The Mary Landrieu campaign is out with a new hit against the Louisiana Democrat's Republican opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy. The 30-second ad focuses on Cassidy's support for policies that supposedly hurt senior citizens. Watch the video below:
"It was Congressman Bill Cassidy who voted to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70, cut Social Security benefits for retirees, and raise Medicare costs by $6,000," says the voiceover.
The first two charges come from budget proposals Cassidy has supported, which called for phasing in a gradual increase in the retirement age and changing how the program factors in cost-of-living adjustments, all for future, not current, beneficiaries. (And at least one of those budgets proposed raising the retirement age to 67, not 70.) The last claim arises from a Democratic report on the Paul Ryan-authored budget, for which Cassidy voted. The Ryan budget proposed to institute similarly gradual changes to Medicare for future beneficiaries.
In his time in the House, particularly since Republicans took control in 2011, Bill Cassidy has voted for conservative budgets that would have made significant reforms to these programs. The merit of those reforms is certainly up for debate, but what about Mary Landrieu's own rhetoric on reforming costly social programs?
In 2011, Landrieu raised the possibility in an interview with Politico that Medicare and Social Security would need to be "structurally" changed, though she didn't get into many specifics. “Something has to be done in the long-term programs of Social Security, Medicare, particularly," she said.
And the year before, Landrieu signed a letter adding her support to the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission's plan, which itself proposed raising the retirement age to 69 for Social Security. Landrieu and the other signatories specifically said they "commend" the proposal's Social Security reforms.
There are likely plenty of distinctions between Republican proposals to change Social Security and Medicare and those Landrieu has spoken fondly of. But what's the difference, in spirit, between those supported by Cassidy and those Landrieu has suggested might be necessary to save these programs?
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.
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: