From the category archives: Max Richtman
Cuts to Social Security Will Hurt Seniors, Veterans, People with Disabilities and Children; Shackle Recovering Economy
While some in Washington may have given up on a so-called “grand bargain,” many others including the White House, have left benefit cuts to millions of seniors, veterans and people with disabilities on the budget bargaining table. Contrary to claims by Chained CPI proponents, this change to the annual COLA calculation is not a “technical tweak” but a benefit cut for the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it. Additionally, recent research by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation, in consultation with economist Dean Baker, shows that adoption of the Chained CPI could cut $31 billion in economic output and more than 200,000 jobs nationwide.
Activists from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, AARP, NOW, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Generations United, NARFE, Social Security Works and other advocacy groups converged on the White House to tell President Obama “No” to the chained CPI. Protestors with signs illustrating the negative economic impact in each of the nation’s 50 states plus Washington, D.C. rallied along Pennsylvania Avenue and were joined by Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5) and Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2).
“The coalition here today is diverse, strong and unified in our opposition to Social Security benefit cuts like those that would come with the Chained CPI. Groups here today represent not just seniors but also young people, veterans, civilians, people with disabilities and middle class families. We’re all here together to say the negative impact of the Chained CPI should not be ignored or trivialized any longer. The White House and others have said this benefit cut is nothing more than a "technical tweak,"...but the truth is it would be a benefit cut imposed on the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
Here's a video of activists rallying at the White House.
Originally posted on Huffington Post.
Max Richtman, President/CEO
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
It took only two days into the latest self-inflicted congressional crisis before Republicans on Capitol Hill resuscitated their zombie-like "grand bargain" scheme. Since their plan to defund Obamacare hasn't worked and the government shut down because of it, the GOP has now pivoted to the next best thing on their ideological wish list, benefit cuts for millions of middle-class Americans who depend on Social Security and Medicare.
The GOP's political gamesmanship and stated goal of "getting something" from this debacle has shifted the House leadership's attention to so-called "entitlement reform," which means benefit cuts targeting seniors including: Social Security Chained CPI, extending means testing in Medicare to the middle class, raising the retirement and eligibility ages, and ending traditional Medicare in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Couponcare" plan. Each of these ideas shares the same fundamental flaw, requiring the still struggling middle-class to pay down our deficit while giving the wealthiest Americans a pass. However, the Chained CPI plan to change the formula which calculates the cost of living adjustment for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities is the most insidious of these proposals. Here's why the Chained CPI is so devastating, not only to seniors but to our economy as well.
While some in Washington portray this benefit cut as nothing more than a "technical tweak," the truth is that it would be a benefit cut imposed on the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it. In our new National Committee Foundation report, produced in consultation with economist Dean Baker, we've also clearly shown that the Chained CPI will have a huge impact on local businesses, state economies and our national economic recovery. "The Chained CPI: Shackling America's Economic Recovery," provides a detailed look at what the adoption of a stingier cost of living adjustment really means for communities and states. This study uses the Congressional Budget Office projections for cuts to national spending to estimate cuts that would be made in each congressional district, based on the Social Security Administration's data on Social Security spending by congressional district. It also makes projections for the economic impact on the reduction in output as well as the jobs lost in each district. The results are striking.
The negative impact of the Chained CPI should not be ignored or trivialized. This new analysis clearly illustrates just how harmful this COLA cut will be to seniors as well as state economies and local businesses. Adoption of this so-called "tweak" could mean the loss of $31 billion in economic output and more than 200,000 jobs nationwide. Washington's blind determination to cut Social Security benefits in the name of deficit reduction must be stopped and those who continue to peddle the Chained CPI should now explain to American workers, retirees and their families how losing billions of dollars in economic output and hundreds of thousands of jobs is a 'modest adjustment' we should accept.
While Washington's well-financed austerity lobby has downplayed the economic impact of losing billions in benefits spent in local communities due to the chained-CPI, step outside the Beltway and state lawmakers and business owners alike understand what this benefit cut would mean. That's why this study applies these calculations to each congressional district. It's time members of Congress see in clear dollars and cents what the Chained CPI actually means to their communities and constituents. Many districts with large populations of retirees would be especially hard-hit by these cuts.
In Florida's 16th congressional district, which includes Sarasota and other cities along the Gulf Coast, the benefit cuts would be $6.1 million in 2015, $53.3 million in 2020, and $87.7 million in 2023. This implies a loss of output in the district of $8.9 million in 2015, $80.2 million in 2020, and $127.2 million in 2023. The job loss would be 70 in 2015, 550 in 2020, and 780 in 2023.
In Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, a largely rural area in the southwest corner of the states, the benefit cuts would be $5.0 million in 2015, $44.9 million in 2020, and $71.3 million in 2023. This implies a loss of output in the district of $7.2 million in 2015, $65.2 million in 2020, and $103.3 million in 2023. The job loss would be 60 in 2015, 440 in 2020, and 630 in 2023.
