Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Sorry, Alan and Erskine -- it's not nearly enough

By Matt Miller

I'm torn between cheering some of the "tough choices" (by Washington standards) that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have usefully put on the table -- and running from the room screaming at how phony and inadequate so many of the steps they've laid out are, despite first-day commentary hailing them as "bold." Here's a two-minute Radical Centrists's guide to how to think about what they've floated (drafted at the airport while waiting for a flight, so forgive the short strokes).

21 versus 22. As I wrote in The Post a few months ago, the Bowles/Simpson plan to hold spending to 21 percent of GDP as the boomers age is a dangerous fantasy. All you need to know is that Ronald Reagan ran government at 22 percent of GDP when 76 million baby boomers weren't retiring. Today we're on the verge of doubling the number of folks on Social Security and Medicare. The Bowles/Simpson size of government goal is a fantasy -- it will not happen. Unfortunately, this wrongheaded goal undermines much of what they propose, since it's the organizing feature of their proposal.

2037. The co-chairs don't balance the budget until 2037! The outer limits of the ambition of a commission set up to get our fiscal house in order is thus a 27-year plan to balance the budget? Oy. The most you can say is that it's faster than the plan offered by that other falsely-hailed fiscal conservative, Paul Ryan, whose "Roadmap" wouldn't balance the budget until the 2050s!

Health-care dreaming. The long-run savings in health care are merely assumed -- they say growth rates after 2020 will slow to some rate closer to GDP growth than they are today. Everyone seeks such a result, but no one has any real idea how to achieve it, because it means taking on the Medical Industrial Complex in ways unthinkable today. But is it possible? You bet. Mighty Singapore spends 4 percent of GDP on health care versus our 17 percent, with as good or better health outcomes. We CAN do more with less. Whether we have the political gumption to get there is the multi-trillion dollar question.

Social Security. The co-chairs don't raise the retirement age to 68 until 2050, and to 69 until 2075 (a blow for today's newborns, but tough choices have to be made...). So we have a bold, 40- to 65-year plan to bring benefit eligibility ages in line with reality, when life spans are already 14 years higher than when the retirement age of 65 was set decades ago. Come to think of it, in 2075 people will probably be living to at least 100. A task for a future commission! Meanwhile, the co-chairs don't even phase in "progressive indexing" of benefits until 2050, when a more thrifty shift to "price indexing" much sooner would be justified (this is a longer, seemingly arcane, yet essential discussion for a future column on intergenerational equity).

Gas tax
. On my reading, the co-chairs call for a bold new 15-cent a gallon gas tax. Ross Perot called for 50 cents twenty years ago. Our problems grow, our ambitions shrink.

Good news! The co-chairs do put tax expenditures (or subsidies) for things like employer provided health care and mortgages on the table for cuts. That's genuinely terrific and worthy of applause.

I know that within the conventional boundaries of debate, what Bowles and Simpon have offered is a step forward. But when the conventional boundaries of debate are utterly inadequate to our actual challenges, someone has to say so.

By Matt Miller  | November 10, 2010; 10:46 PM ET
Categories:  Miller  | Tags:  Matt Miller  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama throws his fiscal commissioners under the bus [updated]
Next: Debt commission co-chairs should go rogue

Comments


You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://bit.ly/bandYw .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!


Posted by: abelardo11 | November 11, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

To take ONE year out of the last 50 (before Obama) and say 22% has been hit in the past is misleading. Through administrations both GOP and Dem, including LBJ's "Great Society", federal spending has been consistently under 20%. A GDP ratio cap is a more generous cap than capping to inflation plus population growth, such that real federal spending per person could be held steady with the future's economic growth going to seniors' benefits. Call for a ratio increase if you will, but don't describe for a significant expansion in govt's role in the economy centrist.

Restricting the deduction for employer-provided healthcare benefits is a serious proposal that goes right to the heart of the problem: healthcare isn't taxed so of course it balloons relative to the rest of the (taxed) economy. It just hasn't gotten the consideration it deserves because of union opposition.

Posted by: bdell555 | November 11, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Interesting News! I just now printed Coupons of my Favorite Brands at http://bit.ly/cRwn9f

Posted by: earvinjace11 | November 11, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Since Social Security was first signed into law by FDR, it has not increased the debt of the U.S. by one nickel. It should not be on the table for debt reduction if it does not contribute to indebtedness.

