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Faryn Balyncd

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Member since: Wed Nov 23, 2005, 08:15 AM
Number of posts: 4,380

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Check in here if you will call the White House at 202-456-1111 TODAY to save SS.




The White may have thought it could dress up a 112 billion dollar cut to earned SS benefits as a mere "technical" accounting adjustment.

The White House may have thought that Americans would not realize that the $112 billion cuts (to current beneficiaries in the next 10 years alone, & based on low inflation projections) will grow exponentially in following decades, especially if inflation heats up.

The White may have thought it would be good politics to repeat the CPI book cooking scam perfected by the Boskin Commission in the 1990's, which has resulted in CPI calculations that (as returning Congressman Alan Grayson pointed out in his recent DU post) ALREADY UNDERSTATE inflation.




But that scam has been long ago exposed: A few years after the Boskin Commission slashed SS benefits by rigging CPI to understate inflation, Greg Mankiw, chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2001-2003, seeing no reason at the time to continue the charade, publicly admitted the truth everyone already knew: “The debate about the CPI was really a political debate about how, and by how much, to cut real entitlements.”

And the White may have thought it would be good politics to offer up Social Security cuts in a deal with Republicans to partially preserve historically low income tax rates on the 1% (rates that were only achieved by raiding Social Security surpluses to finance income tax cuts)...




But Republicans have shown that their strategy is for DEMOCRATS to cut Social Security, and for DEMOCRATS to own he issue and bear the blame...

Because Republican leaders know that Americans across the board, even their own Republican bas, side with the Progressive caucus, the House Progressive Caucus, with the AFL-CIO, the AARP , MoveOn.org,and oppose cutting Social Security by cooking the CPI calculation books.

Even Republicans recognize that Americans are not willing to be fooled by mischaracterizing a $112 billion cut to Social Security as a "technical" accounting change.... and the overwhelming position of Americans across the board shown in the December Washington Post/ABC poll :




"In order to strike a budget deal, would you accept Changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they do now or is this something you would find unacceptable?"


60% of all adults oppose (60% to 34%)
57% of registered voters oppose (57% to 36%)
68% of Democratic voters oppose (68% to 26%)
54% of Republican voters oppose (54% to 40%)
56% of Independents oppose (56% to 36%)
65% of liberals oppose (65% to 29%)
57% of moderates oppose (57% to 38%
58% of conservatives oppose (58% to 33%)




So when even Republican leaders are afraid to cross the American people on this issue (as demonstrated by their refusal to include "chained CPI" in their own proposal, isn't it time for the White House to stand with the House Progressive Caucus, and with the American people, and reject the slashing of Social Security benefits as part of a deal to finance general fund deficits by continued raiding of Social Security surpluses?




So who is willing to flood the White House phone lines at 202-456-1111 TODAY?

Who is willing to demand that the White House stand with the House Progressive Caucus, with Democratic principles, and with the American people?





















Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:41 AM (15 replies)

"Chained CPI" Americans (across the board) GET IT:




"In order to strike a budget deal, would you accept Changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they do now or is this something you would find unacceptable?"

The December Washington Post/ABC poll :


60% of all adults oppose (60% to 34%)
57% of registered voters oppose (57% to 36%)
68% of Democratic voters oppose (68% to 26%)
54% of Republican voters oppose (54% to 40%)
56% of Independents oppose (56% to 36%)
65% of liberals oppose (65% to 29%)
57% of moderates oppose (57% to 38%
58% of conservatives oppose (58% to 33%)



It would appear that Americans across the board can see with their own eyes the reality that returning Congressman Alan Grayson pointed out in his recent DU post: that the current CPI calculation methodology ALREADY UNDERSTATES inflation.

It would appear Americans are unwilling to be fooled again by those who believe they can dress up the slashing of earned benefits as "technical" accounting adjustments.

