Mark Begich’s Plan to Stop the Effects of Inequality on Social Security Finances

By: Friday November 16, 2012 2:50 pm

I will be on Mark Thompson’s Make It Plain show on Sirius/XM – I’m actually on every Friday – and we tape early, so I can tell you that one of the things I’ll talk about is how Social Security’s long-term funding is an artifact of rampant US inequality. See, we have a payroll tax funding Social Security that gets capped at around $113,700 a year. That means that every dollar above that cap gets untaxed to pay for Social Security. When inequality widens, as it has, more and more compensation goes untaxed, draining the Social Security system of funds. Historically speaking, at least 90% of compensation gets captured by the Social Security system. Today that’s down to about 82%, the last I read.

So to the extent that Social Security needs to be fixed – and by “fixed” I don’t just mean brought into a 75-year balance, but made more adequate so less seniors slip into poverty – you need to raise that tax cap and capture more income. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) has an excellent piece of legislation that would do just this.


Social Security a Far Better Deal for Workers Than Modern Retirement Plans

By: Wednesday October 24, 2012 11:06 am

This brief set of calculations from the Wall Street Journal’s Ellen Schultz shows simply how much of a raw deal American workers have been getting from defined-contribution retirement plans. It is impossible for them to generate the rate of return of a defined benefit plan, just completely impossible. Schultz shows this in the context of Social Security

Obama Re-Endorses Raising Social Security Payroll Tax Cap

By: Sunday September 23, 2012 8:10 am

While many chuckle over Paul Ryan getting booed at the AARP conference – and sure, that is funny – President Obama actually made some news in his appearance. Because it’s a year divisible by four, he returned to a progressive idea on Social Security that he endorsed in his last campaign.

Giving Up the Argument: The Payroll Tax Cut Chase

By: Saturday August 27, 2011 10:00 am

Instead of making payroll tax fairness a fixture of the Democratic brand, instead of wrapping that into a critique about the inequality that is at the heart of what America needs to fix in order to have sustainable finances again, Democrats chase these little moments to “prove” Republican hypocrisy – and in turn confuse everyone as to what it means to be a Democrat.

Group that Heckled Romney “Puts Principle Before Party,” Questions Both Parties on Social Safety Net, Making Corporations Pay

By: Friday August 12, 2011 7:05 am

By now the political world has heard about Mitt Romney’s statement to a group of hecklers at the Iowa State Fair yesterday. Explaining why he didn’t want to tax corporations to lower the deficit and pay for social insurance programs, Romney stated that “corporations are people, my friends.” This received the requisite amount of attention from partisans. But who initiated the exchange?

It turns out that the hecklers were a group of about a dozen members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI). They are a grassroots community organization that is part of a broader coalition called The New Bottom Line, which seeks to challenge big bank interests on behalf of everyday communities. And they have a message for members of both parties who visit Iowa during caucus season. I spoke with Dave Goodner, an Iowa CCI organizer who was part of the exchange yesterday.

Obama Reaffirms Desire to Lift Social Security Payroll Cap

By: Tuesday April 19, 2011 1:15 pm

So, we have the President making bipartisan noises about Social Security reforms, but on the specifics, he only mentions lifting the payroll tax cap, and he rejects completely that it should become part of the budget debate since it’s not a driver of deficits.

Social Security Options in the Grand Bargain

By: Wednesday February 16, 2011 12:35 pm

One of the more glaring possible outcomes in the grand bargain would be a plan to “reform” Social Security for the long term.

Poll: Social Security Cuts Would Deeply Harm Electoral Fortunes of Obama, Democrats

By: Thursday January 20, 2011 11:45 am

The NBC poll is that the deficit is not nearly as important as job creation. And a separate poll from Celinda Lake shows that Social Security cuts would have a severely bad effect on the President’s electoral chances

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