Social Security protects millions of American families in retirement or when a loved one becomes disabled or dies. These guaranteed benefits are especially important to people of color who tend to have fewer alternative resources, become disabled at higher rates, and rely on Social Security's family benefits disproportionately.
As we mark Hispanic Heritage month in September it’s important to understand the vital role Social Security plays in the lives of Hispanic Americans.
Did you know?
- Almost three-fourths (74%) of Hispanic beneficiaries rely on Social Security for at least half their income compared to almost two-thirds (64%) of all beneficiaries.
- Approximately 53% of Hispanic beneficiaries rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.
- Approximately 46% of Hispanic beneficiaries rely on Social Security for all of their income.
Minorities rely more heavily on Social Security due to a lack of other income in retirement. Few elderly minorities receive income from pensions and assets. The greatest disparity is in the receipt of income from assets.
- In 2012, 25% of Hispanics received income from private assets, compared with more than 55% of whites
- In 2012, 13% of Hispanics 65 years old and over reported receiving income from private pensions or annuities, compared to 28% of whites 65 years old and older
Elderly Hispanics are more dependent on Social Security than others because they are more likely to be in poverty than non-Hispanic elderly.
Speakers at the 2014 Latino Retirement Security Summit addressed the importance Social Security plays in the Hispanic community and the need for Latinos to engage Congress on issues such as preserving Social Security, Medicare and immigration reform. Contrary to immigration reform myths so common during campaign season, the truth is the Social Security program would benefit if undocumented immigrants were given legal status:
“The evidence is clear that the newly legalized will have a positive effect on the solvency of the Social Security system. On top of the many other positive impacts of bringing the undocumented out of the shadows, these results indicate that providing legal status and a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in this country would have a sizeable impact on the ability to provide full pensions to the Baby Boomers in the years to come.” Center for American Progress, “The Benefits of Immigration Reform to Social Security”
While a flat line in the medical world is usually bad news...when it comes to health care costs in Medicare, this flat line is a good thing. We reported earlier on the latest Congressional Budget Office forecast for Medicare and why that news is being ignored by Washington’s well-financed anti-entitlement lobby and the fiscal hawks they support in Congress.
Today, the New York Times provides even more good news for Medicare and bad news for anti-Social Security and Medicare scolds:
“Medicare spending isn’t just lower than experts predicted a few years ago. On a per-person basis, Medicare spending is actually falling.
If the pattern continues, as the Congressional Budget Office forecasts, it will be a rarity in the Medicare program’s history. Spending per Medicare patient has almost always grown more rapidly than the economy as a whole, often by a wide margin.”
For years now, Wall Street funded fiscal hawk groups have been promising fiscal Armageddon unless Congress immediately cut benefits to middle-class seniors and their families. Contrary to that billionaire-financed bluster, the truth is there are clearly ways to see savings in Medicare through lower health care costs, not just by slashing benefits:
“The recent pattern reflects two main factors. One is that the baby boom generation is entering the program. In the long term, that’s a problem for Medicare’s finances because the number of people it must care for is going to surge. But in the short term, it skews the group enrolled in Medicare toward a younger, healthier population.
The second factor is more surprising and consequential. Over the last few years, Medicare patients have been using fewer expensive medical services, particularly hospital care and prescription drugs. The budget office is increasingly persuaded that such a pattern is going to last for a while.”
And there are even more proposals that could be enacted which don’t single out seniors for benefits cuts. How about allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug costs like the VA does for veterans? Or fully allow the proposed reductions in billions of dollars in federal overpayments to MA private insurance companies to be enacted, as proposed by the Affordable Care Act? This CBO report clearly proves there are ways to manage costs beyond the benefit-cutting or privatization schemes preferred by Congress’ self-proclaimed deficit hawks:
Joan McCarter at Daily Kos sums it up best this way:
“Here's what's particularly significant in this: "Reductions made in the last four years alone are responsible for 10-year savings of more than $715 billion, which dwarfs nearly every deficit-reduction measure currently under discussion." Take that, Paul Ryan.
Here's the thing. Medicare is going to be facing issues when the baby boom cohort gets older and sicker. But this trend in shrinking costs gives policymakers time to look at reforms that do not require benefit cuts, that don't require pain for Medicare patients. That means there's no reason for another Paul Ryan budget that slashes the safety net or for another catfood commission calling for raising the Medicare eligibility age or more cost-sharing by patients. Take note, Democrats, and stop with the deficit fetish already.”
In spite of years and years of doom-and-gloom predictions from conservatives that Obamacare will hurt Medicare, the facts just continue to tell another, very different story. Earlier in the month the annual Medicare Trustees report
showed how the ACA continues to extend the program’s solvency. Now, the Congressional Budget Office
has even more to say:
“You’re looking at the biggest story involving the federal budget and a crucial one for the future of the American economy. Every year for the last six years in a row, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced its estimate for how much the federal government will need to spend on Medicare in coming years. The latest reduction came in a report from the budget office on Wednesday morning.
The changes are big. The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion. That sum is greater than the government is expected to spend that year on unemployment insurance, welfare and Amtrak — combined. It’s equal to about one-fifth of the expected Pentagon budget in 2019. Widely discussed policy changes, like raising the estate tax, would generate just a tiny fraction of the budget savings relative to the recent changes in Medicare’s spending estimates.”