If you want to control the indebtedness and the profligate Congress, pass a constitutional amendment that does not allow the members of Congress to be paid out of debt funding. Nor should they be allowed to have expenses paid out of debt funding. If they don't increase government income by the amount of their appropriations, they should not be paid. The obligation of the Treasury to pay salaries to members of Congress should be the last obligation for payment by the Treasury. In cases of national emergency such as being attacked in war and the income to the Treasury is less than the required expenditures to wage a defensive war, they should be provided with food and lodging at the same rate as the lowest paid member of those fighting the war.

All contributions to members of congress from addresses or organizations not within their electoral districts should be classed as ordinary income and made public within 24 hours of deposit or receipt, whichever is first.

Soliciting bribes or receiving bribes from whomsoever should be a capital offense by both the on offering and the on accepting such bribes.

Posted by: RubberDucky2 | November 11, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
11 November 2010

Matt Miller could be right. The draft of the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Plan may not be as perfect as any deficit hawk wishes.

But the Bowls-Simpson Commission, made up of Democrats and Republicans, deserves kudos for having succeeded in coming up with a Plan that has the potential to rein in spending significantly to more tolerable levels.

And don't forget that what the Commission has revealed to the public is still only a Draft. It is still subject to improvements. And it is just possible that when the Final Version is submitted to the Congress by President Obama, the Congress will do what it can to introduce those improvements.

Personally, I think that the U.S. Defense budget--now at $700 billion for 2011 alone--should be subjected to a sequential annual cut of 5 percent for four years--for a total cut of $129.85 billion. At the end of this 4-year period, the Defense budget shall have been cut down to $570.15 billion.

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | November 11, 2010 5:23 AM | Report abuse

Once again we see this stupid misuse of statistics. "when life spans are already 14 years higher than when the retirement age of 65 was set decades ago." What counts for Social Security isn't life expectancy at birth, as given here, it is life expectancy at age 65. That figure has increased by only 1.2 years in the last 2 decades and it didn't increase all that much between the implementation of Social Security and 1989 either. On the other hand the wealth of the US has increased enormously in those same time frames, so increasing the retirement age is a scam to cheat Americans of the hard earned and well affordable Social Security pensions. Shame on this columnist, The WAPO, and the commission for promoting this dishonest attack on ordinary Americans who depend on Social Security for their support in old age.

Posted by: StanNadel | November 11, 2010 6:14 AM | Report abuse

There are a number of recommendations by the commission that have whose value is only exceeded by their improbability. Any significant cutting of spending for military and military contractors is a total fantasy, in fact we are about to send 5000 troops to Colombia for either the drug war or the war aginst terrorism. As these wars are becoming increasingly confused possibly we'll kill two birds with one stone although don't expect that will save any money. It would be easier to tickle an elephant than to cut any significant amount of the money that goes to the military or to military contractors. The Pentagon estimates that it costs 500,000 to put a single soldier in Afghanistan while independent estimates say one million, what is clear is that it ain't cheap and that we can't afford it. We have re-instituted the Phoenix program and dusted off the brochures about winning the hearts and minds of a people while kicking down their doors in the middle of the night, shooting up their wedding parties and blasting their hospitals all of which are as pointless in Afghanistan as these policies were in Vietnam. Maybe some will learn from Vietnam that you can declare a moral victory, beat feet and come back a few years later and do business with them. Notice that in Vietnam today our businessmen are safer than they are in Washington? Notice the American Vietnamese common policy with respect to the Chinese claims in the area. We might end up fighting beside Mister Charlie! See Yet More Good news From Our Wars hosted by Major General Electric to get a preview of forthcoming troop deployments and do your own cost estimates.
http://www.saintpeterii.com/blog/?m=201006
free no log-in editorial cartoons on this and other subjects

Posted by: saintpeterii | November 11, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Miller,

Its not enough, but it is something and a significant something. This is way more than anything the Administration or Congress has done. It gores many an ox and sacrifices a few sacred cows.

It does not, as everyone in D.C. seems to beleive, blindly assume that we can spend ourselves rich or borrow ourselves solvent. And it spreads the pain of restoring fiscal sanity while it removes gross distortions in our economy (corporate welfare, mortgage interest deductions, agribusiness subsidies).

