Senator Coons, Support Begich’s “Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act” and forget about Bowles-Simpson

Filed in Delaware, National by on November 16, 2012

Senator, You seem like a reality based guy. You know full well that Social Security isn’t in danger of becoming insolvent any time soon, and according to the program’s actuaries, “without any changes, Social Security will be able to pay out full benefits until 2033.” But you also have Republican colleagues in the Senate who want to kill the program, and can’t stop yammering about what a threat it is to our well being as a nation. So you need to be in favor of some sort of reform…. Well, check this out.

That’s why you should support Mark Begich’s bill.

The Begich bill would lift the current payroll tax cap, which exempts wages in excess of a certain amount ($110,100 this year) from the tax. In turn, it would give high earners, who would pay more, additional benefits upon retirement, just as benefits increase as wages do for workers below the cap.

According to the Congressional Research Service, a change like that would almost entirely wipe out the program’s long-run actuarial imbalance. Specifically, it would eliminate 95 percent of the shortfall, meaning that a mild increase in the payroll tax rate from 12.4 percent to 12.5 percent would be enough to cover the tiny remaining gap.

Viola! Problem solved. I’ll bet many of your constituents don’t even know that wealthy people pay $0.00 on every dollar earned above $110,000. Think of the hero status you could achieve by simply pointing that inequity out?

And oh yeah, don’t follow Tom Carper and John Carney down the Bowles-SImpson path which
pretends to be reasonable by introducing means-testing, but is really a backdoor plan for cutting benefits.

You are better than that Senator.

UPDATE: I guess I’m a little late warning Senator Coons away from Bowles-SImpson. He is already bragging about making the tough choices to cut benefits through Bowles-SImpson framework. Well… if he is as smart as I think he is, he could always change his mind and wise up about that piece of shit proposal.

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Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (54)

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  1. YoungWorker says:

    I don’t know about you, but benefits running out in 2033 strikes me as a problem. I won’t even be retired yet, but the system will be broke!

  2. Jason330 says:

    Get a grip. It isn’t broke in 2033, that would be the first year without full benefits under the current structure. What dont you like about the wealthy paying more than $0.00 on 100% of thier income when you pay on 100% of yours?

  3. Kevin says:

    If you don’t think we need to reform programs like social security along with raising taxes to fix our current fiscal problem then you’re being completely partisan on this issue in my opinion. When social security was created there were 50,000 people on it while today there are 50 million. Also when it was created 55 people paid into it for every person that received benefits while today that number is only at 3 to 1. We have to figure out a way to fix our spending problem and that starts with entitlements and our defense budget. If our elected officials are willing to compromise with the Republicans on this issue then they have my full support and they should have yours as well because if there is no compromise social security and medicare benefits will vanish along with many other government programs.

    Democrats have to fight for every dollar in those programs but to simply say they aren’t going to be touched is going to bring about the same gridlock that we’ve seen in the last 2 years. You never get everything you want in politics or life so for the Dems to get the GOP members of the house to vote for tax increases they’re also going to have to go along with entitlement reform as well.

  4. Jason330 says:

    Im being rational. I can’t help it that the facts on are my side. Your problem is with the actuaries, not me. And BTW – you didn’t answer a very simple question. Why should the wealthy pay on a tiny fraction of their income when you pay on ever dollar of yours?

  5. Kevin says:

    They shouldn’t, did you not see in my post that raising taxes was an important solution to the problem. I think the Clinton rates need to be brought back for everyone including those not making 250,000+ and any Capital Gains over a million dollars should be taxed at 20%. However our entitlement spending needs to be reigned in because if it isn’t it’s going to bankrupt us just as much as the Bush Tax cuts have. Republicans WILL NOT vote for a budget that raises taxes and doesn’t cut entitlement spending and they control 1/3 of the power in this debate so their vote will be needed whether you disagree with everything they stand for or not. The solution needs to be balanced and we can’t have a balanced solution without reforming social security and medicare.

  6. Jason330 says:

    You don’t get that this is a phony issue. Take away the cap and make sure everyone pays on 100% of thier income and there is no crisis. That’s the case to make. Everything else is just a pretext for chipping away at social security until it is gone.

  7. Kevin says:

    In Clinton’s last year in office we spent somewhere around 1.2 trillion on entitlements and now we spend somewhere around 2 trillion a year on entitlements. If you don’t see the problem there then I won’t be able to convince you in this argument as you have your mind made up already. Also taxing people just for the sake of taxing them isn’t a solution to this problem just like cutting spending alone to fix the problem won’t work. We can’t fix our financial problems on the backs of the rich or poor in my opinion and since the rich will already see their taxes go up here shortly I don’t see any reason to lift this cap and pile it on. One solution could be to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 simply based on the fact that people live longer today then they did when the program was created.

