published Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Social Security now ‘on the table’?

It is evident that too many presidents and too many members of Congress have spent money as if there were no tomorrow, creating a $14.3 trillion national debt that poses a gigantic threat to our economy.

But “tomorrow” is here. And now, rather than deal forthrightly with the reckless spending that got us into our current predicament, it appears that some in Washington are willing to use some sleight of hand to wring savings out of Social Security.

It has long been thought that Social Security was politically untouchable — that attempting to reform it was a sure way for a politician to lose the next election.

But obviously, reform of massive entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare must be at least part of the solution to our debt — and is necessary to keep the programs themselves solvent.

That could involve things such as slowly raising the age at which a person becomes eligible for Social Security benefits. But the Obama administration is turning Social Security “reform” into a game of smoke and mirrors.

The White House is looking at squeezing money out of Social Security by using a different and less common measure of inflation, called the Chained Consumer Price Index. It generally shows inflation to be lower than the measure of inflation that is more commonly used, the Consumer Price Index.

If estimates of inflation are rosier, then any annual cost-of-living increases in Social Security payments, government pensions and benefits for veterans will be smaller, because inflation will “seem” to be lower, and therefore payments will not rise as much as they would if inflation “seemed” higher. Many people would also face higher Medicare premiums under the proposal.

But simply saying inflation is lower under some new measure does not actually make prices for goods and services drop. That’s why this latest proposal is at least somewhat dishonest.

We do need reform of entitlements, but the White House and Congress should not pursue those reforms through accounting tricks.

There is plenty of excessive spending on everything from ethanol subsidies to ObamaCare that could readily be cut now or in the very near future.

But any talk of altering Social Security benefits should be clear, open and understandable. It certainly should not be based on numbers gimmicks.

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EaTn said...

I switched from republican to democrat when Ronald Reagan raised my SS full retirement age from 65 to 66, among other of his voodoo economic antics. Obama is trying to play ball on the deficit with the right-winger Congress, but either or both parties trading senior benefits so the wealthy can have more vacation homes is playing with fire, and they will get burned in 2012.

July 9, 2011 at 6:39 a.m.
Livn4life said...

Out of control spending in government, from both parties has gone on too long and the consequences are now coming to roost. Yet the blame them, blame the former ones etc. goes on and on. The public buys that while the insane overspending continues. It is a vicious cycle about which we were warned, especially in the 90s. But no one, not conservatives, not libbies, .no one really believes that as a nation we can ever go off a cliff. Well, brace yourselves. It sure seems to be on the way. We had time, we were warned but no one really listened. So keep ranting, keep hating on both political sides. You have both been and continue to be more problem than solution

July 9, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.
Selah said...

EaTN...they will get burned only if WE speak out and VOTE them out ...beginning in the local and federal govt...They blinded us while running on Republican issues like abortion, homosexuality and fiscal responsibility...then when they were in office they FLIPPED the script. They only have a personal agenda for themselves. To protect their personal assests, keep the tax cuts for the rich and oppress the Unions so the middle class will be no more. They do not even need social security or healthcare b/c they have the RICHES to pay for it for generations Let's Fight in 2012...Tax cuts for the rich and hidden tax write offs are just WELFARE for the rich...pathetic...How Much More Do they Want???

July 9, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.
01centare said...

If SS begins to call in all those loans other programs borrowed from it over the years, SS would become solvent again for the next 300+ years.

SS and Medicare aren't the problems. Bush raised the debt ceiling over 19 times during his time in office. All those RepubSIVEcants now holding out on Obama idea to raise the debt ceiling gave approval to Bush each time without so much as a blink.

SS and Medicare are NOT entitlement programs. They're pretty much like 401Ks and other retirement plans in the private sector. In that for the most part people worked and payed into them over the years?

July 9, 2011 at 4:20 p.m.
librul said...

End the useless wars, bring the troops home, close the vast majority of unneeded military bases around the world, cut Israel's purse strings, make the top 2 percent pay their fair share, nationalize petroleum industries or close all corporate tax loopholes and raise their rate to 40 percent..... for starters.

July 9, 2011 at 4:53 p.m.
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