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Forget Tea Parties, Throw COLA Parties

Forget tea parties. Folks outraged about government deficits should throw COLA parties.

Wednesday the White House said that it wants to spend $13 billion to give Social Security recipients -- seniors, that is -- another $250 each, the equivalent of a 2 percent increase in their payments. The proposal was conveniently timed to come out just before the announcement that beneficiaries won’t see a cost-of-living increase in their Social Security payments this year. Never mind that inflation has been flat, making a COLA unnecessary. Or that no one objected to the formula for determining cost-of-living increases when seniors ended up with more money in their pockets. Never mind that, as Chuck Blahous explained in a Post op-ed, seniors’ income streams are more than secure without this measure.

As a 20-something, I have some pretty glaring incentives to say this. But this move is political. President Obama needs to assuage the anger of seniors already upset about the proposed cuts to Medicare in the various health-care bills being considered. He also, no doubt, doesn’t want congressional Democrats who are up for reelection in 2010 to face armies of disgruntled seniors convinced that their benefits have eroded since Obama entered the Oval Office.

By Stephen Stromberg  | October 15, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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I agree whole heartedly with you. It would be one thing if the government had been responsible with Social Security money over the last 5 decades and they were pulling it out of a savings account. But instead they are pulling it out of my grandchildren's pockets. This is rediculous. I am 32 years old. I own my house, which I did not over-mortgage. I own my car. I have matched my 401K. I have done all of this without a government handout while paying taxes to people who cannot balance the national checkbook. In addition, I am a public school teacher who was essentially told this week that I will not see another raise again next year. I am confused as to why we are giving away money we do not have in the form of a raise, when the local government is not doing the same for the people who are actually performing work.

Posted by: kjaj | October 15, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The democrats are screwed. SCREWED.

They ticked off the only group of people that the democrats have never been able to sway. The seniors.
1). The seniors are habital voters, they always how up. Unlike who put President Obama in office.
2). The seniors have contributed longer in social stability then any other group period.
a). They raised you.
b). They are probably raising your kids because your not good enough to do it on your own.
3). The seniors only have to look at the angry young american comments to know that they are going to be left out in the cold again.
a). How many forum postings say seniors get too many benifits. Democratic postings.
b). How many forum postings show people wanting to remove all programs for seniours if they can't get their public option. Democrat postings.
c). How many forum postings make comments about you had your turn, get out of the way and let the young people run things. In other words, your no longer needed. Again, these are democratic postings.

Seniors cross all ethnic groups, all genders, all education levels. you democrats are doing it to yourselves. Your not going to carry the younger voters again like you did last election. Why? You can't hold their attetion long enough to. Seniors on the other hand, you have ignored. And guess what. Your screwed, because they won't forget.

Bu bye democrats. This is what you get for screwing over the people that raised you. And you deserve to lose, just for that very reason.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | October 15, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I am drawing Social Security but do not want to see the $250.00 plus I am ok doing without the COLA. I also believe that Congress could live without having their pay increase automatically instead of voting on an increase.

Posted by: sales7 | October 15, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't blame senior one bit for their anger... They worked hard, paid into the system and now only wanted what was promised. My parents are some of the people who benefit from this... but as they have told me... don't count on it being around for you. All of this will be gone and you are on your own.

They are absolutely correct. SS is bankrupt, medicare and medicaid is bankrupt.

Now the USA will be bankrupt..

Thanks Obama! Change I can believe in.

Posted by: tbastian | October 15, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The Social Security cost of living adjustment is messed up!

Posted by: robparisblog | October 15, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The reason for a COLA increase for seniors has to do with rising insurance premiums. Many seniors on fixed incomes are seeing an increase in the amount they have to spend on their health insurance, and they need that $250. The hell do you care? Seriously? You're 20 years old. Wah wah SS isn't going to be around for you. Get over it. You know about it waay ahead of time. People drawing benefits now did not have this warning. Hey selfish jerk, when when was the last time you had to decide between heat and medicine, huh?

Posted by: mrfett | October 15, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Look at it this way - at least they are not taking a CUT in benefits like about every other American has in just about every profession in the last year or two.

So let's get real. Keeping the SAME BENEFIT as in 2008 is really like getting a raise!!!

Posted by: ScottChallenger | October 15, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

If President Obama and the Congress accepted the GOP health insurancs, social security and medicare plan we wouldn't have these discussions.

The GOP would eliminate all and the seniors would all be deceased and thus wonderful.

Thanks for President Obama.

