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Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 11:12 AM PDT

The Failure of Privatization

by T C Gibian

Reposted from TCG by Bruce Webb

Sell Yosemite! Dump the Post Office, the prison system, education, Social Security!!  Conservatives have been pushing this agenda for decades, insisting that private ownership would increase efficiency, but would it?

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Reposted from Phoenix Woman by Bruce Webb

Most publications geared towards Federal employees are pretty honest, straightforward, and trustworthy.  

Then there's "FedSmith".

FedSmith seems to be run by and stuffed with writings from people who think that Feds are the scum of the earth.  It's so bad that half the time, the main reason to read FedSmith is for its comments sections, which often have better and truer information than the articles to which they're attached.

Case in point: Their mendacious attack on Elizabeth Warren, who they accuse of "throwing seniors under the bus" with her Social Security legislation.

Follow me past the orange smoke for more.

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Social Security is:

2%1 votes
86%33 votes
10%4 votes

| 38 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from john s mill by Bruce Webb

In between the Benghazi attacks/ hearings and the Clinton Foundation throwing in a little email controversy, you will see and hear “tired old ideas”, “yesterday’s news”. A not so subtle way to point to Hillary’s age.

Rather than talk about Nation Inquirer gotcha stories or naming calling, let’s talk about one of those “tired old ideas” – Social Security.

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Reposted from Joan McCarter by elenacarlena
U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with local residents as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at the Tremont Grille in Marshalltown, Iowa April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking  - RTR4X

Here's a good place for Hillary Clinton to start making that contrast with the potential Republican nominee in 2016:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't quite lay out a detailed proposal for Social Security, but in remarks at a roundtable event in New Hampshire on Monday, she did suggest that Republican proposals to "privatize" or "undermine" the program are "just wrong." […]

"My only question to everybody who thinks we can privatize Social Security or undermine it in some way is, so then what's going to happen to all these people like you who worked 27 years at this other company? What's going to happen? It's just wrong," Clinton said.

TPM had previously asked the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign about her position on Social Security—whether she supported expanding it as liberal Democrats have been arguing recently or what she thought of proposals like some of the likely Republican 2016 field.

Spokesman Jesse Ferguson responded, "Hillary has a record of fighting against privatizing Social Security and opposing cuts to seniors benefits and, as she said yesterday, dealing with challenges facing older Americans is a top priority for her."

That's good as far as it goes, though no Democrat should ever be on record as supporting privatization. But it sure sounds like she's going to run against the kinds of cuts—means testing, raising the retirement age—that Republican contenders like Gov. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or Gov. Scott Walker have championed.

We'll take that for now, but since 43 Democratic senators (Barbara Mikulski missed the vote, but tweeted her support) are on the record as wanting to expand Social Security, the debate has moved beyond just fighting privatization. What do you say, Secretary Clinton? How about joining the mainstream of the party and running on a stronger Social Security?

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Reposted from Southern Liberal by Bruce Webb

First of all beware of any politician who says "let's be honest" and especially beware of this politician who hasn't uttered an honest word in decades, if ever.  The right wing approach to Social Security just astounds me.  They constantly lie that it adds to the deficit and debt when that is absolutely not true.  I think this is why they lumped it in with the general funds some years ago, back when Reagan was President or maybe before, but I believe it was a ploy then and it still is to use that tactic to attack SS and then they pit the old and young against each other saying the elderly are stealing the futures of the young, like we're all rich out here.  Maybe the idiots that cleave to every word uttered from this liar's mouth believe that, but take a look at your paycheck once in a while and you'll see a Federal withholding tax and then a FICA tax.  FICA meaning Federal Insurance Contribution Act.  Withholding goes into the government's general fund and the FICA is your contribution to the SS trust fund, much like paying into an annuity or any other retirement account from which you expect a return when you retire.  To means test it, as Christie suggests, is to put SS into the category of a welfare program and then the GOP will attack it from that angle.  I am constantly astounded that they can come right out and attack SS, suggest raising retirement age, telling lies about it taking over the entire government budget when it's a separate tax and then hoping people will elect them?  They know it's important to those who vote Republican as well as Democratic and Independent so they have to phrase it carefully, crafting lies that are palatable to the hard right base.  But, I am telling you people that they are up to no good here and if you let them get a toehold into SS, they will kill it like every other social welfare program bit by bit.  They will continue to manufacture crisis that can only be resolved by budget cuts, or cutting benefits or increasing the age to qualify.  It will not end until SS ceases to exist.
If anything is gobbling up the entire Federal budget a little more each year it's the defense budget.  After all, the more of the military that becomes privatized, the more they lobby for more war and more contracts, so more war.  It is actually a bit scary that more and more of our military is private and out from under the control of the President.  They certainly are not held to the same standards of conduct that our military is and do horrific things which reflect negatively on our country.  I hadn't thought of the fact that as more and more of government is privatized it hands over more control to corporations who in turn, thanks to SCOTUS,  fill the ever expanding campaign coffers of the Republican/Libertarian Party.  I added Libertarian because that's the platform it seems they are campaigning on, not Conservatism.

