Social Security benefit already small compared to other nations

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 12:00


As speculation is rising that Obama may well betray past promises and join in with Republicans to cut Social Security, purportedly in order to "save" it, it's worth highlighting the fact that benefit levels are already quite low compared to most other countries.  The following chart put together by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities is from the January 11 report, "Social Security Benefits are Modest " by Kathy Ruffing and Paul N. Van de Water:

As you can see, Social Security actually averages about 2/3rds of the international average--around 40% of wages compared to about 60% as the international average.  That's a tremendous shortfall.  Meanwhile, our super-rich continue making far, far more than similarly-situated individuals in other countries, while contributing nothing extra at all to Social Security.

The report's key findings:

In assessing Social Security proposals, policymakers need to keep five key facts in mind:
    1.Social Security benefits are quite modest.

    2.The majority of beneficiaries have little significant income from other sources.

    3.For most seniors, Social Security is the only income they will receive that is guaranteed to last as long as they live and to provide full inflation protection.

    4.Social Security benefits in the United States are low compared with other advanced countries.

    5.Future retirees already face lower benefits (relative to their past earnings) than current retirees as a result of a rising Social Security retirement age and escalating Medicare premiums.
All of those facts argue for limiting any cuts in future benefits - a position that the majority of the public appear to support.

Clearly, we should be talking about increasing Social Security benefits, rather than cutting them.  If most other countries find a way to make their retirement insurance programs 50% more generous than ours (60% = 1.5 * 40%), then surely we can too.  Our greatest deficit is a deficit of political will.

Paul Rosenberg :: Social Security benefit already small compared to other nations

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Hmm. (0.00 / 0)
I'm surprised to see the UK at the bottom of the list.  Does this not take their gov't-provided healthcare into account, or what?

I think one of the reasons, (0.00 / 0)
is that the "new Labour" government of Tony Blair did next to nothing about the Thatcher cuts, who devastated the UK.

The new leader ran on, and continues to emphasize the need for a repudiation of "New Labour" - and there is a complete of Labour policies going on, to quote new Labour leader Milliband:

"Ed Miliband sends out a tough message in the wake of Labour's victory in the Oldham East and Saddleworth byelection, telling his party it will only become the leaders of "the progressive majority at the heart of Britain" if it understands "where we lost our way" in government.

We can only hope or, if connected, urge Labour that removing elderly Britons out of poverty is the road to a strong economy.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Health Care Is Separate (0.00 / 0)
This is talking about programs that are directly comparable to Social Security.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Not quite (0.00 / 0)
Social Security recipients took a pay cut in 2011 because their Medicare costs increased (it's deducted from the monthly check).  If we have a decreased check and other countries with national health have a stable check, that is meaningful.  Ask relatives or some neighbors who are retired.

A second important point is that the nest egg from home equity for many Baby Boomers has dropped sharply.  That $600,000 house is a $500,000 house or a $450,000 house.  Say the mortgage is $200,000.  The amount a future retiree can take away is now $250,000 to $300,000.  A few years ago it was $400,000.  The old idea of buying a condo in Florida and Arizona and living off Social Security and the interest from a small nest egg is pretty much altered.  Sure, the house can be converted to a mortgage-free condo but the extra nest egg is evaporated.  That's $500 or $600 a month that is no longer available.

The cat food commission had a few other ideas, or at least the chairmen did.  Things like eliminating the interest deduction for mortgages (come on let's make that $600 K chouse a $300 K house), taxing the employer portion of health care and of course giving tax breaks for profits "US corporations" aka "Big Money makes by outsourcing overseas.

Something is rotten in the state of America and it is the elite.


[ Parent ]
Paul is correcting me, or more correctly responding to eustiscg about the UK (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
And so we must act. (4.00 / 3)
The great majority of messaging around this issue is about the admirable goal of Protecting Social Security, when it should and must be the Extension and Protection of Social Security.

I urge openleft to upgrade its action items, its action systems, the complexity of response, the scope of response and the ease of use.

I wrote a quick hit on this topic:


Site needs updating. Needs ways to join and organize, issues to act on.

That began in part:
Our action button leads to memories, Primaries Matter leads to last year, and we have issues that need organizing now.

We need to act, and demand leadership on gun laws, now.

We need to connect our information on social security, on the groups fighting to protect and extend it, on the ways we can contribute to the fight.

We need to begin now on primarying Blue Fogs, and find a Senator to replace Lieberman.

and got responses like:

I AGREE, would add: rebuilding the middle class, empowering unions!

by: CarmanK @ Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 00:00
[ Reply ]

and

The web site that figures this out will have so many eyeballs on it, it won't be funny.  

We have so many smart organizers and tech folks in our ranks, why can't we get this done?

For example, say I live in Capitol City, and I want to organize a boycott of my local Fox affiliate or Clear Channel outlet.  Where do I start?  Who has the master list of names of progressives who want to get off the couch? The Green Party?  Possibly, but they might also want to keep their lists to themselves.  Progressive Democrats of America?  Local peace and justice folks?  It's all so fragmented.  Then, how do new people plug in other than through the siloed organizations that exist now and that are part of the problem of disperal of our energy?

