Harsh Reality

Speaking of Social Security reform, President Obama’s Deficit Commission has issued its report, and it isn’t pretty:

In a politically incendiary plan, the bipartisan leaders of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission proposed curbs in Social Security benefits, deep reductions in federal spending and higher taxes for millions of Americans Wednesday to stem a flood of red ink that they said threatens the nation’s very future.

The White House responded coolly, some leading lawmakers less so to proposals that target government programs long considered all but sacred. Besides Social Security, Medicare spending would be curtailed. Tax breaks for many health care plans, too. And the Pentagon’s budget, as well, in a plan designed to cut total deficits by as much as $4 trillion over the next decade.

This is what authors Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns call the “menu of pain” in their book The Coming Generational Storm. In order to pay our future obligations, the youth of this country face crushing tax increases – as much as 80%. Social Security reform is essential to avoid this, and the Deficit Commission agrees.

Here’s some further details:

The plan arrived exactly one week after elections that featured strong voter demands for economic change in Washington. But criticism was immediate from advocacy groups on the left and, to some extent, the right at the start of the post-election debate on painful steps necessary to rein in out-of-control deficits.

The plan would gradually increase the retirement age for full Social Security benefits — to 69 by 2075 — and current recipients would receive smaller-than-anticipated annual increases. Equally controversial, it would eliminate the current tax deduction that homeowners receive for the interest they pay on their mortgages.

No one is expecting quick action on any of the plan’s pieces. Proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare are making liberals recoil. And conservative Republicans are having difficulty with options suggested for raising taxes. The plan also calls for cuts in farm subsidies, foreign aid and the Pentagon’s budget.

The document was released by Democrat Erskine Bowles, a former Clinton White House chief of staff, and Republican Alan Simpson, a former senator from Wyoming.

Now – if any democrats need an example of why they got decimated in the mid-term election, they need look no further:

Controversial or not, Bowles said serious action was demanded. He declared, “This debt is like a cancer that will truly destroy this country from within if we don’t fix it.”

The government reported separately Wednesday that the deficit for last month alone was $140.4 billion — and that was 20 percent lower than a year earlier. The red ink for all of the past fiscal year was $1.29 trillion, second highest on record, and this year is headed for the third straight total above $1 trillion.

Current deficits require the government to borrow 37 cents out of every dollar it spends.

Still, the plan was rejected as “simply unacceptable” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a top Obama ally.

What’s unacceptable is the status quo and risking this country’s future, but that won’t keep the left from attempting to block reform intended to save this country from financial ruin. We’ve avoided the issue for long enough.

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4 Responses to Harsh Reality

  1. vxbush says:

    The most troubling thing for me are the phrases like “smaller increases.” I haven’t yet seen the “decrease” or even “cut” where it means actual reductions in the amount going out. It’s always just reductions of planned increases.

    In the past, when the Republicans would do exactly these things, Democrats would scream and holler about Repubs cutting benefits, when they were doing no such thing. I fear the commission is doing no better at actually reducing spending by the government.

  2. 71LesPaul says:

    Call me a cynic, but I think there may be a slight chance that the Dem response will be to blame GWB for the mess.

  3. 71LesPaul says:

    I wonder what AARP will say about the possibility that SS benefit increases will be reduced? Good thing they get lots of subsidized cash from the taxpayers so they can continue lobbying the government.

  4. Drae says:

    If the country goes broke paying Social Security recipients, and it will, they won’t get anything anyways. If you decide to read The Coming Generational Storm, your blood pressure will spike. For example, the computer program that runs the SS benefits is ancient and prone to big inaccuracies.

    Then there is the games the various powers that be have played with the truth, and the American people have been lied to for decades.

    But the thing I actually do love about this book is it supports a consumption tax because over time, wealth accumulates, and the consumption tax would put the burden of Social Security on the wealthy and retired instead of on the young. Here’s more:

    “Nearly all additional wealth created in the USA since 1989 has gone to people 55 and older, according to Federal Reserve data. Wealth has doubled since 1989 in households headed by older Americans.

    [snip]

    Older people have always been wealthier than younger ones. What’s changed is the disparity between the generations. Old people have been racing ahead, helped by government retirement benefits. Young people are running in place, partly because they’re delaying careers to get more education.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-05-20-cover-generation-wealth_N.htm

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