Matthew S on Obama’s Picks to the Debt Commission
lifted from Bruce’s e-mail
I really enjoyed your recent post to OpenLeft about the war on Social Security. I wrote a related piece deconstructing Obama’s latest picks to the Debt Commission:
Alternet: Obama Packs Debt Commission with Social Security Looters?
Any feedback about the article or thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
I run a watchdog website called LittleSis.org that tracks ties between corporate and government elites, with an emphasis on Wall Street. We’re gearing up for a sustained investigation into the networks of funding and influence behind the latest attack on Social Security, and I wanted to just say hello and touch base. It seems that there could be more coordination happening between various folks keeping watch on this.
I have Matthew’s full contact info if serious people want it. But the piece is very good regardless.
(Update: Lifted from comments:
Movie Guy: “Matthew Skomarovsky wrote an excellent piece. It strikes me that it deserved a stronger presentation at Angry Bear. I doubt that many casual drive-by readers bothered to click on the main post sublink. But what a piece”)
Worth saying twice. Click and read.
Matthew has done an admirable job of demonstrating the right of cneter composition of Obama’s hand picked Commission. I wonder if buff, corev, jimi or sammy might be able to point out to us just what part of Obama’s policy team is left wing? What member on the Debt Commission has any connection to the general population? Is it less than glaringly obvious that each of the members described by Matthew are incredibly wealthy in their own right? That each has been earning huge incomes by assisting in tax reductions for the wealthy and debt relief for the banking and finance industry? So what exactly has far left polilcy to do with wnything related to US politics economics?
I posted this on Matthew’s web site. Alternet loads too slowly for my little machine. Anyone who thinks the message might be useful to them is free to forward it.
March 30th, 2010 at 12:55 pm
good work. but one or two points you should be clear about, or you end up giving too much away to the bad guys.
Social Security will not “be solvent until 2037″ or whenever. It IS solvent and will BE solvent forever. The Trust Fund has nothing to do with solvency. It was created to tide Social Security’s basically pay as you go financing through lean times like the current recession, or help balance the potential “generational inequity” of the baby boom. It was always understood that it would “run out of money.” When it does, Social Security can return to pay as you go, as it was designed to be for very good reasons.
After that time… or indeed, before it if necessary… the payroll tax might need to be raised a bit, mostly because the next generation is likely to live longer than the last. The raises would be so small no one would notice them… except Peter Peterson of course… about one tenth of one percent from time to time while wages are going up more than one percent every year.
And this is what makes the “fiscal discipline” meme brain damaged or just dishonest. Social Security is people paying for their own retirement. The only cost to the government is… essentially nothing. The 1% it costs to administer the program comes out of the payroll tax… which is the workers premiums for the old age and survivors insurance they pay for themselves.
It’s hard to believe that Peter Orszag doesn’t understand this, but the fact is that no one seems to understand it anymore, including lots of people who think of themselves as friends of social security. It is a critical point. If there were some way to explain to the people that Social Security is THEIR money and has NOTHING to do with “government spending” or “the deficits,” they might be able to stop this crime.
But I am not optimistic.
it’s worth adding, that given that social security has nothing to do with the deficits, and that maintaining benefits even when people will be living longer will cost too little for anyone to notice
raising the retirement age is a criminal act.
so is cutting benefits so that people can’t afford to retire.
the motives behind the people who want to “fix” social security don’t make any sense. either they are too dumb to know what they are doing, or they are doing it for reasons they are not being honest about.
“fixing” social security by raising taxes on “rich” people is just a way of creating a trojan horse that will eventually turn social security into “welfare as we knew it.”
dumb. dumb. dumb. dumb.
Problem is that they want to use SS payroll tax increases to fix the rest of the budget, versus social security.
Well first these are Obama’s people. Like you said his,”hand picked Commission.” This is who the leader of the Dem part and your President wants. The Dems hold all the cards. So yell at Obama – you elected him. I’m on Bruce and coberly’s side on this issue without hesitation.
And BTW how many people in Obama’s administration arn’t wealthy? Heck do ANY come from jobs that paid less than $150K? Any at all? Plus how many came from Goldman-Sachs?? (And I will mention the fact that quite a number seemed to be unable to pay their due taxes on times…)
McWop (below) is right on the money with his comment – this is ALL about using the SS revenue stream to help out Obama’s record-setting general fund deficit – which will get even worse now that Obamacare has passed. No one really wants to pay back those T-bill IOUs to the SS fund. Its really as simple as that. SS surplus hide the general fund debt.
You guys wanted him in office…so deal with it or help vote them out this Nov and Obama in 2012.
Islam will change
coberly & Bruce,
So we are really going to see Democrat President Obama, with a huge Democrat controlled Congress, lead the charge to reform FDR’s greatest new-deal legacy?
looks that way. wish i could say it was unbelievable but i saw it coming.
Well not if I have anything to say about it.
I was going to hook Matthew up with Alex Lawson of Social Security Works only to find out they connected independently yesterday. There is a coordinated push back effort whose centerpiece is Roger Hickey’s CAF, Campaign for America’s Future http://www.ourfuture.org/ and its new blog series Social Security Works http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2010020823/social-security-works which is cross-posted at dKos.
