Over the Fiscal Cliff for “Those People”

Kris E. Benson at Wonkette links to an excellent Atlantic article on the Republican’s proposed Austerity Bomb (“We only have a budget crisis if [the very richest households] refuse to pay higher taxes”), and points out an added little poison sac in the details:

Your Wonkette agrees with the Atlantic’s James Kwack that Olds should be able to retire with dignity, and with health care. HOWEVER, we would just like to point out a few things. Kwack says that “decades ago, Congress decided that anyone who worked for ten years, and his or her spouse, deserved a basic level of health insurance.” But that’s not quite true! Kwack forgets that Social Security, when introduced, excluded women and nonwhites from eligibility, so it’s more realistic to say that “decades ago, Congress decided that any white man who worked for ten years deserved a basic level of insurance, along with his spouse.”

Of course, later race and gender barriers to entitlements were far less explicit. Between 1960 and 1980 when the full retirement age was 65, black men could theoretically qualify for benefits, but the average life expectancy of an African American male was roughly 62 years old. So Blacks would pay into the program their entire lives and die before they could take any substantive advantage.

Then in the 1980s, when Black male life expectancy had finally increased to 65, it was decided that entitlements needed an overhaul and the age of full retirement was raised to 67.

Currently, Black male life expectancy is finally at 70, and what a SHOCK that Romney/Ryan would have raised the age of Medicare eligibility to 70

Shorter GOP: Well, SOME people deserve a secure retirement, but THOSE PEOPLE just want to steal undeserved handouts!

72 replies
  1. 1
    PsiFighter37 says:

    I do have to say that it’s something that I’ve become aware of – the fact that there’s a sense of pulling the ladder up when it comes to these cuts to programs that people have been paying taxes into their entire lives (fuck calling them entitlements – it’s not something feel they are owed; after all, they have been paying Medicare and Social Security taxes the whole time). My social studies teacher from high school (the one who opened my eyes when I was a bright-eyed young’un) pointed this out, and while I thought it was maybe interpreting the issue the wrong way, the coinkydink is too obvious to deny…

  2. 2
    General Stuck says:

    When the ACA gets fully implemented in 5 or 6 more years, raising the eligibility age for medicare will lose a lots of its meaning. Since nearly everyone will be covered, cradle to grave for one New Deal law, or another.

    Republicans want basically two things on this topic. The first is to crack open the hermetically sealed SS and medicare formula of funding and delivery, so as their plutocrat masters can drain those coffers as well, by privatizing them. The second thing is their morbid dread that the ACA will become as popular as SS and medicare, and it will, unless they can figure out a way to monkey wrench it so as dems don’t get even more poll creds than they have now. And I’m not sure that race, at this stage, has a lot to do with their motivations. Though it did in eras past. This is about garnering and concentrating wealth at the top, and the political expediency that comes with it.

    Republicans don’t have an austerity plan. They have another heist plan.

  3. 3
    Bloix says:

    Wonkette doesn’t understand the difference between life expectancy at birth and life expectancy at age 65.

  4. 4
    Mnemosyne says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    (fuck calling them entitlements – it’s not something feel they are owed; after all, they have been paying Medicare and Social Security taxes the whole time)

    I’m happy to call them entitlements, because when you’ve been paying into something for all the decades of your working life, you sure as fuck are ENTITLED to collect on what you paid in.

    That’s always my question to people who bitch about “entitlements” — what’s the problem with people thinking that they’re entitled to benefit from a system they’ve been paying into? Who’s more entitled to that money than the actual people who paid into the system?

    They never seem to have an answer to that, strangely enough.

  5. 5
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne: This.

    Yes, yes, yes. I’ve been paying in to both programs since 1974 or so. I am entitled to the benefits.

  6. 6
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Bloix:

    Thank you. I wasn’t just imagining the skewing of life expectancy rates of African-Americans by higher infant mortality rates and higher rates of homicide. IIRC, when broken down along lines of income rather than race, African-American average life expectancy rates are pretty damned close to everyone else in the income group…Which lifts the lid off another kettle of rotten fish…

  7. 7
    PeakVT says:

    As Bloix alludes to, the gap in life expectancy between whites and blacks narrows as people get older. For men, the gap narrows from 5.3 years at birth to 1.9 years at age 65 and 0.7 years at age 75. For women the gap is consistently smaller.

  8. 8
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): That skewing of life expectancy also holds whenever someone says that SS wasn’t meant to be paid for some long period of time because people died younger in the 1930s. Well, yes, the life expectancy at birth was only in the 60s but the life expectancy at 60 was longer, just like it is today.

    ETA: Statistics and parameters: how do they work.

