Tag Archives: social security

Obama’s Budget Plan: Raise Taxes on Middle Class, Gut Charities

President's budget to fail$800 billion in tax increases form the center of President Obama’s new budget plan with some $1.2 Billion in cuts to future spending growth. Neither side seems to willing to support the plan.

Democrats say that the tax increases don’t go far enough and point to the liberal plan from the Senate that raises taxes by more than twice what Obama’s budget calls for.

Republicans see no spending cuts at all. The budget doesn’t reduce spending year-over-year, only the rate at which spending will increase each year. In fact, Obama’s budget adds $1 billion for 15 manufacturing innovation institutes, additional funds for high-speed rail, and free pre-school for low-to-moderate income families.

Both sides are concerned about the tax increase on the middle class.

The only entitlement reform, the method most economists agree is the only way to save those programs, is to change the way inflation is calculated. Currently, inflation is calculated based on price increases in a set basket of goods. The president’s plan would switch to chained-CPI which takes into account the behavior of switching to alternative, cheaper products as the price of an item increases. The resulting inflation rate is slower. Inflation calculations are used in determining the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for government programs like Social Security and for determining increases in the tax brackets.

Democrats are concerned that using chained-CPI will result in seniors seeing their Social Security checks not keep up with actual cost-of-living. Republicans are concerned that more middle-income earners will be pushed into higher tax brackets or above the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) threshold and forced to pay higher taxes.

Senate Democrats are threatening to give Obama yet another zero-support vote and House Republicans have called the plan “dead on arrival” in the people’s chamber. Since this plan closely resembles the failed “grand bargain” from 20011, there is little hope that it will materialize into an actual budget.

There are also concerns over the supposed spending slow-downs in the budget. Much of it depends on cost savings due to Obamacare.

With this year’s delay of implementing the exchanges, skyrocketing implementation costs, quickly rising premiums and the projected shortfalls in available care, rampant cost overruns are the expectation. Even the Department of Health and Human Services was caught off-guard by the complexity and costs of the President’s marquee health care legislation.

The President’s budget plan also removes charitable deductions and home mortgage deductions for higher earners. Non-profit groups that rely on huge donations from wealthy contributors are understandably concerned that the new budget plan, if enacted, could decimate their efforts to help others. Add in middle-earners being hit with higher taxes and the two groups that mainly fund charitable efforts will be far less likely to do so.

Low-income families are often heavily-dependent upon charity groups for food and clothing. The President’s plan will likely do more harm to lower and middle-income earners than anyone else.

Obama Pardons Infamous Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff, Appoints to Manage Social Security Trust Fund

“Madoff duped a handful of well-off investors…meanwhile the Social Security program is duping generations of all classes of investors…” –Dr. Edward Forsythe

At a White House press conference Wednesday evening, President Obama announced he has issued an executive pardon to infamous Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff and appointed the convicted felon to manage the country’s Social Security Trust Fund.

“Look, the Social Security program is facing dire financial straits, and if there’s anyone who has the right experience, morals, and financial acumen to see this through it’s my friend, Bernie Madoff,” the President explained. “At least until I’m out of office,” he added off-microphone while sneakily winking at Jim Messina, his former campaign manager.

In March 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts related to running the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, with losses exceeding $10 billion. The scheme involved Madoff promising lavish returns to investors whose principal was ultimately being used to make good on those same lavish returns promised to his earlier investors. As the existing assets under management, which were funded by the earlier investors, deteriorated Madoff used the principal from his new investors to make good on his promises to his earlier investors.

Madoff’s unprecedented record of taking people’s money and making egregious phony promises positions him uniquely to manage the Social Security Trust Fund.

The Social Security program requires taxpayers (and their employers) to pay 6.2% of gross wages into the Social Security Trust Fund (this is that pesky “OASDI” line on your pay stub that reduces your net pay). The Trust Fund uses current period revenues (i.e., Social Security taxes from today’s workforce, or “the new investors’ principal,” and interest) to pay its expenses (i.e., Social Security benefits paid to yesterday’s workforce, or “the early investors’ return of principal and interest”). The Trust Fund is currently on pace to become insolvent by 2033, which means today’s workforce, and to a greater degree tomorrow’s workforce, can expect significant benefit reductions by the time they reach retirement age, if any benefit payment at all.

