Friday, August 15, 2008

McCain hates Social Security but loves his PUMAs

On the 73rd anniversary of the inception of Social Security, FDR's grandson put out this vid hammering McCain for the Democratic Party. Maybe it's because I'm less than 10-yrs away from the magic Social Security age, but I do find myself more and more worried about it the closer I get. Why did everyone laugh at Al Gore when he talked about putting Social Security in a Lockbox? Was it a good move, a socially secure move, to make it available for Bush to use to fight his forever wars? I'm not feeling too secure, socially or otherwise. Keep Your Hands Off My Social Security! (2-minutes):

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I love it when David Shusterman subs for Chris Matthews on Hardballs. Tonight he grilled a couple of PUMAs ("Party Unity My Ass" holes). They are really itching to vote for McCain. I only have one question: are these people f*cking nuts? (apprx 10-minutes):

If you have the stomach to check out their website, scroll down and look at their symbol. I know they meant it to look like a cougar just walked over Obama's one-world symbol, but what it really looks like is the infamous Blackwater paw print staking claim to the world. Ackkk!

You know, it's one thing to be loyal to your preferred candidate and to be disappointed if they are not nominated. It's quite another thing to endorse the enemy. I wasn't originally an Obama supporter either, but I'll be damned if I could switch that disappointment into supporting McCrazy.

And let's be clear here: a non-Obama vote is a vote for McCain. Stay home & don't vote & you are voting for McCain. Vote for some no-chance 3rd party candidate & you are voting for McCain. Write in your dog & you are voting for McCain. I've done all these things in previous elections, but not this time. After 8-yrs of the worst president ever, we can't afford even one term of McSenile.


lindsaylobe said...

I would be very worried about Social security in the USA.

The reason for my concern arises over an even larger concern about your existing 9 trillion debt which continues to rise with future known government large deficits, estimated at 500 billion.

The servicing interest cost which will become the responsibility of future generations.

Although your Social Security Scheme is called a pay as you go scheme (because primarily you don’t set aside any funds for future liabilities. e.g. payments)it should be renamed a "Borrow from the Future to pay for the Present scheme" because your not actually paying for it as you go, but rather borrowing to pay for it.

That is unsustainable

Taking into consideration an ageing population base, increased continuing heath care and your reduced tax paying workforce pool, its apparent those future generations will struggle just to pay the interest on the debt let alone the social security payments.

You see you have a double whammy; a greater pool of recipients because of the ageing population combined with a rising debt servicing cost.

Its time to put pressure on your candidates now for sensible sustainable solutions.

I quote an extract from your own Government Accounting Office ~Long Tem Fiscal Outlook

Simply put; the federal government is on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.

Best wishes

Border Explorer said...

Lindsay, I don't understand why we can't see the obvious. You are prophetic in every sense of the word.

D.K., this PUMA thing is terrifying. How can they be so deluded? A visit to this website is worse than any Stephen King novel. Thanks for once again enlightening me.

Fran said...

Hey DK-- This is an excellent article.... think you are open to being a guest writer to put this on Sirens Chronicles?
It's no big deal really.... not throngs of readers, but this is an excellent article- if so, you do nothing but grant permission & the admin person will post it-- you don't have to learn a new system etc.

This PUMA crap is the republican dream.... divide democrats, divide & lose.

I'm not sure McJoke dislikes Social Security... I understand he collects SS payments, even though he has a private jet, a family income well over $100,000 & wears those $520 loafers.

Oh the irony of it all.....

D.K. Raed said...

Welcome! you are right on the money as usual. I believe the concept of Gore's Lockbox was to keep Social Security funds separate from other govt funds & therefore remove it from the greedy paws of whatever agenda happens to be in vogue today.

Every year we get a little notice from our govt friends telling us how much we've paid into the system and how much we can expect to receive in benefits upon reaching retirement age. They started putting in a disclaimer a few years ago about nothing being guaranteed & that without massive change benefits beginning in 2041 would have to be reduced by 22%. What they really seem to be saying to us is "please be sure to die by then"!

D.K. Raed said...

B. Explorer:
Your comment reminded me, I tried to add a link to the PUMAs website last night, but my blogger connection went dead at midnight & so that's all she wrote. I just remedied that as well as online edited now. Things never look the same to me after posting as they did in preview, so I always end up online editing. I also had the hardest time getting that MSNBC clip to post. In so many ways, I am winging it here.