  9. 9
    MattR says:

    I can’t source this since it is from an email I wrote to a friend last May (and I stupidly did not include a source in the email), but I have seen similar, more up to date numbers posted somewere recently (perhaps on Krugman’s blog where there was a bar graph that illustrated it more clearly)

    If you were a 60 year old male in 1972 who was in the lower half of the earnings curve you were expected to live to 77.7 as opposed to 78.9 if you were in the top half of the earnings curve. That is a difference of 1.2 years and seems pretty reasonable. By 2001, that had shifted so the poorer half had a life expectancy of 79.6 while the richer half had one of 85.4 which is a difference of 5.8 years. Put another way, the poorest half have gained 1.9 years of life expectancy from 1972 to 2001 while the richer half gained 6.5 years.

    @Bloix: I would say it is actually life expectancy for those who survive infancy (or those who reach working age) would be the relevant stat when determining if a disproportionate percentage of blacks are paying into a system they will never be able to collect from.

    ETA: I see others have made similar points.

  10. 10
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Life expectancy, black vs white:

    I get the idea that early life is more dangerous for black people than white folks. Does anybody know if this is because of economic disparities or perhaps due to birth weight?

  11. 11
    Punchy says:

    @Bloix: expecting Wonkette to accurately parse statistics is like asking a woman to accurately give you driving directions or scores of NFL games…

  12. 12
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Punchy:
    Pbbbbpppppttt!

  13. 13
    jl says:

    OK, life expectancy at birth is not quite what you need, but I think Wonkette is at least partly a humor blog, except some articles come with an disclaimer that parts are serious.

    I don’t see a disclaimer for this one.

    Not sure life expectancy at 65 is quite what you want either.

    Seems to me that what you want is life expectancies during working years, from, say, around 30 to 70 for the proposed new retirement age.

    The cumulative life expectancy gap between blacks and whites from age 30 to 70 is 4.1 years for men and 3.0 years for women. So, does look like a problem to me.

    Calculate your own gap:
    S Harper, J Lynch, S Burris and GD Smith
    Trends in the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap in the United States, 1983-2003
    JAMA, March 21, 2007 Vol 297, No. 11, 1224-1232,

    I think the link is free for anyone, but not sure
    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/ar.....eid=206131

  14. 14
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Well, yes, the life expectancy at birth was only in the 60s but the life expectancy at 60 was longer, just like it is today.

    Yeah, granted, but what was the average life expectancy of a 60-year old in 1940 compared to what it was in 1960, 1980, 2000…?

    Seems to me that if every generation of 60-year olds had a few months added to their average life expectancy but the formula used for paying out S.S. remained static, there was bound to be a shortfall in the payouts at some point. Not that raising the age for recipients is the answer, because the another solution is clearly to raise the amount paid in, no?

  15. 15
    ruemara says:

    @Punchy: Wow,that’s a really assholey metaphor.

  16. 16
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): I’m sure the numbers are out there, but I’m going to sleep soon and am too tired to do the research right now. I’ll do some research tomorrow so I have the answer for future use.

  17. 17
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Linda Featheringill: @ruemara:

    How’s this?

    expecting Wonkette to accurately parse statistics is like asking a woman to accurately give you driving directions or scores of NFL games guy to give an eyeballed assessment of the length of any object which is clearly less than a foot…

    Because 4 1/2″ quickly becomes a thick and healthy 8″ all the time. ;)

  18. 18
    jl says:

    Don’t have time to find it now, but I think best measure is growth in live expectancy for lower versus high income population, and a number of people have pointed out, including Krugman in a recent column, that growth in life expectancy for lower income has been very small compared to higher income. (Edit: ‘really really small’ would be more accurate for lower income)

    So, I think there is a case that a flat increase in retirement age is working lower income people all their lives while higher income folks get a lot of gravy.

    Increase the payroll tax cap is what you do. I think it makes sense for a retirement income insurance program. The rich will yowl, because every rich person just knew fer sher at age 22 that they would be wealthy some day. I guess the trust fund babies did know. But most do not know, regardless of what they claim after they have made their pile.

  19. 19
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    [chuckle] Self-deprecating humor gets me every time!

    [You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.]

  20. 20
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Thankyaverymuch for getting that…I hate having to explain that one…And I’ve had to.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    pro tip for the gentlemen: typical male palm width is 3 to 3 1/2 inches.

    Hope that info does not dent any egos later tonight.

    You can google it up.

    Edit: now me, I am just AMAZED it would be so wide!

  22. 22
    👽 Martin says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Last I looked it was most likely due to economic disparities.

    Life expectancy for low-educated whites is dropping by almost 5 years every decade. Life expectancy for blacks and latinos are climbing, mainly because more of them are getting educational opportunities and higher incomes.

    Lower education and income correlates with higher smoking and drug use, but the biggie is probably the combination of economic stress and lack of insurance. But the leading cause of death in young whites has always been accidents (notably auto) and those rates have plummeted in the last decade but drug overdoses/poisonings have largely made up those gains and is now the leading cause of death.