  8. Jason330 says:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree. The wealthy get an extraordinary deal in this country, and allowing the elderly and disabled to live in dignity used to be something we all agreed on. Now holding such crazy notions marks me as “overly partisan.”

  9. Kevin says:

    When you say that those programs won’t be touched at all costs and at the same time are willing to tax the rich at all costs then yes that is a partisan attitude. The same could be said for someone who wants to destroy those programs while at the same time states that taxes on the rich shouldn’t be raised in any situation. A middle ground has to be found and I commend any politician whether democrat or republican who is willing to compromise for the better of the country. If that means Joe millionaire pays a little more in taxes and granny’s social security check is a little bit smaller then I’m all for it. However I’m not for a compromise that puts all of the burden on one group or the other.

  10. Dan Boyd says:

    Remove the cap on FICA and make it a flat tax. Revenue problem solved.

    Hopefully the rumors surrounding Carper’s health are 100% true and Gov Markell can appoint a real Democrat to replace him.

  11. geezer says:

    “When you say that those programs won’t be touched at all costs and at the same time are willing to tax the rich at all costs then yes that is a partisan attitude.”

    No, it isn’t. Those are policy positions. The fact that Republicans have decided to negotiate from “0″ as their amount of proposed tax increase, and to claim that the point is non-negotiable, is a negotiating position, not a partisan one. A Democrat or Republican could at any time change his position. You want our guys to move first. No.

    What you fail to acknowledge is that there is no benefit to the greater good by failing to tax the rich, but there is harm to the greater good by cutting the safety net. The “Republican” position is based on an intellectual principle. The “Democratic” position is based on an attempt to solve an existing problem. One side cares more about lofty bullshit than people in need, and it’s not my side. Is it yours?

  12. puck says:

    The way to reform Social Security is to fully fund it, not to cut benefits. I hate the reverse means test in the bill though.

  13. geezer says:

    “In Clinton’s last year in office we spent somewhere around 1.2 trillion on entitlements and now we spend somewhere around 2 trillion a year on entitlements. If you don’t see the problem there then I won’t be able to convince you in this argument as you have your mind made up already.”

    This was entirely planned for. If you see it as a problem, you have your mind made up already, too — and have based your position on a lack of information.

  14. Dan Boyd says:

    Sen Begich may be able to get away with proposing common sense entitlement reform legislation given he’s from the solidly blue state of Alaska. The Delaware delegation doesn’t have that luxury.

  15. puck says:

    Entitlements are a good thing. They are how we take care of our sick, our poor, and our elderly. They free up healthy people to work and produce, and prevent the crisis of conscience we would experience stepping over dead grannies (Republicans excluded of course).

    Safety net expenses go up when the labor force is not safe. They will go back down again when jobs come back. And no, cutting the safety net will not bring the jobs back.

  16. Kevin says:

    So Geezer what you’re saying is that we should tax the rich at 99% if we have to just to keep our entitlement programs funded? That’s not capitalism which is what this country was founded on. I believe in a mixed market economy not one based purely on socialism or capitalism and I firmly believe finding a balance between the two is what’s best for everybody. I don’t believe in taxing the rich just because they’re rich and I don’t believe we should tax the rich just so we can pay for programs geared to help the poor. I believe the rich should pay a higher percentage in taxes then those in the middle class to help fund programs like social security, medicare, and public housing but I don’t believe in a punitive tax rate just to accomplish those things. Taxes need to be raised and programs need to be reformed as that’s the middle approach and I think that’s when government works best. When either side gets everything they want is when we have to worry as that’s not what a democracy is.

  17. pandora says:

    Kevin, no one is saying what you’re claiming. What mostly everyone is saying is to remove the cap on SS and then everyone pays on what they earn.

  18. Dana Garrett says:

    Kevin seems to operate under the misconception that any compromise per se is good and it doesn’t matter if one side negotiates from a position that is credible and fact based while the other side wants to negotiate from a position that is ideological and erroneous. How can the Dems have meaningful negotiations with the Repubs when they deny the unambiguous facts (like those Jason mentioned) and won’t acknowledge the issues involved (like the real life consequences for granny by slashing her benefits)? This is the problem with many moderates. They are beset by clichés like “The truth is always in the middle” even when the truth and the reasonable cannot be attained by giving any credence to error.