Given the economy's slow rebound, is this really their plan to strengthen America? Is there any community which can afford to lose millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs over the next decade? This is also at stake if the chained CPI is adopted.
Real dollars, real jobs and real damage to our economy.
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New Economic Analysis Shows Billion$ of Dollars and Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs Would Be Lost While Seniors, Veterans & Disabled Put At Risk
The National Committee Foundation has released a startling new report today which details, state by state and Congressional District by District, the true economic impact of adopting a new formula called the “Chained CPI” to measure annual cost of living adjustments (COLA). While some in Washington portray this benefit cut as nothing more than a “technical tweak” the truth is it would be a benefit cut imposed on the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it.
Our report, “The Chained CPI: Shackling America’s Economic Recovery,” was created in consultation with economist Dean Baker and provides a detailed look at what the adoption of a stingier cost of living adjustment really means for communities and states.
“The negative impact of the Chained CPI should not be ignored or trivialized. This new analysis clearly illustrates just how harmful this COLA cut will be to seniors as well as state economies and local businesses. Washington’s blind determination to cut Social Security benefits in the name of deficit reduction must be stopped and those who continue to peddle the Chained CPI should now explain to American workers, retirees and their families how losing up to $31 billion in economic output and more than 200,000 jobs nationwide is a ‘modest adjustment’ we should accept.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
“Social Security plays an enormously important role in stabilizing the economy during a downturn. It maintains a flow of income to a group of people (the elderly and disabled) who will overwhelmingly spend it. In this way it sustains demand and consumption. The downturn we have seen since 2007 would have undoubtedly been far more severe without Social Security altogether. Any measure that reduces benefits would lessen the stabilizing role that Social Security plays.” Dean Baker, Co-Director Center for Economic and Policy Research
“The Chained CPI: Shackling America’s Economic Recovery,” uses CBO projections to calculate state and Congressional district level impact of the Chained CPI proposal. Many districts with large senior populations would be especially hard-hit by the Chained CPI cuts, top among those:
In Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, a largely rural area in the southwest corner of the states, the benefit cuts would be $5.0 million in 2015, $44.9 million in 2020, and $71.3 million in 2023. This would imply a loss of output in the district of $7.2 million in 2015, $65.2 million in 2020, and $103.3 million in 2023. The implied job loss would be 60 in 2015, 440 in 2020, and 630 in 2023.
In Florida’s 16th congressional district, which includes Sarasota and other cities along the Gulf Coast, the benefit cuts would be $6.1 million in 2015, $53.3 million in 2020, and $87.7 million in 2023. This would imply a loss of output in the district of $8.9 million in 2015, $80.2 million in 2020, and $127.2 million in 2023. The implied job loss would be 70 in 2015, 550 in 2020, and 780 in 2023.
Congressman Ted Deutsch is a champion of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill. His legislation extends the solvency of Social Security - without raising the retirement age or slashing benefits – and finally guarantees adequate and accurate cost of living adjustments each year.
“We’ve heard the Chained CPI just slows COLA growth but this cut actually hurts not only seniors but also the communities where they live. No matter how you try, you simply can’t make this proposal sound reasonable to seniors, veterans, the disabled and their families. Losing billions in output, hundreds of thousands of job and taking a step backward in our economy at this moment simply doesn’t make sense. We’ve got to make some changes for Social Security’s long-term solvency and we can do that. But the problem isn’t lavish benefits to seniors.” Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL)
While Washington’s well-financed austerity lobby has downplayed the economic impact of losing billions in benefits spent in local communities due to the chained-CPI, step outside the Beltway and state lawmakers and business owners alike understand what this benefit cut would mean:
“Social Security is invaluable not only to our senior citizens, but to our economy. We must stand firm against any change that imperils both our seniors and our economy. Benefit changes that lead to a loss in purchasing power and employment would be detrimental to both national and local economies.” New Jersey Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley
Abraham Kapusuz owns the Green Olive restaurant in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The vast majority of his patrons depend on Social Security and he knows first hand what a cut in benefits would mean to his customers and his business:
“I’ve talked with many of my customers about the chained CPI proposal and they are 100% opposed. Not only would they feel a big pinch in the wallets, but my employees could be hurt too. If I have fewer customers, I obviously can’t keep a payroll of 50 people so some staff would lose their jobs. The chained CPI sounds like a lose-lose proposition. It will hurt my customers, it will hurt me and it will harm my local economy.” Abraham Kapusuz, small business owner
A full breakdown of the economic and employment impact of the Chained CPI, by state and each Congressional District, can be found on the National Committee Foundation’s website
Busting Washington’s biggest Social Security myths
BY MAX RICHTMAN
Published: September 12, 2013
There is no other issue where the disconnect between Congress and the American people is more stark than the future of Social Security. Thanks to Washington’s well-financed austerity lobby, the truth about Social Security has become obscured by political propaganda designed to persuade lawmakers to use Social Security’s revenues to fix fiscal problems completely unrelated to the program.