    So differences between ethnic groups seems to be eroding and clearer differences between economic groups emerging.

  23. 23
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @jl:

    Oh, so that explains why one hand is two hands are never enough.

  24. 24
    Bruce S says:

    General Stuck Says:
    When the ACA gets fully implemented in 5 or 6 more years, raising the eligibility age for medicare will lose a lots of its meaning.

    Really? My reaction to any talk of raising the Medicare eligibility age is “Fuck You!” Hold this discussion until “raising the eligibility age for Medicare” losing “lots of its meaning” is a reality, not speculation.

    Anyone who talks about raising the Medicare eligibility age is an idiot – Medicare is our most cost-effective health insurance and raising the eligibility age can ONLY make the country’s health care costs worse. The notion that in 5-6 years ACA will mean that private insurers can offer folks in their mid-60s as affordable and cost-effective health insurance as Medicare is wildly optimistic…if not delusional.

    You’re validating the central current rhetorical right-wing Bullshit of “entitlement reform” and obviously anticipating the creepy Plouffe bullshit as the best we can expect from this White House – unless there is push-back from folks who actually have access to two balls, or “Firebaggers” in your half-assed lexicon.

    You should be a guest on “Morning Joe!” or have lunch with Lloyd Blankfein. “Democrats need to swallow ‘entitlement reform’ because…uh…the Bush tax cuts are about to expire by law and ‘deficit reduction’ – nonsensical and drastically counter-productive as those austerity hysterics may be – will become the reality.” Genius! Roll back the tax cut expiration on “the middle class” – at least for the interim – and leave Medicare and Social Security alone. Period! The Medicare cost issue isn’t driven by Medicare. Deal with systemic costs – isolating Medicare as a “problem” is GOPer Big Lie! Fuck Grand Bargains, Fuck the GOP and, frankly, fuck David Plouffe’s crap talking points. He’s an asshole.

  25. 25
    Chris T. says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m happy to call them entitlements, because when you’ve been paying into something for all the decades of your working life, you sure as fuck are ENTITLED to collect on what you paid in.

    All true. Nonetheless, words have connotations as well as denotational meanings. One of the Republicans’ more effective tricks over the last few decades has been to take advantage of language (mis)interpretation, and the word “entitlement” makes people think of Rich Snobs Born With Silver Rods Up Their Butts or whatever.

    (Connotations vary more widely than denotations. In Australia and New Zealand, the word “scheme” lacks the dishonesty connotation that it carries in the US. It’s common there to see the newspapers write about various government schemes. Here, were, say, the Huffington Post or Daily Kos to write about the Republicans’ “scheme” to raise retirement ages and lower taxes on the wealthy, you can bet Fox News would be denouncing them every five minutes, because Only Evildoers [such as Liberals] Plot and Scheme.)

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Punchy:

    expecting Wonkette to accurately parse statistics is like asking a woman my father to accurately give you driving directions or scores of NFL games…

    Fix’d, because the man routinely gives directions along the lines of, “And then you turn where the gas station used to be …”

    G used to think that my poor sense of direction might be gender-based, and then he got directions from my father and brother and understood all. (My brother’s shining moment: “Oh, I meant to tell you that you were supposed to turn there.”)

  27. 27
    Chris T. says:

    @Bruce S: Yep, we’d be much better off lowering the Medicare age a few years (to 63 or 60, or, heck, let’s lower it to 18!).

  28. 28
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Let’s also not forget that the munificence of the post-WW2 settlement was less… munificent for black veterans, who didn’t get the same shot at a Levittown house and college. Instead of instituting the kind of broad-based welfare state that European nations generally adopted, the GI Bill distributed the gains of the war on a more individualised basis, and that set up a huge generational gap in terms of net worth and social mobility.

  29. 29
    👽 Martin says:

    @Bruce S:

    You’re validating the central current rhetorical right-wing Bullshit of “entitlement reform” and obviously anticipating the creepy Plouffe bullshit as the best we can expect from this White House – unless there is push-back from folks who actually have access to two balls, or “Firebaggers” in your half-assed lexicon.

    I suspect you’re misreading Stuck. I think that changing the Medicare age will be meaningless because there will be limited if any savings from doing it.

    Consider that under the individual mandate, lower income individuals get a subsidy to pay for the insurance. Since most people now retire earlier than 65, and most start drawing SS closer to 62, we’re going to be mailing them a check to pay for most of the insurance. Extending the eligibility for Medicare would only serve to extend how long we are pushing those subsidies out. I think when they run those numbers post-2014, they’re going to find that the age 65 costs under Medicare start dropping significantly (because people aren’t coasting without insurance until 65) while the costs for extending mandate subsidies just go up.

