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Saturday, December 16, 2017

President Obama: Stay Progressive In The Fiscal Showdown Talks

President Obama: Stay Progressive In The Fiscal Showdown Talks

President Obama must remember the message of election night and back away from cutting Social Security benefits.

That didn’t last nearly as long as I had hoped. I put on my Obama baseball cap — the one I picked up from a street vendor while walking to the inauguration four years ago — a few weeks before the November election. I’ve worn it every day since, to both celebrate his victory and cheer on the president for keeping to a progressive promise in the fiscal negotiations. Part of that promise was telling the DesMoines Register that Social Security benefits should not be cut. But it looks like my cap is going back on the shelf if reports that Obama is willing to cut Social Security benefits prove to be true.

There are three things to keep in mind about the president agreeing to cuts in Social Security benefits. The first is that Social Security’s benefits are slim, while retirement savings for most Americans are even thinner. The second is that if we are going to address Social Security’s eventual shortfall, there’s a simple progressive alternative to cutting benefits. The third is that this concession is giving in to the corporate deficit hawks, each of  whom has huge personal retirement accounts. Let’s take them — very briefly — one at a time.

Social Security is what American seniors survive on. As Dean Baker reports, “The median income of people over age 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Nearly 70 percent of the elderly rely on Social Security benefits for more than half of their income and nearly 40 percent rely on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income. These benefits average less than $15,000 a year.”

And most people don’t have savings to fall back on. Half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings and nearly half of baby boomers are at risk of not having enough savings to pay for basic necessities and health care.

Point number two is if you are going to tackle the eventual Social Security shortfall — which has nothing to do with the fiscal talks since Social Security doesn’t contribute a dime to the deficit — there is a simple, progressive alternative to cutting benefits. Lifting the cap on payments into Social Security for income of greater than $110,100 would only impact 6 percent of wage earners and would extend the life of the trust fund for almost 75 years.

Finally, let’s look at the corporate CEOs who blithely talk cuts in Social Security, like Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who told CBS News, “You’re going to have to do something, undoubtedly, to lower people’s expectations of what they’re going to get.” It’s easy for a guy who has $12 million in retirement assets to dismiss a cut in benefits of $1,000 and more as just lowered expectations. Other CEOs leading the campaign to cut benefits include Honeywell’s David Cote, with $78 million in his retirement account, and GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, with $55 million stashed away for his later years.

Hopefully the president will back away from cutting Social Security benefits. If not, we need Democratic leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to keep to his pledge to keep Social Security out of the fiscal talks. And if a fiscal package with the cuts is presented, Democrats in both houses should offer an amendment, substituting lifting the cap on 6 percent of upper-income Americans for cutting benefits for all our retirees. That’s the kind of choice we need Congress to face.

But Mr. President, let’s not get to that choice: I really like wearing my Obama cap.

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Advisor to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

Cross-posted from the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal Blog

The Roosevelt Institute is a nonprofit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Photo credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo

127 Responses to President Obama: Stay Progressive In The Fiscal Showdown Talks

  1. Cutting Social Security will take this Country right back to the 1930’s when the elderly were dying from hunger. The average income from Social Security is 1200 dollars a month; thanks to the 2008 crash, many seniors have little or no extra income or prospect of finding work. Even with the current COLA most are barely keeping up with inflations or their medical bills. You try living on 1200 dollars a month and then tell me if you want to cut how much money your grandmother is getting.

    • Thank you elw!! I AM one of those citizens. Before the stock Market crashed in 2008…I had a good job, a car and a retirement!! I was 62yrs old at the time. NOT ready for retirement. I lost “ millions of others, with no job prospects I had to turn in my car. So I’m living on 890.00 a month! My rent alone is $445.00. Medicare has been deducted from my SS ck since the beginning. With no car I can’t get a job, I can’t go to the DR., I have to ask almost perfect strangers to drive me to the store to buy groceries. I feel so pathetic having to almost beg someone to help buy food. I’ve turned to Schwan’s home delivery to eat at times, but they are expensive. I live day to day on God’s good graces!!

      • Judy, I know a couple who are in similar circumstances. He held a job past 65 and taught gun safety for the Boy Scouts. They were productive members of this society and were some of those responsible for building this society. He retired. Niether of them can drive any longer. They are in their nineties. When they cannot find anyone to drive them, they order pizza. Other countries respect their elderly.

      • You are not alone. I live in a 55 and older community and there are many in here who are struggling. They are all people who worked hard all their lives and would work now if they could find a job. Hang in there, if one thing age tells you is things will get better.

      • Judy. Happy Thursday the 20th of Dec. I am much in the same predicament as you and I feel your pain. I have no idea what is happening to us seniors, and am afraid to think on it for too long. Where is Dr. K when we might need him?! Something is horribly wrong in this society, where chaos surrounds us constantly and where talking heads apparently decide our futures. Sometimes I want to just let it all go and “see what happens”. I hope Obama doesn’t let us down. I will be sorely upset with that. Have a good holiday.

        • My heart goes out to all of you, patuxant, idamag, elw and Judy. We all look up to for your wisdom and guidance. You are all inspirations to us and we owe you something more than uncertainty in your future. You should not have to, at the age of 65 or more, be out job hunting. Although, I imagine the company wouldn’t hire you anyway. It is a sad place that we don’t have more respect for our elders. Best wishes to you all in the New Year.