I don't have many answers, but we need a focused conversation on this very subject.

Decarbonize, Deglobalize, Demilitarize
by: Brad Klafehn @ Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 01:06
[ Reply ]

For example, there is a, once banned by Apple, app for the iPhone called iSinglepayer* that allows you to find local activists etc:

iSinglePayer packs in the following features.
* Use GPS to automatically determine your local congressional district and state.
* Call your local member of congress, or any member of congress, without looking up any phone numbers.
* See how much money each member of Congress has accepted from the health insurance industry.
* View a slide show with facts about single-payer.
* Find the key players in the healthcare debate (e.g. Max Baucus) QUICKLY--they are listed right below your local congressperson. Call who counts!

Do not hesitate to download! The more calls and downloads, the better our chances of an effective health care system in this country.


I have emailed the developer, who is providing the iPhone app for free, for free, asking if there are ways (s)he would or could contribute to code like his/hers to a website, or some way to adapt it to several issues etc.

This is the direction we need to go. We have the insights, the passion and the need to organize. Openleft does all thses things, or has done them in the past. It is time to review, update and extend our ability to act, and there are people ready to help, ready to use the service, and most importantly, insight is nothing without organized action.

It is time to organize and act.

*Another website, the iSinglepayer developer

Ps. the link to the QH is off the front page of QH's, so the link takes you to the QH's list, but you scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit "Next >> " and then scroll again to the title, and as more QH's are posted, possibly hit "Next >>" again etc.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


Not sure about the particulars... (4.00 / 1)
but i like where you're going with this.

The MSM has tagged Independents the party of swing-voting 'centrism.' If Democrats no longer represent your liberal values, show America there is still a Left by registering for another left-aligned party.

[ Parent ]
I'd hope we could where ---> We're <--- "going with this" (0.00 / 0)
and I'm not sure about the particulars either, but merely urging action.

Anything I can do to assist I will do, any move in this direction will be a good move.

I have absolutely no connection to this site except being a "community member" which means I signed up like everyone else, no power, and little influence besides demonstrating how badly a message can ruined by typo's.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Social Security Defenders Group (4.00 / 6)
Opens for business the minute the new DK4 platform goes public. The intent is  to make  it precisely the kind of portal you are talking about here. I have a site set up on the dKos beta but since that they will scrub the entire beta prior to public launch I haven't put any material up. But for what it is worth here is the URL: http://www.dailykosbeta.com/bl...

In preparation I also have a live site set up outside the dKos umbrella under almost the exact same name, but singular since it wasn't designed for Group blogging here: http://socialsecuritydefender....

That site does have some content including a Page under construction with links to various organizations and resources defending Social Security:
http://socialsecuritydefender....

My idea right now is to use the blogspot site as a resource library linked back from the action site dKos Group. And back that up with the 120 or so posts I wrote for Angry Bear and indexed at my personal blog: http://bruceweb.blogspot.com/2...
And then recruit maybe 5-8 other editor/contributers to the DK4 group to keep content flowing and the heat up.

Which offers a couple of different possibilities. One  you could build something like this at Open Left and then maybe we could do the blog roll thing back and forth, or maybe throw in an RSS feed. Or two maybe one or more OL contributer might want to sign on to be a SSDefender editor.

I have a smallish temporary grant to make this happen from the SSW/SSS people which might get extended if it gets going in a big enough way. And since that is my only income right now have an incentive to put in the time and effort. Plus I am on a mailing list that puts me on a first name basis with a lot of the policy people including Paul V d W of CBPP, the author of the piece cited in the main post. Nancy Altman and I started talking a year and a half ago about how to do exactly this kind of blog outreach and open lines back and forth between the blogosphere and the policy people, and she is the person who approves my grant award each month, so some mutual back scratching might have payoffs both directions.


[ Parent ]
A powerful feature of DK4 Groups (4.00 / 1)
is that you can have a whole set of overlapping Groups acting in a mutually reinforcing way that pushes good content to the top of the heap so that anyone entering the tag 'Social Security' as likely as not will immediately land on content from one or the other of the Groups.

Anyway the projected launch date is exactly two weeks from now and I plan to work pretty much non stop through the weekend after to have this in reasonably mature state by Monday the 7th. At a minimum I hope you folks will drop by and see where I am going with this.


[ Parent ]
This is very exciting. Thanks for coming back repeatedly (0.00 / 0)
and sharing this information.

Your previous comments and data gathering and work is also excellent, I wish we had a page to keep this top of topic, so that previous discussion can be perused.

Not5 tonight but tomorrow I will try and put some of what has been discussed into a Diary, and if no one minds, I'll QH that diary to keep the discussions going.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I'm glad you're doing this and especially glad you're building redundancy into it. (4.00 / 2)
I have to admit, I have real doubts about dK4 going forward, given their fealty to Democratic Elites. Too many thoughtful people have been banned simply for criticizing the Obama Administration to have any real faith they won't try to co-opt your effort over there. It's still worth trying, of course, as there are real numbers over there.