    There’s going to be better places to look for entitlement savings. In fact, we’ll likely find that lowering the Medicare age and increasing the payroll tax to pay for it (and eliminate those subsidies) lowers the entitlement cost overall. We never had a framework to demonstrate that, but in a few years we will.

  30. 30
    Bruce S says:

    @Chris T.:

    Yes – all empirical evidence points in the exact opposite direction of these ridiculous proposals to narrow Medicare’s eligibility age.

    Here are the crap talking points from Plouffe I was referring to – he should be fired. But he’s speaking as a “safe” insider. Not helpful. I don’t know how this ends, but Plouffe is making the GOP seem like they have a rational case on “entitlements”, which is bullshit based on all available data. Health care costs are a problem – but there’s no more cost-effective insurance than Medicare and no option which is better positioned to control costs even more effectively in the future. ACA is still a year from initial implementation.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejm.....to-get-hai

  31. 31
    Bruce S says:

    @👽 Martin:

    I’m not misreading Stuck. It’s disgusting to even discuss raising the Medicare eligibility age. You have to be a total idiot to talk about it – even speculatively – in the current crackpot rhetorical swamp of “entitlement reform.” And – and I think you’re getting at this – if subisidies kick in for most people, then raising the Medicare age is an idiotic approach to cutting “deficits.” The problem I see isn’t some glib, essentially meaningless blog comment – it’s that a top White House advisor is out there yammering about “entitlement reform” and Democrats “stepping up.” That’s just stupid. I’m hearing way too many Democrats offering up “entitlement reform” as part of this negotiation. It’s nonsense. Totally wrong. A GOP talking point.

  32. 32
    odp says:

    Wonkette wrote: “Kwack forgets that Social Security, when introduced, excluded women and nonwhites from eligibility…”

    How is it, then, that the first recipient of Social Security was an unmarried woman? See: http://www.ssa.gov/history/imf.html:

    Ida May Fuller was the first beneficiary of recurring monthly Social Security payments. Miss Fuller (known as Aunt Ida to her friends and family) was born on September 6, 1874 on a farm outside of Ludlow, Vermont. She attended school in Rutland, Vermont where one of her classmates was Calvin Coolidge. In 1905, after working as a school teacher, she became a legal secretary. One of the partners in the firm, John G. Sargent, would later become Attorney General in the Coolidge Administration.

    Ida May never married and had no children. She lived alone most of her life, but spent eight years near the end of her life living with her niece, Hazel Perkins, and her family in Brattleboro, Vermont.

    Miss Fuller filed her retirement claim on November 4, 1939, having worked under Social Security for a little short of three years. While running an errand she dropped by the Rutland Social Security office to ask about possible benefits. She would later observe: “It wasn’t that I expected anything, mind you, but I knew I’d been paying for something called Social Security and I wanted to ask the people in Rutland about it.”

    Her claim was taken by Claims Clerk, Elizabeth Corcoran Burke, and transmitted to the Claims Division in Washington, D.C. for adjudication. The case was adjudicated and reviewed and sent to the Treasury Department for payment in January 1940. The claims were grouped in batches of 1,000 and a Certification List for each batch was sent to Treasury. Miss Fuller’s claim was the first one on the first Certification List and so the first Social Security check, check number 00-000-001, was issued to Ida May Fuller in the amount of $22.54 and dated January 31, 1940.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris T.:

    If you’re going that route, don’t forget that conservatives have managed to do a full reverse on the word “entitlements,” where the working poor are not entitled to the Social Security benefits they paid into their entire working lives, but the children of rich people are entitled to inherit all of their parents’ wealth with no nasty estate taxes. IOW, “entitlements” are for poor people, “rights” are for rich people.

  34. 34
    Alison says:

    @odp: From Wiki:

    Most women and minorities were excluded from the benefits of unemployment insurance and old age pensions. Employment definitions reflected typical white male categories and patterns.[5] Job categories that were not covered by the act included workers in agricultural labor, domestic service, government employees, and many teachers, nurses, hospital employees, librarians, and social workers.[6] The act also denied coverage to individuals who worked intermittently.[7] These jobs were dominated by women and minorities. For example, women made up 90 percent of domestic labor in 1940 and two-thirds of all employed black women were in domestic service.[8] Exclusions exempted nearly half of the working population.[7] Nearly two-thirds of all African Americans in the labor force, 70 to 80 percent in some areas in the South, and just over half of all women employed were not covered by Social Security.[9][10] At the time, the NAACP protested the Social Security Act, describing it as “a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through.”[10]

    So not *all* women, and not always, but many and often.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @odp:

    How is it, then, that the first recipient of Social Security was an unmarried woman?

    Because she worked in the then very unusual position of legal secretary in a time when most people with the “secretary” title were men.