  2. I’ll share a secret with everyone. And why I support Speaker Boehner, and the Liberty loving
    T-Party. I am what some would consider very rich. Neither myself, or my family will ever need
    Social Security, or Medicare, and certainly not Medicaid. Medicaid? Yuck! The starter program
    for cradle to grave government dependency! As I said, some would think I have a lot of money.
    Several homes around the world, a nice yacht, the Gulf Stream. But compared to some of my
    friends, I’m a virtual pauper! I have to ask, why is President Obama punishing me? Let’s go
    back to an America without all the Socialism. The Social Security I’m forced to pay into.
    The regulations I have to abide by. Safety in the workplace. Overtime pay. And the environmental
    regulations! Don’t get me started there. All this costs me, and my family plenty. And now,
    I’m supposed to pay taxes, for roads now? For the State, and Federal Courts, where they found
    me in violation several times last year alone!? Who knew the chemicals last for 500 years,
    in the ecosystem, what ever that is, and cause cancer? It’s big Government gone amuck,
    I tell you! Is it too much to ask that the Government work for me, and stop the spending on
    those things I could not care less for. Is that too much to ask?

      • It was a bit of sarcasm on my part. Alas! I am not rich. But most of the comment,
        I’m sad to say, was not an exaggeration of how much of the monied elite view
        taxes, regulations, or the safety nets the poor, and Middle Class depend on.
        And what Boehner, and the Right Wing, are trying to sell to the rest of us.
        Albeit using much slicker language.

    • I have to help pay for those thing & I am poor. What makes you better than everyone else, Just because you have a lot of money? Are you exempt from all the laws that poor people have to follow?

    • Charleo1 LOL you are real funny and should be earning you money on stage, unless your Mitt or one of his kids? Once again LOL have a great day.

      • To plagiarism, I plead not guilty. If I was going to plagiarize, don’t you think I would
        have chose something a lot better written? As to a lack mental acuity. I could absolutely
        deny it! If I knew what acuity was.

    • If you really don’t want to be a participating citizen of America why don’t you take your money and find another country to live in where you won’t have to be punished. Your attitude is parasitic, selfish and….. I suspect tongue in check. Though you express a philosophy held by some I don’t really believe you really share it. Bravo on getting my goat.

    • Dear Charles. I assume YOU call yourself christian. SO CAREFULLY READ THE TEACHING OF JESUS. Jesus was a “socialist” And DON’T be fooled by the bull. There IS NO TRULY SOCIALIST COUNTRY ON THE PLANET. THEY ARE ALL CAPITALIST. They change the name to protect THE GUILTY. Fuedal society had the WEALTHY and the serfs ( who had no way to rise in the structure). The same has happened trough out time REGARDLESS of what the system is called. THE WEALTHY BECOME SO BECAUSE OF THE LABOR OF THE WORKER,WHO THEY LOOK DOWN ON.THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN. That is the BASIC REASON JESUS WAS PUT TO DEATH. TRUE SOCIALISM HAS NEVER BEEN PRACTICED AND IS DEEPLY FEARED BY PEOPLE LIKE YOU. OUR SOCIETY IS NOT BALANCED. Dicken’s christmas carol tells of it. But in Dicken’s story,scrooge sees that he is WRONG. MOST PEOPLE LIKE YOU WILL NEVER GET IT OR JESUS’ TEACHINGS.

      • I must say, you make some very good points. And begs the question, how has
        the religious right managed to exploit their claim to the moral high ground, while supporting policies so antithetical from Christ’s teachings of inclusiveness,
        and tolerance of society’s outcasts, and minorities? I would recommend a book
        called, “lies, and the Lying, Liars That Tell Them,” by Al Franken. Where he
        discusses in a humous, tongue in cheek, but serious way, the dichotomy between
        the Jesus of The New Testament, and the, “Supply Side Jesus,” worshiped today
        by a very the political Evangelical Christians. By the way, I do get it. But if I
        hadn’t written my sarcastic little post, I wouldn’t have gotten to read your great

    • Charleo1, what happens to your retirement assets should you happen to hit a bad spot and all your plans for the future are gone? Then you would be where I am – my total income comes from ALL WAGE EARNERS paying into a retirement they may or may not need it – I depend on Social Security for my food, etc. I truly thank those who do not need it (at this time) for paying into it and making it possible for me and others like me to, at least, have our basic needs. Should we have planned better? YES, but we didn’t and we can’t change history.

    • It is the cost of living in a civilized country. You have no patriotism for your country, do you! You don’t like it here then move somewhere that has a better government. See what they tax you there, and see what freedoms you will lose!

    • charle, And, I am sure you and your family will refuse to take Social Security or Medicare. You said a lot about yourself in the last few sentences.

    • So you are anti safety in the workplace and other critical matters–for what end? Paying for roads you apparently use to get here and there? Violations for what I might ask? Maybe you are just spoofing us, right?

    • You are probably drawing welfare and get food stamps instead of being rich like you are bragging about. You use the roads and things that the Federal government has to replace from time to time there fore you should pay your fair share like the middle class and poor do that is if you are really rich. And if you are trying to be funny you are a failure at that also.

  3. Obama sold us out in his first term. Why do you expect anything different in the second?

    Given the terrifying prospect of the Mittwit as president with his little twerp sidkick, I must admit I agonized, and I was relieved that Obama won, but I voted for the Green Party candidate, and I’m not ashamed.

