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From the monthly archives: February 2007

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'February 2007'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

It's a matter of priorities...

by Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO (bio)

President Bush’s ongoing campaign to convince Americans we “can’t afford” our aging population continues with new claims of economic gloom and doom…unless we cut Social Security.

We should not confuse the fact that there will be more retirees in the future with the notion that benefits are too high and should be cut. The average Social Security retiree check – right now – is just over $1,000 a month. Could you live on $12,000 a year? Yet, 20 percent of Social Security beneficiaries do just that. For 2 out of 3 retirees, Social Security is most of their income.

The fastest growing part of the federal budget isn’t Social Security and Medicare…it’s the interest on the debt which has grown by nearly $3 trillion in just the last 5 years. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the Iraq War have dramatically increased the federal debt and seniors are being asked to pay the price.

We need to get our immediate fiscal problems under control so that we will be in a position to strengthen the Social Security and Medicare programs, not privatize or destroy them in the name of “entitlement reform”.

A Contrarian View

New York actuary, David Langer, adds his voice to the chorus of others like economist Dean Baker who've tried and tried to provide some desperately needed perspective in the "entitlement reform" campaign. The Christian Science Monitor wrote today about Langer's view that now is the time to improve benefits...not cut them.

"The New York actuary's opinion runs contrary to the standard view in Washington. Both conservatives and liberals tend to talk about how to "reform" the system by trimming its long-term costs. Otherwise, it's argued, the cost of benefit payments from Social Security and Medicare will become overwhelming as baby boomers retire. By contrast, Mr. Langer urges making Social Security benefits much more generous to provide safe and adequate pensions, even if payroll taxes must rise."

In other words, we can afford an aging population if we'll only confront our long-term funding issues honestly without a crisis mentality.

"Kogan wants to make clear that there is no general "entitlement crisis." Medicare and Medicaid costs are growing rapidly as healthcare costs escalate."

We can't continue to ignore the tougher issue of healthcare reform (which might hurt insurers' bottom line) in favor of benefits cuts (which certainly hurts seniors and their families)under the guise of "entitlement reform". The goal should be strengthening Social Security and Medicare, not cutting these programs just as we need them most.

Fiscal Wake-up Tour

Here's a letter to the editor Barbara wrote after reading the Boston Globe editorial on the "Fiscal Wake-up Tour".

Fiscal priorities
February 25, 2007

If we're really going to have an "honest discussion" about our nation's current budget mess, as suggested in Scot Lehigh's Feb. 16 op-ed, "Fiscal wake-up tour's inconvenient truth," those leading the discussion should be honest about their ultimate goals.

Contrary to claims by Comptroller General David Walker and conservative think-tankers, Social Security and Medicare are not responsible for our budget deficit. President Bush inherited a surplus and a Social Security trust fund built up in preparation for baby boomers' retirement. Six years later, after billions in tax cuts, an unfunded war, and a Republican-led Congress that followed the president's "borrow and spend" lead, we now face record deficits. Washington will have to make difficult choices to repair the fiscal damage. But serious healthcare reform and strengthening Social Security should be the priorities, not destroying these successful programs that are critical to any strong industrialized nation.

The writer is CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Baucus says "No thanks" to WH nominee

Alex Wayne with Congressional Quarterly reports the Senate Finance Committee won't consider President Bush's nomination of Andrew Biggs to serve in the number two position in the Social Security Administration. That basically kills this nomination, unless the President chooses to make a recess appointment. And why the lack of support for Mr. Biggs? We wrote the Senate in November warning about this appointment. In the letter Barbara Kennelly said:
"Mr. Biggs has been a committed proponent of privatization both prior to, and during, his tenure as an official in the Bush administration and has a history of using his position with the Social Security Administration as a platform for advancing private accounts,"

According to CQ:
"Bush nominated Biggs last November and the 109th Congress adjourned before he was granted a confirmation hearing. Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said Bush would not withdraw Biggs' nomination, opening the door to a possible recess appointment. 'It's a bad idea to give the No. 2 position at the Social Security Administration to someone who still supports that failed proposal,' Baucus said. The position is a six-year term. Biggs declined to comment and referred questions to the White House."

We've also issued a News Release applauding the move in the Senate.



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