    Show us the story of a lifelong housekeeper or schoolteacher who was the first recipient of Social Security benefits. Hell, a lot of schoolteachers don’t qualify for Social Security benefits to this day which is why states set up separate pension systems for them (which are now being raided in budget crunches because idiots wrongly assume that everyone gets Social Security and don’t understand that a teacher’s pension is all she has).

  36. 36
    👽 Martin says:

    @Bruce S:

    but Plouffe is making the GOP seem like they have a rational case on “entitlements”, which is bullshit based on all available data. Health care costs are a problem – but there’s no more cost-effective insurance than Medicare and no option which is better positioned to control costs even more effectively in the future. ACA is still a year from initial implementation.

    You’re taking too binary a view on this. The alternative to the GOP case on entitlements isn’t to disavow there’s a problem on entitlements. There is. Regardless of whether Medicare is best to control costs, those costs as structured now still need to be paid – and Dems aren’t supporting any solution on revenue other than raising the payroll cap, nor are they supporting any solutions on costs other than lowering the menu prices. Nobody is talking about Disability, which is full-on out of money in 3 years. Disability rolls have doubled in two decades and the cost rate has doubled in two decades, while the income rate has been relatively flat. 20% of all Social Security spending is disability, so to have it spending at 100% over income, it’s bleeding SS quickly. What’s the solution to that? Old age isn’t the problem – disability is. Nobody – NOBODY – is talking about disability at all. And it’s a very real problem.

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Does anybody know if this is because of economic disparities or perhaps due to birth weight?

    IIRC, the birth weight disparity is because there are a lot of African-American women with high blood pressure at a young age, and a lot of that group also doesn’t have good access to prenatal care because of economic disparities, which leads to a higher percentage of low birthweight babies. IIRC, the higher rate of hypertension for African-Americans persists even if you take out things that contribute to hypertension like smoking or obesity.

  38. 38
    Petorado says:

    Black male life expectancy is finally at 70, and what a SHOCK that Romney/Ryan would have raised the age of Medicare eligibility to 70…

    F–in Actuarials. Nothing like knowing you’re a statistics away from getting screwed out of getting something you paid into your whole life in order to receive.

  39. 39
    JasonF says:

    Off topic, but if you haven’t seen Tom Ricks’s appearance on Fox News to discuss Benghazi, make time to do so. It’s a thing of beauty.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2.....s-t/191509

  40. 40
    Djur says:

    Wonkette’s use of life expectancy at birth isn’t perfect, but it’s better than life expectancy at 65 for the argument being made.

    Increasing retirement age is generally a wretched idea. Any (partial) adjustment to retirement age should come after revenue increases.

  41. 41
    Gretchen says:

    I wish these columnists and congresspeople knew some actual working people. Most waitresses, roofers, and so on want to stop working at 62 because their bodies are too broken down to keep doing what they’re doing. The desk-jockeys keep working into their 70s and think everybody else could too, and it’s just not true. And raising the medicare age wouldn’t save any money among the Waitress-moms. It’s been shown that people who start medicare without having insurance in the years before eligibility are much sicker, and end up costing Medicare a bundle more than people who have had continuous insurance.

  42. 42
    El Cid says:

    Raising the retirement age brings with it the crisp note of disciplined punishment of indolence.

    These are people who scarcely deserved to live, much less be allowed to age and die in some degree of comfort having failed to make of themselves so independently wealthy that no aid was needed.

    We demand sacrifice. We demand pain.

    We demand the satisfaction of knowing the terror in the hearts of an aging man or woman at hearing the alarm clock and knowing that if their sore hip or aching arthritis slows them down too much, they could lose the job they need to pay the bills.

    Because the only true love is pain. That is how a great nation loves its older citizens, by giving them pain, and by watching them suffer it.

  43. 43
    wufnik says:

    It would probably help if Wonkette could get James Kwak’s name right.

  44. 44
    Uriel says:

    Sigh.

    While I’m used to pointing out the common ignorance of actuarial science and the concept of demographic life-tables while tilting windmills against the average RWNJ, I always dread facing the fact that people on my side of the aisle are equally as ignorant regarding the progressive nature behind the concept of ‘life expectancy.’ .

    Then again, it’s Anne Laurie, so I guess I should be used to a certain level of enthusiastic idiocy…

  45. 45
    Schlemizel says:

    Since the life expectancy numbers are a lie the wingnuts like to use to make social security look bad it would be nice if we put some effort into correcting the half-truth.

    When they say “life expectancy for men when SS was passed was only 65 blah blah blah. they are ignoring the fact that that number was for every live birth. If a guy lived to be 20 his average life expectancy was much closer to 80. I’ll bet you a dime the same sort of numbers hold true for black men.