    • And if President Obama continues breaking his promises, I will be joining you in the Green Party. I thought seriously about voting Green this election but my fear of split votes giving Romney the victory was just too overwhelming. It’s beginning to look like I’m going to pay for that particular bit of cowardice.

  4. There are many areas to cut spending to find a way to solve the differences between House Republicans and Democrats in the White House and the Senate, cutting Social Security benefits is not one of them.
    Shut down obsolete military bases, eliminate DoD programs that are not needed to fight a couple of thousand morons firing AK47s from the beds of TOYOTA pickup trucks or planting roadside bombs, cut all foreign and military aid except humanitarian aid, merge all intelligence/security agencies to reduce overhead costs and improve efficiency, reduce the civil servant/contractor ratio, eliminate all loopholes, end subsidies to oil companies and pharmaceuticals, and suspend the pay raises of ALL elected officials until meaningful deficit reductions are achieved.
    Leave our most vulnerable citizens alone!!!

    • Right on, Dominick. See, we can agree on some issues, but you left one out. I’m curious who appointed us the watchdog of the world. I’d go so far as to say claose ALL foreign soil military bases.

    • Dominick, while I usually agree with you, your desires are very ambitious to the point of pipe-dreams – although I wish they could come to pass. I’m retired and worked for 45 years in management positions and as such, paid beaucoup taxes. So, I’ve earned my SS benefits and medicare which are a reasonable part of my retirement.

      As for MrStoneheep, I can’t agree about closing all foreign military bases as like it or not, we are to some degree out brother’s keeper in this troubled world. However, as for bases in Europe and in other developed nations, I agree with you.

      • We should not ber sending all this money to countries that do not like us nor support corporations that do not need our support. Who in government is charging the interest that is moving us further and further to the end of the cliff?

        • Well we are lost, your all are wrong the feds, and states run wrongful ads to keep us worrying about something any anything! And quess what people ,while you all are fighting one another, they are living their lives to the fullest. You are brain washed period they want it that way, confusion, thats to keep us busy wondering about tomorrow, but in FACT there is NOT ONE THING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT! Except revolt!!!! So any of you genius’s think that either side gives a damn about you > You have fell into there trap for you! Congrats morons! Have a great,safe Holiday Season

      • One can always hope. I would not be surprised if the opposite happens and the DoD is exempted from spending reductions. Somehow, the ones that are usually left holding the bag are those who can least afford more taxes or benefit reductions.

        I was also in management positions before I retired and, like you, I paid a lot of taxes and the full amount of FICA every year. I don’t support cutting SS benefits.

    • Dominick, agree with all of your sentiments. However, every military base and program has a congressman and senators willing to fight tooth and nail to keep it. And Stonheep, big business appointed us keepers of the world. That’s what are troops are overseas for, to protect the economic interest of the multinational corporations, who BTW own the congress lock, stock and barrel!


    • What about that $70 Billion spent yearly on “Homeland Security” in which NOBODY knows who’s actually working in it?

    • We can do that right after we close down agencies that aren’t needed starting with
      . education
      . commerce
      . interior
      . NIH
      most of state
      1/2 of Justice and DHS
      Those activities comprise 70% of federal spending and have never worked

  5. I am on S.S. Disability because I have extreme end stage arthritis in most of my joints, fibromyalgia, diabetes, high blood pressure & high cholestrol. My arthritis is so painful that I can’t stand for more than 7 minutes. I can’t raise my arms to reach a shelf. I depend on S.S., that is all I have, don’t take that away from me.

  6. Social Security is not responsible for any debt in our country. Social Security is a contract between you and I and the US Government. Beginning with your very first paycheck right through to your last, the Government promised to place your money into a interest bearing account for you to have at age 62 until death. That account has well over 3 trillion dollars of IOU’s in it because past and present congress’s have spent all of our money that was supposed to be there. Cola should not be touched either, when was the last time congress didn’t get their self given raise?

    • Not quite. SS now takes in less than it pays out, although that will change when the economy lifts again. SS funds are invested in treasury securities, and gain interest. That’s what “spent” means? I guess I “spent” my money buying stocks, bonds, CDs, and savings certificates, too?

      Federal revenues from taxes are currently insufficient to cover the redemption of the treasury certificates that must be cashed in to pay current SS recipients. To cash in those notes, the fedgov borrows the money. That does add to the debt, but not the budget deficit.

    • 426tt. It is not. It has a 2.7 trillion dollar trust fund that has been dipped into. I liked what Gore said when he was candidate for president. He said to put that fund in a lock box that could not be tapped into. They want to privitize SS, the schools, the postoffice and the prisons. That money has those, vying to run those entities, salivating. Our prison system is privatized and it is a mess.

  7. Mr. Obama now is the time to grow a pair we don’t want cuts to SS, if you can’t find enough cuts someplace else to satisfy the Republicans then lets just go over the cliff.

    Too many of us have been paying into it for too many years to let it be a part of this deal. You are likely to have a bunch of old people (like me) on your front step asking alot of questions.

    I’m old_blu and I approve of this message.

  8. Am deeply sorry to hear that the Government wants to cut Social Security from people. I do not need to be diplomatic anymore on this issue. If anyone takes what doesn’t belong to him we call it in a simple term “stealing”. Now, do I need to witness that the Government is stealing from the elders (my parents??). For god’s sake they contributed to the Security. It is their money. Please, those concerned be reasonable and don’t commit this offense which you will never be forgiven for it!