Unless you have a reasoned alternative, please be quiet, at least until the actual report comes out.

Robert Fuller
Hopewell, NJ

Posted by: fuller1 | November 11, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

These 2 guys do NOTHING to stop spending and help the debt or balance the budget! I have an alternative but no one would listen to me. Common sense would tell anyone to get rid of all the waste in our federal government, starting with unions and people who do nothing all day! Also, get rid of the education dept, energy dept and rein in EPA. Stop the wars and reduce the military spending. Take away the jets and campaign spending of the president and house speaker - this would be about a billion a year - more than social security which is paid for!! Their report sounds like something that came from Barry and George Soros. A bunch of stuff signafying nothing. Oh yes, take away executive privilege from Obama - leaving it with him is very dangerous.

Posted by: annnort | November 11, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

"21 versus 22. As I wrote in The Post a few months ago, the Bowles/Simpson plan to hold spending to 21 percent of GDP as the boomers age is a dangerous fantasy."

Even more so since 40+% of GDP is in the financial sector which has done nothing to create blue collar jobs.

"2037. The co-chairs don't balance the budget until 2037! ….falsely-hailed fiscal conservative, Paul Ryan, whose "Roadmap" wouldn't balance the budget until the 2050s!"

Ryan will embrace 2037 thanks to the commission’s recommendation to:
Eliminate mortgage interest deduction.
Tax employer provided heath care benefits as regular income.
Cut Social Security.
Raise the retirement age for middle class blue collar workers.


"Health-care dreaming. The long-run savings in health care are merely assumed –"

The solution is to outsource U.S. health care to Singapore.


"Social Security. The co-chairs don't raise the retirement age to 68 until 2050, and to 69 until …"

And they didn’t suggest eliminating the cap on Social Security earnings either.

"Gas tax. On my reading, the co-chairs call for a bold new 15-cent a gallon gas tax. Ross Perot called for 50 cents twenty years ago. Our problems grow, our ambitions shrink."


Agreed, the gas tax should be increased ten cents a gallon each year for the next ….. until consumption drops to 1980 levels. OK! Detroit get cranking.

"Good news! The co-chairs do put tax expenditures (or subsidies) for things like employer provided health care and mortgages on the table for cuts. That's genuinely terrific and worthy of applause."

Yup … Go after what’s left of the middle class to balance the budget.

How about adopting a “Transaction Tax” to replace all taxes … would that be to bold?

http://www.apttax.com/

"I know that within the conventional boundaries of debate, what Bowles and Simpson have offered is a step forward."

You must be kidding, look at who funded the commission … why not eighteen middle class Americans on the panel?

Posted by: knjincvc | November 11, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Cut spending! It's that frigg'n simple...!!!

Lock in present "rates of return" (the amount of the "benefit" check) on Social Security NOW! No more COLAs. Period.

Raise the retirement age to 66 starting in 2015, 67 starting in 2016, 68 starting in 2017, 69, starting in 2018, and 70 starting in 2019.

Cut worldwide defense "commitments" in order to cut the military budget.

Starting January 1, 2011, cut all non-military federal pay by between 1%-15% on a progressive scale with the highest paid civil servants and political appointees shouldering the highest percentage cuts.

Start cutting benefits. Initially by at least 10% with the eventual goal being to replace all "benefits" with straight pay.

(Of course in years to come - after the initial first year combined pay/benefits cuts, we'd want to balance benefit cuts with reasonable pay increases.)

Take a machete to income transfer programs and yes... "investments" in education and the like. Immediately cease subsidizing undergraduate liberal arts programs and curtail support of undergraduate "business" programs. Focus educational aid towards improving K-12 education and towards math, engineering, and the hard sciences regarding undergraduate education.

Anyway... this should give folks an idea of what I'm in favor of.


Posted by: barker13 | November 11, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

annnort posts November 11, 2010 8:31 AM
“These 2 guys do NOTHING to stop spending and help the debt or balance the budget! I have an alternative but no one would listen to me. Common sense would tell anyone to get rid of all the waste in our federal government, starting with unions and people who do nothing all day! Also, get rid of the education dept, energy dept and rein in EPA. Stop the wars and reduce the military spending. Take away the jets and campaign spending of the president and house speaker - this would be about a billion a year - more than social security which is paid for!! Their report sounds like something that came from Barry and George Soros. A bunch of stuff signafying nothing. Oh yes, take away executive privilege from Obama - leaving it with him is very dangerous.”