  46. 46
    Bruce S says:

    @👽 Martin:

    There isn’t a problem with “entitlements” – there’s a systemic problem of our health care system that is distinct from “entitlements.” As regards SS, the obvious solution is to end the cap and tax all equally – or at the very least bring the amount of total income captured by FICA back to the levels Reagan negotiated with Tip O’Neill (growth of income inequality has shaved a lot off of the pool as projected.) Once that’s done, we can talk about any further problems within SS. But giving ground on this “entitlement reform” swindle in the context of “deficit reduction” talks is extremely problematic.

    The reality is that few of these “deficit hawks” actually cares about the deficit. The misnomered “fiscal cliff” solves the deficit – so if the deficit were a disastrous near-term problem as it’s been posed, “deficit hawks” would embrace going off “the cliff”, even if only as a provisional solution. But these schizoids are mostly about tax cuts and attacking social insurance. There is so much disingenuous BS being sold in this debate, it’s toxic. (My guess is that most people think the fiscal cliff means bigger deficits…the way this is discussed is so devoid of coherence and so bound by ideological and “class warfare from above” agendas.)

  47. 47
    Bruce S says:

    @👽 Martin:

    “…nor are they supporting any solutions on costs other than lowering the menu prices.”

    Actually a lot of people are talking about fundamental reform beyond price controls, focused on shifting from “fee for service” to more holistic approaches. (And the elephant in the room is end-of-life choices.) But the discourse has been so poisoned that it’s difficult to tackle real reform when one side is pandering recklessly to an elderly political base while trying to figure out how to sell a disastrous privatization scheme by painting “Medicare” as a driver of health care inflation – which is simply a lie. The least sustainable segment of our system is the one that these clowns want to expand. ACA offers hope for reform over time, but it’s very much a work in progress so far as I can tell.

  48. 48
    kay says:

    IMO, the reason no one talks about the growth in Social Security disability is because of welfare reform.
    They pushed a lot of disabled people who used to rely on cash assistance onto Social Security disability when they cut off welfare cash assistance. They had no where else to go. Makes sense they ended up in the Social Security system.
    Welfare reform was supposedly this huge bipartisan success, so no one can admit that.

  49. 49
    1badbaba3 says:

    @General Stuck: Did someone say heist plan? Great. Soderberg directs, Clooney plays Grover. Who does Brad Pitt play?

  50. 50
    jefft452 says:

    @Mnemosyne: “Because she worked in the then very unusual position of legal secretary in a time when most people with the “secretary” title were men “

    But the article states “…Social Security, when introduced, excluded women and nonwhites from eligibility…”

    This is demonstrably untrue
    Yes, job categories were excluded, and women and nonwhites were more likely to have jobs in the excluded categories but a lot of white men had jobs in the excluded categories too
    In fact, ¾ of excluded workers where white males

    If they wanted require that you must be male and at least 7/8th Caucasian, they could have – but they didn’t
    That is why FDR went from 25% of black voters in 1932 to 75% of black voters in 1936

  51. 51
    aimai says:

    @kay:

    Also: a lot of people on disability are born disabled and without that money their families would end up either abandoning them on the street or putting them in government run homes which don’t exist at the moment. Someone is going to pick up the bill for these preemie babies, kids with major disabilities and life long physical and mental health problems, whether it is done under SSI or under welfare or under some other scheme or we are going to be living in a third world hell hole of homeless mentally ill (whoops! that already happened) and cripples.

    Given the cruelty of the fact that women are denied abortions in about half the states, and that teenagers still get pregnant accidentally and don’t necessarily get pre-natal health care, we are practically at Ceaucescue levels of catch 22 here but the existence of SSI puts a shaky floor underneath the disabled people who are homeless when their families can’t take care of them any longer.

    aimai

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @jefft452: The Wonkette piece has a good and, I think, valid underlying point, but it plays very fast and loose with statistics and facts to get there. I think this sort of piece is more harmful than useful. The mileage of others may vary.

  53. 53
    JoyfulA says:

    @kay: Thanks, Kay. I didn’t know that.
    There was an uproar when “welfare as we know it” ended because the childcare promised to mothers required to work never developed. Former welfare mothers were arrested for leaving their children at home alone, in their cars at the parking lot at work, or in the changing rooms at work.
    Then silence (at least as far as I heard). Now TV talking heads and equally well-informed newspaper online commenters babble on about single mothers on welfare (without quite saying Welfare Queens) as if welfare isn’t now strictly limited by number and size of payments received.
    I often wondered about the people left behind who just couldn’t cope, which is hard enough to do for those of us with many advantages.

  54. 54
    Higgs Boson says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    While you may be technically correct in the use of the word “entitlement”, it’s (obviously) a politically and emotionly charged term. “Earned benefit” is another term that’s been used for social security and medicare, which I think makes better sense in getting the point across.