  9. I’m afraid we all know what Obama’s going to do — screw everyone that voted for him and is counting on him. He’s done it over and over. Why should he change now?

  10. If President Obama abandons progressive Democratic values again and succumbs to playing on the field of Republican talking points without presenting progressive solutions like he did in his first administration Democrats will lose in 2014. He won because he he ran as a progressive Democrat and showed some backbone. Only a progressive agenda can bring America back from the destruction of the middle class and individual liberty as conservatives would bring about.

  11. Stay Progressive, Mr. President. If anyone is making their own money instead of getting from the government, you haven’t done enough!

  12. When the fact that most SS benefits are put directly back into the economy by its recipients, rather than banked, unlike subsidies for big oil, and others of Corporate America, the small savings of such cuts are not worth it.

    Put America back to work, invest in job creation, education, infrastructure repair and new construction, rebuilding our manufacturing, and developing new energy sources. Elemenate waste in our medical delivery systems, which result in Americans paying twice as much for the same medical services and up to 4 times a much for drugs as other Western Nations, Failed economic theories have resulted in massive redistribution of wealth to the top 2%, and now almost 50% of Americans are living at or in the poverty income levels, and minimum wage is now effectively 25% in buying power less than it was years ago. We see CEOs, movie stars, and sports figures receiving obscene amounts of income each year, accumulating massive wealth, which would not be occurring if the tax rates were still what they were in the 50s and 60s.

    Put America back to work with jobs, and tax reform, and the Deficits will take care of themselves. The GOP approach will only slow the economy, down, and not provide necessary funding to fix it, as obviously, the “Job Creators” have chosen to bank and invest their tax savings over the past 24 years, and not create jobs.

  13. America will hate Obama if he cuts social security. It should not be on the table, I just don’t get it. He will actually be hurting those least able to make up the difference. What is wrong with someone that would do that?


  15. I am an 82yr old voter that has voted Dem all his life, I worked until I was 73yrs old when I was finnaly forced to retire because I got sleep Apnea and couldn’t stay awake on the job I paid my Social Security and Medicare every week until I retired because like other folks my age I knew that I would get a check to live on until I died for my investment in SS and Med. as that would be my only source of income to live on. LIKE I said I voted Dem again for President Obama because I felt he was sincere when he stated what he would do for our country the next four years if reelected and that in dealing with the Republicans on what he proposed #1 Social Security and Medicare were not on the trading block now ,however, in keeping up with the news I see where he is doing exactly what the Republicans said he would do all along, when the going got hot he would back up and eventually agree with what the Republicans proposed, Social Security and Medicare would have to take a hit, what I would like for someone to tell me is why don’t our Representives pick up their ious that they put in our SS fund when they were stealing our money we didn’t create the Debit, in fact our money was used to plug up some of the holes that was created by paying for the favorate projects so now we must pay for their folly, it don’t figure I get 1,3% increase a year when they want to give it to us ($21.00) a monthand they don’t do didally Shit all year and collect thousands in pay and we who can’t afford it have to pay for their screw ups why don’t they say for instance give up half their unearned pay and half their benifits as a sign of good faith and show what good Americans they really are,why hit us the lowest ones on the pole like I said voted for President Obama but I’m beginning to believe what the Republicans said about him that he had no cohones and would turn and run from his Promises to the American people and it’s Seniors and, that includes Senator Harry Reid God help us all if that is true we might as well have voted for Romney because we are going to wind up in the same fix you just can’t trust any of them, prove me wrong Pres.

  16. Don’t Cave Mr. President to those Republicans whom obviously are thinking of the “Mighty Buck”….! Their mighty buck…. They continue to make it “Clear” that they are not concerned with the American Public whom put them there. There are other areas, I’m sure, where money can be saved….”Cut” if you will! Do not “Sacrifice the American Public to apease those inconsiderates.

  17. The problem with the president is that he is, by nature, a negotiator NOT A FIGHTER. Compromise comes second nature to him. That is how “community organizers” are successfiul!

  18. Ahem

    POTUS Obama, this writer urges you not to use my Social Security COLA as a pawn in that silly Washington chess game.

    If I loose my COLA, you and other Democrats are screwing with the voting power of 65 million Social Security recipients. Think about it when 2014 and 2016 elections roll around. Don’t blow it for Hillary when she faces Bobby Jindal or Marco Rubio, ha ha.

      • Already Done

        This is not a trivial matter. He stated during the pre-election campaign stops that “Social Security and Medicare benefits are both off the table.”

        If I was a Democrat candidate for any office, I would be pounding on his desk to get his attention. We have come too far in the last four years for him to screw it up.

        Tax breaks for the rich? What, so they can go out and purchase FOREIGN CARS, take FOREIGN VACATIONS, and buy FOREIGN GOODIES? It doesn’t compute at all.

  19. Comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted is the underlying theme of ALL “r”epublican fiscal policy.

    Americans are being led by leaders who take NO sacrifice for their own necessities. Their lifetime healthcare benefits are designed for kings and queens; their investments make them richer and richer every year, and as the author mentioned their retirement is abundant and secure to the level that their children will are likely to inherit the proceeds.