Dr. Edward N. U. Forsythe, a senior research fellow with the Institute for Opening Peoples’ Freaking Eyes, explains that the program orchestrated by Madoff is actually morally superior to the federal government’s Social Security program.

“The key distinction between a traditional Ponzi scheme and the Social Security program is that in a Ponzi scheme, the investors made a choice to invest,” Forsythe began. “The Social Security charade on the other hand, uses the force of law to require participation in what Milton Friedman called ‘the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth.’ Mechanically, the programs are largely indistinguishable: in a mature Ponzi scheme, there are no real assets under management, all new investment is simply funneled from late investors, through the asset manager’s bank account, and paid directly to the early investors; today’s Social Security Trust Fund likewise has no real assets under management and contributions received from today’s workforce are simply funneled through the Fund and paid directly to yesterday’s workforce. This seemed to work and appease the public while the demographics and economics allowed for it; in 1950 there were 16.5 workers paying Social Security taxes for every one person receiving benefits, and today there are less than 3 workers paying in for every one person receiving benefits. The wage base has simply not been able to offset that trending demographic shift.”

“Regardless of the demographics or economics,” Forsythe added, “the fact is while Washington was in front of the television cameras gesturing shame on Madoff with one hand, they were reaching their other hand into your pocket and snatching 6.2% of your income to invest into their mechanically identical plan, promising returns that it won’t be able to meet. Look, Madoff duped a handful of well-off investors who at least had a choice to participate; meanwhile the Social Security program is duping generations of all classes of investors who are compelled to participate by law. So since FDR can’t be charged with the countless felonies for his Ponzi scheme pandemic, who should we charge in his place?”

On the appointment of Madoff to manage the Social Security Trust Fund, Forsythe noted, “For once the administration has appointed someone qualified to serve in a particular role! I think Madoff will serve great in this appointment. I mean he’s the perfect guy for the job. And just think, using the law to force investment into his ‘fund’ should free up much of the creative capital he previously spent on intricate document forgeries, wire transfers, and sales pitches to entice new investment.”

Madoff will be in good company as the newly appointed asset manager of the Trust Fund. Ironically, the Trust Fund’s current Managing Trustee, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, skipped paying his own Social Security taxes during tax years 2001 – 2004 (an “oversight” which he swiftly corrected after Obama expressed interest in nominating him as Treasury Secretary). Seriously, the dude in charge of the Social Security fund skipped paying his own Social Security taxes, how’s that for irony, Alanis Morissette? [♬ …it’s like a tax cheat, on the Fund’s Board of Trustees… ♬]

Madoff was not available for public comment at the time of the announcement; however his attorney noted that Madoff is eager to begin his new appointment and looks forward to applying his expertise to the federal program that he attributed as the inspiration for his own record-breaking financial swindle.

The Real Reason Why Democrats Do Not Want To Privatize Social Security

What do Great Britain, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Russia and Chile have in common? They all have privatized their Social Security Systems. While the people in those countries enjoy a 9% – 12% return on their money, we in this country enjoy a 1% – 5% return on our money, who is better off? As a matter of fact, a total of more than 30 countries have gone the way of privatizing their retirement systems, also, the people of Chile have enjoyed an average of 12% over the past 15 years, so sign me up for that program.

So why can we not do that in this country? Because the Democrats have been fighting against privatizing Social Security for decades.  Social Security advocates have long fought their case for continuation of the program with phony claims that workers could count on safety and a decent return on their money. (Notice they say a decent return, not good or great, but decent.) Now that the truth is known, privatization ought to be a no-brainer, but who ever said politicians had brains anyway.

The Democrats say it is for the betterment of the American people. But the truth is that politicians have been using the Social Security System as their own ATM account for years. Money that was supposed to be in a “Lock Box” has been drained for years by greedy politicians. Whenever money is needed for whatever, they hit Social Security and just throw in an I.O.U., which we all know, will never be repaid, it is safe to assume that there are more I.O.U.’s than money in that “Lock Box.”

