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Obama Expansion Of Social Security

JoeTheEconomist

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin...b8fe28-29c0-11e6-a3c4-0724e8e24f3f_story.html

The WP has the best editorial on Social Security I have seen in years.

Obama's statement have no proposal to increase revenue, and no details about how he would expand Social Security benefits.

1) There are no details
2) It is virtually impossible to expand SS in a way to help those who are poor
3) Tax increases will compete with other priorities
4) Children are twice as likely to be in poverty, and yet in 2011, the federal government spent six times as much on the elderly as it did on children. Children can’t vote.

Not sure about the statistics behind #4, but the last line is priceless.
 

joG

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin...b8fe28-29c0-11e6-a3c4-0724e8e24f3f_story.html

The WP has the best editorial on Social Security I have seen in years.

Obama's statement have no proposal to increase revenue, and no details about how he would expand Social Security benefits.

1) There are no details
2) It is virtually impossible to expand SS in a way to help those who are poor
3) Tax increases will compete with other priorities
4) Children are twice as likely to be in poverty, and yet in 2011, the federal government spent six times as much on the elderly as it did on children. Children can’t vote.

Not sure about the statistics behind #4, but the last line is priceless.

And this at a time, when we should be downsizing SS, if not replacing it totally. It is a bad system and economists have known it to be so since I was a child. In the meantime our technology has improved so much that it is unbelievable, that we should still be trying to fix it instead of a total change.
 

ludin

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And this at a time, when we should be downsizing SS, if not replacing it totally. It is a bad system and economists have known it to be so since I was a child. In the meantime our technology has improved so much that it is unbelievable, that we should still be trying to fix it instead of a total change.

SS should have never been based on a Ponzi scheme.

SS should have been an individual retirement account in which the federal government pays a simple interest rate on.
similar to a savings account. when you go to retire the government would then put in a lump sum based on years worked etc ...

yet your account would still continue to gain interest. the fact is that the government is promising people money
it can't pay. worse it is considering cutting back on money paid out so that you never realize what you invested.

if any other company ran a similar program they would be arrested and thrown in jail.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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if any other company ran a similar program they would be arrested and thrown in jail.

You mean like MFGlobal? No the officers were fined. No the officers didn't face any penalty. The company was fined, meaning that the people who got screwed were screwed even more.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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SS should have never been based on a Ponzi scheme.

SS should have been an individual retirement account in which the federal government pays a simple interest rate on.
similar to a savings account. when you go to retire the government would then put in a lump sum based on years worked etc ...

yet your account would still continue to gain interest. the fact is that the government is promising people money
it can't pay. worse it is considering cutting back on money paid out so that you never realize what you invested.

You are looking at it as an investment. Insurance isn't an investment. It is an expense. Your real beef, and deservedly so, is that it is overpriced insurance.

1) Originally Social Security wasn't a ponzi scheme. Congress converted it into what it is today over decades.

2) No, SS shouldn't be an individual account. People already have individual accounts. What most people do not have is access to economically affordable old-age insurance. That is what it was supposed to be until Congress converted it into I-Don't-Want-To-Live-With-My-Mother-In-Law insurance.

3) The government isn't promising anyone anything. Social Security isn't a guarantee. (If you are interested in the Nestor case, here is an article I contributed to FedSmith) : Social Security?s (Missing) Guarantee : FedSmith.com.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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And this at a time, when we should be downsizing SS, if not replacing it totally. It is a bad system and economists have known it to be so since I was a child. In the meantime our technology has improved so much that it is unbelievable, that we should still be trying to fix it instead of a total change.

That is a longer discussion. I posted the article so that people could see what the blah-blah-blah of SS expansion really comes down to.
 

cpwill

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin...b8fe28-29c0-11e6-a3c4-0724e8e24f3f_story.html

The WP has the best editorial on Social Security I have seen in years.

Obama's statement have no proposal to increase revenue, and no details about how he would expand Social Security benefits.

Magic. Taxing only those rich people, without effecting anyone else, because magic.

1) There are no details

Details can get scored, and that allows opponents to point out their problems. TANSTAAFL, and whoever is paying for that lunch is going to get upset.