    These people are barely better than banana republic dictators

    Boehner has the nice guy Obama behind closed doors smooze smooze smooze and we stand to lose lose lose!

    If Obama isn’t careful they will little by little ruin his chance to make a wonderful legacy for the first progressive black AMERICAN president in the history of this roughneck country

  20. It was never intended for survival. Those that diligently saved and invested should not be taxed unfairly to support those that could but failed to make an effort to provide for their retirement. Like my neighbor ‘said’ when she spent money on fancy clothes while complaining her credit card was maxed out ‘The Government will have to take care of me” and they did with Section 8 housing, food stamps and welfare after she declared bankruptcy on her credit card! We have encouraged irresponsibility and now seek to tax the heck out of the responsible.

    • Cook…. you can’t talk about individual responsibility in this sea of leftist insanity called “The Memo”. The leftist freaks in here HATE that concept with a passion. After all, if you were responsible and saved for your retirement, you’re just a greedy bastard that has the gall to actually want to keep your own earnings. How dare you!

      Merry Christmas!

      “It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville

      • How true and How Sad! Looks like we are doomed with the import of more Hispanics and more Black Babies born to single mothers along with those guilt ridden ‘poor’ whites that resent the successful! Looks like the days of helping the deserving needy is over and we must also along with them support the undeserving greedy.

    • Many of those who “diligently saved and invested” had their money “stolen” but DID NOT get “bailed out”. The “thieves” aren’t in jail where some should be. They haven’t even had more than the back of their hands slapped, and some didn’t even get that.

      • Muriel, there were many who did save for old age. My savings was underwritten by Enron. My stock fell like a stone off a building.

  21. I believe we just voted against giving the rich woppers of tax cuts.. and for keeping the SS, Medicare and social programs intact.. now we hear that Obam wanted to reduce the benefits for the elderly and the sick.. it is no starter for the millions who paid their does and now expected to enjoy their retirement without fallen into debt and forced to sell their homes.. that is too much to bear.

    • Emadis, I believe you are right. I found a place where I could e-mail the president. Everyone should send an e-mail letting him know we don’t want him to cave in. A lot of e-mails will get a lot of attention.

  22. This article is obviously steeped in Marxis ideology. Why bother suggesting to Obozo that he remain steadfast in his Marxist ideology when he’s already there? What a wat of time even writing this drivel.

    “Progressive” taxation is the scourge of America and has been since it’s inception. We are now witnessing the consequences of this sourge as more and more Americans are NOT paying any income tax, yet they are taking benefits. Soon those who do not pay will outnumber those who do pay. We are very close. It’s not game over in America yet, but it is perilously close to check mate. Once we have more people voting that are takers than are makers, you can shut it down.

    The real shame of this is that I know that a majority of you people reading this post actually like the idea of shutting America down and converting her into a socialist state. That’s because you are too damned stupid to realize the ultimate consequences…. the destruction of liberty and the rise of tyranny. We have 100+ years of evidence to prove that socialism does not work anywhere it’s tried, and 200+ years of evidence to prove that liberty and freedom, private property rights, and free market economics creates the greatest prosperity and opportunity for all mankind to elevate themselves. And you leftist freaks and useful idiots want that gone. Mind boggling how stupid you can be.

    [click image to enlarge]

    Merry Christmas!

    “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

    “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    • You can criticize the way taxes are collected and spent, but Social Security is paid from worker contributions. In fact, it’s not a progressive tax either because there is a cap. The rich aren’t paying their millions into the fund, they just pay at the same rate as the poor.

      • Hey Mikey…. re: SS rate… what kind of effing dope are you? Of course the rate is the same, but the dollar figure IS NOT the same. The fact is that the annual contribution should be capped because the benefit is capped. Secondly, for all of you idiots out there that don’t understand the problems here, current retirees are paid for by current workers. There is no lock box. There is no fund. Only worthless IOU’s from the government that’s already broke. And with 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, guess what kind of strain that will place on the system? That’s right, the future is very gloomy and action must be taken today to cut SS payments. Most likely they should be means tested. It sux, but what the hell else can we do? The ship is going down. It must be saved for those that have nothing else, but restricted or removed for those that do not need it.

        Merry Christmas!

        “We have elected some very intelligent people to administer our government… WHY do they (all elected government officials at all levels; National, State, & Local) not understand that we cannot continue to SPEND more than we take in indefinitely without end … … .????? Have we all gone nuts????… ..Eventually, income MUST equal or exceed spending; it’s just plain common sense, not rocket science… … !!!” – Anonymous

        • Hey Bozo I hope you are well, and this is one of the few things that we agree on. Gawd I hope no one see’s this. hahaha

          “It must be saved for those that have nothing else, but restricted or removed for those that do not need it”. That was well said maybe not so much as nothing, but those that need it for sure.

          I’ll be out of town so Merry Christmas to you my friend.

        • Seems I remember the Federal Reserve printing presses going at top speed 24/7 and came up with 16 trillion americn dollars that were disbursed all over the world to stopa world decline in economy. Why argue in washington, collect our loans, pay off the debt, keep our SS solvent. Why all this BS and confusion. The Fed appears to have boo-coo bucks. Time for them to call in their IOUs or crank up the press again.

