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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 15, 2011 4:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Better dying through chemistry. The next post in this blog is Another distinction for Portland State. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Bernie gets it right, as usual

Those are the choices that our right-wing Republican friends are giving us. Default with horrendous economic consequences for working families in this country and for the entire global economy or massive cuts to programs that working families desperately need.

Neither of those options is acceptable to me. Neither are those options acceptable to the vast majority of the people in this country. Every single poll that I have seen says that the American people want shared sacrifice. They don't want or believe that deficit reduction can simply come down on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable, the elderly, the children, and the poor. They believe that the wealthy and large corporations also have to participate.

In all honesty, I also must tell you that I have been disappointed by President Obama's role in these discussions....

The whole thing is here. You tell 'em, Senator.

Comments (32)

That's great, but I'm pretty much hearing Bernie say don't cut anything and riase taxes on the rich - which'll work until we dig an even deeper hole and have to raise the debt ceiling another few trillion a year in the future.

I'd love to hear Bernie's more sustainable plans.

There is nothing "unsustainable" about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security (which is not part of the federal budget at all) is projected to be fully funded through 2037, and funded for at least 80% of projected benefits after that. In other words, no budget-related reason or even any economic reason for cuts now. Our current federal budget problem is a revenue problem: too many people are unemployed, and they and others are not spending, so federal government revenues are low — less than 15% of GDP, which is historically un precedented. Meanwhile, our economy has unused capacity. Our long-term federal budget issues are simple: health care costs are out of control. If we spent only as much, over all, on health care in the US as other developed countries spend, we'd have budget surpluses as far as the eye can see. The "crisis" of public debt in the US is a wholly manufactured Republican/Tea Party/Conservative scam whose purpose is to take down the country's social safety net. Bernie Sanders understands this and is remarkably articulate and direct in saying so. And note this: if this plot succeeds, the next depression will be considerably worse than the current one.

"Social Security (which is not part of the federal budget at all) is projected to be fully funded through 2037"

Source? Currently we are taking more out of SS than we are putting in. While this may be temporary due to the economy, it is probably a prevailing trend.

As far as crisi of public debt, that's great as long as we can keep issuing debt and the rates are low. However, no one rings a bell at the top and pretty soon we'll have to be paying higher rates which means spending more on debt payments than actual programs.

I guess in sum my issue with Mr Bernie is that, like Obama, taxing the rich is the solution to all of our ills. Which is fine, if it is a long term solution, but that money will probably get spent (kinda like Randy's guarantee that raising out prop taxes 2 years ago will fix all the PFDR problems). If the cost of health care is the issue, then fine fix that, but I'm not hearing anything even close to addressing it as an issue.

Ultimately, though we need to somehow get spending in check. I am not saying to throw grandma in the snow, but anything like needs testing or something like having welfare recipients pass drug tests would help.

Saying this is a R vs D issue distracts from the real problems. Clinton actually cut welfare programs and managed to do it - Very Republican. However, Bush passed a very generous prescription program for Medicare.

Where's the Senate's budget plan?

I listen to Bernie all the time.
He sounds like he has figured out the Republican boogiemen but his rhetoric doesn't match the truth in what is either proposed or advocated by Republicans.

Why do progressive look at the taxation level in terms of percentage of GDP?

Is that supposed to be a substitute for looking at the burgeoning mission creep and growth in spending that has been far in excess of inflation anf population growth for decades?

Without restructuring how government runs, spends and grows there is no level of taxation that could possibly keep pace.

Moreover, the current system will continue to expand dependency and entitlements without the revenue to keep pace.

Just like the local insanity we see everyday the federal goverment is run by crackpots and worse.

I know, we could stop all wars and instead hand out the money to all things good government, green and progressive but imagine where the local loons would end up putting that money.

It's swell to look at the national political battle but our own back yard is the best demonstration of our problems.
And just like with the recently concluded legislative session, the GOP boogiemen have nothing to do with it.

I wonder what Bernie would do in Portland?

I have a pretty good idea he would be much like any number of usual suspects.

Adams, Burkholder, Blumenauer etc.

"You go Ben."

Or ... we could cut the defense budget.

The republicans have been against SS since it was created. SS was a part of the "New Deal" and the Republicans were against all of it. In the 1970's they realized that a "pay as you go" system wasn't going to work because of the demographic changes in the country. People were living longer. So they raised the SS tax rate to start building a trust fund. In the 1980's they had to raise it some more and the question was where to put all of this saved money? Rather than invest it like any other pension plan they decided to invest solely in federal gov bonds. I believe that the Republicans did this on purpose, because they knew that some day those bonds would need to be paid back and that was when they could pounce and kill SS (and probably whatever else of the "New Deal" remains.)