That scam has been long ago exposed: A few years after the Boskin Commission slashed SS benefits by rigging CPI to understate inflation, Greg Mankiw, chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2001-2003, seeing no reason at the time to continue the charade, publicly admitted the truth everyone already knew: “The debate about the CPI was really a political debate about how, and by how much, to cut real entitlements.”

On the issue cutting Social Security by means of again cooking the CPI calculation books, Americans across the board are in agreement, with the House Progressive Caucus, with the AFL-CIO, the AARP , MoveOn.org, Disabled American Veterans.





This appears to be a defining moment.

The Republican strategy is clear: Demand that DEMOCRATS initiates, pass, and OWN the issue of slashing Social Security. Regardless of how much Republican leaders may want to cut Social Security, through chained CPI or otherwise, they are unwilling to be the party to propose and own the issue. Their recent plan avoided "chained CPI" like the plague. The Republican strateg is to manipulate Democrats into betraying their base.




Will a disgraced & defeated Republican Party now succeed in manipulating Democrats to do such a thing?


Will we learn from the past?


In 1997, as the Boskin Commission's fraudulent rigging of CPI was on the verge of implementation, The Atlantic published an eerily prescient "How to Re-Write Economic History" which illustrates the profound attraction that cooking the books has for politicians:



“Given the questionable intellectual foundations of the Boskin Commission's findings, the commission's high standing in Washington requires explanation. Both Democrats and Republicans have been keen to see its recommendations adopted, because they provide a potentially uncontroversial way to achieve deficit reduction. Raising taxes is unpopular, and little discretionary government spending is left to be cut. Restating the CPI as a measure of cost-of-living inflation offers an easy way to lower Social Security payments through reduced COLAs and raise tax revenues through reduced exemptions. The hope is that the CPI can be presented as an apolitical and boring technical issue that voters won't notice.

“Revising the CPI would get the Republicans off the hook of deficit reduction, while simultaneously advancing the interests of business. This, however, would occur at the expense of working Americans and the elderly. Revising the CPI would get the Democrats off the same hook, but at the cost of another shameful desertion of the constituencies they claim to represent.


- - - - - - - - - - - - http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/97apr/econhist.htm
















Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Dec 26, 2012, 09:51 AM (41 replies)

SCORECARD on "Chained CPI"/Social Security Cuts : an Update




Here's the latest on who stands where "Chained CPI"/Social Security Cuts:















Addendum:

Here is MoveOn's page on where individual Senators stand:
http://pol.moveon.org/fiscal-showdown-whip/index.html




Edited to update links: As the original posted link to the Washington Post-ABC December poll question has become non-functional since original posting, the post links have been edited to provide an active link (in which all adults, registered voters, Democrats, Republicans, independents, liberals, moderates, and conservatives were polled on the question "In order to strike a budget deal, would you accept Changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they do now or is this something you would find unacceptable?" http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2012/12/18/National-Politics/Polling/question_9557.xml?uuid=pDcguEkKEeKK-ZtQy0YFpw )










Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Dec 22, 2012, 10:07 PM (8 replies)

My email response to Leader Pelosi's "Let's Get Real" email update




Like all of you who are on Leader Pelosi's email list, I read with interest her "Let's Get Real" email update in which she discussed many of the important issues for which she is fighting for us.

Here is my email reply in which I urge her to stand firm with the 102 House Democrats who have said Social Security should be off the table, with fellow Democrats Peter DeFazio, Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison, and returning Congressman Alan Grayson, with the AFL-CIO, with AARP with MoveOn.org, and to again take Social Security cuts OFF THE TABLE - - - (rather than her apparent recent willingness to consider a $112 billion cut in SS, as part of a deal to partially preserve historically low tax rates for the 1%, as "strengthening" Social Security.)



Leader Pelosi has fought long and hard for us on many, many issues.

Isn't is time she hears from us on a most fundamental issue that is now up for grabs?

(Leader Pelosi's contact page is: https://pelosi.house.gov/contact/email-me.shtml )





To: Pelosi.Updates@mail.house.gov
Subject: Re: Let's Get Real

Dear Leader Pelosi,

Thanks for your message.