Politicians know this. The winning candidate in 2008 had an effective platform that was two words if you don't count "and". The GOP candidate this year has a platform that comes down to "Winning" (1 word) or "Make America Great Again" (4 words), depending on whether you want the simpler, or the more complex version.

2) It is virtually impossible to expand SS in a way to help those who are poor

Hold benefit growth flat for upper income earners and transfer the savings to grow the benefits of lower income earners. Not sure if that counts as a "net expansion", but it'd be one way I'd look at doing.

3) Tax increases will compete with other priorities

And alter incentives, altering behavior. That upper income earners will not simply mindlessly acquiesce to being constantly gored is a lesson the taxers generally fail to appreciate.

4) Children are twice as likely to be in poverty, and yet in 2011, the federal government spent six times as much on the elderly as it did on children. Children can’t vote.

Not sure about the statistics behind #4, but the last line is priceless.

Yup. The problem with our safety net stems not least from the fact that we have effectively designed it to benefit our middle class the most. Middle Class Seniors vote, after all. It's become an extractive exercise.
 

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SS is all screwed up, like most of the Federal government, but nobody is willing to fix it because they would be out of job. We should draft a special 1 session Congress that does nothing but overhaul SS, Medicare, the IRS, and military spending.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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Magic. Taxing only those rich people, without effecting anyone else, because magic.



Details can get scored, and that allows opponents to point out their problems. TANSTAAFL, and whoever is paying for that lunch is going to get upset.

Politicians know this. The winning candidate in 2008 had an effective platform that was two words if you don't count "and". The GOP candidate this year has a platform that comes down to "Winning" (1 word) or "Make America Great Again" (4 words), depending on whether you want the simpler, or the more complex version.



Hold benefit growth flat for upper income earners and transfer the savings to grow the benefits of lower income earners. Not sure if that counts as a "net expansion", but it'd be one way I'd look at doing.



And alter incentives, altering behavior. That upper income earners will not simply mindlessly acquiesce to being constantly gored is a lesson the taxers generally fail to appreciate.



Yup. The problem with our safety net stems not least from the fact that we have effectively designed it to benefit our middle class the most. Middle Class Seniors vote, after all. It's become an extractive exercise.

Social Security has a structural problem. It has no idea who is and who isn't wealthy. There is no way to expand Social Security in a way to help the poor without ending Social Security. The benefit growth of higher end seniors is small. It really moves with wages. If you hold the benefit levels, you are breaking a foundation principle of the system. Benefits should never be means tested. Today workers with high wages pay more, but the benefits were supposed to be earned by the contribution so that no damn politician can scrap "my" system. FDR took the system personally.

If you want a welfare system, end SS and send the resources to an actual welfare program. Then you won't have seniors mindlessly claiming that they deserve an expansion on what they paid for.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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SS is all screwed up, like most of the Federal government, but nobody is willing to fix it because they would be out of job. We should draft a special 1 session Congress that does nothing but overhaul SS, Medicare, the IRS, and military spending.

I started FSSN five years ago. It took me about 2 weeks to figure out that expanding the range of your project will kill the possibility of success. If you want a special session, make it about 1 thing, and make sure that 1 thing is important to you.
 

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SS is an unfunded liability bomb that's slowly exploding. No one wants to act, because right now, in the short term doing what needs to be done would be politically unfeasible, by the time the idiot voters realize something NEEDS to be done, and the political winds are favorable for actual change, it will be too damn late. SS is one of many FDR disasters that plague America still.
 

cpwill

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Social Security has a structural problem.

It has a couple of structural problems, starting with being a Pay-Go system tied to a populace with a barely-replacement birthrate.

It has no idea who is and who isn't wealthy.

I would say it probably has one of the best ideas, as it has the granularity on personal income for each individual stretching back decades. IRS would be best for recency, but as I (dimly- I've never investigated) understand it, they only keep records for 7 years.

There is no way to expand Social Security in a way to help the poor without ending Social Security.

:shrug: this is incorrect. For example, slowing benefit growth for the top half of earners while creating a minimum benefit of 125% of the Poverty Line and offering a bump-up benefit increase for seniors past the 20 year mark would still net benefit Social Security's long-term finances.

The benefit growth of higher end seniors is small. It really moves with wages. If you hold the benefit levels, you are breaking a foundation principle of the system. Benefits should never be means tested.