The federal government is bankrupt because of two unfunded wars of choice (Iraq and Afghanistan) and because of the tax cut for the rich. And now we have to eliminate Medicare and Social Security so some rich people can continue to live like they are the "Sun Kings" of the modern era?

Bernie for President.

He'd get all of Portland and most of the rest of his Socialist party comrades. There's still plenty of OPM left to tap, as Allan suggests.

Seems to me that Bernie thinks in cartoon images and articulates his thinking with crayons.

The biggest problem with SS is that they have been robbing the piggy bank for years- so while in theory it is fully funded for quite a number of years, it is actually fully funded with IOUs.

As for increasing taxes to keep the boat afloat- that is a very short-sighted plan. We never used to have a Federal Income tax, but when we allowed the private bankers (Federal Reserve) to take over our money supply, increasing taxes was required to finance the interest on the debt. Then we started funding everything from wars, social programs, corporate welfare with debt financing. That's why Nixon took us off the Gold standard (all the foreign dollar holders were going to cash in their deteriorating dollars for Gold).

Now we have just about reached the end of the road. The dollar is on the road to ruin. The only thing keeping it propped up is the constant printing of more and more dollars.

Both parties are either totally ignorant of the real picture or too scared to do anything about it.

The biggest problem with SS is that they have been robbing the piggy bank for years- so while in theory it is fully funded for quite a number of years, it is actually fully funded with IOUs.

Bingo!

"During the recently announced Quantitative Easing program, we have decided to redesign the dollar forever. Because of the accelerated hyperinflation that will occur after the economy is flooded with dollars, the banknotes will reflect the Weimar Republic of Germany in the 1920's as a symbol of what is to come.

"We will soon see people going to the shops with suitcases of dollars to buy everyday groceries, we will see queues stretching for miles at the soup kitchens, we will see many zeroes on the end of price tags for everyday goods. This will be the reality of the American Weimar economy," Timothy Franz Geithner, who is of German descent, told the Economist magazine.

"Currently we are taking more out of SS than we are putting in."

This is the latest tighty righty talking point as if it was something new. Congress knew 20 years ago that when Boomers started to retire that more money was going to be going out of SS than was going in. That's why they raised SS taxes back then and created SS surpluses to cover the projected outflow. Now yes the excesses were lent back to the government, and yes they are now part vast national debt but that is another topic.

But the breathless pronouncement that "We are now spending more on SS blah blah" as if it was something shocking is either just cynical right wing propaganda or displays such a shocking ignorance of the current state of SS that we can safely ignore it.

"This is the latest tighty righty talking point as if it was something new."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/business/economy/25social.html

I don't know your point, but read the NY Times. SS is paying out more thatn it is taking in. My issue is these programs work great and generate income to support themselves. Fine, but politicians are greedy and anything that generates income whether it is SS or PWB gets siphoned off onto all the little pet projects and then pretty soon they kill the golden goose.

BTW - If they want to quit the wars, great. We get no return and I think we are at the point where we are keeping the peace (barely) and it'll revert back to where it was before we got there. We can also leave Germany and S Korea.

Again, if you want to tax the rich more, OK, but any excess will get sucked if we don't control spending. Then we'll be right where we are today a year from now, just deeper in the hole.

Why is it seemingly impossible to get progressives to address the real world position of the GOP on SS?

Are Rs "against it?

Want to "getrid of it"?

What is "it".

"It", to most people, is the safety net for seniors which no one is either against or wants to get rid of.

The costly and dysfunctional SS program needs reforming. Means testing the new prescription drug coverage to stop giving free drugs to the wealthy is aprime example.
This does not equate to gettin grid of SS or the safety net.

It's about making it better, more efficent and sustanable.

Calling every attempt to do so some GOP plan to kill seniors is not helping anything.

Way to go Bernie, standing up to defend that $2.5 trillion social security surplus -- which you've spent how many times over during your two decades in the Congress assembled?

Newleaf,

That $2.5 trillion being diverted & spent on the mission creepy goverment is a huge part of what needs reforming.

SS isn't even SS. It's just a branch of the income tax system all commingled into the cesspool of runaway government.

You mean Ben that the social security system didn't actually invest in 15 percent yield 30-year bonds a portion of my social security contributions in the early 1980's? That the SS trust fund is only on paper? That the funds collected for SS benefits aren't going to be there when it's time to pay out? Why, that sounds like a scheme hatched by another guy named Bernie.