          • Bill… you are right on about the Fed just cranking up the printing presses. Other countries have done this before and it never ends well. NEVER! What has saved us so far is the fact that the US Dollar has been the world’s reserve currency. But that’s coming to an end. Already, there are more and more countries that are making agreements to trade in currencies other than the US Dollar. As we attempt to inflate our way out of debt (just as Europe is doing by the way), we weaken our currency in the minds of foreign countries, particularly those that hold our debt, and continue to drive the prices of commodities like oil skyward. Of course, deflating the currency really hurts the seniors, who live on fixed income and interest, the most. Printing more currency out of thin air does not keep SS solvent.

            There’s a great book you should read called “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis” by James Rickard. He’s an investment banker and advisor to the DoD and participated in a 2 year long “war games” excercise with DoD not on physical war, but the what ifs on how we can be threatened with currency manipulations. It’s a great read and is fascinating. I highly recommend it.

            Merry Christmas!

            “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” – Milton Friedman in an interview with Richard Heffner

      • Michael, those making more than $120,000 no longer have to pay into Social Security, yet what you get is based on your highest earning quarter. That means those that don’t pay thier share get the most.

    • I think this would be a good time for you to leave this sinking Socialist mess, and find
      that pure Capitalistic system you’re longing for. Send us a card once in a while.

  23. President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner seem to agree that future Social Security payments should be reduced using a chained-CPI calculation to set the Social Security COLA rather than the standard CPI data. However, the facts are that my generation and future generations, will be putting into Social Security more than we will be receiving.

    The reason we have a deficit in the Social Security system is the generosity of our government to past generations. But it was the mothers of those generations who gave up their sons and daughters to serve and oftentimes die in the defense of our country (World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam).

    Therefore, I do not lose any sleep because of our nation’s largess to our ancestors.

  24. What the hell are these selfish Republicans thinking?! More important; do they know how to think?! It would be ludacris to cut Social Security! People worked their entire lives to have money put away for their old age and these jackasses want to take it away! They better hope and pray they never get to the stage where they are wondering how to live from day to day!

    • Orangeman 65 that is exactly what needs to happen to all of them and let them see what it is like to have to live $500.00 minus the $100.00 for medicare a month which leaves a good many people that are one Social Security just $400.00 dollars a month to live on. I would especially like to see Boehmner, Cantor, and Ryan try to live on $400.00 dollars a month and raising grandchildren because either the kids parents are in prison, dead or unfit to be parents. My mother who died in 2008 was only drawing $450. 00 a month when she died, luckily she had children to help her with her expenses of water, electric power, food and gas and most of all her medicines. There are many seniors that do not receive help from their children if they have any either because the children can’t help them or are as sorry as the Republicans and won’t help them. There are many seniors in this Country that never had children or have out lived their children and are along trying to pay for the necessities of life on less than $500.00 dollars a month. I would like to see every person that is calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare have to live on less than $500.00 a month for at least 6 months to get a taste what it is like for people on Social Security. I am on Social Security and draw a small monthly pension from the place I worked at and that is all I have to live on, twice I had to use all my savings to look for a job and pay for the necessities of life, I was laid off once because of Reagan’s trickle down economics and then a second time when Bush 2 cut taxes for the second time so money would according to him and his advisers would trickle down from the rich and create jobs. Trickle down didn’t work either times.

  25. Dominick: Please call the white house about your ideas on social security. we can talk all year about our ideas, but if they don’t get to the right ears in Washington….

  26. I voted for Obama because he promised not to cut Social Security benefits. Boehner is trying to push Obama into making cuts. This is not fair to the American people. I depend on my Social Security which is not much. I wonder how Boehner would feel if his salary got cut and how it would affect his family. There are other cuts that can be made. My Medicare went from $90.40 a month to $104.90 a month. What they did is give us a 1.7% increase and are raising the Medicare. In my opinion this was just a smoke screen to try and satisfy us with one hand and take away with the other hand.

  27. I can’t believe the GOP is so up front about screwing the American People and if the President goes along with any of it the DNC is no better. Are all GOP supporters brain dead or are all brain dead people GOP supporters?

  28. The headline of this article contains a blatant error that contributes to the deception and pillage of the 99%: Obama is NOT a progressive. He is a centrist, corporatist and elitist who has taken great pains ever since 2008 to assure the wealthy he is no threat to the status quo. He does so now.

    The great transfer of wealth to the 1% that commenced with Regan went on after-burner just before his election in 2008, costing millions their jobs, benefits, savings and homes. At the time the public was ready for a strong shift in the progressive direction, but that is not what Obama championed. He paid his respects in public to the bankster CEOs even after those banksters paid themselves and their subordinate execs a total of billions with taxpayer bail-out money. He did not prioritize prosecutions for fraud nor invoke anti-trust nor pursue off-shored and tax-dodged trillions. He went on to squander political capital not on single-payor healthcare championed by progressives and historically by Dems, but on a privatized mess originally championed by Republicans. His press secretary strongly and publicly dissed progressives as extremists. Obama didn’t withdraw from Afghanistan, he pledged to stay additional years. He didn’t pursue immigration reform or gun control, but he did push another job-trashing trade deal serving global corporatists, atop the NAFTA championed by Clinton that did plenty for global corporatists and further harm to American workers.

    When Repubs held unemployment comp hostage to extension of the Bush cuts, he didn’t take to the bully pulpit to rant against the enormity of the windfall to the wealthy and its ongoing huge impact on the deficit, he whimpered about Repubs and that has been the mantra ever since.

