Appearing on Fox News this morning, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rand Paul (R-KY) acted like their plan to means-test Social Security and raise the retirement age was the most genius thing since sliced bread. But however attractive these options may at first seem, means testing and raising the retirement age are very bad policy. Click here for a comprehensive take-down of raising the retirement age, and here for a rebuttal of means-testing.
The question remains as to whether Democrats' 21st century vision will accord an appropriate role for the social insurance programs and protections that helped make America great in the 20th, as the President would like, or follow the oft-repeated Beltway truism that we must “invest, even as we cut,” which is code for investing in infrastructure at the expense of our modest social safety net. Rather than view the President's competitiveness framing as a threat, we progressives must seize it as an opportunity to elevate and expand our social insurance programs, as well as enforce our labor and trade laws. We have a very strong case to make that from both a substantive and a political perspective, America will achieve economic greatness because of a robust social safety net, rather than in spite of one.
Tom Friedman—and nearly every other Washington pundit obsessed with the idea of “cut and invest”—just does not get how basic social insurance actually makes our society stronger and wealthier. The case we progressives need to make emphatically is that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are more relevant to American competitiveness than ever. Compromising on them is compromising on innovation.
In an open letter to the President this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders mentioned "worriesome reports" that the President is planning to cut Social Security. These reports don't come out of the blue. They're the culmination of a months-long campaign. The White House has been privately signalling for months that it was leaning in that direction, and now the sky over Washington is darkening with trial balloons floating up from Pennsylvania Avenue.
Before you make such a disastrous and unwarranted move, Mr. President, there's someone I think you should meet. Actually, you may have run into him before: He's a skinny guy with an keen analytical mind and a gift for brilliant oratory. Sound familiar? He ran for President last time around, and he had some very sensible things to say about Social Security: more »
tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com — While much of the rise of inequality in America can be traced to the Reagan and Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans, a greater source of class tension in the next ten years will be between the college educated and the rest of the society. Today, just 45% of ninth graders will enroll in college four years later. If the promise of America in the 1950's was that you didn't need a college education to earn a middle class living, that assurance in the America of 2010 has disappeared. The unemployment rate for high school dropouts is 15.4% while for college graduates it's 5%. This is why the international educational statistics for 15 year-olds released by the OECD yesterday were so disturbing.
At the Strengthen Social Security campaign we made two graphs demonstrating how the Fiscal Commission's final proposal would affect typical earners at all ends of the spectrum. The results are devastating. If you are not shocked, you are not looking closely enough. Check it out below, or click here for the graphs, explanatory note and underlying data all in one file.
The first thing you need to know about Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s plan to strengthen Social Security is what it does not do. It does not claim to cut benefits in order to “prevent them from being cut” in the future. It does not “fix” Social Security with 70% benefit cuts and 30% revenue increases and then turn around and call itself a compromise. It does not shove middle class retirees and their families into poverty by cutting their benefits as much as 35%.
Whatever the results this Election Day, it’s clear that visionary progressive ideas will be less welcome at the start of the next Congress. And that’s saying something, given their track record in this Congress.
But with that reality comes a new opportunity: the chance to tell our own story as progressives, instead of having it told for and about us. more »
alternet.org — As media outlets have reported, a MoveOn.org worker who attempted to approach Paul at an October 26 rally in Lexington, Kentucky was attacked, apparently by Paul supporters. The woman was thrown to the ground and then stepped on, causing her head to be smashed into the pavement. According to MoveOn.org, the victim was diagnosed with a concussion at a local hospital. The attack on the MoveOn worker was the latest in a string of violence and threats against progressives.
robertreich.org — Why are Democratic presidents so much more easily intimidated by the "move to the center" rhetoric after midterm losses than Republican presidents? Because Democrats think in terms of programs, policies, and particular pieces of legislation. It’s easy to reverse course by compromising more and giving up on legislative goals. Republicans think in terms of simple ideas, themes, and movements. It’s far harder to reverse course on these, and easier to keep them alive: Republican presidents just continue looking for opportunities to implement them. Message to Obama: Whatever happens November 2, don’t move to the center. Push even harder for what you believe in. Message to Democrats: Whatever happens, keep the courage of your conviction and get even more active.