McCain could lose his SS tomorrow & not even feel the difference. It's just walking-around change to him. If he feels that strongly about privitization, why doesn't he opt out? Oh right, very few of the wealthy opt out of receiving their SS bene's. They just like to complain about the majority of retirees who were in fact told SS would be ONE LEG of their THREE LEGGED retirement stool & planned their retirement that way.

Normally I would just dismiss these PUMAs, but knowing our press's love of distracting stories, I am sure they will be all over the news at the Dem Convention, no matter how small their disruption. Those two being interviewed by Shusterman really did seem like republican plants.

I'll email you later about Sirens. I've been so hit'n'miss posting lately, but the way you describe it there is no pressure, so ....

enigma4ever said...

They are rethugs- plane and simple,..go read Bruce Blog and have a laugh...he has a complete PUMETTE post- that will make you feel so much better....really they are only 60 strong- yup 60...not kiddin''''

McMaverick can kiss my ass- he is nuts- worse than bush...for sure...

great post- good to see up and about....and blogging away...

lindsaylobe said...

Let me be a little more specific about it, since this is a subject that I notice has some very confusing aspects.

First of all I think it is worth noting that your Social Security system is a pay as you go system since payments to current retirees come from current payments into the system and there is virtually no provision for future liabilities.

I note in 2007 the cumulative excesses of social security taxes collected over what has been paid out was estimated at 2.2 trillion( somewhat rubbery but I will accept it for the sake of the argument) but in economic terms its holds no signifance since these funds were lent back to the Government to fund successive government deficits.

You might say that is an accounting trick since you have a surplus, but since you then lend those surplus funds back to the Government to fund their spending it’s no longer a surplus.

The question to ask is ‘was the money spent from that surplus or not’?

~Yes it was!

Let me summarize your current position in terms of official information.

Total Government Debt at the end of 2007 was 9 trillion according to the Federal Debt Report and included in that amount owed (according to your Treasury) is 4 trillion owed to social Security Trust Funds. In the Social Security Fund Accounts its represented by the equivalent in non marketable IOU‘s ~ e.g. Government paper. The funding to redeem this debt has to come back from the Government who issued the paper to cover the debt in the first place. Shifting debt from the public sector to Trust Funds does not change the fact it is still a debt.
The question of whether or not current taxes fund social security is unrelated to the fact you actually owe 9 trillion at the moment, of which 4 trillion is owed back to the Social Security Trust Fund. That’s real enough.

Let me come at in a common sense manner.

It’s a good idea to follow the money trail. lets do that.

You can easily check if you have the money or not. Social Security is owed $4 trillion by the government. In other words the Govt siphoned off the surpluses to the tune of $4trillion and borrowed a further 5 trillion to make the the total govt debt of $9 trillion. If you’re running deficits of 500 billion that what you would expect to happen.

If Social Security was repaid the 4 trillion they may have an estimated surplus of 2.2 trillion to fund future liabilities, but that’s dependant upon the actuarial assumptions.

Government could borrow this and repay the debt.

But It will still owe 9 trillion but 4 trillion would then be owed to different parties, dependant on who bought the Government paper.

Meanwhile the interest servicing remains on the 9 trillion in debt, exactly as it did previously.

Best wishes

Mauigirl said...

You are so right. I can't believe there are people who supported Hillary who will refuse to vote for Obama. McCain has not only gone back on every stand he's taken and now is toeing the neocon party line, but McSenile is a good name for him. I really do think he's past it. The idea of him winning terrifies me.

enigma4ever said...

Lindsay lives in another country he has NO idea HOW bad it is here...and "Social Security " is the least of our worries- esp with McCain...and he is incorrect about HOW the Money and the Government works here- or what is provided for the people or how people have paid into it...this is Not like other countries....and certainly not like Canada or the Land Down Under....

this is not an intellectual discussion it is about our concerns as Americans about the financial titannical situation that this country is in- thank you repugs....and what it means for our Futures..and others....sadly OUR Debt is also going to effect other countries....

Sorry to say this...but it had to be said...

lindsaylobe said...

