We have EARNED our Entitlements -- it's time to Raise the Ceiling

ENTITLEMENTS: Social Security and Medicare Programs

they used to call the "3rd Rail of Politic" --

Touch it and your Political career was dead!

I would assert NOW is the perfect time to Reframe those tired old Talking Points, since Congress and all the Media Pundits, all seem to be in such a "charitable" mood lately.

Those Media Spinners are hardly in a position to rail against "Entitlements as Socialism", as they usually do. (When it affects their own Pocketbooks, the "Elite Class" of Spinners and Shakers, have all suddenly embraced "Socialistic Solutions", ironic isn't it?)




Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't Workers (and their Employers) been "paying into" these "social safety net" Retirement Systems, all along?

And doesn't that also mean that these Social Programs of "Entitlements", are actually something we have EARNED?

(Hhmmm? Maybe someone should start putting all those FICA Payroll Deductions into a Lockbox, or something?)

------


Even though the Candidates have be "skating around" this 3rd rail, they have staked out some basic positions.

Obama vs McCain: Should the Social Security Payroll Tax Cap be Eliminated?
Compare Obama vs McCain on the Social Security Payroll Tax
By Sharon O'Brien, About.com

Background on the Payroll Tax Cap
In 2008, people who earn less than $102,000 will pay Social Security tax on their entire income. Those who earn more will pay Social Security taxes only on the first $102,000. Removing the cap and making all earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax would increase revenue and make more money available to pay Social Security benefits.

McCain is opposed to raising the cap on the Social Security payroll tax.
...

Obama advocates removing the current cap on Social Security payroll taxes, which exempts all income above the first $102,000 each person earns. Obama argues that the system favors wealthy people, who should be paying a fair share to support Social Security, but he acknowledges a compromise may be needed to protect middle-class workers whose incomes are slightly higher than the current cap.

During the Democratic debate at Drexel University in October 2007, Obama said: "Social Security is not in crisis; it is a fundamentally sound system, but it does have a problem, long-term. We've got 78 million baby boomers, who are going to be retiring over the next couple of decades. That means more retirees, fewer workers to support those retirees. We are going to have to do something about it. The best idea is to lift the cap on the payroll tax, potentially exempting middle-class folks, but making sure that the wealthy are paying more of their fair share, a little bit more."

(Emphasis Added)
http://seniorliving.about.com/od/presidentialcampaign2008/a/obama_mccain-tc.htm


AARP, the nation's largest organization for those 50 and older, apparently agrees with Obama about how to solve the Entitlement Problem -- by "raising the cap" on what wages are subject to Social Security Tax.


Cox News Service
Entitlements could become Uncle Sam's own debt crisis, former GAO warns
By MARILYN GEEWAX -- October 09, 2008

For years, some advocacy groups have been urging reforms. For example, AARP, the nation's largest organization for those 50 and older, favors raising the cap on wages subject to the Social Security tax so that 90 percent of wages are covered.

(Emphasis Added)
http://www.dailyadvance.com/business/entitlements-could-become-uncle-sams-own-debt-crisis-former-gao-warns-175621.html

We SHOULD BE talking about changing the Social Security Tax from a Regressive tax system (which favors the Wealthy) to a more Progressive tax system (which treats all income brackets equally.)

As Progressives, we MUST take advantage of the recent "time out" by the Right Wing, to Reframe one of the most important Social Issues of our time.

In this brief moment in history, where it seems "Everyone now supports Socialized Solutions" -- we must Reclaim our great "Safety Net" Programs from decades of Negative Branding by the Right Wing!



As Progressives, we should be Reframing the GOP Negative Frame, known as Entitlements, to something more positive, like:


Elder Care Programs

or

The Worker's Pension Plan

or

A Rescue Plan for My Street


www.pgpf.org - July 2008
The State of the Union’s Finances
A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Condition of the United States Government

Payroll taxes, which are dedicated to Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, are regressive. Everyone pays the same rate on wage income. Due to the annually-adjusted ceiling on taxable earnings for Social Security ($102,000 in 2008), highincome earners pay a lower share of their wage earnings in payroll taxes than do lower-wage earners.

(Emphasis Added)
A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Condition of the United States Government (pdf pg 9)


It's apparent that the Middle Class IS doing the heavy lifting here -- as always!


The Right WILL target those "Entitlement" Spending Sectors -- as always!-- saying America can't afford it!
(who gave them that choice? Who put them in Charge?)


In the most recent Debate, McCain made it clear -- he favors cutting Social Security Benefits, instead of the more "equitable solution" of making everyone pay their "fair share" into the system:

Washington Post
Pre-Meltdown Mind-Set
The debate was civil and substantive, but sometimes sounded as if it were taking place before the financial crisis.
October 8, 2008

On the second most challenging fiscal issue -- the exploding cost of health care and other entitlement spending --
...
Mr. Obama left entitlements off his list altogether. When asked specifically about Social Security, he reverted to a discussion of his general tax policy and neglected to mention his proposal to increase Social Security payroll taxes for those earning more than $250,000.