Taking away the Golden Goose is not what politicians want to see happen, so they will use the “We only want to protect the American people” speech, which we know is just a lot of crap. Protecting their money source is one of their main priorities. If politicians did not have money for their pork projects, just think of how much better off we would be. With all those countries having so much success with privatizing their funds, why are we not allowed to do that here, after all, it is supposed to be OUR MONEY, not the politicians.

During the presidential primaries, the Governor of Texas Rick Perry was criticized for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, but he was absolutely right. The people working today, are the ones paying for the retirees Social Security, that my friends is a Ponzi scheme. Now, where is the money that the retirees put in so many years ago? Who knows, you can call Washington, but I am sure they will not know either.

Of course, there are your doom and gloomers who say it is still too risky, that’s fine, for them. I’ll tell you this, if I was 20 years old, just starting out, I would choose to opt-out of Social Security. Choice is what we should have with our money, not be forced to hand it over to Washington, so that they can do with it what they see fit to do, which is waste it. The reason why Government cannot manage money is because they just do not care, it is not their money and they do not have to answer to anyone, so they just go on spending.

Social Security is only one of the many programs that need to be privatized, as far as I am concerned, the less the Government sticks it hands into things, the better off we will all be. Governments on every continent have sold off state-owned assets to private investors in recent decades. Airports, railroads, energy utilities, roads, bridges, prisons and many other assets have been privatized. The privatization revolution has overthrown the belief widely held that governments should own the most important industries in the economy. Privatization has generally led to reduced costs, higher-quality services, and increased innovation in formerly dying government industries. Just look at how well the Post Office is being run.

The government has shown itself to be a failure at providing efficiency and high quality in services such as air traffic control, T.S.A. These industries are too important to miss out on the innovations that private entrepreneurs could bring to them, just think how much safer we would be, plus we would be treated like persons instead of cattle, as we are now.

This is one man’s opinion.

Social Security: Issuing Checks & Hollow–Points

Social Security, US Marshals Service, hollow-point bullet, real estate, government spending, Infowars.com

Some of the more excitable members of the conservative Internet commentariat sounded battle stations when they learned the Social Security Administration (SSA) wanted to buy 174,000 hollow–point bullets.

Had granny decided she was not going passively the next time Paul Ryan tried to shove her off a cliff? Were irate seniors busy sharpening the legs on their walkers in preparation for the coming conflict over paying for Social Security?

The Infowars.com website speculated, “It’s not outlandish to suggest that the Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest.” And the Daily Caller added the rounds have to be intended for domestic use, “since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens.”

Which only makes sense when one considers how few foreigners are Social Security recipients, to say nothing of the lack of overseas Social Security offices.

Seeking to allay our fears, the SSA explained the ammunition was for the use of agents in the office of the inspector general that investigate Social Security fraud and other crimes.

That answered the “whom” but failed to address the “why.” The previously alarmed still wanted to know why the SSA was ordering hollow–points, which are bullets designed to expand upon contact with the human body, consequently doing more damage to the target.

The answer was for safety reasons — the bystander’s, not the target’s. As a hollow–point expands it loses velocity, so those rounds tend to remain inside the target. Military, or full–metal jacket rounds, don’t expand as much and consequently a military round is liable to pass through the target’s body and bury itself in a bystander.

For conservatives this firepower controversy is only a distraction. The real issue at hand is why does the SSA have a police force in the first place?

Bureaucrats have an answer already prepared. These agents “need to be armed and trained appropriately. They not only investigate allegations of Social Security fraud, but they also are called to respond to threats against Social Security offices, employees, and customers,” explained an official web post.

But lets look at the numbers. There are 295 agents working in 66 different offices that made a grand total of 589 arrests last year according to the WaPost.

It works out to less than two arrests per year, per agent. That’s hardly a punishing level of enforcement and it compares poorly with the nationwide average of 21 arrests per year for police officers. And it certainly does not justify the cost of duplicating existing federal law enforcement capability.

A better question is why does the SSA have it’s own police force when the U.S. Marshals Service is fully capable of making the SSA’s paltry 589 arrests?

This is why the US has a trillion dollar debt, a bloated, mismanaged government and conservatives who despair of ever reducing its size.  Empire–building bureaucrats duplicate services and programs and a compliant Congress sends us the bill.

