prospect.org — President Barack Obama’s persistence has managed to smoke out House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans. Their just-announced plan for cutting the deficit is what we suspected: cuts in Medicare and Social Security; no higher tax rates on the rich; limits on tax deductions that would hit the middle class as well as the wealthy, but only raise half the revenue of Obama’s plan; and a lot of fudging with numbers. The Republicans might as well be parading around with a sign that reads “Kick Me.” None of this stuff solves the real problem of getting a recovery going. If you believe that deficit reduction is required, it doesn’t even solve that. And the plan cuts into social insurance programs that are hugely popular, while Obama defends them. So what happens now?
dailykos.com — Some zombie lies cannot be smacked down hard enough or often enough. The claim that we should raise the Social Security retirement age because we're all living longer and can therefore work longer is high on that list. This zombie is so hard to kill because the people who control policy will live longer and be able to continue working long past 65. If you've had good medical care for most of your life and you work at a desk in a climate-controlled office, it doesn't sound so hard. But for people who do physical work, it's another story. The reminder of what that means—physical pain, dangerous situations—has to come as relentlessly as the raise-the-retirement-age zombie. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein set a little zombie loose on CBS last week, joining Alan Simpson, Pat Robertson, and too many more to name. But let's talk about the real world.
prospect.org — In response to pushback from Congress and progressive activists following a report in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that Obama had offered to be “flexible” on tax-rate hikes for the very richest, the White House formally unveiled a tough bargaining stance: $1.6 billion in tax increases over a decade, all on the top two brackets, and no tax hikes for the bottom 98 percent. The White House proposal included only $400 billion in spending cuts over a decade, none of which cut into Social Security or Medicare—details to be filled in later. Obama also proposed a change in the law to eliminate the obstructionist ritual of requiring a congressional vote to periodically increase the debt ceiling. Two things are encouraging about Obama’s stance. First, there was no backsliding on the promise to insist on restoring the pre-Bush tax cut rates on the top two brackets. Equally significant is the refusal to whack Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
prospect.org — As we head into negotiations on the Austerity Trap (better known by the inaccurate moniker "fiscal cliff," which I refuse to use), there's a clear narrative emerging. This narrative has it that Democrats want to see taxes increase on rich people, which Republicans aren't happy about, while Republicans want to see entitlement "reform," which Democrats aren't happy about. So once everybody gives a little, and Republicans accept some tax increases for the rich while Democrats accept some "reform" of Social Security and Medicare, then we can have a happy ending. The problem with this is that while the Democrats' position is quite clear—the Bush tax cuts should expire for income over $250,000—the Republicans' position is extremely vague, on both the tax side and the entitlement side.
finance.yahoo.com — The talk in Washington these days might lead people to think that the main cause of the economic downturn is the Social Security and Medicare benefits being paid to retirees. After all, we have people from both parties giving us assurances that cuts to these programs are an essential part of any budget deal. This is the sort of topsy-turvy thinking that passes as conventional wisdom in Washington. In case it's necessary to remind people, our economy plunged due to the collapse of a Wall Street fueled housing bubble. The loss of demand from the collapse of the housing bubble both led to a jump in the unemployment rate from which we have still not fully recovered and also the large deficits of the last five years.
alternet.org — Trying to convince the public to cut America’s best-loved and most successful program requires a lot of creativity and persistence. Social Security is fiscally fit, prudently managed and does not add to the deficit because by law it must be completely detached from the federal operating budget. Obviously, it is needed more than ever in a time of increasing job insecurity and disappearing pensions. It helps our economy thrive and boosts the productivity of working Americans. And yet the sharks are in a frenzy to shred it in the upcoming “fiscal cliff” discussions. The most popular red herring Social Security hustlers have unleashed into the waters of public discourse has grown into such a massive whale of a lie that liberals frequently subscribe to it. Here are five clear reasons why the life expectancy argument is nonsensical, counterproductive and based on a pack of lies.
I joined Campaign for America's Future's Richard Eskow to talk about the "fiscal cliff" scare, austerity, Social Security, Medicare and how we WON the election so we really should be talking about jobs instead. more »
nytimes.com — America’s political landscape is infested with many zombie ideas — beliefs about policy that have been repeatedly refuted with evidence and analysis but refuse to die. The most prominent zombie is the insistence that low taxes on rich people are the key to prosperity. But there are others. And right now the most dangerous zombie is probably the claim that rising life expectancy justifies a rise in both the Social Security retirement age and the age of eligibility for Medicare. Even some Democrats — including, according to reports, the president — have seemed susceptible to this argument. But it’s a cruel, foolish idea — cruel in the case of Social Security, foolish in the case of Medicare — and we shouldn’t let it eat our brains.