Senator Mark Pryor is making entitlements an issue in the Arkansas Senate race. Both Pryor and his Democratic allies are hitting Republican nominee and House member Tom Cotton over his support for a budget proposal that would have, starting in 2022, gradually raised the retirement age for receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Pryor spokesman Erik Dorey said last month that "Congressman Cotton will need to answer for why he recklessly voted to undermine Arkansas seniors’ hard-earned retirement and make them wait for Medicare and Social Security until they’re 70."
Meanwhile, the Democrat-affiliated Senate Majority PAC has a new ad that says Cotton voted to "deny Social Security to seniors until they're 70." Watch the ad below:
What the ad and the criticism from the Pryor campaign fail to note is that the Republican Study Committee budget proposal supported by Cotton would not have implemented raising the age of retirement until 2022. Furthermore, the plan would have only begun raising the retirement age by two months each year, meaning it would have only been in 2052 that the retirement age would reach 70. By then the "seniors" Cotton voted to "deny" benefits until age 70 would have been born in 1982.
Is it an extreme position to raise the retirement age for future generations in order to keep entitlement programs solvent? Maybe, but it's a position Pryor has held before. In 2011, Pryor touted raising the retirement age for those not yet on the program as a good fix to Social Security's insolvency. Speaking with local broadcaster KTSS in June 2011, Pryor said Social Security is "very, very fixable" and changes ought to be implemented sooner rather than later.
"We could fix Social Security next week, if we wanted to. It's not that hard to do," Pryor said. "Probably the biggest change would be, you would take my kids' generation, teenagers today, and life expectancy's longer, et cetera, and probably say that they couldn't get Social Security until they turn 68 or 69. If you just did that one change, you fix about 80 percent of it right there." Watch the video below (the exchange begins at 1:43):
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:
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.