Posted by: COWENS99 | October 15, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't blame senior one bit for their anger... They worked hard, paid into the system and now only wanted what was promised.
Your right. But they need to refresh themselves on what the promise was. The part they forgot was that COLA was based on a formula promised 30+ years ago. If the formula called for an increase, payments went up. However, this year, the formula called for a decrease. You'd think that it would mean that social security payment would actually decrease. Nope. The promise also that the payment would never decrease. Seniors are lucky that they're not see a cut in their check. They got a good deal.

Posted by: Frazil | October 15, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

While I love pretty much every senior citizen I know, their political selfishness, as a voting bloc, apparently knows no bounds. Our country is going broke, partly because of their FREE, socialized health care, among other entitlements, yet they demand that the rest of us don't get their benefits and certainly don't change any of their benefits, no matter how unreasonable they are as the economic reality of our country makes itself apparent. "Hands off my pile!" they seem to say at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, who would actually be paying for, say, health care reform? You got it: young people, who are often healthy enough not to need insurance (I got along fine without it for the duration of my 20s) but are nonetheless willing to do their parts to help their fellow Americans, you know, since it's the right thing to do. But seniors continue to let everyone else pay for them while slamming the door and crying "socialism" any time we all want the socialistic benefits that they take for granted.

And what do young people get for their trouble and concern? You got it: "Hands off my pile."

Posted by: justin_timberwolf | October 15, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I have an elderly friend. He worked throughout his teen years to help his family in poverty stricken eastern Okla. He worked hard when he married and had his own family, and paid into a program the gov. said was to benefit him in later years. He had his own retirement, but lost that when the constrution industry busted in the late 80's. He was never able to recoup. Now he draws a little over 1,000$ per mo.,and must pay Medicare premiums from that. That brings his meager pittance to under 1,000$ per month. He must have supplemental ins. + rent keeps going up. Groceries have not gone down enough to speak of, nor utilities. No COLA for him, but Congress can vote themself a hefty budget increase, complete with a 5% pay raise and perks. Shameful!

Posted by: inmanorj | October 15, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Take off your $$$$ glasses and smell the coffee. All those getting SS paid in to the system at far lower wages than you will ever earn. The cannot afford the kind of inflation that is now on-going. SO what are YOU doing except belly-aching and getting paid for it at the expense of wage slaves like myself who dedicated their lives to being self reliant and now can't even find a job if they want one--because, of course, we are older than dirt and not worth s--t. Give me a break. We are all in this together. Put your shoulder to the plow and stop foisting responsibilities off on Seniors.

Posted by: docnoir | October 15, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Fine, whatever you say, now give the Seniors the money.

Thank you.

Posted by: lindalovejones | October 15, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

If you are a senior and do not believe that you should receive this payment, then simply do not cash the check.

Posted by: wisconsinml | October 15, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

A shrewd political move that even Congress has rushed to embrace. This is the new politics. Better get used to it!

Posted by: socks2 | October 15, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

First, the statement that nobody has previously objected to the COLA calculation is patently false. Many have objected for some time that the COLA calculation does not accurately reflect the cost of living for many/most Americans, especially seniors. Second, President Obama recognizes something that the author ignores, that many seniors supplement their social security payments with retirement accounts that have been hit very hard by the recession and can no longer supply the income stream they were providing two years ago.
Conclusion: many seniors are suffering a diminution of their actual incomes, regardless of COLA. President Obama proposes a practical and politically astute mitigation of their dilemma. Sorry if Mr. Stromberg objects; tell it to the tea-baggers.

Posted by: Lamentations | October 15, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Lets return Social Security retirement age to 55 again, like it was for my parents and increase the monthly benefits, and reduce the age for medicare to 55 also.

Why does this guy Stromberg care? Frankly.

You know, Social Security is one of the reasons people are so loyal to the USA. Think about it. Were a bunch of people who came here from all the world, much of us enemies,speaking hundreds of different languages, for jobs. They don't even try to stress that we have any unity. The talk is all about DIVERISTY, how DIFFERENT we are. How everybody is just immigrants and there is no single standards. That we have multiple conflicting cultures, conflicting histories, conflicting dreams, conflicting myths, religions, and even folklore. Without Social Security or some equivalent stake in the country who would care?

Posted by: WilliamBlake | October 15, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

As much as I hate to say it, the seniors have already been given a Social Security raise this year in real dollars. Since inflation is down this year, I think is is generous to not adjust their checks down accordingly. We are at about the bottom of the worst recession since the great depression. There are a lot of good folks out there that have lost a lot. Retirees expecting a raise when the cost of living has gone down is a little much to ask from the working population given that most working folks are grateful to just have a job. For most of us, raises are a dream.

Posted by: DrS1 | October 15, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I called my Congressman this morning for this first time ever... and said this is my line in the sand. They just can't help themselves. And I'm tired of it. I'm a lucky guy who makes good money. And i don't mind sharing a bit with others less fortunate. But, this is rediculous. There's no need other than election vote buying for this money. It's honest graft... just buying votes.