  55. 55
    kay says:

    @aimai:

    Oh, I agree. I just think we would do well to look at the onset of welfare reform and the growth in Social Security disability, because that would be an honest discussion of how they shifted costs from general funds to the SS system in the 1990s. We’ll never HAVE that discussion because a lot of people are deeply invested in claiming that welfare reform was an unqualified success.
    I have so much trouble with this debate because almost all the participants are covering their ass or have a hidden agenda.
    You really can’t have an honest negotiation with all these deeply compromised actors. I think there should be a crawl under pundits that says where their income comes from. If your objective is to take SS private, well, SAY THAT.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    kay says:

    @aimai:

    Wouldn’t it be great if every time Pete Peterson was bloviating there was a crawl that said “lobbying to take SS private”?

    I just so vividly remember the fake “death tax” debate, where the richest families in the country ran this elaborate scam to convince people that federal estate taxes were causing people to “lose the family farm” or “pharmacy”. It was always a farm or a pharmacy. I STILL have people telling me they paid federal estate tax, when they inherited a 60k house that came with unpaid property taxes. “I got stuck with the death tax!” People here sometimes think probate fees are federal estate taxes.

    They’ve done a real number on the public, I’ll tell you. No one knows what the truth is.

    “Hard truths and honest discussion”. My. Ass.

  58. 58
    Bruce S says:

    The thing that’s most bizarre and telling about the “fiscal cliff” is that it ratifies almost universally the Keynesian recognition of austerity schemes as disastrous in the midst of a sluggish economy. Proving – after several years of ginned up deficit hysterics – our political discourse is incoherent at best.

  59. 59
    aimai says:

    @kay:

    I remember first seeing a 60 minutes episode, back when they really did some good stuff, on how it was one single family–the wine makers Gallo–who were singlehandedly trying to destroy the estate tax in order to benefit themselves. It was mindboggling how naked their attempts were–and I believe they were successful.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    nothing is really a shock here.

  61. 61
    General Stuck says:

    @Bruce S:

    Dude, you are raging loonatic, that looks to have a massive Banana tree growing out its ass. I didn’t say I was for raising the eligibility age, just that it will be not as bad as would be without the ACA.

    There is no sense arguing, discussing, or anything else with you, since your beautiful mind has all the answers and a case of butthurt that is galactic. And saying that medicare is just fine and the problem is really rising healthcare costs is favoring the chicken over the egg. Medicare is the greatest engine that drives healthcare consumption, as it is caring for the sickest among us. And therefore a viable vehicle to ratchet down overall health care costs. It is the premise behind much of the ACA reg framework to lower overall costs. You know. the deathpanel

    It is your attitude that nothing should ever be done to entitlement programs to improve them, manage, or otherwise maintain their viability in our national living matrix into the future, that is playing right into right wing memes that liberals are inflexible on their social programs.

    Firebaggers don’t realize they live in a democracy and that it must be their way, or the highway. Wonder where that comes from.

    Now lets see some more mclaren grade assholishness of a response from your constipated take on politics.

    ie. Stuck is #$%^%^%&&. You know the drill.

  62. 62
    General Stuck says:

    Oh, and one more thing. David Plouffe is a genius. That is all.

  63. 63
    Someguy says:

    This is all a stupid made up controversy. Let’s ride right off the cliff. What happens – primarily – is everybody has to pay a little more in taxes, the rich have to pay a lot more taxes with the restoration of the Clinton-era rates. We also get huge defense cuts, which are actually needed. The effect on entitlements would be minimal.

    I fail to see the harm.

  64. 64
    Trakker says:

    According to a SSA historian (published in a 2010 SSA bulletin):

    Examining the Race Explanation

    First, note that the coverage decision made in 1935 was not to exclude farm and domestic workers, which, had that been the factual circumstance, might have lent more credence to a charge of racial bias. Rather, the decision was to include only those workers regularly employed in commerce and industry. Thus, the coverage decision also excluded the following.

    – Self-employed individuals (including farm proprietors)
    – Persons working in the nonprofit sector
    – Professionals such as self-employed doctors, lawyers, and ministers
    – Seamen in the merchant marine
    – Employees of charitable or educational foundations
    – Employees of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
    – Persons aged 65 or older
    – Casual laborers
    – Members of Congress
    – Employees of federal, state, and local governments—everyone from the president of the United States to post office clerks

    Indeed, of the 20.1 million gainfully employed workers that the president’s Committee on Economic Security estimated were excluded from participation in the Social Security system, at least 15 million were white.
    ———————-

    It’s an interesting read. I’m not sure how this affects the coverage of women but I suspect a very large number of them were employed by federal, state, and local governments (teachers, etc.).