Poll

Do you think social security adds to the deficit?

| 0 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from StewartAcuff by Bruce Webb
Senator Bernie Sanders is a friend of mine. After all he wrote the foreword to my second book, Playing Bigger Than You Are. I have the utmost respect for Elizabeth Warren.

But I also have a lot of respect for the last two term governor of Maryland where I’ve lived for 15 years, Martin O’Malley.

He governed as a progressive, worked to protect the Chesapeake Bay, worked with the unions. He was responsive to the people.

When he was mayor of Baltimore, he still was front man for an Irish rock’roll band. This is a man who knows who he is and likes who he is. He is comfortable in his own skin, as are both Bernie and Warren.

And like my friend Bernie, it looks like O’Malley is trying to put together a presidential run.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a full half-page puff piece on O’Malley. He and his staff couldn’t have asked for a better article from the campaign trail in Iowa. They played up his progressive credentials, which are so important.

And the progressive issues the Journal highlighted were not the soft, easy, non-offensive-to-the-rich issues.

The issues they highlighted are what we’ve talked about in this space for years now–getting tough and cracking down on Wall Street, raising taxes on the rich to meet the needs of our people, raising wages, and more.

The WSJ said about O’Malley:

“Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s biggest applause line during a speech here this week came as he listed ways the US could pay for a higher minimum wage, an EXPANSION of Social Security and more spending on infrastructure and education. ‘We do it by asking the wealthiest among us to believe enough in their country to actually make the sort of investments we made in other generations instead of off shoring their profits and off shoring their wealth.’  Another crowd-pleasing idea from the 52 year old Democrat: insisting that the federal government actually REGULATE risky financial behavior on Wall Street that threatens to run over our economy.’”

We must elect a president committed to raising wages, taxing the rich, expanding Social Security, reducing inequality, investing in infrastructure and sustainable energy. These are fundamental issues that will chart the course of America.

Image source: arts.gov

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Reposted from LCrawford by Bruce Webb

Disclaimer: This piece is a Huffington Post column from the co-directors of Social Security Works, republished with permission

Capitalizing on today's date, the Fight for $15 (i.e., 4/15) Campaign is holding rallies all over the country, and fast-food workers nationwide are going on strike in support of a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize without fear of retaliation.

Social Security Works is proud to stand in solidarity with the Fight for $15 Campaign.
The campaign is a sister to our own campaign to increase another part of every worker's compensation package -- Social Security. Our campaign is fighting to ensure, among many other goals, that no one, after a lifetime of work, will retire into poverty.

We are the wealthiest nation on Earth at the wealthiest moment of our history. We are much wealthier now than we were in the 1950s, when we were just recovering from the Great Depression and World War II. Yet today's minimum wage is worth significantly less in real dollars than it was 60 years ago ($7.25 today vs. $8.49 in 1956)! That doesn't even account for the tremendous rise in our standard of living over the last six decades!

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Reposted from Joan McCarter by Bruce Webb
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland  February 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4RBJT

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) has come a long way in his political career by being an asshole, and always by punching down. He's probably taking that too far, though, in re-relaunching his bid for president because now he's picking on seniors and the disabled. In a New Hampshire speech Christie called for massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Gov. Chris Christie called for reduced Social Security benefits for retired seniors earning more than $80,000 and eliminating the benefit entirely for individuals making $200,000 and up in other income, along with raising the retirement age to 69 from 67. […]

“I know some in both political parties will criticize these ideas,” Mr. Christie said during the speech at New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. “These are the truths you all know in your gut. I want to give voice to those common sense truths that we already know.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Here's some gut reaction and common sense for you, Chris Christie. You will not win the Republican nomination to be president. And you're sure as hell not going to win it by calling for Social Security benefits to end, for anyone. It's a plan only Fix the Debt could love.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) didn't mince words in reacting to Christie's proposal.

"You take a deep breath and try to wonder what world these people live in," said Sanders, who is also considering a run for president. "What Governor Christie is saying is just the continuation of the war being waged by the Republican Party against the elderly, against the children, against the sick and against the poor, in order to benefit millionaires and billionaires. It is an outrage."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) was quick to associate himself with Sanders' statement. The fact that this one-time proponent of Social Security cuts is standing shoulder to shoulder with Sanders tells you just how behind-the-times Christie's austerity schtick is.
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Reposted from Bethesda 1971 by Bruce Webb

At least that's what the Bridge and Tunnel Assailant's speech today about "Entitlements" appears to indicate.  It looks like even he has finally realized what Greg Dworkin and David Waldman told us more than a year ago on Daily Kos radio: For President, Chris Christie is toast.

According to excerpts obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Christie is proposing cutting Social Security benefits to seniors who make more than $80,000 a year and also eliminate benefits for those making $200,000 or more.

He will also call on raising the national retirement age from 67 to 69.