(And by the way, the least disuptive path in the event of a debt limit impasse is don't pay the Fed for the trillions of dollars of treasury securities it owns as they mature; Barack's good friend Ben no doubt will be happy to purchase additional t-bills to make the stiff the Fed scheme work indefinitely. Social security benefits were never going to not be paid, Obama just couldn't help himself when he saw an opportunity to threaten)

1. We keep printing more money and selling more bonds.

2. We invest the proceeds in gold bullion and push it up to $50,000/ounce.

3. Sell all the bullion to the Swiss, in exchange for near worthless US Dollars and Swiss Francs.

4. Pay off all the Treasury bondholders with now worthless US Dollars., and keep the rest in Swiss Francs

5. Then we reissue a new currency, backed by the Swiss Franc.

Step 6: blame it all on Dubya! Or the Socialists, depending on the polls.

this is so easy to fix , hold a vote , and for those congress critters that vote Nay , cut off all subsidies and federal payments to their districts , tell um right now that it will happen to them

"Social Security (which is not part of the federal budget at all) is projected to be fully funded through 2037"

Source?

http://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/index.html

I hope we get a real shot at a balanced budget amendment out of all this drama (a reasonable version that is phases in over 8-10 years).

If not now, when?

Apparently, all the Sanderistas ain't in Vermont!

Allan L.: So says Timothy F. Geithner and he is as honest as the day is long.

"massive cuts to programs that working families desperately need."

FYI, "working families" - of which there are millions fewer since 1/20/09 - don't use Social Security or Medicare. Most "working families" don't need or use many government programs at all.

"Stopping the wars" may make people feel better, but it won't save much money unless we're also prepared to lay off members of the Military. The largest individual component of Defense spending is salaries & benefits.

"After 2022, trust fund assets will be redeemed in amounts that exceed interest earnings until trust fund reserves are exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than was projected last year"

Well, I guess we can both be right. We're draining SS as we speak UNLESS we get a big bump in FICA taxes.

Saying you're fuly funded until 2037 should mean a bit more than you have a declining fund that vanishes then. Realize that depletion year keeps shrinking by a year every year lately.

Of course we could look at the irony of the Repugs resisting raising the debt ceiling under a Demo(nic) Pres when they had no problems raising the debt ceiling under Saint Raygun or Shrub 1 and Shrub 2.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3HlyZk-Th0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

But facts, facts don't matter when you have ideology to spout..... and are trying to score political points....

Both sides of the aisle are pretty much liars... and any American who is not rich should start following the $$ because it's surely not going anywhere except to the rich who are getting comparatively richer by the year

The Federal government has been stealing from the Social Security Trust fund for decades. Anyone who doesn't understand that has not been paying attention. Hey need money for a War or this or that.... raid the trust fund and don't repay it.

http://blogs.forbes.com/merrillmatthews/2011/07/13/what-happened-to-the-2-6-trillion-social-security-trust-fund/

I don't agree with the article's solution to the issue because the real solution would be to legally encumber the government so it could not raid the trust fund.

If the fund had not been raided and if the money paid in that was in excess of what was paid out had been nicely earning compound interest, instead of being raided, this would not even be a discussion.

We better do something - quickly!

"I want to say this in connection with social security … If it continues down the present path it will eventually bankrupt this country. We are bound to have either bankruptcy or inflation, and I say it very solemnly that those who are paying in on their social security will never get the principal of the social security when they need it in their old age…"
Wendell Willkie, October 1940

Ummm, hello, Lucifer, your lawyer's lost it:

"If the fund had not been raided and if the money paid in that was in excess of what was paid out had been nicely earning compound interest, instead of being raided, this would not even be a discussion."

You need to get up here and remind him that compound interest is what bonds produce, and that simply collecting money and stacking it in piles doesnt create any interest at all, much less compound interest.

Or, as it has been explained,

Q: what do you call a guy whose only asset is a million dollars in Treasury IOUs?
A: a millionaire.

Anyone who thinks that Treasury notes and bills are "worthless IOUs" is invited to offer those worthless IOUs on eBay to find out what everyone else thinks they are worth.

George.... now now, it's advocate not lawyer... lawyer would mean admission to the bar and well a few other things I have no interest in and besides my boss has a special place for lawyers, and it's not someplace I want to visit ...

But back to the point at hand, who said anything about bonds... do you leave your money under the mattress, George or do you have it in an interest bearing savings account or a money market account? I mean seriously, there is such a thing as a modicum of fiduciary responsibility unless of course you administer the social security trust fund.

Even if the money had been stacked in piles and left alone, there'd be more of it around today than there is, given the raids on it.


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