I was threatened with banning for the simple act of clicking "recommend" on a comment that was generally quite intelligent and factual, but also included the word "Obamabot" in it. They felt that was offensive, even though a bevy of more offensive insults are permitted all the time. Given that the WH is currently the single biggest obstacle to saving Social Security, it's hard to know where the editors are going to fall on the kerfuffle that will undoubtedly ensue.

So redundancy is a good idea.  

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Think of how redundant the massive organizing efforts of the NRA is. (0.00 / 0)
That is power. America needs to have that power for all the sane ideas too.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
NRA, NAM, the entire Koch Bros. Empire, et al.... etc. (0.00 / 0)
One thing they have the "left" doesn't is solidarity, not just in funding, but in message and strategy.

As we learn to kiss Net Neutrality goodbye, the redundancy has to be there, but also in terms of strategy up to a point... and messaging. And some agreement on tactics, or a range of tactics, etc. Indeed, there needs to be some power sharing too, what with 1,459 databases out there that need to be utilized in an efficient manner, somehow.

But that's another conversation. In any case, I think it's time to start getting ahead of the proverbial Eight Ball for once. I think a lot of people might like to see it as well, though that's just a hunch on my part.

In any case, Cheers and don't sweat the small stuff. It will always be there, as is proven every friggin' day.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
I like your thinking. +400 (4.00 / 1)


"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates

[ Parent ]
Thank you, but, lets continue to encourage an update and expansion of openleft (0.00 / 0)
for all the reasons set here, and in other posts, we need to do this, form the perspective (though often wildly divergent) is consistently from as deep an analysis as anywhere, from as passionate as anywhere, and better informed than most everywhere.

To say nothing of the deep seated sceptiscism, that can't just be scepticism, which is hopelessness. We are organizing activists, saving democracy, America, but most importantly the people. We cannot merely complain or blame, we must stand and stand together.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Heh. Already we disagree! (4.00 / 3)
Skepticism is not equal to hopelessness. One could more plausibly claim cynicism is, but I think the cynics in DC would even beg to differ on that one. ;^)

But this I can only applaud:

We are organizing activists, saving democracy, America, but most importantly the people. We cannot merely complain or blame, we must stand and stand together.

Skepticism is actually quite healthy, IMO. Without that, critical thinking goes out the window... and without that, we're left with Obamabots telling us to "Clap Louder!"

The process is pretty basic. Start with the things we all agree on and expand outward from there. Find a process for dealing with differences that alienates the fewest number of people possible, while still holding forth a means to political action. So on and so forth. Put up a sign stating, "Skeptics Welcome" and learn how to deal with it on a positive level. It's not that difficult.

Besides, we're at the point now where almost every aspect of our lives is being assaulted by these Neo-Liberals. In this case, "the trend is your friend." People will find ways of dealing with each other in the face of a common enemy.

Cheers in Solidarity,

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Wonderful comment, thank you. (4.00 / 1)
We who are fighting for democracy from the side that wants more democracy not less, that fight for uncomfortable truths, and not comforting stories, who fight for our neighbours as much as ourselves, who recognize the attacks on one of us, is part of a pattern of attacks on all of us, who know that our economy is at its most basic level being stolen from all of us for a few, are most importantly informed in ways that have been hidden from the mass of the population.

Our information systems skew history and news to obscure our predicament.

Scepticism is therefore the starting point of our awakening, and the constant first tool of insight.

It is sanity, and sensibility. An old Arabian saying says, in the metaphor of its ancient culture: "Trust in god, but tie up your horse." No matter what faith you have, do the things that ensure the outcome you desire. Americans have a concept like that about government, that speaks directly to that truth: "Justice not only has to be done, but seen to be done. Accountability is a process, with actions that prove accountability and transparency. That is why we have juries and open courts. So justice can seen to be done, by us, as we are both the governed and those that govern.

Lets continue to challenge each other, lets continue be sceptical.

Yes, in solidarity.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I'm glad you finished up with justice, since I think that's key to the whole thing. (4.00 / 1)
Without some sense of justice, society as we know it is pretty much finished. It's also becoming a truism that I could more easily acquire an Imperial Pound of 24 karat gold than I could get justice in this moment. (Oh, and there's no way in hades that I could afford much more than an ounce of gold, so that should tell you something!)

IMO, justice is one of the best rally points there are. It's points outward to every other issue out there.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
The official retirement plan for Congress (4.00 / 1)
Note early retirement and subsidy for SS BEFORE they reach 62, as though they reached 62.

http://www.senate.gov/referenc...


new law (0.00 / 0)
A new law is now in impact concerning Social Security and other federal benefits. I read this here: New rule makes Social Security benefits off-limits for garnishing.

The law can make it more difficult for benefits to be garnished by debtors in some situations. Before a financial institution can take any money, the account has to have at least 2 months of the benefits built up, which is a hard criterion to meet. Parties other than banks, however, are able to still garnish federal benefits.


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