Besides it’s just possible that if the Marshals Service had a few more warrants to serve they would occupy themselves with productive endeavors and not have time to cost victims money in the real estate market, as events in Manassas, VA demonstrate. There the service has just presided over the second auction of the old Post Office building that was seized as part of the assets in a fraud case.

Proceeds from the sale of the building are to go to victims who lost money. The first auction was held in April and attracted a bid of $385,000 that was accepted by the auctioneer. Anyone who has ever placed a bid for stolen electronics on eBay knows that means the bidder now owns the Post Office! Except the normal rules of the marketplace don’t apply to the government, which neither understands nor encourages a truly free market.

The feds make their own rules.

So the Marshals Service rejected the winning bid, because explained the spokesperson, “We felt it was too low.” Any real estate agent worth his photo featuring calling cards will tell you a property is worth what someone will pay for it, not what some bureaucrat thinks looks better in the news release announcing the distribution of the money.

The bidders, bless their hearts, increased their offer to $400,000, a sum that was also rejected. And there the situation stood until last month when another auction was held and guess what? This time the winning bid was $355,000.

Assuming this bid is accepted, the Marshals Service’s marketplace ignorance will have only cost the intended recipients of the proceeds $45,000. Unless the Marshals Service intends to hold out for an even lower bid.

But this mistake is consequence–free for the Marshals, just as building an unnecessary police force only enhances the organization chart at the SSA. In the first instance it only costs taxpayers and in the second only tax dollars. And what bureaucrat cares about either?

NASI releases misleading video on Social Security as tool for teachers

Using flawed logic, “Just the Facts”, a video released by the “National Academy of Social Insurance”, seeks to prove that Social Security Insurance and Social Security Disability Insurance are in good fiscal order.

Comparing the amount of money spent to the size of the economy, the group uses powerpoint-esque animations to help children, communities and college students understand how important and inexpensive the programs are. It’s all propaganda.

In each of the last three years (2009-2012) the Social Security Trustees have released reports showing a shorter time-horizon and larger cost to save Social Security. In 2010, the trustees said that benefits would need to be cut by 22% or taxes raised by 28% by 2037 in order to prevent insolvency. In 2011 that year changed to 2036. In the 2012 report, the trustees say that a 33% increase in taxes or 24% reduction in benefits must occur by 2033. The financial changes and the urgent dates by which they are needed are dismal and getting worse in an accelerating manner.

Social Security has been spending more than it takes in since 1985 and it will likely be generations, if ever, that it returns to surplus budgets.

Some in the media have focused on the $2.7 Trillion surplus that the Social Security Trust Fund reportedly has. Actually, it has loaned all of that money, as it must, to the general fund for Congress to spend as it sees fit. That leaves $2.7 trillion debt that the Treasury owes to Social Security. If Treasury could repay it, and it can’t, that amounts to $8,734 for each American citizen[1] – spread that over your retirement..

The video also focuses on the retirement of baby boomers, which will certainly increase the ratio of payees to payers. What they don’t mention is the rapid growth of the disabled population taking SSDI since eligibility rules were relaxes between 1984 and 1990.

Between 1984 and 1990, Congress and the S.S.A. loosened the disability requirements, especially for children and people suffering from mental disorders. The agency also agreed that it would no longer cut off recipients it thought were “no longer disabled” unless it could show that their medical condition had improved, something that is exceedingly difficult to do. [2]

According to a New York Times editors’ blog post, from 2001 to 2007, disability payments have increased 65% while medical reviews to prevent fraud have dropped more than 75%. SSDI is not going to get better if the government is going to rely on the honor system to police it.

The video is plainly misleading and is intended as a teaching tool in schools and universities as NASI states “The “Just the Facts” video is a tool for schools, colleges, community and religious organizations, and journalists to educate their students, communities, viewers and readers”. A tool for use in schools so that the myth of infinitely maintainable socialized retirement and disability can be planted in the minds of the young. The math, however, is just plain misleading.

[1] JustFacts – Social Security: http://www.justfacts.com/socialsecurity.asp#financial
[2] The Disability Mess: http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/the-disability-mess/

Europe Won’t Work in America

Spain’s economy is under such duress that the country is prepared to request a 40 billion Euro cash injection from the Euro zone this weekend. The request comes after Fitch Ratings reduced Spain’s credit by three notches on Thursday. This move will make Spain the fourth country to need a bailout since the European debt crisis began. The Spanish banking sector’s weakness and contagion from Greece’s debt crisis have put Spain’s economy in such a precarious position that the International Monetary Fund reported a need for 90 billion Euros to entirely cleanse Spain’s banking sector.