They already are means-tested, as the benefits formula already grants less "return" to higher wages. Tweaking a formula already in place is not "breaking" Social Security :roll:

Today workers with high wages pay more, but the benefits were supposed to be earned by the contribution so that no damn politician can scrap "my" system. FDR took the system personally.

If you want a welfare system, end SS and send the resources to an actual welfare program. Then you won't have seniors mindlessly claiming that they deserve an expansion on what they paid for.

FDR, whom you quote, argued that the reason for SS' existence was to provide a measure of security against old age poverty. Not a benefit paid out for the prize of reaching age 65. The intent is to reduce or end the incidence of poverty among our elderly, not reward higher earners.
 

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You are looking at it as an investment. Insurance isn't an investment. It is an expense. Your real beef, and deservedly so, is that it is overpriced insurance.

SS is not insurance. stop repeating that misinformed nonsense.

1) Originally Social Security wasn't a ponzi scheme. Congress converted it into what it is today over decades.

yes it was. SS had people retire and in return the government would give them money paid by new workers.
the problem is that in 1930's/40's there were 29 people paying in to every 1 person pulling out.

now that has dropped to 1.5-2 people paying in for every 1 person pulling out.

2) No, SS shouldn't be an individual account. People already have individual accounts. What most people do not have is access to economically affordable old-age insurance. That is what it was supposed to be until Congress converted it into I-Don't-Want-To-Live-With-My-Mother-In-Law insurance.

you want old age insurance go by life insurance. that is insurance. SS is not insurance. it very much is an investment in which the government promises a return on when
I go to retire. the problem is that the government has promised more than what it can afford to pay. so that by the time I go to retire
I more than likely will be facing a reduced ROI instead of getting back what I was promised.
that is what happens when you run a Ponzi scheme.

3) The government isn't promising anyone anything. Social Security isn't a guarantee. (If you are interested in the Nestor case, here is an article I contributed to FedSmith) : Social Security?s (Missing) Guarantee : FedSmith.com.
[/QUOTE]

blogs. the problem exists that the government is promising someone else's money that is why it is illegal.
all the money that I am paying into SS someone else already has. the government has already spent it.
had it been put into my own SS account that would be different and the system would be perfectly fine.

SS benefits are guaranteed unless congress changes them.
 

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Yep, SSI is not insurance. They only put the word "insurance" in to help get it pushed through. I pay premiums for my insurance based on risk. SS is just a tax where the government takes your money, you don't have a choice, and they give it to other people.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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SS is an unfunded liability bomb that's slowly exploding. No one wants to act, because right now, in the short term doing what needs to be done would be politically unfeasible, by the time the idiot voters realize something NEEDS to be done, and the political winds are favorable for actual change, it will be too damn late. SS is one of many FDR disasters that plague America still.

You realize that Social Security has become exactly what FDR opposed, veto'd in legislation.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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SS is not insurance. stop repeating that misinformed nonsense.

I have an article coming out this week which says that the SS debate is about the control of words. You want to stop hearing fact, so you simply type ponzi scheme a million times hoping that volume rather than fact wins the argument. The same can be said of your insurance investment argument. Where did the government ever tell you SS was an investment? Blogs that source information to the SSA and the Supreme Court.
 

JoeTheEconomist

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It has a couple of structural problems, starting with being a Pay-Go system tied to a populace with a barely-replacement birthrate.



I would say it probably has one of the best ideas, as it has the granularity on personal income for each individual stretching back decades. IRS would be best for recency, but as I (dimly- I've never investigated) understand it, they only keep records for 7 years.



:shrug: this is incorrect. For example, slowing benefit growth for the top half of earners while creating a minimum benefit of 125% of the Poverty Line and offering a bump-up benefit increase for seniors past the 20 year mark would still net benefit Social Security's long-term finances.



They already are means-tested, as the benefits formula already grants less "return" to higher wages. Tweaking a formula already in place is not "breaking" Social Security :roll:



FDR, whom you quote, argued that the reason for SS' existence was to provide a measure of security against old age poverty. Not a benefit paid out for the prize of reaching age 65. The intent is to reduce or end the incidence of poverty among our elderly, not reward higher earners.

Here is the whole quote : We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.