Reference ~Lindsay lives in another country he has NO idea HOW bad it is here...and "Social Security " is the least of our worries- esp with McCain...and he is incorrect about HOW the Money and the Government works here- or what is provided for the people or how people have paid into it...this is Not like other countries....and certainly not like Canada or the Land Down Under....

this is not an intellectual discussion it is about our concerns as Americans about the financial tyrannical situation that this country is in- thank you repugs....and what it means for our Futures..and others....sadly OUR Debt is also going to affect other countries....

Sorry to say this...but it had to be said...

The reason I have commented is to alert people on the unsustainable nature of the errant focal policy.

Your Social Security System is in indeed different in many aspects to what is the equivalent in Canada and Australia where we have compulsory superannuation but I think I am acutely aware of those differences and how the various funds are collected and paid out.

What specific aspects of my comments gave you the impression that I'm incorrect about HOW the Money and the Government works over there?

The factual figures I provided came from Reports compiled by your Comptroller of Accounting and your own treasury. The fact of the matter is many in the USA are not aware of the current financial state of Social Security Trust Funds. There are many in the USA who agrees with what I am saying and have attempted to educate and motivate voters to be concerned. Whether or not it is the least of your worries is a matter of subjective opinion, but too many who have made it their primary focus they would disagree vehemently with you and say, and rather contend it is of critical importance to future generations.

Best wishes

HelenWheels said...

D.K., those rabid PUMAssholes are just big, whining baby. MY candidate was Kucinich. He got knocked out UNFAIRLY and treated just horribly by the press. If these people were behind Cynthia McKinney or Ron Paul or something - working FOR something instead of against it - that would be cool. But I suspect that they are the same idiots that switched parties to divide and conquer the democratic party. To put it in even more context, did you ever see Larry Johnson's blog, "No Quarter"? He is a rabid Hillary-backer whose site used to be pretty left-leaning. IT is now a sort of Freeperland-lite. It's completely devoted to Obama hate.

I figure PUMA is a combo of Rethugs who switched parties because their god, Lush Limpballs, asked them to and racists who can't admit they are racist.

I'm not a fan of Obama and actually planned on not voting for him, but then I discovered McLame's voting record on womens' reproductive rights. We cannot let that monster into the whitehouse. At least Obama has a teensy bit of progressive in him, whereas McLame is just an old embarassment.

And what the HELL is up with his flappy short penguin arms!!

HelenWheels said...

OH and I enjoyed the Social Security piece as well. We do need to preserve it.

DivaJood said...

DK, I am awarding you a KickAss Blogger Award.

D.K. Raed said...

Enigma: I did laugh at the PUMETTE post, thanks for recommending it! Yes, they will show up in their TENS, but I bet the news coverage will be all out of proportion. MSM LOVES this stuff & so we will all have to see it. Now as far as Social Security, no it is not the BIGGEST problem we face at the moment, but it is true that it is yet another item McC would like to eff up which will affect everyone in the future. It's probably the greatest social program we ever engaged in as a country!

I think the problem the avg person here has understanding how social security works is directly related to how much is deducted from their paychecks. For years, we've had 7.65% deducted from our earnings. Because I was self-employed, I actually paid twice that amount (employee & employer portion). That is just SS/medicare; it does not include federal & state income taxes & mandatory state disability which might be another 35% or more in paycheck deductions). After working for 40-yrs or so, we start thinking about retirement. We were promised that our payroll deductions for SS/Medicare were part of a large social program that would provide basic income & health care in our senior years.

So OK, we've been told that it takes xx number of current workers to support each retiree, and also that that number will be increasing in a few decades to xxx current workers for each retiree. This is a pact each generation makes in order to support their parents & grandparents in their retirement. It should've worked fine if the funds were kept separate from general revenue funds. And that is the problem, as you know. Certain deficit-loving administrations just couldn't keep their hands off that ripe plum.

So here we are today thinking of ways to solve the looming SS/Medicare problem. Politicians of the McCain & Bush ilk are pushing privitization (another ownership disaster in the making). Others are thinking in terms of raising the payroll tax and/or reducing benefits (which mostly impacts those who earn the least & end up relying most on SS/Medicare in retirement). Other politicians are thinking in terms of raising the payroll cap. This is a simple fix that will only affect those earing over $100K/yr. Currently, annual earnings over that amount are not subject to SS payroll tax, which makes no sense to me.