Much has been said about the problems of Greece and how those problems will impact the Eurozone. However, the size of Spain’s economy is over four times that of Greece’s. Spain’s 11.5% share of the Euro zone’s GDP has a far greater impact on European finances than does Greece’s 2.5%.

What the world is witnessing is the collapse of the European socialist economic model; the failure of government dependency. As more people become dependent on government, fewer people are left to pay the cost.

But it goes beyond simply spending other people’s money. The socialist entitlement mentality makes people less productive. As more and more people become less and less productive, an ever-smaller minority of productive people become responsible for shouldering the burdens of a completely lopsided, unfair system. When a tiny number of productive people are required to deprive themselves of the fruits of their own labor in order to finance the lives of the remaining population, where is the incentive for them to produce?

If that is not enough, reliance on a big government nanny state makes people less responsible for themselves, less self-reliant. That is the antithesis of the American way of life.

When European settlers colonized the New World, they left the security of Europe behind in favor of North America’s unknown wilderness. They left homes, family, friends and country behind in exchange for an opportunity to build better lives for themselves. They were freed from the constraints of Europe’s restrictive class system. They openly rejected the European way by leaving.

When the British Monarchy deemed to re-impose that system on Britain’s thirteen North American Colonies, that attempt was adamantly and thoroughly rejected. Hence the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution and the founding of the United States of America.

When America’s pioneers ventured west to traverse the Great Plains and cross the Rocky Mountains they were completely self reliant. They took care of themselves. They didn’t have, want, or need a big nanny state government to take care of them from cradle to grave.

This is the stuff of which America is made.

Because it gives them control over “the masses”, “progressives” have long sought to fashion America after the European socialist model, to make Americans more government dependent. There was FDR with the New Deal and Social Security. LBJ gave America the Great Society, Welfare Programs and Medicare. Now obama forces upon an unwilling America the crown jewel of European style socialism; government controlled medicine.

Every time obama holds a press conference he sounds exactly the way he has always sounded: he inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. his policies are working, but need more time. Congress needs to quit stalling and enact more of his policies. The private sector is doing fine but to grow the economy government needs to spend more money to create more government jobs at the state and local level.

Coming as it does on the heels of the Wisconsin recall election, where such policies were rejected, this shows precisely how out of touch obama is with the private sector, how the economy works, American history and the nature of America’s people…and with reality.

Europe won’t work in America. Neither will an out of touch narcissist who insists on imposing a long rejected European system upon America.

obama, you are fired.


The Coming Entitlement Crisis

In February of last year, conservative commentator  George Will gave a great lecture at the Navy War College in Rhode Island.  In that lecture, he detailed two major battles we will face in the coming election, which are taxes and entitlement reform. Despite what the liberal media says about conservatives, we are not trying to destroy Medicare. We are trying to salvage it.  It’s the same for Social Security.  The math simply doesn’t work anymore.  People are living longer through the advancements in medicine. This is a good thing, but it is also incredibly expensive.

When Social Security was instituted, the average length of time from retirement to death was two years.   That is no longer true.  The fastest growing demographic in the U.S. is the very elderly who are people aged 85 or older.  Furthermore, baby-boomers are retiring in droves at a rate of 10,000 a day, every day for the next two decades. This is causing unbearable tension on the already stressed Medicare and Social Security payrolls.

By 2025, there will be a paltry two workers per retiree versus the fourteen workers per retiree in 1950. 

The retirement age will have to go up and keep going up in increments to ensure solvency.  We will have to discuss the possibility of creating private retirement accounts to decrease the burden on the system.  The introduction of choice and subsequent competition are usually effective in reducing costs.  The Heritage Foundation has also released policy prescriptions for Medicare that suggests, amongst many things, raising the eligibility age to sixty-eight.  The premium support that is outlined in Congressman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity is essential.  It injects choice, personal responsibility, and fiscal discipline into a rigid system that incentivizes waste.  In short, recipients receive a voucher to buy a plan that fits their critical needs.  It is not a wasteful one size fits all approach. With this, Americans have more of a stake in how their money is spent on their insurance and reestablishes discipline and responsibility. This is not an alien concept.  During the Kennedy Administration, the average recipient paid forty-seven cents for every dollar of Medicare spending.  Medicare, of all entitlements, is the one that needs priority attention since it carries  $37 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, which will fiscally destroy us if it is not dealt with soon.

