Monday, February 11, 2013

The Village has decided that SS must be cut. But will it be enough?

The Village has decided that SS must be cut. But will it be enough?

by digby

Here's your Village in action. We have Ben White, POLITICO Chief Economic Correspondent, declaring on twitter that the White House offer to cut Social Security just isn't going to get the job done:
Ok fine, he's just being a typical jaded and "savvy" Politico reporter.  Why, of course, anyone who's anyone knows that simply destroying Social security won't be enough. 

But look at how the White House immediately responds:
See?  We really do want to cut Social Security but that's not all! We also want to "change" medicare and cut more spending.  Really!  We just dying to enact more austerity and we're willing to do it as far as the eye can see! Those Republicans won't even agree to tax reform, (which everyone knows means that we're going to lower corporate rates.)

Ok, how about if we agree to slash funding for education and Veteran's health care?  Would you give us credit then? How about if we agree to ritualistically kill Big Bird on national TV? Then will you believe that we're Grown-ups?  CAN'T YOU SEE THAT WE ARE THE GROWN-UPS!!!! Why won't you give us credit for being grown-ups ? We try so hard....

Here's another good example of the dynamic:

DAVID GREGORY: I want to get back to the automatic spending cuts and ask a fundamental question that I think Republican critics of this president are asking. Do you not concede that there is a spending problem in Washington? Even when it comes to the 50% cuts out of the sequester that are for the Defense Department. You have said in recent interviews you could live with those. You don't like the manner in which the cuts would be made, but you could live with those cutbacks to the Pentagon. So isn't there a spending problem here that must be addressed?

SEN. DICK DURBIN: Absolutely. And I believe, as chairman of The Defense Appropriation Subcommittee in-- in the Senate, that we can save money, cut waste in the Pentagon, and not compromise our national security. But to do this in such a haphazard way over the remaining six or seven months is going to be unfair to the military and their families. 
Think about this for a second. Cutting back on psychological counseling for the members of the military and their family during the remainder of this year, when we have this grievous problem of suicides in the military and readjustment when they come home from battle? We can't do that.

DAVID GREGORY: But isn't there always a reason--

DAVID GREGORY: Isn't there always a reason to spend the money in Washington?
DAVID GREGORY: Can't you always find a reason not to cut? Isn't this the Republican argument that, at least here, if worse comes to worse and the sequester passes, at least we'll get spending cuts, how else to force the President's hand?

But listen. Do we really want to base our spending cuts on reducing medical research in America, on eliminating 70,000 children from Head Start, that early learning program that's so important? These things don't make sense. Let's sit down and do this in a thoughtful manner. And let's include revenue. We should have half of this as revenue from tax reform and the other half in spending cuts. And I support those spending cuts.

Isn't there always some loser, like a military veteran or a pre-schooler, who needs these programs? Can't you always find some stupid reason not to put them out in the street?

Luckily for all of us, not everyone is as cynical as the Politico. Gregory and GOP strategist Mike Murphy solved this whole thing for us:

MIKE MURPHY: ...[T]he President's got a pretty simple choice. And the clock is running. Politics will take over everything in two years. The presidential primaries and everything else, and the midterm elections. If he wants to move now, it's got to be "Nixon to China." And there are seven magic words. If he would say this, he would unlock a lot of Republican votes. He'd have to fight his own party. But it's time for some of that. And those words are, "Change CPI and beneficiaries pay a little more."


MIKE MURPHY: That's what we pay--

DAVID GREGORY: That's for Medicare, that's for Social Security.

MIKE MURPHY: That's the serious look at entitlements.


MIKE MURPHY: As the country needs.

There you have it. And if Ben White is correct, that's just for starters.


The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,230 at the beginning of 2012. Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 23% of married couples and about 46% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. 51% of the workforce has no private pension coverage. 34% of the workforce has no savings set aside specifically for retirement.

By 2033, there will 75 million retirees. And these celebrity millionaires think it's fine for them to get less than $1200 a month in benefits. Even the 25 million who won't have anything else. What kind of people are these? I would bet that David Gregory drops $1200 a month in tips alone.

Update: Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse ...


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