  19. puck says:

    Republicans know that any compromise made this year will be far more favorable to the 2% at the expense of the 98%. That is why they are so hot to compromise now and are terrified at the thought of making a deal in January which will be much more favorable for the 98%.

  20. Kevin says:

    Pandora, so basically what you’re saying is tax everyone making over the cap more to pay for our increasing entitlement spending. That’s the only reason that makes sense for us to remove the cap unless you just want to tax them more just to say you’re taxing them more. If we take that approach when do we stop taxing them to help pay for programs like social security if we can’t get those programs under control in the first place? After we’ve taken 50%, 75%, 100%? You have to reign in those programs and then figure out if you need to put more money into them not the other way around. If we let entitlement spending be our guide for fiscal issues we’ll end up in a bad place.

    Dana, so when Clinton compromised and reformed Welfare and raised taxes to balance the budget that wasn’t the best case scenario? If the left gets everything they want we’ll be in just as bad a spot as we would be if the right got everything they wanted. Just look at Greece for a perfect example.

    We can’t keep spending money the way we are or the next generation of American’s will be paying a ridiculously high tax rate whether they’re rich or poor to pay off the debt our generation has run up. I want to get our fiscal house in order by raising revenues and cutting spending. It’s called math and many in the GOP and Democratic party could do well to use it more often. Many of you might think everything that Republicans say is a lie but on this subject many of them speak the truth. If you think I’m lying go check out what many of the founding fathers had to say about national debt and how it could cripple our country if we let it. I want to save granny’s social security check because if we don’t balance our budget then we’ll be forced to raise taxes on everyone and strip government programs like social security to the bone to fix the problem if we don’t fix it now.

  21. pandora says:

    “Pandora, so basically what you’re saying is tax everyone making over the cap more to pay for our increasing entitlement spending. That’s the only reason that makes sense for us to remove the cap unless you just want to tax them more just to say you’re taxing them more.”

    Kevin, do you understand what we mean when we say, “Remove the cap on Social Security?”

  22. Kevin says:

    Yes, they would pay social security tax on everything they make over the cap like they already do for medicare. They don’t pay a social security tax on anything above it now and unless we can find a way to slow down the growth of social security all we’re doing is throwing money at the problem instead of actually trying to fix it. We can either keep on taxing to spend more on government programs or we can start taxing people to pay down our debt not both. If we continue to let programs like social security expand instead of cutting into them then we’ll get nowhere in trying to pay off our debt.

  23. puck says:

    “I want to get our fiscal house in order by raising revenues and cutting spending.”

    That will happen on January 1 – happy now?

  24. puck says:

    “so basically what you’re saying is tax everyone making over the cap more to pay for our increasing entitlement spending.”

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Those are the people who benefited from the cheap-labor, low-tax regimes of the last 30 years, especially the 2000′s, and sucked the retirement savings right out of people’s pension funds. They of all people should pay more to support the people whose incomes shrank to finance the fortunes of the wealthy.

    For Medicare/Medicaid the insurance companies and health care providers will also have to be tamed to reduce costs. Let’s not even consider cutting a penny of health benefits until we have drug price negotiation and at least a health care public option.

  25. Jason330 says:

    Kevin is a real good example of uncritical thinking. He has bought the DC insider line on debt wholesale. …”all we’re doing is throwing money at the problem instead of actually trying to fix it.”. 100% of the “problem” flows from the fact that the program is being starved to death.

  26. pandora says:

    ”all we’re doing is throwing money at the problem instead of actually trying to fix it.”.

    We could adopt the Logan’s Run Model. That would fix it – 100%.

  27. Jason330 says:

    Pandora Logan’s Run FTW.

  28. Tom Hawk says:

    Social Security is not an entitlement program. It is not a true budget item. It was only added to the budget some years ago to provide a quick source of cash to help with slow annual cash flow problems for budgeted items. It is a mandatory insurance program supported by a separate tax on income. The current tax act is FICA: Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Like any insurance program the premiums can be adjusted to compensate for the cost of benefits. The maximum current benefit is about $1400 per month at most for the policy holder. The premium has been raised in the past to compensate for inflation as a means of maintaining average purchasing power.

    One consideration that must be observed for raising the age for full payer support to age 67 is that many of those who will require SS benefits is that many lower income premium payers are in physically demanding jobs. Even lasting to age 65 is a very difficult and damaging physical condition for them. Getting SS disability benefits is an extremely difficult process with most applications being denied if the claimant is able to walk in the door.

