburse to private providers, you use the additional contributions to shore up the system that's in place. You design a new class of (Social Security) U.S. Savings bonds, with interest and matching government accounts attached thereto so that the accumulating balances strengthen the system. But you don't do that until, as many others have pointed out here, you eliminate the wage/salary cap from which contributions are calculated.
Whenever someone avoids the obvious and simple solution to the problem at hand, rest assured they are trying to ger their hands on our collective wallets.
We are two-legged wombs, that’s all
04:34 PM on 07/20/2011
Suze Orman will tell all and sundry that ALL annuities are NOT good investments... they're just a way for the bankers to churn YOUR money and take THEIR profit out of it.
06:39 PM on 07/20/2011
Amen to that
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a.k.a. crowsnest
10:22 AM on 07/20/2011
Chancellor Bismarck of Germany knew exactly why he introduced an early form of Social Security in his nation. Bismarck's aim was not to be kind to Germany's working class. He hoped that his measure would stop the budding "class war" in his nation. While his program was not fully successful in this regard, most historians think that his SS prevented a widespread revolution in Germany in 1918 because German SS benefit recipients, potential and real, had a stake in the German state which the Russian workers did not have then. It became the template that FDR used for our SS system. Most historians think that FDR's SS had a similar objective. Destroying SS, Medicare, and Medicaid as we know it will predictably lead to a re-ignition of serious class warfare in our nation because the working class will no longer have a stake in our state. Why would they not rebel then? The "Whiskey Rebellion" in the days of the Washington Presidency will be a picknic compared to tGo ahead Mr. Pozen and GOP, make my day!
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11:44 AM on 07/20/2011
Bismark had other goals as well. He wanted to raise massive amounts of money for social spending. While providing the people with the appearence that they would be taken care of the actuallity of his plan was that almost everyone paid more into the system then they would get out because people freely give up individual freedom for security. This plan worked until the average health of the elders got better and the lifespan of people got longer. If social security is going to work the retirement age needs to increase so at least 50% of the people die before thay can collect and those who do collect only collect for around 3 years.
Semper Fi
10:18 AM on 07/20/2011
This is total nonsense.

The debt ceiling debate is a made up crisis - made up by the Bush tax cuts.
Taxes are at their lowest in generations.

Since the Bush tax cuts share of national income that goes to the top 1% has gone from 7% to over 23%. Tea-Publican kleptocracy.

Despite the repeated BIG LIE of supply-side economics - that cutting taxes will improve the economy - Bush demonstrated the lowest job growth of any recent president, reductions in median salaries, a bank collapse and the Great Recession.

Insanity is expecting a different result when the same people are doing the same things in the same way.

Defense spending has tripled since Bush. Perhaps, before we consider anything else, we need to stop the wars that gain us nothing except huge payments to defense contractors?

Social security needs little adjustment for 25 years. SS can be simply adjusted by not giving those that make above $106,800 - the rich - a break on their taxes. And, by preventing Congress from raiding SS money for use.

Framing the discussion just around the debt ceiling is foolish, nonsensical misdirection.
The real long term issues are medical costs, the economy, unemployment.

Even Reagan knew that it is better to just pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling.
Unencumbered by political correctness
10:08 AM on 07/20/2011
"benefit reductions may be needed in order to prevent insolvency of the system in 2037"

The Social Security fund is already empty (in that it contains nothing with a market value greater than zero) and is already paying out more than it takes in.

Technically, even calling it a "fund" is a lie, because a fund contains something of value, and the SS fund contains nothing but zero-market-value bonds.

And despite containing nothing of any value, and despite already paying out more than it takes in, people still refer to 2037 as a year where somehow, something will change for the worse with this "fund". It's pure tragic comedy.

The SS fund has nothing of real value in it, read here:
09:51 AM on 07/20/2011
Nothing is wrong with Social Security, it is necessary and when the stipend is increased the economy goes up. Monetary machinations in the form of annuities is suspect at the moment. The nation is suffering from runaway bailouts. Stop the bailouts.

There is something wrong with millions of Americans being out of work, underemployed, overworked and underpaid. The monetary financial debt based system is in disintegration. The trillion dollar bailouts are not reversing our economic collapse. The Federal Reserve system is not a viable economic platform and must be put into bankruptcy protection.

The ceiling debate is all wrong. Nothing will be accomplished because the underlying monetary system is not treated. Increasing the bailouts and budget cuts will further our economic collapse. Nothing can be gained from monetarism and reductionism. Activating US economic platforms will create recovery.

The Stabilization of the United States is the only imperative, the only power on earth that can save humanity.

Statecraft demands the termination of the monetary financial system: Reenacting the Glass-Steagall standard in US banking is absolutely crucial, cancelling all obligations to the Inter Alpha Group of Banks, the Wall St. cabal. Put the Fed into bankruptcy protection, recover the bailout trillions. Create the US National Bank that funds the 50 states, then fund the necessary facilities that enhance the population's standard of living. Stop perpetual War. No other options exist.
10:10 AM on 07/20/2011
The other option is Americans should get austerity so that Bankers and their friends(in Congress) can have more.

Five or six mansions and two or three lear jets is still not enough for these folks.