06 January 2016

Bernie Sanders' Social Security Plan Gets A Huge Boost & Social Security in an Election Year 5&2JAN16

SOCIAL SECURITY, now becoming an issue for the presidential candidates to address to the electorate, to explain why some oppose expansion of the program, why some want to end it, why there is such strong opposition to lifting the income cap on the Social Security tax (now at $118,500) that would pay for the expansion of benefits. hillary clinton and the republican presidential candidates are committed to protecting the rich from a Social Security tax increase. +Senator Bernie Sanders I VT and Martin O'Malley, Democratic presidential candidates, support expansion of Social Security. Just more proof Bernie Sanders should be the candidate of choice for all Americans because he is not owned by the 1%, by corporate America. Go to Bernie 2016 for more on his presidential platform and discover for himself he really is starting a political revolution for all Americans. This from +Huffington Post Politics followed by the +New York Times editorial, and be sure to watch the video of Sen Elizabeth Warren D MA take on sen marco rubio r FL on Social Security and the videos of Sen Bernie Sanders I VT taking on sen marco rubio r FL and jeb bush r on Social Security......

Bernie Sanders' Social Security Plan Gets A Huge Boost

A New York Times editorial signals that a progressive cause is going mainstream.

01/05/2016 03:55 pm ET | Updated 1 hour ago

Bloomberg/Getty Images
The New York Times endorsed expansion of Social Security benefits, something Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has made a central part of his presidential run.
Progressives are hailing a New York Times editorial endorsing the expansion of Social Security benefits as an influential blessing to a position that, until recently, was relegated largely to liberal think tanks and activists.
The editorial published over the weekend encouraged presidential candidates to address Social Security as part of a strategy to confront a growing retirement income crisis, rather than merely as a problem to be fixed.
Closing Social Security’s funding gap “can’t be done by broadly cutting benefits,” the paper’s editorial board said. “In fact, there’s mounting evidence that Social Security, which has become ever more important in retirement, needs to be expanded.”
In fact, there’s mounting evidence that Social Security, which has become ever more important in retirement, needs to be expanded. The New York Times editorial board
The editorial from the paper of record marks a coup for progressive advocacy groups, economists and lawmakers, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who have steadily advanced the once-marginal pro-expansion stance into the mainstream.
“Hurray for the Times! I just wish The Washington Post were as enlightened,” said Nancy Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works, a nonprofit that convenes a coalition of groups fighting for benefits expansion.
Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a critic of how the press sometimes covers the Social Security debate, underscored the Times’ role as an arbiter of mainstream liberal thought. The longtime proponent of expanding Social Security called the publication's editorial  “hugely important.”
“They’re very much at the center of respectable opinion," he said. "If you’re taking a position that they have taken, you’re not considered a nut.”
[The Times is] very much at the center of respectable opinion. If you’re taking a position that they have taken, you’re not considered a nut. Dean Baker, the Center for Economic and Policy Research
And “nuts” is what many respectable Washington opinion leaders would have called the position even a few years ago. The Washington Post referred to groups opposed to benefit cuts -- ones that didn't even go so far as to suggest expanding Social Security -- as “Social Security denialists” in an August 2010 editorial.
In the deficit-wary, early days of the economic recovery, when the tea party was ascendant and President Barack Obama convened the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission, the question among both Democrats and Republicans was largely not whether Social Security benefits should be cut, but by how much.
The Bowles-Simpson commission recommended dramatic changes to the popular social insurance program in December 2010, including increasing the retirement age to 69, means-testing benefits and cutting the program’s cost-of-living adjustment by adopting a “chained” Consumer Price Index.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), a leading Senate liberal and close ally of the president, sat on the commission, voted for its controversial recommendations and defended his vote in print.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
When Erskine Bowles (L) and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.) co-chaired President Barack Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission, cutting Social Security was all the rage.

Although the commission's proposals never were considered seriously by Congress wholesale, Obama offered Republican leaders the chained CPI as a compromise during fiscal cliff negotiations in December 2012.
The president subsequently included it in his fiscal year 2014 budget -- proof to many progressives that he actually believed in reducing benefits as a matter of policy.
At that time, Sanders spoke to progressives protesting outside the White House who had delivered over 2.5 million signatures against the move. The Times, for its part, also condemned the chained CPI, while implying it remained open to some other benefit cuts.
Along with the pressure from Obama’s base, the requisite Republican support for revenue increases to complete a “grand bargain” on the budget was once again not forthcoming. The administration shelved the provision the following year, which CNN called “music to liberals’ ears.”