Health insurance will give the average citizen some measure of protection against poverty-ridden old age. Are you saying that the intent of health insurance is to reduce or end poverty. Clearly, he said that we couldn't end or in his words 'insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life'; so end is clearly not part of his intent. Old-age insurance is a sensible expense, one that like health insurance, will lower the incidence of poverty in the elderly. He said that it was 'some measure', not an absolute. He made it clear that it was not to be a public dole or charity for those who hadn't prepared for retirement. He wanted a system which was insulated from the damn politician.

Big picture you want to continue the failure of the past which embeds more and more politics into the system. We honestly disagree. To me, politics has become the cause of the problem, and is not a cure.

Past earnings tells you nothing about current wealth. The past is not current, and earnings are not wealth.
 

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Obama's statement have no proposal to increase revenue, and no details about how he would expand Social Security benefits.
Uh... Yes. That usually happens, when politicians make a 30-second comment about Social Security.

In fact, in the past he floated changing to chained CPI to make a bridge to Republicans, a move that would have reduced benefits. (Republicans shot it down, after pushing for that change for years because... Obama proposed it.)


1) There are no details
Of course there aren't any details. It wasn't a policy speech. He was at Elkhart, making a feel-good economics speech.


2) It is virtually impossible to expand SS in a way to help those who are poor
Yes, I'm sure that giving people who have no income other than SS won't help them at all


3) Tax increases will compete with other priorities
Only if you treat taxes like a zero-sum game


4) Children are twice as likely to be in poverty, and yet in 2011, the federal government spent six times as much on the elderly as it did on children. Children can’t vote.
Uh huh

It doesn't look like their own sources are quite backing that up. We spent $464 billion on kids that year; about $800 billion on Social Security; $492 billion on Medicare. So, that's 3x as much. It's probably a bit more, but 6x is a stretch.

Anyway:

Y'know why children are more likely to be in poverty than senior citizens? One reason is that Social Security puts the income of seniors above the poverty level. (Seems like a big oversight by the WaPo editorial board.) Another is that many seniors still work, more than ever before.

Y'know why we spend so much more on seniors? Because we don't give kids cash benefits based on what they earned, and we don't provide medical care for most children.

Yes, we know that seniors are a powerful interest group; in case you did not know it, the sky is also blue.

Oh, and yes, children can't vote. Their parents can, though. Last I checked, most children have two parents out there somewhere.


Now, I do agree that a glib throw-away comment from Obama is pretty meaningless, except as a confirmation of our current political polarization party lines. However, I really don't know why you like that article very much. Perhaps because it's long on complaints and very short on solutions...?
 

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Yep, SSI is not insurance. They only put the word "insurance" in to help get it pushed through. I pay premiums for my insurance based on risk. SS is just a tax where the government takes your money, you don't have a choice, and they give it to other people.

Furthermore, insurance is a tool for transferring risk associated with destructive, costly, and unforeseeable events. "Turning 65" is neither destructive, uniquely costly, nor unforeseeable.
 

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Here is the whole quote : We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.

Health insurance will give the average citizen some measure of protection against poverty-ridden old age. Are you saying that the intent of health insurance is to reduce or end poverty.

:) When it is provided by the government, indeed it is. We call that program "Medicare/Medicaid".

Social Security is intended (as you point out) to give our seniors protection against poverty. That's it's purpose. That's why we have it. We don't have it because Warren Buffet needs a crappy annuity product.

Old-age insurance is a sensible expense

:shrug: Social Security, whatever you label it, does not function as insurance. Insurance is for transferring risk of sudden catastrophic events such as cancer, auto wrecks, and house fires. Turning 65 is not a sudden catastrophic event. Nor is it unforeseeable.

He said that it was 'some measure', not an absolute.

Indeed. And because we have a stupid, backwards system that gives the most to those who need it the least, and the least to those who need it the most, he is correct. That is why we should (contra your claim that it cannot be done) slow the growth of benefits for the upper half of benefit earners while installing a floor at 125% of the FPL.

He made it clear that it was not to be a public dole or charity for those who hadn't prepared for retirement. He wanted a system which was insulated from the damn politician.

:doh Indeed, and he added on a buffer benefit to the rest of the populace in order to make the system untouchable. The finances of that day could support that additional spending. Increasingly, the finances of today cannot.