Whether it’s cutting benefits in the name of deficit reduction (even though Social Security by law cannot contribute to the debt) or using Social Security as political leverage in Washington’s version of “Let’s Make a Deal,” these approaches ignore the fact that Social Security is paid for, earned by, and promised to American workers.
Myth One: Social Security is a driver of our nation’s deficit.
Although some in Washington claim America can’t afford Social Security, the truth is, this program provides economic benefits to every state and community in our nation.
Nationwide, families spend $775 billion in Social Security benefits annually. In Florida, $56 billion dollars in Social Security benefits are paid to four million retirees, disabled and survivors, including children, each year. When those families use the purchasing power of their benefits, they are supporting local businesses and the state economy with billions of dollars they simply wouldn’t have without Social Security.
Unfortunately, this economic reality has been ignored by those who want to cut middle-class benefits in the name of austerity. Targeting families who rely on vital programs such as Social Security ignores our real economic problems in favor of a political strategy to cut safety net programs. Members of Congress should take a look at the state-by-state economic profiles from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and ask themselves, “Can my community afford to lose millions of dollars from our economy?” Step outside Capitol Hill and the answer is a resounding “No.”
Myth Two: Seniors are “greedy geezers.”
One of the favorite messages used widely by Washington’s billion-dollar, anti-Social Security lobby is that America’s “greedy geezers” are stealing from their grandchildren. They claim that if we allow retirees to collect the Social Security benefits they’ve paid for throughout their working lives, then somehow our children will suffer. This mythological link between funding for seniors programs and children’s programs makes for good propaganda but there’s literally no basis in reality for such linkage. In fact, new research by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that real linkage may exist between the dollars spent on our nation’s top 1 percent income earners and reduced spending on children.
Cutting benefits to generations of middle-class families won’t help the children, parents or grandparents in those families. The Recession Generation and beyond will need Social Security as much, if not more, than current generations. It’s time to reverse a 40-year trend of income inequality and redistribution to the wealthy while reigniting the American dream for middle-class families, which benefits young and old alike.
Myth Three: Immigration reform and the repeal of DOMA will bankrupt Social Security.
Those opposed to immigration reform and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act have attempted to use vital programs, such as Social Security, as an economic excuse to avoid doing the right thing. The truth is, neither legislative issue threatens Social Security. The Congressional Budget Office estimates new taxes paid by undocumented workers granted provisional legal status would cut federal budget deficits by $197 billion over 10 years. Social Security’s chief actuary estimates immigration reform would increase Social Security’s Trust Fund reserves by $248 billion by the end of 2024 and extend the program’s solvency by two years. The actuary also predicts providing benefit equity to qualified same-sex couples in retirement is a break-even proposition.
Myth Four: The whopper of all — Social Security will be bankrupt.
The truth is, even if Congress does nothing at all, Social Security is projected to deliver full guaranteed benefits until at least 2033. Even after 2033, Social Security will be able to pay about 77 percent of promised benefits out of the payroll contributions that will continue coming into the system. If Congress enacts modest changes, such as requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share of payroll taxes, Social Security will be able to meet its full benefit obligations well beyond 2033. No one wants to see benefits cut to 77 percent; however, that’s not bankruptcy by any definition of the word.
The state of Social Security is strong today and should be made stronger for the future. But if our nation’s leaders want to be serious about addressing the long-term outlook for our nation’s most successful government program, then myths have no place in any Social Security debate.
Max Richtman is president and CEO of The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, based in Washington, D.C.
“As we celebrate Social Security’s 78th birthday on August 14th, it’s important to remember the real-life impact America’s most successful program has on millions of Americans each year. Unfortunately, too many in Washington continue to view Social Security benefits as little more than a political bargaining chip in an austerity campaign targeting middle class families to reduce our deficits. The current economic crisis has shown us that future generations will need Social Security every bit as much as, if not more than, today’s retirees.
Only one-half of today’s work force has a retirement plan of any kind. Traditional pension plans have virtually disappeared for the recession generation and the homes many planned to use as a nest egg for retirement have plummeted in value. In spite of all this, Social Security has been a stable and secure source of income for millions who desperately need it. This economic recession has clearly demonstrated the billion dollar anti-Social Security lobby has, once again, gotten it completely backwards. We should be searching for ways to improve Social Security’s benefits not cut them. That’s why a proposal such as the chained CPI, which would cut Social Security now to help pay for failed policies of the past, is simply not an option for current or future retirees.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
New State Snapshots Show America Can’t Afford to Lose Economic Benefits
Social Security’s economic impact reaches well beyond individual wallets to the ledgers of local businesses and merchants. Families spend $775 billion in Social Security benefits nationwide each year. When 57 million Americans use the purchasing power of those benefits, they are supporting local businesses and state economies with billions of dollars they simply wouldn’t have without Social Security. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has released state-by-state snapshots of how much revenue Social Security contributes to the economy of every Congressional District in each state and US territory. How much does your state and community stand to lose if Social Security benefits are cut? Check out NCPSSM’s Social Security Snapshots for the answer.
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