To me, this is a no brainer. We will see what happens as our aging population becomes more of a drain on the current workers. I appreciate your input in helping me to think this through.

D.K. Raed said...

Whew! still trying to catch up ...

I'm actually becoming scared that McC may be an even bigger neocon than Bush was. I don't know when this happened, but he is right in there with the whole PNAC program now. In the face of what he represents, the dem primary bitterness should have dissipated. The fact that it hasn't, has me concerned.

Kucinich still has my heart! But I definitely see repugness in the PUMAs. And now that you bring up Rush, yeah, it does go with his whole Operation Chaos BS. I've never read "No Quarter", but your description of it fits with what I find so odd about this primary. Their candidate couldn't win, so they become venonous haters of the winner, even though we are all in the same party (or so I thought). It's like we are doing the repub's job for them!

ACCKKK!! I'll be by tomorrow. I feel like kicking some ass!

lindsaylobe said...

Like a dog with a bone I find it difficult to give it up commenting on this one so let me indulge a one final comment, especially as some of your readers may still need convincing.

I promise this will be my very last word on the subject.It’s all so dam confusing but I abhor the way politicians dodge its long term consequences.

Firstly may I take you to your official US treasury website where national government debt is updated daily and you have statistics going back to 1993.

Once at the Treasury website you will see debt listed at $9.5 trillion of which 5.4 trillion is held by the public and 4.1 trillion is held is held in intergovernmental holdings.

Public debt which is held by foreign governments, financial institutions, and other members of the general public as you would be aware is held in such commonly known instruments as Treasury bills and Savings bonds.

Intergovernmental holdings is debt which mainly consists of loans from one government program to another which is debt that the government owes to itself, but is included in the public debt figure because of accounting practice and is mostly borrowing money from Social Security

Under your Social Security Administration there is a legal requirement for the Security Trust Funds to take up any surpluses and buy U.S. Government securities. So the surplus is represented in Government Securities.
Simply put citizens through payroll deductions invest money in Social Security and Social Security invested any surplus in the Federal Government.

Social Security owes you that money in the from of your future retirement benefits but it wont be able to pay you it if the Government cancelled the intergovernmental debt.

That is not going to happen unless the Government "wrote off" intergovernmental debt as an election move in tandem with the elimination of the Social Security system.

That is not going to happen and I am not suggesting any likelihood of that happening.

But lets consider the position when your Social Security system runs into trouble in 2017 (or whatever date dependant upon the different actuarial assumptions you may use ) as a consequence of insufficient contributions.

It will start cashing in those securities and will expect the Government to pay it back, with interest.

The problem as I see it is the government doesn't have the money. Can you imagine the strain on the budget then?

I think the USA has such great people who seem to me to be so badly represented.

Not much I can do about it except contribute in my small way point to point out the irresponsible nature of current fiscal policies.

Best wishes

HelenWheels said...

Just some interesting background on "No Quarter" and why I found it relevant:

1) Larry Johnson is Valerie Plame's friend, associate and former co-worker in the CIA. He was very instrumental in helping the Plames during the case.

2) Larry Johnson also used to write for TPM (no longer, they are disgusted with him too).

3) Larry Johnson's blog gets A LOT of traffic. There are hundreds of comments on every post.

4) Larry Johnson is the one that broke the fake story about Michelle Obama saying "whitey"

The Plames seem to be big Clinton backers so I'm sure there's this power-group doesn't intend to just step aside. Something really seems to be going on. Why would Larry Johnson go from being a moderate leftie to a rabid, limbaugh-like rabid Obama-basher? It just doesn't add up.

D.K. Raed said...

you are definitely a policy wonk (that's a compliment), but you have so much detail at your fingertips, it is hard to digest it in comments. After reading your analysis, I am suddenly questioning my knowledge of accounting. Payroll SS/Medicare taxes collected are an asset to the SS/Medicare program (with a future liability, an appropriated deferred use of earnings). I understand about "selling the asset" and receiving govt paper securities in place of actual money. What I don't understand is how the asset (actual money or govt paper securities) "disappear". I understand loans, deficits and even bad debt (which would really be the ultimate form of robbing SS/Medicare, to have our own govt exchange cash assets for bad paper). I will check into the site you mentioned. There isn't much point in discussing it further here without access to a politician's neck!

