"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Two Takes on Social Security

First, these comments from Lloyd Blankfein, who you may remember presided over the implosion of Goldman Sachs -- he and his fellows were bailed out to the tune of several hundred billion dollars of our money:

BLANKFEIN: You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's expectations -- the entitlements and what people think that they're going to get, because it's not going to -- they're not going to get it.

PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?

BLANKFEIN: You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn't devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. ... So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.

PELLEY: Because we can't afford them going forward?

BLANKFEIN: Because we can't afford them.

To be fair, he does admit that the rich need to pay more in taxes, but the idea of lowering "entitlements" (which is a word that I think should be banned from public discourse -- yes, Social Security and Medicare are "entitlements" in the sense that we've been paying into them our entire working lives and we're entitled to something back) is too much the same old crap we've been hearing from the right -- and now from the "centrists" in Washington -- for way too long.

(The comments on this one are pretty much negative.)

Via. (The comments there are much more historically informed.)

On the other hand, there's evidence that someone in Washington is using his brains:

As the Senate returns to Washington to debate how to reduce the federal deficit and avoid severe automatic budget cuts, Sen. Mark Begich announced a new bill to strengthen the Social Security program while making clear the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of America’s seniors by cutting or privatizing Social Security. …

Entitled the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, the bill extends the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities.

It's a simple, elegant fix that incorporates what I and others have been saying all along -- raise the income cap on the payroll tax and take Social Security off the table in "deficit reduction" negotiations.

Write your senators and insist that they co-sponsor this one. And contact your congresscritters and ask why they haven't introduced a companion bill in the House.

Here's Begich's full press release.

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