Now, Grandma and Grandpa will fight hard to keep their welfare state intact.  They vote more often than the younger generation and will oust any politician who seeks to make these critical changes.  Democrats will try to co-opt seniors, since admitting Medicare as an insolvent program invalidates their liberal ideology, and paint Republicans as heartless. However, the “gravy train” is over.  It may have been great for our parents’ parents, but it has become a gross transfer of wealth from the young to the elderly, which in the end leaves almost nothing for succeeding generations.

In fact, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stated that Social Security is solvent for only another 20 years.   After which, full benefits payouts to recipients will not be possible.  Moreover, the Trustees Report also included the insolvency of Medicare that will be unable to cover seniors’ hospital bills by 2024, which is three years earlier than what was projected last year.

George Will asks, succinctly, how much wealth are we willing to spend subsidizing the last twenty-five years of American life.  That is a tough question, but with new fiscally disciplined and conservative Republicans in the House, under the leadership of Congressman Ryan, we have a solution.  We are still waiting on President Obama’s proposals to seriously deal with this fiscal disaster.  So far, none have materialized.  In the meantime,  America’s young and vibrant workers are at risk of becoming trapped in a gerontocracy.

Retirement Programs-Running on Empty

Government trustees report this week reveal that Social Security and Medicare will run out of money sooner than expected. Medicare is looking at a shortage beginning 2024 but Social Security for Disabled (SSI) will be out of funds just around the corner in 2016. All agree that by 2030 there will only be enough money to cover 75% of the need.

The closer Baby Boomers get to retirement age the more worrisome these gloom and doom headlines become. For the most part we pay into these retirement programs with the expectation they will be there to supplement our future needs. We should be taking note. Something has to be done. And now.

Last year Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) presented a plan to reduce the debt and continue retirement programs well into the future. You recall, he was greeted with a barrage of criticism from the left and seniors were given the impression that they would suffer severely. (Remember, throw Granny off a cliff?) Nothing ended up being done by Congress last year except to further kick the can down the road. This year Ryan again has presented a budget and appears better prepared to argue his plan.

Many will argue that this “Path to Prosperity: Saving Medicare” has faults. Many will argue that there are other solutions. Others assure us that removing the FICA cap (which would be a cost increase for those making over $106,800) should be a large part of the solution.  There are questions how moving funding from federal to state governments will affect low income Medicaid recipients. Additionally, there is discussion whether the new Affordable Health Care law is funded in part through cuts to the Medicare budget.

All the above are good questions. The type that should be debated and compromised on in open meetings in Congress. And yet… there is no plan from the Obama administration. In fact, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reacted to the funding shortfall, not by offering an answer or compromise, but instead to further criticizing the Ryan Plan. As a reminder, it is over three years since the Democratic controlled Senate has even produced a budget.

There appears no attempt to find a resolution. It’s hard not to agree with Stuart Varney on this issue.  The government says: We don’t like your plan. We don’t have a plan but we know we don’t like yours. Is it any wonder people are looking for a change in administration?

Obama creating a nation of lazy, good-for-nothing mooches

Finally we are able to point at something (besides record gas prices) as an accomplishment of the Obama Administration: more Americans are finding it acceptable to live off of government hand-outs than ever before.

Food stamps are being used everywhere from cruise ships to casinos. There’s even a YouTube video showing how widely-accepted EBT (food stamp) cards are for non-necessities. Now, more people than ever have turned to the government program:

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that 45 million people in 2011 received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, a 70% increase from 2007. It  said the number of people receiving the benefits, commonly known as food stamps, would continue growing until 2014.

If the economy is getting better, why the expectation that more people will be requiring food stamps? Shouldn’t this have at least leveled-off if the jobs situation has stabilized? The CBO apparently sees an economy in decline for almost another two years.