    Do you hear Obama ranting about rampant greed at the top? Do you hear him expressing disgust over the transfer of wealth or the extreme and widening disparity in wealth and income distribution in America? Do you hear him educating the public to the fact that even repeal of the Bush tax cuts on incomes over $250,000 preserves TWO THIRDS of the huge cuts the 2% got under Regan, all of which they’ve been reaping for the last ten years?
    No, what you hear is his gentle reference to the fact that those in the top 2% like himself can afford “a little more”. An outrageous understatement, more so given his agreement to pile spending cuts chiefly on the backs of the poorest half of the 99%.

    Today regarding “fiscal cliff” negotiations Obama said “I’ve met them half way”. Indeed he has.
    The 1% want it all, and he has agreed to give them half. The math of that is that each in the 1% will get 100 times what each in the 99% gets. Stated differently, the essence of the deal he proposes is a sleight-of-hand betrayal of the 99%. As to what explains him, I think it is that his conscience, courage and intelligence are trumped by his personal need to prove to the elite that he is one of them, that he earned his arrival at the top and will do as they do, whatever it takes to keep himself there with them. FDR was a progressive. Obama is not.

  29. It’s discouraging that the Republican wealthy not only want to maximize their own wealth, they actively pursue the goal of minimizing other people’s wealth. The Social Security cost of living changes the Republicans demand, and that President has agreed to, would devastate the elderly, yet Social Security contributes NOTHING to the deficit. Why are they so determined that, while they have millions, what little others have should be taken away? What kind of monster thinks that way? Evidently, Lloyd Blankfein, David Cote, and Jeffrey Immelt are at the top of the monster list.

  30. Obama is stone walling! It is like giving a drink to a drunk-he has an endless spending habit. He won’t cut subsidies and walks by any hand out line that will not jeopardize the minority vote. This is how a Socialist views the world. Raise taxes on the rich and that makes his minions feel good, it’s a gotcha.

    So, we pay more in taxes. The amount is the equivalent to a purchasing new Lexus and a week in the islands. They are still rich-get it? And, their now standing in line to place the wealth out of the US. Temperatures on the left will raise as they are portrayed as traitors. None the less, they have beat Obama to the money drain as positioning to the exit door is in progress. There are no winners!

    To the government it is a drop in the bucket. If you allow them to spend it purchasing, investing, and building business. In turn, it will build the economy by creating jobs-you know the million including some of you that are out of work.

    Know most those reading this is challenging their common sense.

        • Obama has actually decreased spending since the initial stimulus, which governments around the world did at that time to deal with the events of 2008….. including many conservative governments. The deficit is less now than the fiscal period he inherited. He’s been decreasing it steadily over his first term although the United States is still in a period of structural budgetary deficit financing, hence the increase in the national debt, even if Obama has been able to slow the rate of increase.

          Outside of extreme examples (100% taxation, or almost, above certain levels) or certain isolated revenue streams, there’s no evidence that modest variations in general tax rates result in significant changes in overall economic output. There are plenty of examples and evidence of the corollary though.

          As far as off shoring, wealthy countries that have higher tax rates than the U.S. should have virtually no capital formation according to your theory, which obviously is not the case. I think that the U.S. government should stop encouraging it through their tax code though.

          • dtgraham; Indeed, it is perfectly reasonable to argue that much of the responsibility for 2009’s 27.9 percent GDP rests with Presidents Bush opposed to President Obama.

            Don’t get me wrong, Obama bears responsibility for federal outlays being larger for each year of his presidency. So, if Bush bears a lot of responsibility FY2009, then Obama bears more responsibility for the three years that followed-responsibility for both the very high spending and the questionable composition of the spending.

            Is Obama radically different than the past 10 presidents? No! He inherited a government in the wrong direction and he put his foot on the gas pedal. And his meager spending concessions translate into the federal reserve printing money into perpetuity, another request for additional 1.2 trillion in stimulus, and raising taxes, is killing capitalism.

            I take your definition of off shoring as highly questionable. Shell companies are continually formed to avoid US taxes. No reform in site. You invest in manufacturing products that make you competitive, and no incentive to build as before. We are a nation comprised of 54 percent services and unable to compete with global labor rates. An equally identifiable “poverty maker”, the Bush, now Obama’s Chinese credit card, is functioning as well.

            Taxing 100 percent of Americans in a recession or prospering times is a moral responsibility that this “Socialist Robin Hood government in Handouts” finds unfathomable. I don’t know what this “structural deficit budgeting” is. Possibility code for 46 cents of every one dollar? Maybe it is the fiscal cliff or cashing in on a 5.6 billion dollar loss on GM.

          • I just meant that government tax receipts are 6-8 points lower than government spending, expressed as a percentage of GDP. Under those conditions every budget will be in a deficit position. Clinton had the tax rates set at a level to achieve budget surpluses from the late 90’s to early 2000’s without harming the economy. Now, between the bailouts, stimulus, tax cutting, and more people needing help after 2008….it’s kind of a mess. What was Obama to do (besides structuring that stimulus package very differently of course)? Let people starve and kiss most of the American auto industry goodbye? The Canadian government praised the Obama White House for salvaging GM and Chrysler and cooperated fully on their end. Only, in Canada that was never controversial. It’s far too important an industry.