Unfortunately, these fiscal facts will be ignored by those in Washington determined to cut Medicare benefits. Even though he’s on a nationwide book tour, Rep. Paul Ryan is doing everything possible to ignore talking about his plan which would turn Medicare into CouponCare while also repealing the ACA -- stealing years from Medicare’s solvency, eliminating free screenings for seniors, preserving massive subsidies for private insurers in Medicare Advantage and bringing back the costly prescription drug donut hole.
It must be campaign season! GOP candidates, under Karl Rove’s tutelage, have doubled-down on their Medicare and Social Security dodge and deflect strategy. The heart of this political strategy is to avoid talking about GOP candidates’ true plans for Social Security and Medicare while simultaneously portraying their opponents as the “enemies of seniors.”
Greg Sargent offers this perspective:
“It is remarkable to watch Rove’s group try to position multiple Democratic Senators as the real threat to social insurance for the elderly, for the third straight cycle — and even more intriguingly, to use Simpson Bowles to do so. After all, Simpson Bowles is still widely treated as a paragon of unimpeachable fiscally responsible centrism, and Dems have long been pilloried by Beltway fiscal scold types for refusing to embrace its sanctified prescriptions for deficit reduction.
Indeed, this sort of Crossroads rhetoric should outrage fiscal conservatives. As Philip Klein put it in a post slamming Crossroads’ ad against Mark Pryor: ‘if Republicans want to be a limited government party, they have to be making the case for reforming entitlements — not running ads attacking Democrats from the left.’ “
As a reminder, Simpson Bowles is the Wall Street backed plan which would raise the retirement age, change the Social Security formula to cut benefits by 5%-30% while also changing the COLA formula to cut benefits for both current and future retirees. Simpson Bowles has been touted by conservatives and centrists as a “balanced plan” even though it imposes 75% in benefit cuts (largely on the middle class) and only 25% in revenue increases. How incredibly cynical for Karl Rove and crew to attempt yet another rewrite of history on behalf of his GOP congressional clients, most of whom would not only support Simpson-Bowles but also the GOP/Ryan budget which would be especially devastating to Social Security and Medicare.
So, as you will inevitably see these ads make their way onto your local channels, here’s what you need to remember about the GOP campaign strategy on Social Security and Medicare from their 2012 playbook and our blog post back then:
A memo and campaign how-to video from the National Republican Congressional Committee provides an incredibly clear and cynical look behind their political curtain, as the NRCC gives Republican candidates tips on how to dodge the discussion they really don’t want to have about the votes they’ve already cast on Medicare:
“Do not say: ‘entitlement reform,’ ‘privatization,’ ‘every option is on the table,’ … Do say: ‘strengthen,’ ‘secure,’ ‘save,’ ‘preserve, ‘protect.’” NRCC Memo
It’s up to voters to ask the right questions. That happened in New York with GOP candidate Elise Stefanik and hilarity ensued:
John Nichols at The Nation has this week’s must-read story on Rep. Paul Ryan’s never-ending quest to cut Social Security benefits. Nichols has read Ryan’s new book (so we don’t have to) and provides this analysis:
The well-regarded second-term congressman met with Vice President Dick Cheney, who was at the peak of his co-presidency powers. Like Cheney in his younger years, Ryan was a former congressional aide who had worked the conservative think-tank circuit before getting himself elected to the House. The Washington insiders should have gotten on famously.
But the vice president was not buying what the man, who is now described as “the intellectual leader of the Republican Party,” was selling.
Ryan recalls the meeting this way:
“The surplus has given us a huge opportunity,” I explained. “If we dedicate the Social Security surplus to reform, we can shore up the program and end the raid on the trust fund.” I talked about the opportunity to create a real ownership society, how workers could actually own a piece of the free enterprise system through these reforms. As soon as I finished my pitch, Vice President Cheney said, “Yeah, we’re not going to do that.” Then he looked at the person sitting next to me, signaling that he was ready to hear the next idea. His terse reply was the verbal equivalent of someone swatting an annoying mosquito from his face.
Of course later the Bush administration did in fact try to privatize Social Security with a famously failed national town-hall blitz in which the more they talked, the more the American people rebelled against Bush’s plans to send workers' Social Security to Wall Street. Cheney also supported the privatization of the Pentagon; however, Nichols points out that the politically astute Vice President at least understood one truism that Paul Ryan still seems oblivious to:
Cheney recognized then, as he appeared to again in his 2001 “annoying mosquito” conversation with Ryan, that domestic political calculations require at least some deference to the wisdom of the American people.
Today that wisdom says that the United States need not, and must not, slash the social safety net in order to advance reforms that will be very good for Wall Street but very bad for Main Street. Until Paul Ryan accepts this reality, he will remain stuck on the same questions. Indeed, if the Republicans nominate the ambitious young congressman for president in 2016, and if he runs on the agenda Dick Cheney swatted away fifteen years earlier, Ryan will again find himself asking, “Why did we lose? How did it happen? Why does the Republican Party seem to keep losing ground.”
We recommend you read the whole story here.
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