While food stamps could arguably be for those not necessarily lazy, those opting for disability instead of a job is getting out-of-hand [emphasis added]:

A record 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to the latest official government data, as discouraged workers increasingly give up looking for jobs and take advantage of the federal program.

The number equates to 6% of the active workforce going on disability – a record ratio. The recent rise is attributable to three things:

  1. the relaxation of eligibility standards by Congress in 1984
  2. the current Administration’s harmful economic policies
  3. a climate of acceptance of those that would choose to go on disability even though they are able to work

Having the long-term unemployed go on to Social Security Disability is certainly better for the incumbent President and Democrat Senate. It falsely lowers the unemployment rate by taking those people permanently out of the work force.

Another negative impact is that Social Security is being drained even faster by folks who would otherwise be able to work. The money for SSDI (disability insurance) comes from exactly the same place as the retirement program (SSI) according to the government’s own website:

Social Security is funded through a tax on employers, employees, and self-insured individuals. Everyone who works in the United States pays into Social Security, and a portion of these funds are allocated to Social Security’s disability benefit programs, namely, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The relaxation of eligibility rules and Obama’s failed economy is accelerating the demise of the senior entitlement program by turning it into a permanent unemployment benefit.

Some argue that people need these benefits because of the failing economy – pretty much the same people preaching Obama’s fantastic handling of that same economy.

Republicans Cave on Bush Tax Cut Extension, White House Wants More

Republican congressional leaders are indicating that they will allow the Bush tax cuts to be extended until the end of the year without requiring offset spending cuts to pay for it. The White House is demanding that the GOP give even more.

The leaders of congressional Republicans will present an extension of the Bush tax cuts to the rest of the House and Senate GOP tonight. The proposal has been stripped of the requirement that cuts be made to pay for the continuing tax cuts that continue to starve the Social Security fund of badly needed revenue.

Republicans are not willing to be responsible for a perceived tax increase on 160 million Americans in an election year and have therefor given up the fight on the tax holiday. Instead, they have de-coupled the unemployment insurance extension and the so-called “doc-fix” from the bill – a move that has irritated Democrats who seem only ready to accept everything they want while giving nothing in return.

Despite getting the payroll tax holiday extended until the end of the year without any concessions, the White House has indicated that they want everything and intend to give nothing. Jay Carney said that they believe that the unemployment extension and Medicare doc-fix should be included in this deal.

All that is left is for the White House to complain that Republicans are unwilling to negotiate despite them being the only ones at the table giving in on anything – at all.

How Much Does The Government Really Have To Buy A Vote?

A break down of exactly how much does the government REALLY has to buy votes, who pays taxes, who does’t pay taxes, and how much each department spends. Bill Whittle calls Barack Obama’s $1 billion that he will spend to get re-elected “chump change” in comparison. These Big Government statistics are 22,000 times that amount… and each dollar is spent buying votes!

Barack Obama will have ONE BILLION DOLLARS to spend on his re-election in 2012. Bill calls that chump change. Find out how the Big Government statists spent 22,000 times that amount on buying votes in 2011 alone!

House and Senate pass 2-month Social Security Revenue Cut

Using a procedure known as unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed the 2-month payroll tax holiday that President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been demanding.

The procedure makes it possible to pass legislation without a quorum present in the chamber. The legislation passes as long as not one single member raises an objection to the legislation. This allows passage without having members fly back to Washington D.C.

The bill is now set to be signed by the President so that he can meet his family who is already vacationing in Hawaii.


The payroll tax gambit, eggs and the GOP miscalculation

The phrase “couldn’t find their butts with both hands tied behind their backs” comes to mind as I analyze the feat of stupidity undertaken by the leaders of the House and Senate in the Social Security revenue cut proposal (a.k.a. payroll tax holiday).

A news outlet I do not often quote, The New York Times,  has an opinion piece that puts it succinctly:

After a long stretch of high unemployment, legislative turmoil and, in turn, slipping public approval, President Obama seemed to regain his political footing this week with the help of House Republicans, whose handling of a standoff over payroll taxes had even leading conservatives accusing them of bungling the politically charged issue.

Obama has done absolutely nothing right, yet the GOP leadership is handing him a populist issue upon which he can turn his entire campaign around.