However, I am extremely disappointed in your apparent willingness to accept a $112 billion cut to Social Security beneficiaries disguised as a "technical" CPI/COLA change.

This is an inexcusable betrayal of Democratic principles, and a betrayal to Americans whose decades of payroll and self-employment taxes have funded the $2.7 trillion dollar surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund.

Such a betrayal would be inexcusable even if it were a separate measure pertaining to Social Security alone, because it is unwarranted, and aggravates a calculation that ALREADY UNDERESTIMATES real inflation. Trying to bamboozle Americans by pretending it is simply a "technical" accounting correction is wearing thin, as Americans have seen for themselves that the current CPI underestimates inflation, and that chained CPI is simply a deceitful ruse to slash benefits.

But it is especially shameful to slash Social Security (the most fiscally responsible program in American history) in the context of a deal to partially preserve historically low tax rates for high earners, especially since those historically low income tax rates were made possible by tax cuts simultaneous with multiple wars, and the deficits were financed in large part by the surpluses from the Social Security Trust Fund.

It DOES NOT "STRENGTHEN" Social Security to slash FUNDED benefits so that historically low tax rates to financial elites may be partially preserved.

To the contrary, this simply enables the continued raiding of the payroll tax funded Social Security Trust Fund to subsidize the 1%.

Leader Pelosi, it is essential that your hear the voices of the overwhelming majority of Americans (of both parties, moreover), of the AARP, of MoveOn.org, of the brave members of the House progressive caucus, and REVERSE your apparent willingness to accept "chained CPI" or any other erosion of Social Security benefits.

Social Security is fully funded through 2033, by which time a significant number of baby boomers will no longer be receiving benefits. Solvency beyond 2033 can be best achieved by adjusting the FICA cap.

Accounting deceptions such as "chained CPI" are recognized by Americans as a pathetic attempt to steal their funded benefits for the benefit of those who want to continue historically low tax rates on the wealthy.

Such deception are not only wrong, they are a betrayal of the voters who rejected such an approach in November.

Please make it clear that Social Security cuts (through chained CPI or any other method) are OFF THE TABLE.

Sincerely,









-----Original Message-----
From: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Sent: Dec 21, 2012 6:00 PM
Subject: Let's Get Real

Can't see the pictures? Select "Always display images" or view this message in your browser
Pelosi


Let's Get Real
December 21, 2012
Congresswoman Pelosi calls on Congress
to address the fiscal cliff.
Share This Email On:
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. . . The message from the American people is loud and clear: we need solutions not stalemates. We must find a bold, balanced and fair agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, promote growth and create jobs. At the negotiating table, we must not forget the conversation happening at kitchen tables across our country – families are concerned about how to make ends meet, pay their bills, save for retirement and afford to send their kids to college.

There is no better time than this holiday season for Congress to act – now – to pass a $2,000 tax cut for the average American family. Unfortunately, in my opinion, House Republicans continue to support policies that hold the middle class tax break hostage in order to prevent the wealthiest from paying their fair share. In response, I have called on my colleagues to sign a discharge petition to force action on this critical measure. Let’s get real; ther is no time to waste. . . .

. . . .


Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Dec 22, 2012, 03:21 PM (4 replies)

Is it time to select a Minority Leader & House Whip that will vigorously DEFEND Social Security?



....and who DO NOT think that the way to "strengthen" the most fiscally responsible program in American history is to slash the funded benefits paid with decades of sweaty payroll taxes as part of a deal to partially preserve historically low income tax rates for financial elites.

I have always admired Rep. Pelosi.

But defending Social Security is a bedrock issue.

Social Security is more than essential: It is the most fiscally responsible program in American history. It's surpluses have been a cash cow financing general fund deficits caused by the toxic combination of waging multiple wars while simultaneously slashing general fund revenues by lowering income tax rates for financial elites to historically low levels.