Well no wonder no one listens to you. Your suggestions don’t make sense, you’re full of hate.
Get rid of the education dept, energy dept and rein in EPA…...

2.4 BILLION Chinese and Indians will soon produce 300 Million college graduates … 12% of their total populations … a number equal to the total population of the U.S.

Yeah, cut and run when it comes to education, energy and pollution.

Posted by: knjincvc | November 11, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

barker13 posts November 11, 2010 11:48 AM
"Anyway... this should give folks an idea of what I'm in favor of."

Yup! Destroy the middle class and turn the U.S. into a second world country... al Qaeda won.


Posted by: knjincvc | November 11, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

What you publish is pure propaganda.

Working people do not need to be taxed more, nor have their health care more severely restricted.

Those who've stolen trillions from government coffers, trillions from the savings of average Americans need to DISGORGE what they have stolen.

Why are we ignoring the greatest mass theft in American history.

Major segments of property previously owned by millions of individuals is be
wrongfully transferred to a small cabal of thieves. Through illegal foreclosure proceedings, through over collection of interest on old accounts.

People this is expropriation by another name.

And some writer for the Post is talking about deficit reduction.

What utter nonsense.

Posted by: inojk | November 11, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Lets be really realistic. You want to balance the budget you can't be giving huge tax cuts to anybody, least of all the wealthy who have most of the money. Instead of cutting their tax rate from 35 to 23 percent and making it up by closing loopholes (yeah right, you want to buy that bridge?), raise it to 50% (about where R. Reagan had it. Remove the cap on SS contributions entirely. Go to a single payor medical plan (save about 50%). Now that is bold. Oh, yes with the SS plans, you better fund the homeless shelters by abougt 500% because all those unemployed seniors waiting to retire will need to live somewhere.

Posted by: samson1 | November 11, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I was struck by the reference to Singapore's health care system, rated one of the top in the world.

There are two points, among many, about Singapore's health care system that are worth a look here:

•“The private healthcare system competes with the public healthcare, which helps contain prices in both directions. Private medical insurance is also available.”
•Private healthcare providers are required to publish price lists to encourage comparison shopping.

(From Healthcare Economist, Jan. 14, 2008, "Singapore's Health Care System")

First, that competition between private and state sponsored insurance "helps contain prices in both directions." Sounds like consumers win on that one.

Second, private practice medical providers are required to publish prices. That would be such a help here. One of the reasons we don't shop health care is because we don't have a clearing house to get pricing information - few doctors post their prices on the internet; some hospital data can be found, but it is difficult and sketchy.

I spend a lot of time searching out health care costs - from calling pharmacies or visiting pharmacies in my area to get prices on prescriptions (even when I feel terrible), to calling dental offices to get prices for routine cleanings, crowns, fillings. I switch according to price, even when my health insurance will cause me to pay the same out of pocket.

(That last is just me being stupidly stubborn, but my insurance companies willingness to overpay pisses me off.)

We can't have an influence on the cost of health care if we can't shop health care and we can't shop health care if prices are a secret.

Posted by: amelia45 | November 11, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. If what the writer says is correct, than the proposed steps are rather timid.

What might be better (and unpopular) would be to have a 10 yr phase in starting immediately to increase the retirement age, or at least the age at which you could draw social security to 70. In tandem with that, increase the age for which mandatory withdrawals from 401ks and IRAs from the current 69 to 75. Put the encouragements in place for people to continue working. Perhaps throw in a tax credit to companies who employ people 60 and over.

As for the tax increases (mortgage deductions), tax rates are already too high. The problem isn't enough taxes. The problem is spending is too high. Cut the spending.

As for the trustfunds, stop the funny business of forcing them to invest in federal securities. Unshackle the administrators, and give them the leeway to invest in the highest rate of return within prudence. Allow them to invest in stock and bond index funds, as well as money market funds. As for investing in Federal Securities, I wouldn't necessarily say that they can't. However, the Feds would need to compete for the business and offer competitive rates of return. Or better yet, don't borrow money!!!

Something the comission didn't address is tools for cutting spending, like restoring to Presidents the power to impound funds, a balanced budget amendment, and a line-item veto amendment for appropriations bills.

