(h/t Heather for vid)
Goober Graham was in rare form this morning on Meet The Press when he glorified the Cat Food Commission which wasn't even agreed upon by the members on its own committee. Does your cat like Friskies, Fancy Feast or neither? Graham declared that we should raise the retirement age to 70 years old in an effort to save a program that's not in jeopardy and when speaking made it seem like Reagan and Tip O'Neal did that very thing. My friend Dave Johnson writes a great post called: Blaming Social Security For Deficits Is Like Blaming Iraq For 9/11 (And Unions In WI)
If he wanted to be taken slightly serious he would read Robert Reich's piece that explains the problem is really all about Inequality.
So what did Greenspan's commission fail to see coming? Inequality.
Remember, the Social Security payroll tax applies only to earnings up to a certain ceiling. (That ceiling is now $106,800.) The ceiling rises every year according to a formula roughly matching inflation.
Back in 1983, the ceiling was set so the Social Security payroll tax would hit 90 percent of all wages covered by Social Security. That 90 percent figure was built into the Greenspan Commission's fixes. The Commission assumed that, as the ceiling rose with inflation, the Social Security payroll tax would continue to hit 90 percent of total income. Today, though, the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 84 percent of total income.
It went from 90 percent to 84 percent because a larger and larger portion of total income has gone to the top. In 1983, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 11.6 percent of total income. Today the top 1 percent takes in more than 20 percent. If we want to go back to 90 percent, the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000.
Presto. Social Security's long-term (beyond 26 years from now) problem would be solved.
So there's no reason even to consider reducing Social Security benefits or raising the age of eligibility. The logical response to the increasing concentration of income at the top is simply to raise the ceiling.
So simple that it's laughable we're having this debate with these liars. At a time when this country needs jobs most of all with such a high unemployment rate that is hurting working American families, Republicans only seem to want to add to their living burden by attacking Social Security, which is a program that doesn't add any money to the deficit and isn't in trouble for decades.
SEN. GRAHAM: And let's put Social Security on the table in a rational way, like Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did. There's no reason not to adjust the age over time for people under 55 to 69 or 70. You and I can afford some means testings to our benefits. That will save Social Security from bankruptcy. It's headed toward across-the-board cuts in 20 years. So I applaud what you're doing with the other senators, but let's do put Social Security on the table. Me and Senator McCain are going to work on a solution. I'd like to share it with you.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Durbin?
SEN. DURBIN: David, if I could say this about Social Security.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
SEN. DURBIN: I--first, I want to thank my colleague for the kind words. Social Security does not add one penny to the deficit. Social Security untouched will make every promised payment for more than 25 years. But the deficit commission was given a charge, add 75 more years of solvency to Social Security. It came up with an approach. I think, frankly, another commission, Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin's commission, came up with a better approach. We need to move on Social Security, but let's put it on a track that runs parallel but separate to deficit reduction. The Social Security program, as it's currently put together, does not have any impact on the def
MR. GREGORY: Senator Graham, is that--I mean...
SEN. GRAHAM: If I could just--well, that--let's just...
MR. GREGORY: ...few people believe that there's not an arithmetic problem with Social Security.
SEN. GRAHAM: You know, when I was 21 and 22, my parents died, I had a 13-year-old sister. I was in law--college in law school. If it weren't for survivor benefits coming to my sister from my parents' contribution, we would have had a hard time making it. Today I'm 55, I don't have any kids. You know, we're, we're paying more in benefits than we're collecting in taxes in about five years. In 2037, maybe even sooner, you have to cut benefits by a third across the table. All I'm suggesting is let's do with Social Security what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did. Let's get it in a sustainable glide path. You know the age has to be adjusted for all entitlements, including Medicare. To go 67 to 69 like Reagan and Tip O'Neill did, for people under 55, is amenably doable.
It's easy for Goober to say to raise his age for acceptance into the program since his security is already set in stone up to 70. He could walk away today and never have to work another day in his life and not worry about his bills. He didn't even hide that fact when he said that he could afford the age increase. Glad to hear from a rich Republican gasbag that his security is already insured. Do they believe that Americans should keep working until they can't even pick up a pencil? Dick Durbin correctly stated that Social Security shouldn't be included in any deals which Gregory took a big exception to. What is it with these Beltway media hounds that they feel Americans should be crippled in their old age?
Is Graham willing to raise the payroll tax like Reagan did? Is he willing to raise corporate taxes like Reagan did?
After all, in 1982 Reagan signed into law two tax increases - one of which was later characterized in a Treasury Department report as the heftiest peacetime tax hike in American history. All told, he gave back roughly one-third of the tax cuts enacted a year earlier. Then, in 1983, breaking a campaign promise to go after entitlement programs, he saved Social Security with a $165 billion bailout by signing a hike in payroll taxes and ushering a new category of recipients into the program: newly hired federal workers. That year, he also hiked the federal gasoline tax. In 1984, he signed a deficit-reduction bill that mandated yet another tax increase.
That was just the first term. After his reelection, Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which imposed the largest corporate tax hike in history ($120 billion over five years), while closing $300 billion in corporate loopholes. In that same law, Reagan agreed to exempt millions of low-wage earners from paying any income tax.
In today's conservative parlance, such deeds would be assailed as "socialism."
He lies right into the camera when he says that after 2037 we'll have to cut benefits by a third. Why do Republicans hate the American worker? Really, that's what it comes down to. There is no shared sacrifice when it comes to old age in America and Graham, who was pillered by the tea Party in 2009 should know better. Well, it's Goober after all. You know, if Andrea Mitchell can start changing her tune on Social Security, why can't Gregory or the GOP?