The Trust Fund's $2.7 trillion surplus makes the Social Security system the single largest CREDITOR of the Treasury.....The single largest FINANCIER of general fund deficits. The surplus creates solvency through 2033 (past the lifetimes of many baby boomers), and permanent solvency can be assured by adjusting the cap on FICA contributions.




Slashing benefits by $112 billion (in the next 10 years alone) as part of a deal to partially preserve the historically low, unsustainable tax rates for financial elites is simply not right.

Moreover, increasing the raiding of the Trust Fund to subsidize inadequate income tax revenues will not "strengthen" Social Security. . . To the contrary, it will ONLY STRENGTHEN THE AUDACITY of those who hope to PERMANENTLY hijack the Trust Fund so that elites can continue to enjoy artificially low income tax rates subsidized by the payroll taxes of other Americans.

At this critical time, how do we defend Social Security without House leadership who share the passion and commitment of Alan Grayson, Peter DeFazio, Barbara Lee, and Keith Ellison?















Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Thu Dec 20, 2012, 11:14 PM (12 replies)

Whitewashing a $112 billion THEFT of SS Trust Funds as a "technical change" is a cynical lie. . .



The 112 billion dollars (that is being contemplated for diversion from Social Security beneficiaries in the next 10 years alone) are funds that are part of the $2.7 trillion surplus built with decades of sweaty payroll (and self-employment) taxes, loaned to the Treasury (financing the deficits caused by simultaneously waging multiple wars while slashing general fund revenues/income taxes on the financial elites to historically low levels), and which are now needed for the intended purpose (paying the retirement benefits which are fully funded until 2033, beyond the lifetimes of many baby boomers).

Rigging the already rigged CPI calculation in order that unsustainable, historically low income tax rates can be partially preserved is THEFT.

And whitewashing that theft as a mere "technical change" is not "spokesmanship" but a cynical & pathetic lie, more befitting Fox "News" than a Democratic administration.



How quickly we learn to ignore our prophetic and principled leaders: Only 13 months principled Democrats were introducing legislation to CORRECT the gross UNDER-stating of inflation in the current CPI-W calculation, and Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced the "Consumer Price Index For Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act"



. . . . . Now, 13 months later we are on the verge of replacing a bad CPI-W with a much worse "chained CPI", which will permanently enshrine a malignant "substitution" effect and permanently de-couple inflation calculations from reality.



Far better would it be to listen to prophetic voices like Howard Dean, go over the contrived "fiscal speed bump", let the Bush tax cut expire, then dare Republicans to block legislation re-instating middle class tax cuts ans other essential services.
















Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:46 AM (31 replies)

The "Chained CPI" Scam: a Race to the Bottom




Here are some views on "Chained CPI":


The Chained CPI Scam

....Enter the Chained CPI. It's a measure of inflation that takes the substitution effect of consumers changing their buying habits in response to a rise in prices. If the price of steak goes up, the story goes, consumers buy more chicken and the government doesn't have to worry about making sure that retirees can keep up with the price of steak.

The steak/chicken analogy is popular among Chained CPI proponents, I suspect, because it's so inconsequential. Americans don't generally believe that society owes you a dry-aged porterhouse. Chicken will do.

Chained CPI proponents also like to talk about all of the gadgets out there. Once adopted, prices for televisions, microwaves, cell phones and computers of all types tend to plummet. One day, you can't afford the new iPad. A few years later, you can get something just as good at a bargain price.

It's easy to trivialize inflation with these anecdotes and analogies. It's also easy for politicians to argue that moving Social Security to the Chained CPI, as opposed to the current Consumer Price Index which measures the prices of a fixed basket of goods, is not a cut, it's just in line with reality. Yes, it will slow the growth of Social Security payments over time, but nobody will sacrifice anything.