Something else the comission ducked is some of our trade agreements. NAFTA is fine. However, the one with China is a croc. If China won't let its currency float, then we need to impose tariffs on Chinese goods to at least provide revenue to the Federal Treasury.

Something else that wasn't addressed was to perhaps rethink the entire idea of taxation. Instead of using an income tax, replace it with a national sales tax that's set high enough to meet federal expenditures. It would slay an ogre (the IRS), and it would unleash people to pursue other more productive endeavors.

Posted by: wapocensorsbite | November 11, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The latest deficit reduction plans are not enough.

They need to make the 50% of American Free loaders pay the same tax rate that the Middle Class working tax paying citizens are forced to pay. All American Citizens should pay the same tax rate no matter what job they have, or how much they make.

They need to cut all welfare to generational lifer welfare recipients that do not perform some sort of work that benefits the area they live in. They should be forced to work for any welfare they get from the taxpaying citizens.

They need to suspend the creation of any new programs that will require spending additional taxpaying citizens dollars.

They need to cut their own Govenrment Salaries, Pensions, benefits, and retirement packages, and put them in line with the average American working class tax paying citizens benefits.

They need to stop sending money to terrorists in Palestine,"thanks Hillary and Obama for sending another $150,000,000.00. to Palestine"

You panty wasted liberal progressive socialists, we need to utterly destroy our enemies when it is called for, with no mercy, and then promptly leave them in chaos. We should not be spending money rebuilding other nations. The prime reason for war is to put the country you are fighting in total disarray and destruction. They need to pay for their own rebuilding, and then they will not have the money to spend on making war on others. They will need their money to rebuild their bridges, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. Instead the failed logic of those in our government to blow up infrastructure, then rebuild it with Americans tax dollars is treason against the American Citizenry.

More of these pathetic individuals need removed from office in 2012.

God Bless America, and God Bless our Troops. Thank you for your service.

Posted by: ignoranceisbliss | November 11, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

My European friends frequently ask why we do not have higher taxes on gasoline. Perhaps the tax should be based on MPG the vehicle gets. You'd scan you VIN number before you insert your credit card into the gas pump. You gas price would be dependant on how efficient your vehicle is!

Posted by: DavidinDallas | November 11, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The mortgage itemization is not a subsidy, the government is not paying me anything I am just keeping more of my money.

BTW Miller do you own a home, is it paid for and did you use this itemization? You sound quick to jump other people taxes up.

Posted by: flonzy1 | November 11, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Fascinating from RubberDuckey2 - below

"All contributions to members of congress from addresses or organizations not within their electoral districts should be classed as ordinary income and made public within 24 hours of deposit or receipt, whichever is first.

Soliciting bribes or receiving bribes from whomsoever should be a capital offense by both the on offering and the on accepting such bribes."

Of course, ALL private - corporate and personal - campaign donations are bribes. We must have federal and state funded elections and outlaw campaign contributions even by the candidate for him/herself. (No Meg Whitmans)

Posted by: DavidinDallas | November 11, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

When I was growing up in the late '40s and early '50 my dad taught us a rule that should still apply: "No work, no eat."

I have contributed (pre-tax) to Social Security for about 55 years (mostly to the max) and to medicare for as long as it has existed. I contributed to a retirement account and have stashed away enough to keep me and wife in vittles and housing for as long as we are likely to live and have some left over. I have educated three kids through college and they are all producing goods and services that people are willing to pay for.

Now come liberal do-gooders who want to take away a good bit of what I earned to pay work-shy wastrels who are busy having kids they can't afford to feed and clothe. They are taxing my social security for which I paid pre-tax dollars, and they are trying to redistribute my savings and confiscate my pension income by inflating the economy and devaluing the dollars that I saved so people who continue to take more in benefits than they contribute in work can more easily pay off their debts.

Everyone who gets government benefits that they haven't earned should be required to work at some job. There is a lot to be done. Everyone should be given work to be done if they are going to be paid. "No work, no eat" should be applied to every person receiving benefits not based on work, to the extent that they are physically able. And the only benefit available to persons in this country contrary to the laws by which people are admitted should be free transportation back to where they came from.

Posted by: BobNH | November 11, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse


People make these debt/spending/tax issues much more complicated than they need to be.