Mr. McCain's proposals were limited to convening a commission to tackle Medicare, but he was honest enough to say,

"We are not going to be able to provide the same benefit for present-day workers that . . . retirees have today."

(Emphasis Added)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/07/AR2008100702497.html?nav=hcmodule


McCain is talking about "More of the Same" -- Rescue the Rich, while ignoring the Plight of the Middle Class ...





Perhaps our Entitlement Programs, and their Project Trendlines, DO need more Transparency right now? If the current SubPrime Mortgage Crisis has taught us anything -- avoidance, denial, and "kicking the can down the road" -- are NOT viable ways to "Plan a Budget", or to run a Household (be it your own or the Nation's).

It's time for the Grown-ups to step up and get serious about our collective Future.


Yes, there is a LONG-TERM problem with Social Security and Medicare (as Obama has described it) -- BUT at the "current rates of funding", Social Security will NOT go broke until 2041, and Medicare by 2019 ...

Cox News Service
Entitlements could become Uncle Sam's own debt crisis, former GAO warns
By MARILYN GEEWAX -- October 09, 2008

In last spring's report on the financial status of Social Security, the system's trustees said Social Security tax revenues would fall short of its expenses beginning in 2017. Social Security would then have to begin tapping its "trust fund" -- a huge stack of bonds that the government must redeem. That fund would be exhausted by 2041.

Medicare's trustees expect its expenses to outstrip tax revenues beginning this year, and its trust fund to be empty by 2019.

(Emphasis Added)
http://www.dailyadvance.com/business/entitlements-could-become-uncle-sams-own-debt-crisis-former-gao-warns-175621.html


SO Grown-ups, we got at least 10 years to figure this out -- What shall we do about Making that Income Match that Outgo?

Increasing the Income side of the Ledger (by raise the S.S. Cap), while reducing unnecessary expenditures (by ending endless Wars mentality), seems like the rational adult thing to do:

(especially considering all the other Expenditures, that taxpayers will be tagged with!)



Cox News Service
Entitlements could become Uncle Sam's own debt crisis, former GAO warns
By MARILYN GEEWAX -- October 09, 2008

If you think the financial sector's collapse has been frightening, wait until you see Uncle Sam himself start sinking under his debts, the former head of the Government Accountability Office warned Wednesday.

A U.S. Treasury tailspin would inflict far more suffering than a routine recession, said former GAO head David Walker, who now leads the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which advocates for fiscal responsibility.
...
While the candidates have been avoiding specifics, Walker has stepped up efforts to call attention to the national debt, which now exceeds $10 trillion. The global financial meltdown is providing a vivid "teachable moment," he said.

The parallels are plain, he said. Just as lenders sold mortgages without revealing the extent of the risks for investors, U.S. lawmakers have allowed "inadequate transparency" to disguise budget problems, he said.

Also, the government is relying far too much on borrowed money, just as many homeowners did, he said.

He recommends Americans ask the candidates: "How will you encourage the country to save more and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign lenders?"

(Emphasis Added)
http://www.dailyadvance.com/business/entitlements-could-become-uncle-sams-own-debt-crisis-former-gao-warns-175621.html



Perhaps becoming a "Country of Savers" again is another great idea who's time has come?

As a Country, we cannot keep "living beyond our means" forever -- despite what the Deregulators have sold us.

As the last month's Financial Crisis has shown, sooner or later, all those Bills WILL become due -- Watch Out, when they do!


It's time for America's Leaders to cut up that "Credit Card" Mentality -- to start to work on a sensible payment plan, to Invest in America's Long-term Future.

A Green America, with "bottom up" "people-based" Solutions, are definitely worth pursuing too. It's time for America, and individual Americans, to take hold of their OWN Destiny, again!

The Future is always built on the Foundation of such ground-up Opportunities ...

In short, it's time for a:

Rescue Plan for My Street



It's time to:

Put People First, again.

Reclaim YOUR Safety Net -- YOU'VE EARNED IT!

(Don't stand for, the tired old rhetoric about what the Right Wing would rather tell you, about what the Middle Class, the Nation of Whiners, really deserves!)

Enough, Already!

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Comments

I really resented Brokaw in the last debate saying so sententiously what will you do to take care of the entitlements program which threatens to destroy the U.S. economy. (Not his words but my recollection.)

This is certainly the moment to rub the noses of McCain and his supporters in the way the SS fund has been swindled and to point out where most of us would be now if we had accepted the privatization of SS and put all our retirement money into the market. Oh yea!

carol