            I hear you on the shell corporations. It’s a real problem. They’re tax avoidance schemes that the world community is increasingly looking at as tax evasion. They benefit from access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security, but pay little or nothing for it.

            The OECD nations have been pursuing the issue of tax havens like shell corporations since the 90’s. They’ve spearheaded international agreements to reduce the occurrence of tax havens which have changed some U.S. laws but much more needs to be done in my opinion. Estimates of the money drained from the U.S. economy and treasury from these shell corporations range as high as 100 billion dollars a year.

            They also do more damage than that. They facilitate stock market corruption such as insider trading and pump and dump scams. Stock manipulators use shell corporations to bid up the prices of over the counter stocks, then spread phony rumours about the stock’s value. They then sell out leaving unwary investors holding a worthless bag.

            Incidentally, these post office box corporations aren’t just in places like Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, or the Seychelles. A few U.S. States have Swiss cheese laws on this kind of thing. Delaware’s acronym for these guys is Dollars and Euros laundered white at reasonable expense.

  31. All of YA!LL. Who are committing on this web site. Get over it.Social security needs to be cut as well as medicare………For our furture. Furture of others gereations. So quite FUCKING CRYING about it. That is the way going to be……………………….

  32. I agree there are many other areas to cut spending . Please don’t cut SS. This all the money I have in this world. Why take away from poor people that do not have anything.

  33. if the senators and congressman want to cut ss which does not add to the defecit, they should cut there annual 5 % pay increse which is a burden on the defecit, and a waste of our money for there lack of performance there are so many places to cut spending.

  34. Being a case manager, I will see firsthand the result of all this “fiscal responsibility”. I already know people who are living on much less than $1200. Thankfully they have Section VIII housing that helps defray their expenses. Cutting SS benefits would be a huge slap in the face of the people who have already been pushed around. Obama better not even think about putting this on the table.

  35. 1/4 million–about 5 times what I was making as a university professor when I retired in 2000–is plenty as a ceiling for lower tax rates. People taking in more than that will barely notice a small increase in their taxes. People like me will certainly notice a hike in our own taxes.

  36. I hope he stands firm on his original position. I would rather go over the damn cliff than make a bunch of stupid compromises to pander to republicans who are not speaking for what the voters in this country really want.

  37. Thank you Mr. Kirsch. About time someone pointed out the fallacy of Social Security and the deficit connection. Congress essentially stole the Social Security Trust Fund to flesh out pork projects and spend on war toys we dont need or want and now they want their victims to cover their losing bets. Im more in favor of disbanding the Government and starting over with citizen (No Lawyers) legislators who work for food and shelter than to pretend we can vote these blood suckers out. They are a craven and compromised bunch of entrenched barnacles and their corruption is eating away at society. Our framerwork is becoming weaker and weaker with every lie, every under the table deal every gutted priciple every lost opportunity for fairness. We have to keep the pressure on to try to revive the real America: Middle America. The Lords and Masters are doing just fine. On our dimes. They believe in socialism as long as they are the only benefactors. Dump Congress, puhleeze, in 2014.

  38. I think Obama should coounter every offer from Boehner with one that takes the president farther away form what he began with. Instead of reinstituting the tax rate on those earning over $400K, Obama should be going after $100K. After all, as is becoming increasingly apparent, the purported redistribution of wealth is not (and hasn’t been for the past forty years) from the top down, it has been in the other direction. My purchasing power is less today than it was forty years ago. Although I am retired and living off Social Security and my savings, I am in the same position as any otheer middle-income earner in this country. I cannot go out to eat, or to movies, or shopping, or traveling nearly as much as I could forty years ago. Prior to my retiring, I was in the same boat I am now, and that most middle income people are. We may be making more money, but it just isn’t worth as much. Over the past forty years, our REAL income has grown less that 3% per year, while those at the the top have seen their incomes grow at a much greater rate. These facts are clearly laid out in many sources, like Time, Fortune, Rolling Stone, Saturday Evening Post, Readers Digest and many others that many of you out there read daily. And we have all fallen for the Conservative myth of redistribution of wealth. Well, dammit, it will be about time if the wealth in this country starts to be redistributed back to those below the top 5%!

  39. All these people who comitted on this web site. Quite crying so much. About social security and medicare being cut.Taxes going up. It is going to happened. So quite FUCKING CRYING ABOUT IT.. And grow up.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. What the hey…what’s another $10 Trillion in new debt in my last 4 years….heck those that are riding in the wagon will only increase while fewer and fewer people will work and instead rely on more handouts. Welfare and illegals is the dem base and we need even more.
    Heck I’ve been on the dole my entire life so its something to aspire to

  41. mr president dont cut soc sec and the health ins for poor we work all are life socsec should not be a part of the budget all you doing is hurt how about cut the us house in sen in everyone in office if you cut socsec you need to freez el com water com and every com the deal with food to freez everything that way none go up freez tax to

  42. I am so disappointed…….What will we who are on SS do? I know I will have trouble buying food. Don’t let this person bully you into doing this. You Know the GOP’s goal is to make you fail don’t let them get away with this.
    We love you and know you want to help, not distroy us.

  43. I believe Obama put Social security on the table because he knew Bohner wold not accept anything the democrats proposed, the only way is the republican’s way. Start with cutting congress’s pay in half then work down the ladder, at least a dollar might be worth a dollar again not fifty nine cents.

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