I will check out "No Quarter". I am also questioning why previously rational progressives are suddenly acting like rabid republicans. Something's wrong. There are always power groups with hidden agendas in any political party, but in this case, it really smells more like an infiltration by the opposition party following the rovian tactic of divide and conquer. But dividing our own party? To what end? There is only one obvious outcome, and that is handing the presidency to McC. Now my head hurts. I sure hope this isn't the beginning of a 4-yr headache/nightmare/dreamkiller/endoftheroadfordemocracy.

lindsaylobe said...

I think I understand what is puzzling you.

Reference What I don’t understand is how the asset (actual money or govt paper securities) “disappear”

It’s still there.

What we are talking about essentially is the previous surpluses from Social Security (to cover future liabilities) which have been invested in Government Securities.

When the Social Security Trust Fund redeems that Treasury paper in the future the Treasury (Got) can sell more securities to fund that redemption.

The total government debt position is unchanged, although its composition is different. That’s because you have swapped intergoverment Debt for Public Debt.

But when you do that you’re asking the public sector (individuals or banks or overseas investors) to buy those Securities on top of the exiting public sector debt requirement.

Assuming your running deficits then your capital raisings (Got paper) will involve a large overall increase on that public sector (individuals or banks or overseas investors) raisings.

Does that answer your question?

The assets are all still existing in the Trust Funds but the Debtor (govt) will have to go to the market to satisfy redemptions of the Treasury notes.

The problem as I see it will be the pressure on the public sector which is likely to push up interest rates and further exasperate tight credit.

It’s relatively easy to issue paper to yourself, e.g. Intergoverment , but when you go to the market you are dealing with supply and demand issues.

The preferable outcome would be for the government to simply pay the amounts owing on the paper at the time, but it since it is a debtor it doesn’t have any money to do this. In effect it is unfunded. Does that all make more sense now? I am not always the best person in the world in explaining such things, especially when they tend to be rather complex, but hopefully at least this answers your accounting query.

Best wishes

two crows said...

30 years ago or more, I told my dad [who loudly disagreed] that there would be no Social Security when I got to the age where I would be eligible for it.

but, even then, it was obvious what was happening. the largest generation ever to walk the face of the earth was shoveling in a HUGE surplus -- WAY more than was needed to sustain our parents and grandparents.

well, Congress couldn't let all that money just sit there gathering interest. OH, NO! they treated it like 'found money' and spent it on everything else.

let the future deal with the resulting problems. well, right on time, the future has arrived.

and, finally, the republican party has gotten what it has been lusting for ever since FDR created the fund: the death of Social Security.
I'm doubly screwed because I was self-employed for much of my career -- so I paid both portions. and neither one will be available to me, now that I'm almost there.

so, I'm hunting for the cookbook: "Cat Food Cuisine."

two crows said...

oh, I meant to comment on the 2nd part, too:
in 1980, when Carter said, 'A vote for Andersen is a vote for Reagan,' I didn't listen-- and have regretted that decision ever since.

this election is even more important.
and yes, a vote for ANYONE except the democratic nominee will be a vote for McSame.

PLEASE, folks, son't cut off your noses to spite your faces unless you WANT the Supreme Court to fall off the cliff its perched on right now. because, it most certainly will under McCain.

D.K. Raed said...

thanks. It still all seems to come back to that Lockbox that Al Gore was chided about.

Two Crows:
30-yrs ago I wasn't even thinking of Social Security, so I totally understand that it is not a big issue for younger people today. All I can say to them is if the system fails, your parents & grandparents will be on your doorstep & we won't be settling for catfood so get out your wallets. The repub party labeled FDR a "class traitor" and would love to kill SS. Every year they seem to make a little more progress toward its death.

Ah so, you know all about that double payroll tax hit. For 25-yrs I've paid both the employer & employee portions. Double-screwing, for sure.

I remember that Anderson election as well. Still have my Anderson lapel pin. That was the last time I ever voted 3rd party for prez. You are so right ... the Supreme Court alone is enough reason to defeat McC. On the Faith Forum last night, he rattled off all 4 "liberal" supreme judges as the kinds he would not nominate. Gee, I guess he doesn't remember he voted to approve ALL of their nominations.

eProf2 said...

DK, I've been remiss in not visiting your blog for about a week. Sorry about that.