There is no way the GOP and Conservatives can come out of a tax battle smelling like a rose when the Democrats are voting for an increase that the right is willing to vote against. Harry Reid, Barack Obama and their puppet masters have played a masterful gambit and Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Boehner bit – hard.

Despite the fact that the Senate passed a bill they knew would not pass the House and got on the first train out of the swamp, the Republicans stayed behind “doing their work” and will have nothing but egg on their faces for it.

The Senate bill offers a two month, 2% tax holiday on payroll social security taxes. The House bill offers the same holiday but over a year’s time. The Democrats have to swallow a provision that puts the Keystone XL pipeline on the front burner.

Boehner tried to point out that the House had conferees ready to work out a compromise in joint committee over the differences in the two bills. He just asked that the Senate send their own conferees to join in the discussions so that they could work out a compromise that could be passed by both houses.

Obama came out in a press conference this week and demanded that the full House come back from vacation and vote on the Senate’s plan – echoing Reid’s commentary (or vice-versa – it’s so hard to tell now adays).

Both plans include a push to get a decision made on the Keystone XL pipeline, an extension of unemployment benefits, the Medicare doc-fix and a payroll tax holiday – so what’s the problem?

The fight isn’t over whether or not a tax cut should happen, the fight has been over how to pay for it and what to include with it.

The Senate’s 2-month version includes full unemployment benefit extensions at current levels. The House plan cuts the length of jobless benefits from 99 weeks to 79 weeks and requires beneficiaries without a high school diploma to seek education in order to continue receiving benefits.

A better play for the Republicans would have been to agree to the two month extension no strings attached. Then in February when we’re still talking about it, mention that the GOP gave something in December, the DNC gave nothing – just as they have for the last 3 years. The democrats are all take and no give –  no compromise.

Boehner and McConnell  are getting played and played well. If they continue with their ill-thought strategies, it will not be long before neither are leaders of much of anything.

Keystone XL Bill DOA in Senate

The US House of Representatives passed on Tuesday (December 13, 2011), despite a White House veto threat, a bill that had in it two key components: (1) it would force work to begin on the 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL oil pipeline, and (2) it would keep 160 million workers from seeing their payroll tax go up on January 1, 2012, from this year’s 4.2% back to 6.2%. The bill ignores Democrat proposals to place a surtax on people earning more than $1 million annually to offset the payroll tax non-increase. Other bill provisions include renewal of expiring extra benefits for long-term jobless people, and stop a cut in doctors’ Medicare reimbursements. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “It was dead before it got to the Senate. The Senate will not pass it.”

Labor unions (Keystone XL pipeline supporters) and environmentalists (pipeline opponents) are both very big Obama supporters. On Thursday, November 10, 2011, Obama dodged a sensitive situation by deferring the decision on extending TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama punted. He delayed the decision on the pipeline by supporting the State Department’s move to “seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal.” Obama cited a need for studies of how the pipeline could avoid harming fragile lands in Nebraska when he announced in November, 2011, that work would be delayed until after the 2012 elections. The GOP bill would give the president 60 days to act or the needed work permit would be automatically granted.

Proponents of the pipeline say work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, proposed to run from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to Texas oil refineries, would create 20,000 jobs and add $20 billion to the US economy. Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs the pipeline will create through increased business for local goods and service providers. Opponents say the real figure is more like 5,000 to 6,000 jobs. “This is a stick in the eye [for Democrats],” said House Democrat Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

House Republicans and dozens of House Democrats united to pass a bill in July, 2011, that would have kept the pipeline on schedule, but that bill died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Now that the Keyustone XL pipeline has been linked with a position Democrats favor, they are outraged. Steny Hoyer said that Republicans’ efforts to force a vote on the pipeline by attaching it to legislation that would extend the payroll tax cuts enacted last year was a partisan tactic that would insert a “controversial” issue into a bill it has nothing to do with. Said Hoyer, “I don’t think it has any analogy to anything other than a clear, politically motivated effort to make this a controversial bill, which would appeal to some of their most conservative members who don’t give one whit about compromise.”

So now with the House passage of a bill attaching the pipeline to Democrat favored issues will force the Senate, and Obama since Democrat senators will do his bidding, to “get off the dime” and let Americans know where he stands.

But that’s just my opinion.

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