    Raising the premium by 0.1% and raising the premium wage payment to some higher level can keep SS solvent forever. $100,100.00, as at present, is sufficient to keep SS solvent to 2033. Adjusting the dollar wage amount about every 5 years can lead to a constantly solvent program.

    One thing about both Social Security and Medicare is that they are administered by the government with a much lower overhead cost. It is the Right Wing crowd wanting to privatize the programs for the financial benefit of their supporters that is the cause of the current controversy.

    Neither SS or Medicare are entitlement programs. They are directly funded by the policy holders, not the government.

  29. Tom Hawk says:

    One thing further, the monthly SS benefit to a recipient is reduced by the payment of a Medicare Insurance premium.

  30. Dana Garrett says:

    Kevin, your concern that pestilence will occur if we don’t slash social services programs and only moderately increase the taxes on the rich are not born out by the experience of other nations. Consider the Scandinavian social democratic states. They are considered “social welfare” states and have robust policies of progressive taxation. They are not in trouble financially and, in fact, routinely score high (usually in the top ten) in studies of nations that provide their citizens good standard of living (last year Norway was number 1). The USA scores around number 18 on the scale adjusted for income inequality. Given the amount of wealth our economy generates, the notion that we can’t afford our social welfare programs is a howler.

    Of course, we should ALWAYS do things to make these programs run more efficiently and find ways to save dollars in the administration of them. But the notion that the already meager allowances we provide to needy people need to become more meager still is a cruel notion.

  31. jason330 says:

    BTW props to Dan Boyd on this:
    “Sen Begich may be able to get away with proposing common sense entitlement reform legislation given he’s from the solidly blue state of Alaska. The Delaware delegation doesn’t have that luxury.”

  32. puck says:

    We all conveniently ignored the fact that Coons started out as a Reaganite, and now we are paying for it, perhaps literally. Where’s the bearded Marxist when you need him?

  33. geezer says:

    The Bearded Marxist is running scared of a possible primary challenge from Beau. Remember, Coons has to run for re-election in 2014. That’s one reason for all this bipartisan bull out of Coons and Carney. If they’re challenged by Beau, they can say they’re better situated to represent all Delawareans than a more partisan Biden would be.

  34. jason330 says:

    The clear thinking Geezer stumbles. How is someone supposed to win a Democratic primary by being the most bipartisan? If they are worried about a primary – the strategic thing to do would be to be “The Democrat” in the race.

  35. geezer says:

    They won’t be facing a Democrat, they’ll be facing a Biden. Joe Biden isn’t actually liberal, other than pandering to public safety unions. To defeat him you make the pitch to Democratic voters that you are more palatable to more people than the perceived-as-partisan Biden would be.

    With no actual Republicans left in Delaware, Coons will be able to woo upstate Republicans into switching registration, as Markell did. In fact, that’s the most likely outcome of the GOP implosion/southernization: Upstate, moderate Republicans who want to influence policy through elections will become Democrats because they have no other choice.

  36. jason330 says:

    I think there are more primary votes for the guy who doesn’t make a hash out of basic Democratic values and policies.

  37. jason330 says:

    Markell too that route to beating Carney in a Demo primary, but he also moved some Republicans.

    It is a pickle. Moderate R’s could hold the key – or firing up the grassroots Dems might be the ticket.

  38. jason330 says:

    The question someone needs to research: What group was more responsible for Markell’s win? Party switchers or dies hard dems?

  39. Dave says:

    Geezer suggested that I could make more of difference by being affliation versus unaffiliated. I’m seriously considering that in time for the next primaries. What party would depend on who has the scariest candidates. For instance, last election I would registed as a Rep. because they had the scariest candidates. Still, it ultimately worked out for the best because the scary candidates looked scary in comparison to the moderate Democrats. Of course my objective is to have centrists/moderates in elective office.

  40. puck says:

    Coons should work on building a record that would distinguish himself from a sane moderate Republican challenger a la Mike Castle, if the DE GOP ever finds one.

    Remember Coons ran against Castle by supporting expiration of tax cuts on the rich, but once he drew O’Donnell as a partner he flipped on that position. So Coons needs better quality opposition.

    Despite my liberal reservations about Coons, his seat is safe Democrat for the foreseeable future, which is not the worst thing that could happen. I think a primary challenge by Beau would be seen as an act of over-ambitious assholery, and certainly would not be good for Democrats. I can’t imagine the two trading attack ads.

    Beau is better off waiting for something else, possibly Carper’s rumored 2016 retirement, which would be a much smoother handoff.