Two points you made here. One about the PUMAS. Yes, they would be crazy to vote for McSame unless they have a death wish.

The second is about your ss (and mine which I already receive). Lindsay has given you the pro-privatization arguments that have been around for some time now. Chicken Little the sky is falling, say the Republicans and other Wall Street private investors. I was glad Lindsay came back a second, and a third, and a fourth time to correct some of the things he said in the first post. He acknowledged in the second post that ss has been lending other government agencies huge sums of money when the government posted deficits. Guess who's been running up the deficits? Republicans. Remember Clinton gave Bush a surplus which he promptly spent on his wars of choice, especially Iraq.

Lindsay goes on to say, "If Social Security was repaid the 4 trillion they may have an estimated surplus of 2.2 trillion to fund future liabilities, but that’s dependant upon the actuarial assumptions." Notice he points out that there could be a surplus of $2.2 Trillion. And, that's under current payroll deductions ONLY up to $92,000 a year. One of the easiest ways to increase the surplus and move the drop dead date up by at least twenty years is to collect ss deductions on all income (which I believe Obama has some modified version of this proposal). Another way to increase the surplus is to increase the eligiblity ages of 67 and 62 (for early retirements) to 68 and 63 or even 64; thus, deferring ss outpay for several years. This won't be too popular, but keep in mind this would not only rescue the ss system but realistically acknowledges the new life span of Americans, which continues to rise in age.

The first ss in the world was in Germany under Bismarck. When they started the system they had to pick a retirement age to get benefits. He asked the accountants and demographers what was the average age of death in Germany in 1880. They told him 65. So guess what age they picked for retirement benefits? 65!

I really believe this is an issue that Republcians use another "fear" factor: Be afraid, be very afraid!

Sorry to be so windy but this is an upward battle to let people know, to quote FDR himself, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. SS can and will be around for a long time so long as society and the Congress have the will to keep it sound.

Border Explorer said...

This post/thread has been a real education for me. eProf, your comments just now really helped me--thanks.

I'm completely opposed to the privtization of SS.

D.K. I'm so glad Diva's awarded you the Kick Ass. You soooo deserve it. This post and the bank failure posts alone prove that.

Utah Savage said...

This is a great post. I am impressed with the comments thread, but unwilling to read diatribes from commenters. So forgive me for not keeping up--I read my favorites and skip the long winded axes to grind. Sorry if that sounds rude--just saying. But you are a kick ass, straight talking, very smart woman. And a great deal nicer than I.

D.K. Raed said...

Always nice to see you. Veddy eeenterestinck about Bismark and the magic retirement/death age of 65! I think our system is already pushing the age up a little at a time. Why do I get the feeling that as I get closer, the official full retirement age will always be pushed a year or two beyond? Of course, I absolutely concur that the payroll cap limit should be eliminated. I never understood why Hillary was so against even thinking about that concept, especially when she justified her position by citing that some firemen make more than $100K/yr. McCain, like Bush, will take that idea totally off the table because repugs are actually hoping the system fails. Bandits!

thanks! Although I sure don't feel much like blogging lately, I do feel like kicking ass once in awhile ... usually after watching McC tell me how great everything is. To me, privitization of SS will kill it, same as school vouchers would kill public education. Oh but I guess I am just an old-fashioned liberal who still thinks a socially-conscious society would actually care about, ummm, the WHOLE society.

UT Savage:
Hah! I CAN be quite nice, can't I? I remember you once wisely stated that if a comment is longer than the post, perhaps the commenter should do their own post on the subject. Very sage advice!

PTCruiser said...

My #1 favorite visitor! I think you should do what I do and not vote at all. Just an idea.

an average patriot said...

Putting social security in a lock box was a great idea that is why it was laughed at. You see good ideas now ridiculed routinely so we can be led down the path of destruct5ion.
Only one of Bush's goals was to undo FDR's legacy. He is well on his way and McCain is already picked to finish it. Stealing him in is all that is left. If he picks Romney as I fear we are really screwed.
Remember, they want you to invest in the stock market! Just imagine where we would be now! we the Democrats are the country's problem trying to take care of the need, sick, and elderly.
They want to do away with social security altogether. Taking care of illegals is fine because the rich need their labor and you pay for their care with taxes as the rich are given theirs back!