Posted by: leavemealone3 | October 15, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

What's $13 Billion Dollar$???
3 1/2 weeks in Iraq!

Posted by: knjincvc | October 16, 2009 1:54 AM | Report abuse

tbastian posted @ October 15, 2009 4:24 PM

"I don't blame senior one bit for their anger...
Thanks Obama! Change I can believe in."

Yeah, the spit just hit the fan on November 4th, 2008.
Before that everything was honky dory...
What a dolt!

Posted by: knjincvc | October 16, 2009 1:59 AM | Report abuse

I guess this was a coming of age moment for you... Welcome to the world of American politics.

Posted by: cathy810 | October 16, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

My 2009 income is down over 80% from 2008, and losing my job also meant I lost my house to foreclosure and now spend close to 50% of my newly-low income to maintain health insurance for my wife and myself.

Debbie and I would happily take Social Security and Medicare, but we're 57, not 65+. We'd also be willing to trade our income and medical costs for those of any Social Security and Medicare recipients who feel they aren't getting enough government money -- and we'll happily forgo this year's COLA and $250 make-up payment, too.

Any takers? I thought not.

Posted by: roblimo | October 16, 2009 6:27 AM | Report abuse

How sickening Obama has become.His socialized medicine scam will cut benefits to seniors and increase their premiums and the poor seniors get squeezed again so he trys to buy them off with a little walking around money.We aren't all so stupid Mr President.Your plans would all but eliminate the ins policys we all have on our own and dump us all on your govt. plan.
Why can't congress be honest with us and let us all see the real numbers and the real bill and not some outline with highlights.If it is a good bill let us see it.Their soothing sounding lies are wearing thin and more and more people are beginning to see just how bad their plan is and just how dis-honest Obama and the dems have become.

Posted by: mikem12 | October 16, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

YIKES!! Strike the first match on generational war!

Posted by: dfranks1 | October 16, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I wonder when the $250.00 check will be delivered to Grannie's house... Do ya think our "Mack Daddy In Chief" can swing it so all the checks are delivered the day before the 2010 elections??????? Now that would be some "CHANGE" we can believe in ......

Posted by: Spartann | October 16, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Wow...the Washington Post is now taking its lead from the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh...encouraging voters to take to the streets while ignoring the facts. Terrific.

Seniors spend a large proportion of their incomes on healthcare costs--which are skyrocketing by double digits and have been for decades. Well beyond what any COLA can cover. Next year Part D will go up by 11%, the doughnut hole will grow and out-of-pocket and cost sharing will also increase. There's been a move for decades to create a CPI which better reflects seniors' spending but so far that hasn't happened.

So when you say "inflation has been flat, making a COLA unnecessary" that does not reflect the reality retirees are living each and every day. Discussing these issues, including the politics of the $250, is what readers expect from the Post not calls for COLA parties. What idiocy.

Posted by: wrightk1 | October 16, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

How about really helping our seniors? (I am one.) Do not take the billions out of Medicare to pay for the government health care plan. Keeping Medicare coverage as it is would help seniors more than a check for $250.

Posted by: djslaughter | October 16, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

One other thing. If your panties are in such a bunch because seniors get politicians attention, then try something revolutionary: VOTE. Someone here posted that they just did something they had never done: call their Congressman. Know what? That office is going to check to see if you're registered before they assign any weight to that phone call. Seniors vote, lots of Americans don't. If you don't care enough about our republic to participate, you have NO RIGHT to complain when no one hears your complaints.

Posted by: mrfett | October 16, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I would like to respond to kjaj's comments. I remember being 32 years old and feeling the very same way you do right now. Now I'm 71 years old and I'm concerned about my benefits. I started working when I was 14 and I have paid my taxes, SS,and medicare benefits as well. I own my manufactured home, my SUV was paid for with my stock returns. I too had a matching 401K. It has been used up, because my spouse was layed off 2-1/2 yrs ago. We are now living on my SS. (1138 per month $660 for space rent and utilities come from my SS.) I'm a fiance specialist and I thought I was prepared--this economy has just about sucked me dry. I probably paid for YOUR parents SS benefits when I was much younger than most of you who are now upset that seniors older than me or maybe even your parents-MIGHT get an additional $250. That might just pay for medication that medicare doesn't cover. Or maybe a light and heating bill this winter. Have you seen the cost of food lately? How about gasoline? Are you prepared to take care of YOUR parents? Or will they live out their lives in a nursing home? We haven't taken anything away from you or your children. Just remember your day will come. Will your childern take care of you? Have a good day.

Posted by: Numbersgeek | October 16, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

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