Robert Samuelson's fine column in the Washington Post, “America the retirement home,” argues that “The budget debate’s central reality is that federal retirement programs, led by Social Security and Medicare, are crowding out most other government spending,” and that this is endangering the other important functions of government, including defense:
“The budget debate may seem inconclusive, but it’s having pervasive effects. Choices are being made by default. Almost everything is being subordinated to protect retirees. Solicitude for government’s largest constituency undermines the rest of government. ... The mistake lies in thinking that the apparent paralysis isn’t policy. It is. Government is being slowly transformed into a vast old-age home, with everything else devalued and degraded.”
Read the whole thing. Samuelson's column is powerful and depressing. Indeed, it brought to mind Goethe's famous prophecy, in 1787:
“Speaking for myself, I too believe that humanity will win in the long run; I am only afraid that at the same time the world will have turned into one huge hospital where everyone is everybody else's humane nurse.”
First Lady Michelle Obama's social security number and credit report have been leaked online, the Associated Press reports.
"First lady Michelle Obama is the latest public figure to have her Social Security number and credit report leaked online by a website posting private data on celebrities and government officials," reports the AP.
Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan knocked President Barack Obama for "shadowbox[ing] a straw man" in his inaugural address. Speaking Tuesday morning on the Laura Ingraham Radio Show to guest host Raymond Arroyo, Ryan responded to Obama's statement that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security "do not make us a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great."
Ryan called Obama's insinuation that he and other reform-minded Republicans consider recipients of these benefits "takers" a "switcheroo."
In 2008, Barack Obama promised to cut federal spending, cut wasteful programs, reform Medicare and Social Security, and create "5 million new jobs" in a "new energy economy." At Buzzfeed, Andrew Kaczynski has four videos of Obama making those promises at the town hall debate in 2008. Here, for instance, is Obama talking about the need to reform entitlements in his first term:
Yesterday, when speaking via video to the AARP, President Obama said, “But what I’m not going to do, as a matter of principle, is to slash benefits or privatize Social Security and suddenly turn it over to Wall Street.”
Yet last year, during the budget ceiling debate, President Obama said he'd be up for cutting Social Security.
Oxford, Ohio During a campaign event Wednesday night at Miami University of Ohio, vice presidential candidate and Miami U. alumnus Paul Ryan reminisced about the fond memories of his alma mater. "I spent a lot of formative years here," Ryan said. "I like my Skyline 5-way [chili], turkey gobblers, cheese fries, stickers.” He mentioned the time he got hurt at the local ice rink. “That’s why I have a cleft chin—14 stiches playing hockey here."
A new chart set to be released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee details an alarming fact: In the last three months, more Americans have joined disability than have found a job:
As the chart shows, between April-June 2012, an estimated 246,000 Americans were added to Social Security's disability insurance program. In that same time period, only 225,000 American jobs were created.
One day before the Indiana primary, Dick Lugar has released a new ad accusing his opponent, Richard Mourdock, of wanting to "cut every single senior's Social Security." (Update: The ad was apparently released late last week.) The ad portrays an elderly woman talking about Mourdock's Social Security plan. "He's going to ruin people. Some can't get along without Social Security, every penny of it," the woman says. "Heaven help us, because Mourdock won't."
The 2012 Medicare and Social Security trustees’ reports have been released (see here and here). The headline is that the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund will have insufficient reserves to pay full benefits beginning in 2024 (the same year that was projected in last year’s report).
Robert Samuelson has a strong column today on how one of the biggest obstacles to Social Security reform might be psychological. Though FDR's original vision for the program was a "contributory pension plan" and most Americans are still under the the impression that this is what it is, the reality is that it's structured much more like a welfare program:
Is it just a coincidence that the people that President Obama nominates to fill high-level governmental posts tend to favor government-directed health care rationing? Last year, Obama nominated Donald Berwick to head Medicare and Medicaid. Now he’s nominated Henry J. Aaron to head the Social Security Advisory Board.
“What do we want?” “Jobs!” “When do we want them?” “Now!”
The couple hundred participants at Wednesday’s Rebuild the Dream rally on the southwest lawn of the U.S. Capitol raise their fists defiantly as they shout. Some hold blue, pre-made signs bearing the phrase, “Jobs, Not Cuts,” and the letter “A,” the logo for Rebuild the Dream, the organization led by former Obama administration green jobs czar Van Jones.
Rick Perry has been catching some flak for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. Some conservative purists defended the former frontrunner for “telling it like it is.” Maybe. But Perry’s 10th Amendment solution — which he slightly backed away from at the Fox/Google debate — could be even more disastrous.
Although Indiana governor Mitch Daniels would like to see his New Jersey counterpart run for president, Daniels said today that he doesn't see any signs Chris Christie will change his mind. “I personally didn’t press him, so I have nothing to report,” Daniels said of his meeting last Thursday with Christie. “I saw no evidence that he’s going to change his mind.”