Alex put up Matthew’s piece as the latest installment at the link. Roger posts regularly at the TPM Cafe and coordinates efforts with Dean Baker at Beat the Press and Bob Kuttner at The American Prospect. Collectively we are not going down without a fight. You can call it the VLWSSC-the Vast Left-Wing Social Security Conspiracy.
Bwa hah hah!
Buff since the alternative to Obama’s habit of cozying up to corporatism is the Boehner/Ryan full-out sexual servicing of them, I am thinking of sticking to the soft-porn version.
Maybe if the Republicans looked to present a credible alternative to Caribou Barbie or Ken-Doll Mitt (father of Romney Care) some of us would take a flier. Absent that, not so much.
At least Obama has only let them get to Second Base.
First you need to work on your evil laugh. A little more sinister next time and you have to rub you hands together….I’ll send you a link to Cheney’s secret hideout. He’s the zen master at it. 🙂
Anyway, I really think Mcwop has it right. The only reason to do this is to avoid the general fund from repaying the SS IOUs (T-Bills). They are trying to hide the general fund deficit. Why they don’t just increase the SS withholding by 0.3% (I’m quoting coberly from memory here) and be done with it. i’m very sure Obama could sell it easily to the public. If tehre is oone thing he’s good at is the used-car salesmen routine…and in this case he would actually be selling the only-driven-to-church-on-Sunday car.
Bush Jr had zero chance of changing SS and his effort quickly died (with R control of Congress) If McCain had won SS would be off the table also, even if he had land-slided Obama the D’s would have still held the Senate and probably the House. So we would not be here. (Nor would we have the monstrocity of Obamacare)
The Dems own it all now. Heck you even had 60 votes until Brown took the peoples seat in Mass. Its you parties problem – your guy brought it up. Or do you really think the R’s would have brought this to the table? Other than as a bill to get the Dems to vote for drowning baby seals or some such nonsense?
This is all the Dems. You guys brought it on yourselves. I voted for Hillary and wife caucussed for her. We tried…
Islam will change
SS Withholding Tax surplus has always been used to disguise the real deficit, the 2001/2003 tax breaks, and everything else that would emminate from the General Funds. No new news there and blaming Obama for something which has been happening since Reagan is rathr a weak point. The only one who took it upon himself to make a point oif funding the SS TF without an increase in taxes was . . . Clinton in his fixing the roof while the sun shines statement.
What is new is the precarious position we find ourselves in today due to the 2001/2003/2006 Bush tax breaks before spending cuts – which would easily fund SS; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which would fund the SS TF, the more recent Recession, and lack of people in the Civilian Labor Force now in Not In Labor Force which would return the SS Withholding Tax to a surplus.
“There is a coordinated push back effort …”
maybe not too coordinated.
Alertnet: Waxman calls CEOs to Congress for following GAAP.
Mybe while the CEOs are there they can demonstrate to Waxman how Social Security and Medicare should be accounted for using GAAP.
Well I am on record here as getting very uptight about Obama about the time that Volker endorsed him and he started coming up with doughnut taxes on the wealthy for a non existent problem. Once he got the nomination it was too late and McCain sealed the deal by choosing Bible Spice as his running mate. I continue to hope that Obama is not so stupid that he would destroy the country just to suck up to rich Republicans, but he just went to the mat to pass Republican health care reform so who knows. Obviously, politicians from both parties want the money and the Republicans have the ideological drive of wanting to kill the single most effective and efficient government administered program ever. Anything more than minor tweaking will likely result in virtually every incumbent Congress critter who votes for change losing in the next election, a substantial increase in the unemployment rates of younger workers as older workers who can work refuse to retire and take menial jobs if necessary to try and survive. While there is a lot of age discrimination in this country most employers would rather have grandma filling the minimum wage jobs rather than a teenager or twenty something and if workers in higher paying jobs accept wage and benefit cuts, they are more of a bargain than young people who take 10 years to figure out how to do the work. Demand for travel and leisure activities will fall off the cliff again. Half the non fast food resturants in the country will close in six months, the RV industry will cease to exist, there will be no reason to make movies or write books that appeal to anyone over the age of 30 and the Arts will collapse except in the largest communities where there are enough wealthy to support them. Parents will no longer pay for the education of their children recognizing that they need to save that money for their retirement and the US population will continue the unfortunate trend of getting less and less educated. Finally, I would anticipate that there would be a rather large spike in domestic terrorism. It is hard to get young people to engage in suicide attacks, but I imagine that faced with grinding poverty as one waits to die due to the government breaking its promises and stealing the money that had been set aside for retirement would motivate any number of the aged to lash out at authority figures to make their point. We may be headed toward dystopia in any event, but IMHO any sort of significant cutback in social security would virtually assure that result.