So another Republican ignores Ike's advice:
Should any political party attempt to abolish social security unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
Christie is many things, all negative, but (at least on one level), he's not stupid.  Advocating social security cuts is not even the best red meat for the right wing base, which revels in demonizing programs limited to the poor, the immigrant and the "blahs" more than Soocial Security and Medicare.  But it is choice porterhouse for Wall St. and Christie is going to have to pay those mounting legal fees somehow after he can't use NJ State funds anymore.

His proposals are horrible on the merits.  It is a terrible idea to means test social security.  It already is means tested, but more cutting at the top will make it just another program for "them," leaving it susceptible to those who demonize non-rich people getting what they deem "free stuff."  It also is being cut as we speak by the increase of the retirement age to 67 -- a cut that is costing boomers huge amounts already.

So Gov, just hope that the banker you interview with is not a commuter from New Jersey to Wall Street.

Poll

Chris Christie:

3%2 votes
4%3 votes
0%0 votes
8%5 votes
83%51 votes

| 61 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from teacherken by Bruce Webb

in his Friday New York Times column, titled Where Government Excels.

He begins by noting that some Dems are FINALLY talking about such an approach, then offers two general arguments in support of such a notion:  

First, the specific case for expanding Social Security is quite good. Second, and more fundamentally, Democrats finally seem to be standing up to antigovernment propaganda and recognizing the reality that there are some things the government does better than the private sector.
It is the latter context that is most important.

Krugman phrases this in the context of the basic economic term of "public goods" -

Every economics textbooks talks about “public goods” like national defense and air traffic control that can’t be made available to anyone without being made available to everyone, and which profit-seeking firms, therefore, have no incentive to provide. But are public goods the only area where the government outperforms the private sector? By no means.
He starts with health care, noting the much lower costs of operation of both Medicare and Medicaid than health care through the private market (even under the Affordable Care Act) - and he could have strengthened the argument by pointing at both the military and Veterans Administration systems.

He then pivots to retirement security, and I will continue my exploration of this column below the cheese doodle.

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Reposted from Joan McCarter by Bruce Webb
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) smiles as he confirms his candidacy in the 2016 U.S. presidential election race during a speech at Liberty College in Lynchburg, Virginia March 23, 2015. Cruz, a conservative firebrand who frequently clashes with leaders of hi
Look out, future seniors. Ted Cruz is out to take away your Social Security. Not current seniors, mind you, because he wants their votes. But the rest of us are on the chopping block. That's what he told CNBC's John Harwood in an interview this week. First and foremost, he's really proud of his former boss, President George W. Bush for wanting to privatize Social Security.
Now, I also think you've got to give George W. Bush some real credit—he showed remarkable courage in the beginning of the second term taking on Social Security reform and personal accounts. It was the right thing to do. Sadly, congressional Republicans ran to the hills and abandoned him.
What's his plan for Social Security?
What I would like to see is several things. Number one, for those on Social Security or near retirement, no changes whatsoever. Honor the commitments. But for younger people, people in my generation, we should gradually increase the retirement age. Secondly we need to change the rate of growth of Social Security benefits so they match inflation rather than exceed inflation. Those two reforms on their own take Social Security from bankruptcy into solvency. But the third piece, and it's what Bush fought for, is personal accounts. I think it is transformative to allow younger workers to put a portion of their taxes into a personal account that they own, that they control, and that they can pass onto their heirs.
That should be enough to make any Democrat who is still thinking maybe a chained CPI reconsider. But beyond that, Cruz is going all in on Social Security. Just to make sure that it's destroyed completely, he wants to pile privatization on top of benefit cuts. Because that's his vision for "preserving" the commitments government has made.

Needless to say, Cruz doesn't have to worry about his own retirement security, so he doesn't have any skin in this game.

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Reposted from Joan McCarter by Bruce Webb
Man holding Social Security sign

This is a profoundly welcome development in our politics, even if this reporter for the Wall Street Journal wants to couch it as primarily a problem for Hillary Clinton.
For years, liberal Democrats have fought against proposals to cut Social Security benefits. Now, they’re pushing the party not just to defend benefits but to increase them, and that could present a problem for Hillary Clinton. […]

The liberals’ argument is that Social Security benefits are meager and that people in retirement need more, not less, money. Some also contend that concerns about the program’s solvency are exaggerated. And inside the Democratic Party, that argument is gaining traction. Legislation increasing benefits, and boosting payroll taxes to cover the cost, now has 58 co-sponsors in the House.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a Democratic presidential bid, told Iowa voters that the nation must expand benefits to help more people realize the American dream. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) won 42 Democratic votes—with just two Democrats voting no—for a nonbinding resolution calling for a "sustainable expansion of benefits."

The liberals are correct, and we're gaining steam. Just witness what the issue has done for the upcoming Maryland Senate primary between Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen. A guy who said approving things about trimming Social Security, catfood commissions, and grand bargains now believes the program should be expanded.

All of which has the Third Way's Jim Kessler sounding very petulant. "A commission is how it was solved before and it's how it will be solved in the future and everyone knows it." Because if you're Third Way, the only way to handle an issue as critical as our retirement crisis and how Americans will live in disability and/or old age is with an undemocratic commission, not answerable to voters.

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