It can be hard to say anything nice about a man whose administration would malevolently inflict a traffic jam on residents of the Tristate area, but Governor Chris Christie’s recent proposal aimed at fixing the country’s broken Social Security system may make him deserving of forgiveness. The plan focuses on means testing and gradual increases in the retirement age, though even if all of its measures were enacted, it would only address 60 percent of the program’s projected deficit. This is not grandma being pushed off of a cliff in her wheelchair; this is grandma reducing the ideal square footage when purchasing her Boca Raton condo.
Despite the clear urgency of such action, former Governor Mike Huckabee responded to a question about Christie’s plan and ones similar to it by saying, “That’s not a reform. That’s not some kind of proposal that Republicans need to embrace. Because what we’re really embracing at that point, you’re embracing a government that lied to its people. That took money from its people under one pretense, and then took it away from them at the time they started wanting to actually get what they paid for all these years.”
Huckabee’s sense of responsibility to keep government promises is admirable. However, not “embracing” the fact that the government, over the past several decades, utterly misled voters about the sustainability of Social Security will not suddenly make the program solvent. Furthermore, continuing to maintain the program at previously promised rates would only be achievable by wreaking havoc on the financial lives of those who those who were not old enough to vote, or not even born, at the time that the false promises were made.
The government has a responsibility to send the Social Security checks that it has promised would result from the taxes that senior citizens have paid for their whole lives, but it also has a responsibility to operate on a financial time horizon that extends beyond the next election. As Governor Christie appears to recognize, the solution will lie somewhere in the middle.
Unfortunately, this seemingly obvious path is somehow losing traction. Just a few short years ago, Social Security’s insolvency seemed to have bipartisan recognition, with the key items of debate being the proportions in which spending cuts, tax hikes, age increases, and other program details should each contribute to reform.
Recently, however, the Senate voted on an amendment to increase Social Security benefits. Apparently occupying an alternate budgetary reality, all but two Democrats who voted supported the amendment. While it remains to be seen whether these senators’ constituents will view this choice as reckless or be convinced by the Elizabeth Warren narrative that Social Security’s financial woes are a myth concocted by Republicans, such an aggressive move does effectively shift the center of the debate towards the left.
Against a backdrop of a party that wants to expand benefits, any Democratic candidate who is willing to make even the slightest of reforms will appear to be a moderate, and Republican primary competitors who are willing to take a strong stance may appear extreme. If the Senate Democrats’ choice is not clearly seen as the radical grasp that it is, the people most harmed will be those that they claim to protect: the young, the poor, and the disabled. If reforms are not made, those who rely on the government providing a financially secure safety net may one day find it gone entirely.
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."
Glenn Hubbard, appearing live on CNBC Wednesday morning, was struck by a falling piece of the set. Hubbard, who was the chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers and an economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was discussing the need for Congress to address the forthcoming entitlement crisis when a banner fell and hit him on the head:
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, blasted President Barack Obama for not leaving anything on the "fiscal cliff" negotiating table this morning in remarks on the Senate floor.
First off, it’s not a “fiscal cliff.” What we’re slated to hit as of New Year’s Day, as the Wall Street Journalnotes, is a tax cliff. Our fiscal cliff, which drops off into a far deeper canyon, is what looms because of our $16,000,000,000,000 debt and the runaway entitlement spending that fuels it — Medicare, Medicaid, (and now) Obamacare. In truth, the debt deal passed in the summer of 2011 — which the press now says we must scrap if we are to avoid the “fiscal cliff” — was designed to postpone our going over the (actual) fiscal cliff.
President Obama the self-proclaimed compromiser sounds the same as Obama the partisan politician running for reelection. At his press conference Wednesday, he harped on what had been a chief talking point of his campaign—raising taxes for the wealthy.
A new chart put together by the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee finds that, since 2001, the "number of non-citizens on food stamps quadrupled." Here's the chart detailing the growth in regards to non-citizens:
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.
The Villages, Fla. “This is my mom Betty,” vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said as he took the stage at a campaign rally with his 78-year-old mother in Florida’s largest retirement community. “She's why I'm here,” Ryan continued. “She and her grandkids are why I'm here.”
“Old age puts more wrinkles in our minds than on our faces; and we never, or rarely see a soul that in growing old does not come to smell sour and musty. Man grows and dwindles in his entirety.”—Montaigne
Before the sun had set on Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, the Obama campaign was out with ads talking of the “End Medicare as we know it.”