Meanwhile, a counter-offensive was brewing. Social Security Works and its allied organizations began publicly promoting an idea they long had privately supported: that Social Security should be increased in order to combat a growing retirement income gap.
They were fond of citing many of the same figures the Times put forward in its weekend editorial.
“Currently, 36 percent of retirees rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income; over all, 65 percent of retirees rely on it for more than half of their income,” the Times noted. “The average monthly benefit hovers around $1,300.”
And things are getting worse, as the Times observed and these advocates often point out. Most Americans have saved very little for retirement and access to employer-sponsored retirement plans is declining.
About a month before Obama included the chained CPI in his budget for fiscal year 2014, progressives found their first champion of expansion in Congress: Former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced a bill that would have expanded benefits across the board and paid for it by lifting the cap on earnings subject to Social Security taxes.
But the movement to expand benefits really gained traction when Warren gave it her rockstar imprimatur in a passionate speech on the Senate floor in November 2013. Warren’s speech was a “real gamechanger” because of her national following, said Altman, who is also a co-author of Social Security Works: Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All.
Support for the position only picked up from there. All but two Senate Democrats present voted for a nonbinding budget amendment Warren introduced in April advocating the “sustainable expansion” of Social Security benefits.

Bernie Sanders Vs Marco Rubio - Social Security Battle 

 Uploaded on Aug 25, 2011

The views of progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and conservative Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Social Security are contrasted by The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur.

Bernie Sanders Shreds Jeb Bush On Social Security Cuts

Published on Jun 4, 2015
“At a time when more than half of the American people have less than $10,000 in savings, it would be a disaster to cut Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age,” the Democratic presidential candidate replied in a statement.

“It is unacceptable to ask construction workers, truck drivers, nurses and other working-class Americans to work until they are 68 to 70 years old before qualifying for full Social Security benefits,” added Sanders, who has pushed to expand Social Security benefits."

Among the Democratic candidates, Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) have both embraced across-the-board expansion of the program. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she would “enhance” benefits for the neediest beneficiaries, but has stopped short of the expansion language adopted by her rivals.

For Altman, the Times editorial is at once a sign that Social Security expansion is an idea whose time has come, and a "big step" that will further propel the policy into the mainstream.
“It is a recognition of what has been building all around,” she said.
But Altman said she will only be satisfied when Republicans begin backing expansion of benefits as well.
“The next step is for Republicans to jump on this bandwagon,” she concluded. “It has historically been a bipartisan program. That’s when it will really be front and center mainstream.”

Social Security in an Election Year

This election season offers an opportunity to reframe the debate over Social Security. It is necessary, of course, to ensure the program’s long-term health beyond 2034, when the system is projected to come up short. But this can’t be done by broadly cutting benefits. In fact, there’s mounting evidence that Social Security, which has become ever more important in retirement, needs to be expanded.
Currently, 36 percent of retirees rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income; over all, 65 percent of retirees rely on it for more than half of their income. The average monthly benefit hovers around $1,300. Retirement security won’t be any better for those now in their 50s. The Government Accountability Office recently found that 52 percent of American households with someone 55 or older have nothing saved for retirement and that only half of that 52 percent will get anything from a company pension. For those ages 55 to 64 with retirement savings, the median amount is barely in the six figures.
Younger workers are arguably worse off, because saving has become increasingly difficult, or impossible, in the face of stagnating wages, high debt, high rents and the lack of employer-provided retirement benefits. In 2013, 44 percent of workers on the lower half of the income scale had a retirement plan at work, down from 54 percent in 1995, according to data from the Federal Reserve.
Despite these facts, nearly all Republican candidates have called for cuts to Social Security benefits.
Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio all favor cutting benefits by delaying the age for full benefits; the retirement age is already set to rise to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. They say a higher retirement age is needed to keep up with longer lives. But data show that life expectancy is growing faster among the wealthy than among the poor, and poor women are seeing life expectancy decline. So raising the retirement age across the board would hit lower-income workers the hardest.
Mr. Bush, Mr. Christie and Mr. Cruz have also endorsed reducing future cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security, even though there is no compelling evidence that the current adjustment is too high.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cruz have said that Social Security payroll taxes should be diverted into new private accounts for employees, a reprise of President George W. Bush’s failed privatization attempt in 2005. Private accounts do not enhance retirement security. They divert money that would otherwise finance Social Security to Wall Street and shift the risk from government to individuals.
Donald Trump opposes benefit cuts, including a higher retirement age, but he has offered no meaningful ideas for reform.

The Democratic candidates have played defense and offense. They have opposed benefit cuts and privatization. They have proposed increasing the system’s revenues by raising the ceiling on the amount of wages, currently $118,500, that are subject to payroll taxes. That reform is overdue. If the wage ceiling had kept pace with the income gains of high earners over the decades, it would be about $250,000 today.
More important, they have stressed that an aim of reform is to bolster the system, not shrink it. Hillary Clinton would raise benefits for widows and for retirees who had long absences from the work force to care for relatives. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley would increase benefits more broadly, especially for low-income recipients.
Ultimately, strengthening Social Security requires a growing and healthy economy. The Democratic candidates have credible ideas for creating jobs and raising wages that would revitalize the tax base for Social Security. Those and other sensible fixes, not deep and broad cutbacks, will ensure that the system continues to provide a basic level of guaranteed retirement income for all workers.