The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Category: Social Security

What the Debt Limit Crisis Should Have Taught You

This is not primarily about the Tea Party

It is about what rich donors want.  The Tea Party does not even have the amount of muscle progressives do.  Progressives can bring tens of thousands of people out, the Tea Party can rarely even get above 1,000.  They are a convenient excuse to do what the Beltway and the oligarchs already want to do.

Where are you going to go?

Both Dems and Republicans are onside with cutting Social Security and Medicare. They are only third rails if there is someone else to vote for.

The deals being offered will cause a second downleg of the Depression and a worse one

We’re in a Depression.  This is fact.  Anyone who doesn’t call it that is gutless, stupid or uninformed.  This will make it worse, not just for the US, but for the entire developed world.

Representatives work for the people who pay them

That isn’t really you.  They don’t become multi-millionaires on their salaries, you know.  It’s their donors, the people who hire their wives and children, the people who fund their campaigns, the people who give them good jobs when they leave government.  If you want Reps and Senators to work for you, you must pay them better, you must fund their campaigns (and sharply limit outside funding) and you must make it illegal for them to EVER make more money in a year than their government salary (index it to an average of the median wage, the minimum wage, and CPI).  You should do what Canada used to do and give them a good pension after 6 years.  You DON’T want them worrying about their next job, or what they’ll do if they’ll lose.

Point being, they don’t work for you.

This is a representative plutocracy

I believe Stirling Newberry, in the early 90s, pointed this out first.  Politicians are paid by people other than you.  You are the product.  Think of this as the Facebook rule, if you aren’t paying for something, then you are the product.  The rich pay politicians to rangle you.  The amount of salary and public funding most Reps get is trivial compared to how much money they get from donors, even during their time in elected office, let alone after they leave.  You are the product, not the customer, of DC politicians.  They do not represent you, and you should not expect your interests to be looked after except as an afterthought.  When the oligarchs all agree that something needs to be done (like cut entitlements), it will be done, no matter how unpopular it is.

This “Crisis” is what Obama wanted

Again, if he didn’t, he would have raised the debt ceiling in the lame duck.  Nancy Pelosi was always very good at getting those sort of basic housekeeping bills through. It would have passed.  Period.  Obama wanted to cut SS and Medicare, and he needed a “crisis” in order to do it.  He also needed a Republican House, which he had, because his policies during 2009 and 2010 didn’t fix the economy.

You should have been working on nothing but primarying Obama since the day after the midterms

If you don’t understand why, I can’t help you.

There is no war but class war

Break the rich, or they will finish institutionalizing aristocracy.  Period.

Yes Virginia, SS can be cut

Sorry, it doesn’t work like this:

Nevertheless, Grijalva is right. Social Security will most likely be left intact. Not because of any efforts of the CPC. Not because Progressives will stand up to block cuts. Not because Social Security is popular with the people. Social Security “reform” will fail because it is remarkably stupid and will result in devestating shame on the Administration and cause DLC-type Democrats to lose their seats. Whereas Democrats thought they could sell a crappy Healthcare bill as a success, there is no way Americans will watch seniors eat catfood and thank the Democrats for the priviledge.

No.  It doesn’t work like that. The bailouts passed with more opposition even than SS cuts.  If both parties agree on something, it is irrelevant what the public thinks because DLC-style Dems won’t lose their seats over it if it’s bipartisan.  Furthermore, even if they do lose their seats, they are willing to lose their seats in order to do the bidding of their large donors since if they don’t do that bidding, they not only stand a good chance of losing their seats due to a funding cut off, but once they’re out of office, they won’t be taken care of.

Public opinion is not relevant to the overall direction of what Village elites do.  It DOES NOT MATTER.  Calls about the bailout ran 100:1 to 1200:1 against, they passed it anyway.  Village elites are generally unified in their preferences for policy, and when they are, all you’re arguing is fairly trivial details, not the essence of the policy.  The question about SS in the Villagers minds is not whether it should be cut, but how.

That’s not to say it’s hopeless.  The last attempt to cut SS failed, after all.  But there wasn’t a Democratic president pushing for it that time.  Obama has proven very adept at arm-twisting Democrats.  The real question, however, is if Republicans will cooperate.  Cutting SS is something they want, but the tax cuts and pork they can offer if they get back Congress and the Presidency may outweigh that and the Tea Party types are generally folks who need SS badly.

We’ll see.  But I wouldn’t be complacent on this.  At all.

Fiscal Sustainability Facts and Solutions

2008 Budget

2008 Budget

1) Social Security, at current rates, is not expected to run short of money before 2037.

2)The simplest way to “fix” Social Security, if you’re worried about a “problem” 27 years in the future, is simply to remove the contribution limit.  End of problem.  Period.  Social Security is not in crisis.

3) The reason politicians want to “fix” Social Security is to increase the SS surplus, so they can use it for other things.

4) Medicare has more serious issues.  However the simplest way to fix healthcare in the US is to move single payer, which would reduce healthcare per person by one-third.  It has worked for every other country in the history of the world that has done it.  It will work for the US.  Since we’ve admitted now that everyone deserves health care, and since it’s cheaper, and better, why not use the next round of healthcare to fix Medicare by fixing health care?

Global Military Spending 2008

Global Military Spending 2008

The unspoken entitlement is the US military.  The US spends about half the entire world’s military budget.  There is, actually, no one in the world who can invade or seriously threaten the US in any fashion. (Is Canada going to invade?  Mexico?) You can easily slash the military budget in half and still be so far ahead of any possible combination of enemies that it isn’t even close.

And yes, taxes are going to need to go up.  Here’s a simple fix—tax all income over 5 million at 90%.  It won’t hurt the economy (the best economy in America’s history was back when marginal tax rates were this high in the 50’s and 60’s).  It will mean that the rich, who got almost the entire bailout and whose irresponsibility threw the US into its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression will pay for it.

Oh, and change the estate tax to tax 80% of all inheritances over 5 million, too.  Remember, dead people don’t need money and 5 million tax free for choosing your parents right is enough of a head start.

There are plenty of other ways to raise money and cut costs.  For example, you can put  a tax on buying and selling derivatives or you can slap on a carbon tax or you can reform corporate taxes so corporations making billions don’t pay no taxes.

Finally, the bottom line is this.  The US owes its money in dollars.  The US can print money.  The US is not going to run out of money(pdf).  There may be some inflation but anyone who tries to tell you that the US won’t have enough money to pay SS or Medicare is simply lying to you.

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