Except that, they will. The Chained CPI is a race to the bottom. Maybe the idea of somebody giving up steak for chicken doesn't bother us. But the Chained CPI memorializes that consumer choice. What happens when the price of chicken rises? Somewhere down the line, you're eating potted meat like a hobo.



Here's another:





"How Government Should Cheat on the CPI"]


....Government agencies tell us we’re wrong and that prices have only risen 2 – 3% annually. They love to speak about ‘core inflation’ which excludes food and energy. Please raise your hands if you don’t partake of those items and thus don’t care about their costs.

This week’s Bloomberg Businessweek (Apr. 30 – May 6, 2012 issue) proposes a bipartisan deficit fix they say would produce $300 Billion in combined savings and tax revenues over the next decade. How would they accomplish this? Switch from the current standard CPI calculation – the Bureau of Labor Statistics market basket of 80,000 goods and services weighted to reflect what they claim are consumer spending patterns- to the BLS’s chained CPI.

What is chained CPI? The BLS says that when prices for specific items go up, consumers often substitute lower-cost goods instead of buying their old favorites. While the standard CPI measures the same basket of goods every month the chained CPI would assume steak lovers would trade down to hamburger or Granny Smith apple fans would settle for lower priced oranges should apple prices surge. Bloomberg suggested that consumers might even react to price increases in one item by going to another category altogether. If ‘bacon and eggs’ gets too expensive, why not simply have some cold cereal?

This alternative measure of including price substitutions is literally an apples-to-oranges comparison rather than noting the change in prices of exactly the same goods and services from the month before, as the average person would expect.

The chained CPI would assume that higher absolute prices force people to ratchet down their standard of living rather than pay more to maintain their normal choices. . .






If Republicans manage to manipulate Democrats into cooking the books to continue raiding the SS Trust Fund to subsidize general revenue deficits, what do you expect to be the theme of the 2014 campaigns?










Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:56 PM (10 replies)

"Chained CPI" - How the book-cooker's wet dream re-defines reality:



A few years after the Boskin Commission slashed SS benefits by rigging CPI to understate inflation, Greg Mankiw, chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2001-2003, seeing no reason at the time to continue the charade, publicly admitted the truth everyone already knew: “The debate about the CPI was really a political debate about how, and by how much, to cut real entitlements.”




Since, by the time of Mankiw's admission, the Boskin Commission's (bi-partisan) dirty deed had already been safely accomplished, resulting in a CPI that critics estimate understates real inflation by at least 1% annually to as much as 7% annually, little did Mankiw know that, in 2012, Republicans would have the audacity to try to manipulate Democrats into a repeat of the same scam .......to attempt to RE-RIG the CPI that Americans already recognized as fraudulent.

But, to the extent that Mankiw did not foresee a repeat of the CPI-rigging scam, he clearly underestimated the charms to politicians of dishonest accounting manipulation of CPI....... what Barry Bosworth of the Brookings Institute eloquently labeled "the ‘immaculate conception‘ version of deficit reduction in which spending is cut without Congress taking the blame.”


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


In 2012, however, the book-cooking technique now being peddled has a much greater potential than any prior technique..... And anyone who drinks the kool-aide and actually believes that "chained CPI" will result in cuts of "only" 10% or so simply does not understand how "chained CPI" works.

"Chained CPI", because it DE-COUPLES CPI from comparing apples to apples, and because it will depend on the somewhat arbitrary criteria which will need to be determined to implement the "substitution effect", will be an infinitely powerful and flexible tool for artificially suppressing official CPI statistics.





This is how "Chained CPI" re-defines reality:

Suppose, over a given time period, prices rise 100%.

And suppose that you, and others, have been purchasing rib eye for $5/lb, and rib-eye rises to $10/lb.

Because of this inflation, you switch from rib-eye to hot dogs, which formerly were $2/lb, but rose to $4/lb.

Now, you might be tempted to assume that the CPI has risen by100%, since that is what individual items rose.