  41. Jason330 says:

    @puck. I agree. coons hasn’t done anything to provoke a primary. @ Dave, you’ve got a goddam embarrassment of riches my man.

  42. Dave says:

    Of course in this state it’s relatively easy to mark one’s ballot. Just vote for the Not-DE GOP candidate unless one can find the rare exception. The DE GOP candidates seem to be the hard right pseudo-Christians that find communism and socialism hiding in their bushes. It’s kinda easy to make your decisions when the other side doesn’t even seem to be from the same planet.

  43. Dana Garrett says:

    While everyone would naturally think Beau’s aspirations are for DC, I recently heard that Beau is considering a run for Governor after Markell’s term is up.

  44. mediawatch says:

    Jason,
    Re your question about who was more responsible for Markell besting Carney in the primary, I think you’re overlooking a third group: Dems who were tired of 8 years of Aunt Bea turning against a lt. gov. who did virtually nothing to distance himself from her.

  45. Jason330 says:

    Good point re Carney. @dana. With Beau you have to ask what office puts him on a trajectory for national office. I’m not sure Governor of Delaware is it. The family business is DC based.

  46. mediawatch says:

    Beau doesn’t have to rush to get to Washington, and there’s no point in playing the bully and trying to push aside Coons (who volunteered to take one for the team against Castle and had the good fortune to run instead against the wicked witch Christine). He can run again for AG in ’14, then take Carper’s seat in ’18.
    We’re going to be playing the who-runs-for-what game for the next two (or four)years because the D’s have more upwardly mobile players than seats for them to fill.
    The nomination for governor will not be Matt Denn’s for the asking … unless there’s some juice to the Markell-to-the-Cabinet talk. Of course, that would position Denn as an unelected incumbent (and Velda Jones Potter and Paul Clark can tell you that’s not a comfortable seat from which to campaign).

  47. Dave says:

    “because the D’s have more upwardly mobile players than seats for them to fill.”

    as someone noted on another comment and which applies here as well “you’ve got a goddam embarrassment of riches my man.”

    If you can picture the kind of conversations that the DE GOPers are having, you’ll appreciate it even more. Just make sure you continue to sharpen the saw and other Covey platitudes, so that you don’t ever have to be the pity party.

  48. Jason330 says:

    That’s why I’m constantly amazed that John Carney isn’t working hard to establish his identy as a democrat’s democrat . At some point you have to look at the staff and wonder if he is being well served.

  49. Truth Teller says:

    There are over 2.6 trillion dollars in IOU’s that congress has taken out of the trust fund before we start talking about raising the age or anything else this money should be replaced first. Now where do we get it Department of defense is a good place to start.

  50. puck says:

    I don’t think either Coons or Carney is capable of accepting a reality where tax cuts don’t produce jobs or growth, and jobs are more important than the deficit in the short term.

  51. Jason330 says:

    Has a society ever been so beholden to a myth that has been so thoroughly debunked?

    There is really no excuse for anyone thinking that tax cuts create jobs.

  52. puck says:

    @YoungWorker said: I don’t know about you, but benefits running out in 2033 strikes me as a problem. I won’t even be retired yet, but the system will be broke!

    This is a common innumeracy. The actual statement was: “without any changes, Social Security will be able to pay out full benefits until 2033.”

    The key phrase being “full benefits.” In 2033 Social Security will NOT be broke – it just won’t be able to pay out full benefits. The annual funding for Social Security will still keep coming in; it just won’t be quite enough. Social Security will still be paying maybe three-quarters or so of current benefits. So the challenge is simply to find enough revenue to top off the shortfall, not to replace 100% of benefits. That’s where the “without any changes” part of the statement comes into play. So modest changes are needed to close the projected shortfall. Removing the income cap on the Social Security taxes accomplishes that. Cutting benefits does it too, but then by 2033 you still have less then full benefits and are no better off than doing nothing.

    The innumeracy feeds into the myth of the “Social Security trust fund” as if it is an enormous pile of bills stored in a vault somewhere. It’s not – Social Security benefits are paid out of Social Security taxes received that year, which are still producing a surplus. The US Treasury borrows that surplus from Social Security. What else would Social Security do with the surplus? The US Treasury is the safest investment in the world.

  53. N mccullough says:

    Alaska is NOT a blue state, very republican. ‘Member Sarah?

  54. Liberal Elite says:

    @Nm “Alaska is NOT a blue state, very republican. ‘Member Sarah?”

    I’m laughing away. Hilarious 3AM humor! But I’m not sure if it’s with you or at you.

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