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Member since: Wed Jan 30, 2008, 03:33 PM
Number of posts: 10,157

About Me

I'm a lawyer representing workers and consumers and a longtime Democratic activist. Nothing I say on here, including any comments about legal topics, should be construed as legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship.

Journal Archives

What do you guys think about this proposal re. SS?

I had this idea while responding to another thread on this forum, and I wanted to throw it out there, because I have not seen it proposed but think it's something liberals and conservatives might be able to live with.

What if we raise the SS retirement age to 70, or even 75, but only for those who continue working and earning a comfortable salary (say, $75,000). Since SS was designed to be a retirement income replacement program, there is really no reason why people who continue working and earning a reasonably comfortable salary need to receive Social Security. Nobody would be forced to work until 70, but those who choose to arguably do not need to start receiving Social Security until they retire. It could be set up in such a way that people could start immediately receiving benefits after sending to the Social Security Administration some sort of proof of termination of employment (whether voluntary or involuntary).

I would also apply the higher eligibility age to those who have high levels of unearned income, but make the threshold higher for unearned income to avoid penalizing those who are forced to draw down their 401(k) when they reach a certain age unless they have a very large 401(k).

I know that currently, you get higher benefits if you wait until 70 to collect. I would leave that in place but would not add additional bonuses for waiting until 75, because SS was designed to provide retirement income replacement and those who are not retired arguably do not need income replacement, especially if they earn a decent salary.

This would also have the effect of incentivizing some older workers to retire and free up jobs for younger people. And it would save the system money without turning it into a welfare program, since everyone would get benefits in proportion to what they paid once they turn 75, and everyone would have the option to retire and collect earlier than that without penalty.

FWIW, I also support raising the cap, but I think this might be an additional proposal worth considering, as it might be more politically palpable than raising or eliminating the cap and it is arguably truer to the purposes of SS.

Posted by democrattotheend | Sun Dec 30, 2012, 06:23 PM (1 replies)

We Should Be Angry at the Republicans


We can debate ad nauseum whether the president made a serious offer or is playing 11-dimensional chess. We can debate whether chained CPI is a cut and whether the president should have offered it. We can debate whether the gradual but significant hardship that will come from chained CPI is worse than the immediate hardship that will come if people lose their unemployment benefits suddenly and failure to reach a deal on taxes pushes the economy back into recession. There are reasonable arguments to be made on both sides.

But it is insane that there seems to be more anger toward the president and Democrats in Congress than there is toward the Republicans who looted the treasury to put us in this position. I write today to argue that the best thing we can do for the American people is to train our anger on the Republicans who made this mess and work to expose them for the reckless extremists that they are.

On Thursday night, there was more outrage on this blog about the president's offer than there was about the fact that House Republicans shamelessly passed a bill that would prevent the defense cuts in the sequester by cutting food stamps, ending the child tax credit for non-U.S. citizens, slashing Medicaid funding, canceling the Home Affordable Modification Program, defund the subsidies for low-income families purchasing health insurance on the new exchanges, and even cutting Meals on Wheels.

Instead of threatening to sit out 2014 if we don't like the way this latest GOP-manufactured crisis gets solved, we should be out there screaming about the Republicans' willingness to plunge the country into recession and even default on the full faith and credit of the United States rather than raise taxes even on incomes over $1 million.

If you like what I wrote in that diary please Rec it here and on Kos if you have an account. I am hoping it can serve as a reminder to progressives who is really responsible for the mess we are in and how we can be most effective at fighting their extremist agenda.
Posted by democrattotheend | Sat Dec 22, 2012, 02:05 PM (70 replies)

WSJ: Looks like the president is not so spineless after all

The article is behind the paywall but parts of it are excerpted on Political Wire and since I discovered this morning that my grad school tuition dollars get me free access to WSJ through my school's website, I thought I would post a few more excerpts in keeping with DU policy:

He and Mr. Obama didn't sit down together for another 10 days. The session began genially. But tension quickly emerged over the president's call to include increasing the U.S.'s borrowing limit in any final package.

Responded Mr. Boehner: "I've found in my life that everything I've ever wanted has come with price." Mr. Obama told the speaker he wasn't willing to play games with the debt ceiling.


Mr. Obama insisted on raising tax rates for those with household income above $250,000. The House GOP wanted significant spending cuts and fundamental changes to Medicare and other entitlement programs in exchange for new tax revenue.

The president repeatedly reminded Mr. Boehner of the election results: "You're asking me to accept Mitt Romney's tax plan. Why would I do that?" At another point, the speaker noted his GOP majority would also return next year.

Mr. Boehner said he wanted a deal along the lines of what the two men had negotiated in the summer of 2011 in a fight over raising the debt ceiling. "You missed your opportunity on that," the president told him.

I wish I could post more, but the bottom line is, the president told Boehner he wasn't getting the deal he would have gotten in July of 2011, he refused to budge below $1.2 trillion in revenue, he pointed out to Boehner that he gets $800 billion "for free" if nothing is done before Jan. 1, and he stood firm and got Boehner to drop his demand to raise the Medicare age.

We might not like what he did offer, but if this article is right, the president has been bargaining a lot harder than most of us thought. This also makes me think I was right that the offer the White House leaked might have been made or at least leaked knowing Boehner couldn't get the votes for it.

