Friday, October 01, 2010

Too many truths, too many lies

by Rich Miles

Dear Republicans:

I don't know why I bother with these open letters to Repugs. As a group, you've all made it perfectly clear that you won't listen to anyone except those who say exactly what you want to hear. But I keep thinking if I continue to try to get some truth down to you, eventually a few of you will wake up to something resembling reality. Only time will tell if I'm right or wrong. So far, I'm fairly certain I'm wrong.

Anyway, today's sermon is on the topic of Social Security. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I am a recipient of SocSec benefits. But this only serves to make me more careful to get my facts straight when discussing the matter.

Let me start by pointing out that almost everything Republicans have said on this topic has been either wrong or a deliberate lie. Democrats have made a few errors on the matter, but I don't think I've so far seen any direct lies from a Dem.

Anyway, I'd like to ask you all, of either persuasion, to take note of a very salient fact in the discussion: in the portion relating to how long SocSec can survive, the numbers keep getting bigger. For instance, as recently as about 18 months ago, it was being said that benefits could be paid for 25 years, after which 75% of promised benefits could be paid almost into perpetuity.

Now, the estimate is that all promised bennies can be paid through 2039 (29 years out), and that 80% will be paid for almost-ever.

The numbers are getting bigger, see?

Predictions of SocSec insolvency have been made for decades. There was an article in Esquire magazine back when I was still in high school, prior ro 1971, that said the insolvency would ALREADY be here, by 1996 if I remember correctly.

But it's still solvent, and the actuarial estimates for how much longer it will survive are another 29 years out.

I begin to believe that the entire purpose of the Republican party and all its members is to KILL SocSec. Nothing else, just that. They certainly haven't DONE anything else to dispel that belief.

BUT - there is one bit of misinformation that is making the Democratic rounds that I'd like to put a stop to:

Some people seem to think that the way to absolutely ensure solvency is to increase the maximum income level up to which payroll assessments for the system are made, or eliminate any maximum and just keep taking out deductions up to infinity. It's currently at $106,800, which means that if you make more than that, your employer will stop deducting SocSec from your gross pay.

But the suggestion has been made, repeatedly, that deductions should continue to be made no matter how much one makes. That would increase contributions to the fund by a lot, and add to solvency. Well, that's not entirely true, but here's why such a plan would not be fair: because of the maximum amount on which benefits are calculated. That amount is, you guessed it, $106,800. If you make more than that, your benefit when you retire will not increase as a result. So, it's not really fair to ask high income makers to pay more for something that will not benefit them more.

Or so the theory goes. It's up to you whether you agree that it's unfair to continue to take deductions for something that doesn't produce a benefit. I don't really know how I feel about it. I'm tending toward the old leftie position of "Shut the fuck up and pay the money", but I'm not sure yet.

Got an opinion on this?

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