But "chained CPI", by allowing for a "substitution effect", says, in effect, that "Hot dogs are the new rib-eye", and that your meat expense actually went down from $5/lb rib-eye to $4/lb hot dogs, and magically transforms this 100% inflation in actual prices into a government defined 20% "deflation" - - - based not on real-world prices, but on the substituted consumption of inferior products.

(The peddlers of "chained CPI", of course, would prefer that you live in a dreamland and make the false assumption that consumer substitutions will be of superior products in an ever-improving standard of living.)




It does not take a rocket scientist to foresee the downward spiral that such a definition will create, with fraudulent COLA's resulting in increased substitution in a losing attempt to cope, which will result in even more harshly discounted CPI calculations based on those substitutions, which will result in lower COLA's, more substitutions, which will result in......





Will a disgraced & defeated Republican Party now succeed in manipulating Democrats to do such a thing?

Will we learn from the past?


In 1997, as the Boskin Commission's fraudulent rigging of CPI was on the verge of implementation, The Atlantic published an eerily prescient "How to Re-Write Economic History" which illustrates the profound attraction that cooking the books has for politicians:



“Given the questionable intellectual foundations of the Boskin Commission's findings, the commission's high standing in Washington requires explanation. Both Democrats and Republicans have been keen to see its recommendations adopted, because they provide a potentially uncontroversial way to achieve deficit reduction. Raising taxes is unpopular, and little discretionary government spending is left to be cut. Restating the CPI as a measure of cost-of-living inflation offers an easy way to lower Social Security payments through reduced COLAs and raise tax revenues through reduced exemptions. The hope is that the CPI can be presented as an apolitical and boring technical issue that voters won't notice.

“Revising the CPI would get the Republicans off the hook of deficit reduction, while simultaneously advancing the interests of business. This, however, would occur at the expense of working Americans and the elderly. Revising the CPI would get the Democrats off the same hook, but at the cost of another shameful desertion of the constituencies they claim to represent.”


- - - - - - - - - - - - http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/97apr/econhist.htm















Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Dec 18, 2012, 05:55 AM (13 replies)

Bruce Bartlett: Revenge of the Reality-Based Community-My life on the Republican right & and how...



quite a read:




Revenge of the Reality-Based Community
My life on the Republican right—and how I saw it all go wrong.

- Bruce Bartlett


"...As I wrote the book ... my utter disdain for Bush grew, as I recalled forgotten screw-ups and researched topics that hadn't crossed my radar screen. I grew to totally despise the man for his stupidity, cockiness, arrogance, ignorance, and general cluelessness. I also lost any respect for conservatives who continued to glorify Bush as the second coming of Ronald Reagan and as a man they would gladly follow to the gates of hell. This was either gross, willful ignorance or total insanity, I thought.

"The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist. In fact, he's barely a liberal --- and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today. Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right."

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=9750







a little more, from the former economic policy analyst in the Reagan & Bush 41 administrations:





"...After careful research along these lines, I came to the annoying conclusion that Keynes had been 100 percent right in the 1930s. Previously, I had thought the opposite. But facts were facts and there was no denying my conclusion," he writes, concluding that George W. Bush's Great Recession made clear that "We needed Keynesian policies again.

"Annoyingly, I found myself joined at the hip to Paul Krugman, whose analysis was identical to my own. I had previously viewed Krugman as an intellectual enemy and attacked him rather colorfully in an old column that he still remembers.

"For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy's problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades."


http://www.bradblog.com/?p=9750











Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Fri Nov 30, 2012, 01:24 PM (67 replies)

K&R if You Agree with Krugman & Howard Dean on the "Fiscal Cliff"


Let's Not Make a Deal
Paul Krugman, New York Times

Howard Dean: Let's Drive Over the Fiscal Cliff

The "Fiscal Cliff" Hoax
Time for Change, Democratic Underground

A 'Grand Bargain' on the Fiscal Cliff Could Be a Grand Betrayal
Robert L. Borasage, Institute for America's Future
The Nation, December 3, 2012











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