EDIT: Turns out you can access the whole thing if you go to it through Google. https://www.google.com/search?q=How+'Cliff'+Talks+Hit+the+Wall&sugexp=chrome,mod=6&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Posted by democrattotheend | Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:25 PM (15 replies)

Inspiring Facebook post from a friend living in Israel

I normally avoid this forum like the plague because I am so torn about the issue that I usually wind up pissing off both sides. But I saw this post on my friend's Facebook wall and I thought it was worth sharing:

This morning in Jerusalem during my commute I noticed an old Arab man dressed in traditional clothing having difficulty paying for his train ticket. A Jewish Israeli assisted him in putting his card in the right way. The train was crowded and there was a man (also old, with grey hair, a kippah, and a long grey beard) who gave up his seat so that the old Arab man could sit in comfort. What impressed me the most was thinking of the fact that this is not unusual; it happens every day. People get along here. If we can do it on the micro level, there has to be a way we can achieve peace on the macro level too.
Posted by democrattotheend | Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:01 PM (6 replies)

Please, Proceed, Speaker

That's all I'm gonna say

Posted by democrattotheend | Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:37 PM (5 replies)

Has anyone done an estimate of the impact of chained CPI on SS solvency

Please don't attack me, I am just asking. My understanding is that as things stand now, SS will be able to pay out full benefits until 2036, then 86% after that.

Does anyone know what impact chained CPI will have on that calculation? Will it extend the length of time SS can pay out full benefits?
Posted by democrattotheend | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:58 PM (0 replies)

Obama and Biden To Deliver Gun Control Statement At 11:45 AM ET

Source: TPM

President Obama is scheduled to make a statement on the administration's path forward on gun control at 11:45 a.m. ET Wednesday in the White House briefing room. Vice President Joe Biden will also attend, according to the White House. Obama is expected to tap Biden to oversee the administration's gun-control efforts in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting.

Read more: http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/obama-to-deliver-gun-control-statement-at-11?ref=fpblg

More after it happens...
Posted by democrattotheend | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 10:43 AM (5 replies)

Time Names Barack Obama Person of the Year

Source: Time Magazine

In mid-December, as Obama settles into one of the Oval Office’s reupholstered chairs — brown leather instead of Bush’s blue and gold candy stripes — the validation of Election Day still hovers around him, suggesting that his second four years in office may turn out to be quite different from his first. Beyond the Oval Office, overwhelming challenges remain: deadlocked fiscal-cliff talks; a Federal Reserve that predicts years of high unemployment; and more unrest in places like Athens, Cairo and Damascus. But the President seems unbound and gives inklings of an ambition he has kept in check ever since he arrived at the White House to find a nation in crisis. He leans back, tea at his side, legs crossed, to explain what he thinks just happened. “It was easy to think that maybe 2008 was the anomaly,” he says. “And I think 2012 was an indication that, no, this is not an anomaly. We’ve gone through a very difficult time. The American people have rightly been frustrated at the pace of change, and the economy is still struggling, and this President we elected is imperfect. And yet despite all that, this is who we want to be.” He smiles. “That’s a good thing.”

Two years ago, Republicans liked to say that the only hard thing Obama ever did right was beating Hillary Clinton in the primary, and in electoral terms, there was some truth to that. In 2012 the GOP hoped to cast him as an inspiring guy who was not up to the job. But now we know the difference between the wish and the thing, the hype and the man in the office. He stands somewhat shorter, having won 4 million fewer votes and two fewer states than in 2008. But his 5 million-vote margin of victory out of 129 million ballots cast shocked experts in both parties, and it probably would have been higher had so much of New York and New Jersey not stayed home after Hurricane Sandy. He won many of the toughest battlegrounds walking away: Virginia by 4 points, Colorado by 5 and the lily white states of Iowa and New Hampshire by 6. He untied Ohio’s knotty heartland politics, picked the Republican lock on Florida Cubans and won Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis. (Those last two data points especially caught the President’s interest.) He will take the oath on Jan. 20 as the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice. Only five other Presidents have done that in all of U.S. history.

Read more: http://poy.time.com/2012/12/19/person-of-the-year-barack-obama/
Posted by democrattotheend | Wed Dec 19, 2012, 10:30 AM (9 replies)

What happens if we go over the "cliff"?

Do people expect that if we go over the cliff, the Republicans will magically agree to extend unemployment benefits, invest in infrastructure, cut taxes for the 98% w/o cutting it for the 2%, pass the doc fix, patch the AMT, and raise the debt ceiling for 2 years without any cuts in Medicare/SS/social spending?

How will going over the cliff take away the GOP's leverage in the debt ceiling fight?

I don't understand what the argument is for going over the cliff. How would that make us any better off in terms of negotiating? How would going over the cliff guarantee that entitlement programs are protected?
Posted by democrattotheend | Tue Dec 18, 2012, 10:18 PM (28 replies)

Here's what I don't get: why would the White House share its latest proposal

They know that there will be lots of opposition to chained CPI, and I don't see why they want to be the ones seen as proposing it when it's something the GOP has been pushing for.

I could see it if House Democrats who were informed of the plan were unhappy and leaked it, but that doesn't seem to be what happened here. It seems like this disclosure came straight from the White House.

I am not saying the president is not willing to agree to chained CPI...in the past, he has shown willingness to agree to that in exchange for revenue if it was structured in such a way that protected the poorest SS recipients.

But if they were actually close to reaching this deal, you would think they would keep it under wraps to avoid protests from liberal groups and bloggers and activists until it is too late to do anything.

The only reason I can see for the White House making this proposal public is either a) Boehner agreed to it on the condition that the president be the one to propose it; or b) the White House put it out knowing the House Republicans won't accept it, to ensure that House Republicans look unreasonable when they fail to reach a deal.

Wishful thinking to hope that it's b?
Posted by democrattotheend | Tue Dec 18, 2012, 08:42 PM (18 replies)
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