Taos being one of the few places where Social Security really makes a difference, I would hate to see any reduction in my check. Might have to eat a few skiers.
i wouldn’t count on the voters being smart enough to know they had been had. The effects of the “fix” will be delayed so the smart young people who think they are being spared the crushing burden of social security will not even know what they are missing when it isn’t there for them as they always said it wouldn’t be.
well, maybe i shouldn’t leave it there, just in case.
for about the last forty thousand years, or maybe million and a half, humans have evolved living in small groups.. families or tribes. over that time they discovered the importance of taking care of their old parents. If nothing else, it set a good example for your kids so that when you got old… On the other hand it also helped young parents to think of taking care of their own kids as a good investment. Or maybe it was just a question of evolving compassion, and whatever benefit that confers on society. so when Moses told the Israelites to Honor your father and your mother he was not making up some strage religious burden like “don’t touch your peepee.” He was reminding them of the importance of something they already knew. But as Jesus had to remind them a thousand or so years later “Honor your..” was definitely about money.
In more modern economies the power of the family to control their economic circumstance enough to “honor your…” is not reliable. And things were looking pretty bad until some modern economies invented something like social security… old age welfare. It was FDR who added the idea of not making it “the dole” by requiring workers to pay for their own old age “insurance”, and it was the people who worked for him who saw that “pay as you go” with wage indexing would keep the workers savings safe from inflation while providing them with something like “interest” safe from ups and downs in the market.
some “experts” claimed that this would “destroy savings.” since from the worker-retiree’s point of view it IS savings, its hard to know what the experts mean. Unless they mean “savings for investment.” But experience has shown that the economy is awash with money for investment. There is more money than real investments can absorb. Of course there is always room for more money in gambling games based on or disguised as investment… but that’s another story.
We no longer care much about religion, except to hate it, or to use it as an excuse to hate each other. But we need to realzie that a lot of what has come down to us through religion was originally the experienced wisdom of the people who invented the idea of humanity. I think that if we succeed in forgetting what it means to “honor our..” as a society… we may discover that we lose the idea of humanity.
Matthew Skomarovsky wrote an excellent piece. It strikes me that it deserved a
stronger presentation at Angry Bear. I doubt that many casual drive-by readers
bothered to click on the main post sublink. But what a piece. Outstanding
writing, excellent research, and stings in the all the right places. If this is
an indication of LilSis.org’s public research (formed last Jan), the exposure
effort should be a great success.
Mattew raised a point that I don’t recall seeing at this blog: The Clinton plan
to change Social Security. Steven Gillon covered it in his book. Here’s an
The [1997-1998] Pact Between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich
Two powerful foes secretly plot to reform Social Security and Medicare
Ten commenters posted a total of 19 comments. The main post was available at
1:05 PM Eastern Time. It’s now 10:40 PM Eastern Time. Nine and half hours and
only ten readers bothered to comment on a fine article related to a reasonably
hot issue. That’s pathetic. It appears that readers are wired in to other
interests and concerns. Obviously, they also don’t care about trade, trade
policy, or international economic affairs. Whatever the problem is, it’s a
Have I not been clear in regards to my thoughts on the economic agenda of the Democratic Party. It is an agenda that has nothing to do with popular democracy. I’ve been saying all along that our system is a good cop/bad cop routine played by two wings of a corporate/elititst ideology that puts great wealth far ahead of the rest of us. I have no illusions concerning the intentions of the Obama adminsitration. It is top heavy with past players from Clintontonia and the DLC. Goldman Sachs still has a strangle hold on both Treasury and the Fed. Change you can believe in is the changes engineered to look less draconian than the right-wing knuckle heads think they want for teir own good, but only intended to appear different to the working class Democrats and upper middle class liberals who think they’re being represented in Congress.
Your talking general fund. (Yes, it would be easier under those circumstances, but). The fact is the congress critters and Obama do not want to pay back the SS T-ill IOUs. Ever. The fact that we would be in a better place fiscally if 9/11 hadn’t happened or the Tech bubble or housing bubble hadn’t happend is imaterial. In all cases from an accounting perspective paying back the SS notes will reduce the available funds from the general fund. The fact we already spent that money and gave SS those IOUs is immaterial. We don’t want to pay the piper now that its come do.
And I don’t think that’s just a Dem view. Its just the Dems control the agenda, in total, now. So they get the blame for even starting the discussion, let alone Obama’s choices for this new commission.
I am still amazed that we are even having this discussion with full Dem control of the Senate, House, and Whitehouse. Is this a Nixon goes to China thing? Can you imagine ANY Dem supporting McCaine if he had started this? Any at all?
Islam will change
You’re absolutely correct to recognize the lethargy of the masses, especially those that are reasonably comfortable. Not wealthy, just not broke. We all have to do something as individuals to awaken their passion to protect their own self interests. Talk, write and maybe scream out at your friends, relations, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Write to your Senators and congressional Rep. Be specific. Be sure that your letter to the pols makes it clear that you are against them if they are against you, and screwing with Social Security in the way that its being bull shitted about presently in the media is something you are against. Encourage your cohorts to do like wise. There is a black man in the White House because average people marshalled the strength of mass communication through the internet. That was, and still is, an amazing accomplishment. He’s not turning out to be most of what we had hoped for, but the process worked and can work again. Make as much noise apart from Angry Bear as is made between us at AB and you’ll have some influence.