Big picture you want to continue the failure of the past which embeds more and more politics into the system. We honestly disagree. To me, politics has become the cause of the problem, and is not a cure.

It's a political program because it's a government program. The only way to take politics out of it is to get rid of it.

Past earnings tells you nothing about current wealth. The past is not current, and earnings are not wealth.

Past earnings determine current benefit receipt, which is what I care about here, and stand as a general correlate to wealth.
 

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Yep, SSI is not insurance. They only put the word "insurance" in to help get it pushed through. I pay premiums for my insurance based on risk. SS is just a tax where the government takes your money, you don't have a choice, and they give it to other people.
Whether or not you like the term "insurance" - it's certainly not "just a tax" that they give to other people.
 

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin...b8fe28-29c0-11e6-a3c4-0724e8e24f3f_story.html

The WP has the best editorial on Social Security I have seen in years.

Obama's statement have no proposal to increase revenue, and no details about how he would expand Social Security benefits.

1) There are no details
2) It is virtually impossible to expand SS in a way to help those who are poor
3) Tax increases will compete with other priorities
4) Children are twice as likely to be in poverty, and yet in 2011, the federal government spent six times as much on the elderly as it did on children. Children can’t vote.

Not sure about the statistics behind #4, but the last line is priceless.

So maybe you think children should be allowed to vote?
 

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:) When it is provided by the government, indeed it is. We call that program "Medicare/Medicaid".

One is health insurance that borders on welfare and the other is welfare. Medicare is not paid for like Social Security. So they are not a suitable comparison.

Insurance is for transferring risk of sudden catastrophic events such as cancer, auto wrecks, and house fires. Turning 65 is not a sudden catastrophic event. Nor is it unforeseeable.

There is nothing in the dictionary about sudden or catastrophic in the definition of insurance. My annual doctors visit is neither sudden or catastrophic and it is covered. Cancer may be catastrophic, but it can last 10 years which is not sudden. Insurance is a hedge against the cost of the unknown. Turning 65 isn't really what Social Security is about. It is really about turning 90 or 95. Social Security is suppose to provide a predictable stream of liquidity so that seniors can plan their retirement. Like any insurance, SS is not intended to pay the entirety of your retirement costs. The idea that we need to have people who are in poverty, subsidizing those to the tune of 125% above poverty, is a reason to say that SS isn't insurance.
 

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You realize that the proposal you are citing does nothing for existing seniors. It clearly doesn't help seniors who aren't eligible. It doesn't help the people who weren't able to work 30 years. This is why the exhaustion point of the Trust Fund doesn't budge. This is the problem with getting information from a think tank instead of the SSA. It is difficult to figure out what it does because no one has included it in their proposals. Sanders has a version of it, but it is not the one you referenced.

https://www.ssa.gov/oact/solvency/provisions/charts/chart_run281.html#graph

Walk me through your logic. How are you going to tell retiree who turned 62 in 2010 that he gets nothing while retiree Y who turned 62 in 2022 gets the 125% bonus. How do you justify handing welfare payment to less than all poor Americans.
 

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You realize that the proposal you are citing does nothing for existing seniors.

No, it does nothing directly for current high-benefit receiving seniors. It directly helps current low-benefit receiving seniors, and helps high-benefit receiving seniors only indirectly through increasing the fiscal health of the program.

It clearly doesn't help seniors who aren't eligible. It doesn't help the people who weren't able to work 30 years. This is why the exhaustion point of the Trust Fund doesn't budge. This is the problem with getting information from a think tank instead of the SSA.

:doh

The data given to you was from the SSA. It simply took their figures and put them into an interactive tool.

Walk me through your logic. How are you going to tell retiree who turned 62 in 2010 that he gets nothing while retiree Y who turned 62 in 2022 gets the 125% bonus.

I'm not. I'm going to tell current high-benefit receiving retirees "Hey, your benefit growth is going to slow" and I'm going to tell current low-benefit receiving retirees "Hey, if your benefit is below 125% of the FPL, then it's going to increase to that point".

How do you justify handing welfare payment to less than all poor Americans.

I want to alter the program dramatically - we've gone over that. If we're not going to actually dramatically improve the program, then incremental improvement remains improvement.
 
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