  65. 65
    fidelio says:

    I’ve worked in the Social Security Disability program for nearly thirty years now. There was a big rush to get children with disabilities on in the 1990s as the result of welfare reform, but most of those were applicants for Supplemental Security Income payments rather than Social Security–the money for that comes out of a different pot than regular workers’ benefits–the retirement and disability trust funds.

    The big increase in workers’ disability beneficiaries comes from two things. One is demographics: the aging out of the baby boomers. Older workers are more likely to be developing severe problems with heart and lung diseases and musculoskeletal disorders and diabetic complications. This gives a big bulge in benficiaries who are very hard to get off the rolls again because of their age–many of these are problems where improvement is unlikely, or where improvement many still result in a profile that would fall under the guideines for disability one way or another. I expect these people will be on until they reach the age for full retirement benefits and are switched over from Disability to Retirement. The second is the economy: we had a huge increase in applicants starting in the fall of 2008. Many of these people answered the question “Why are you not working?” with “The place where I worked went out of business.” If you’re an older worker with less than perfect health it can be really hard to get another job. There’s also the helpfulness of the people in the social welfare system at work–people file for unemployment, and are told they may qualify for food stamps. So they file for food stamps and are told that they might qualify for disability benefits. People who decide to file for early retirement because they don’t feel well enough to continue working are also urged to file for disability benefits, since they’d get more money than if they retired at age 62.

    Word from the field offices is that there is a general decline in applications for disability, which is usually a sign that the economy is improving. From what I’ve heard, it varies from state to state, which also supports the improvng economy explanation–things are getting better faster in some places than others.

    There’s also been a decrease in the processing of Continuing Disability Reviews because of budgetary problems, so fewer people whose health may have improved enough to allow them to work have been removed from the rolls.

  66. 66
    The Moar You Know says:

    It’s hilarious to take money from people and then not give them what they paid for. Where’s your sense of humor, libtards?

  67. 67
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @kay:

    I have so much trouble with this debate because almost all the participants are covering their ass or have a hidden agenda. You really can’t have an honest negotiation with all these deeply compromised actors. I think there should be a crawl under pundits that says where their income comes from. If your objective is to take SS private, well, SAY THAT.

    If we had truth in advertising regaring our punditry, people would be standing in line to throw bricks thru the back window of The Today Show set rather than standing around holding “We luv Justin Bieber” signs and mugging to have their pictures taken with the weatherman. And we can’t be having that now, can we? It would make for Bad TV.

    [actually it would make for gripping, compelling, can’t turn it off live trainwreck TV, so shuttupthatswhy].

  68. 68
    Kay says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    It drives me crazy. They’re insulting the public. I love the business group that wants a “territorial tax” pretending they give a rat’s ass about Social Security solvency. They want Romney tax changes, they lost the election and they see an opening. “We’re concerned about the deficit!” Sure you are.

    How can you have a “negotiation” if everyone lies about what they want?

  69. 69
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Kay:

    How can you have a “negotiation” if everyone lies about what they want?

    Obviously you can’t. Or at least all of the real negotiations are taking place offstage. From what I recall of the history of past empires, it doesn’t bode well for the future success of a society, when it loses the capacity to hash out important issues at least partially in the public forum and instead everything turns on backstage intrigue and palace coups. We haven’t fallen that far just yet, but right now our public debates are all happening in spite of our news media and not because of them.

  70. 70
    Falmouth says:

    New information that I have seen discussed somewhere is that healthcare costs have increased less in the last couple of years and are expected to continue to be less than what was used for all these woeful deficit forecasts. So the crux is, just leave Medicare alone and see what effect the ACA has on future costs once it is fully implemented.

  71. 71
    Brachiator says:

    @Bloix:

    Wonkette doesn’t understand the difference between life expectancy at birth and life expectancy at age 65.

    Agreed. Wonkette’s reverie here is McCardle level stupid.

    @Trakker:

    It’s an interesting read. I’m not sure how this affects the coverage of women but I suspect a very large number of them were employed by federal, state, and local governments (teachers, etc.).

    Found this on the Internets:

    In 1920 women composed 23.6 percent of the labor force, and 8.3 million women older than the age of fifteen worked outside the home. By 1930 the percentage of women in the work force rose to 27, and their numbers increased to 11 million. World War I had expanded women’s employment in new sectors of the economy, and by 1920, 25.6 percent of employed women worked in white-collar office-staff jobs, 23.8 percent in manufacturing, 18.2 percent in domestic service, and 12.9 percent in agriculture.
    __
    While the first generation of college-educated women entered professions in the 1920s, they found opportunities only in nurturing “women’s professions,” such as nursing, teaching, social work, and, within medicine, pediatrics. And in factories, while male factory workers on federal contracts in 1920 started at forty cents an hour, women started at twenty-five cents.

  72. 72
    johnny aquitard says:

    GOP to Black males: “Tote that bale!”

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