Social Security. If someone commits securities fraud, they have to give you back what you invested, plus interest. Like when someone takes money for one purpose and uses it for something else. Make the government do the same with Social Security. The Government has records of every dime each person and their employers put in for them. Calculate the interest and issue each person government notes that mature each year for 20 years that pays a reasonable inflation adjusted interest rate until maturity so the Government diesn't benefit from creatig inflation. Stop the fraud now.

Medicare. Lift the prohibition on doctors charging more than Medicare pays. That expands the availability of doctors to Medicare patients. Congress appropriates a defined dollar amount each year. Government pays defined dollar amount for each person covered. That elimminates governmemt obligations without a limit. Who in theior right mind agrees to unlimited obligations? Patient decides how to allocate their portion over the course of the year. If your doctor charges more, either find another doctor or pay the extra yourself.

Spending. Spending cap at 20% of GDP. Don't really care how you divide the spending. Just stop spending more than we have.

Flat tax equal to 20% of GDP. No exemptions. Everyone pays the same, including nonprofits and churches. When everyone is in the same boat on taxes, there will be a better chance of reaching consensus on tax rates. Under our current system, everyone tries to make the other person pay and get exempted themselves. No wonder everyone is yelling at everyone else and thinks the system is unfair.

Education. Government pays for eLearning college courses for everyone for a lifetime of unlimited use. That will give everyone an unlimited number of second, third and fourth chances to learn at different ages. If you want a football team and room and board and a college "experience," you pay for these frills. No other Government college support and no Government loans. That will put pressure on colleges to compete on price. It will also stop the Government from encouraging teenagers who lack the maturity to make major financial decisions to load up on massive amounts of debt. Who in ther right minds thinks its smart to let teenagers borrow $100,000 or more?

Posted by: jfv123 | November 11, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the hell with a gas tax. That idea only works for Tom Friedman's campus lectures. No one has any money for a shiny new Prius these days.
What do you people have aginst the middle class? $4 per gallon gasoline helped shove the US into this recession.
As far as healthcare goes, one uninsured illness can bankrupt a middle class family faster than a senator can accept a golf invitation at Congressional.

Posted by: SoCal | November 11, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I must have missed the section that addressed perks, or should I say entitlements programs, that are enjoyed by the elected, and their appointed, political officials.

Posted by: whocares666 | November 11, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The entire picture of the deficit Commission is skewed to the rich and well off. It is influenced by the rich people and corporations that are actually funding the staff for the Commission. The Chairs came out yesterday and pretended to present information that would in their own words make everyone mad at them while moving the discussion forward. Did you fall for it? I almost did until it dawned on me that the cuts seem all to be on the middle class and the benefits all seem to be for the rich and well off. Wow! Is this new? No! It is what we have been seeing for years in Washington. The rich get richer and the middle class ends up taking it on the chin once again. So look at what they intend:
1. Cut Social Security. Wait a minute? Social Security is a fund. It is a fund that has been there since FDR but the same politicians that say that it cannot be sustained stole from it for years and now just want to walk away from it as though honest Americans had not paid into it all of these years. They put IOU’s in a file cabinet and now they just want to walk away from it. SOLUTION: Make EVERYONE (not just the middle class) pay into it at the same rate regardless of the source of the income. Problem solved!
2. Cut Medicare. Same story. It is a fund people pay into. Raise the amount of money that is put into the fund from ALL sources of income. Problem solved!
3. Cut the Mortgage deduction on income tax. This will put just about every American with a mortgage in almost instant bankruptsy. Home values will drop another fifty percent and the middle class will be totally without homes. Solution? Keep it for peoples primary homes and not their second and third homes. Problem solved!
4. Lower tax rates for everyone including the rich and corporations. ONLY if you also eliminate all tax breaks to the rich and well off. Most large companies pay NO Federal tax at all. Big oil not only paid no tax but got a rebate from the Federal Government. The only tax breaks in the tax code should be for the middle class. But wait! The rich would cry foul. Then they would shift their money out of the country and all move to Europe. I don’t think so. Why? Because taxes there are much higher than here.
5. Flat tax? Again the poor and middle class pay for the rich and well off. How about this Low taxes for the first $100,000 everyone makes, treat all sources of income the same including income from stocks etc. Use a computer and figure out what people pay now on the first $100,000 and include those deductions into the mix. It would take about ten minutes. But no, we don’t do that because the rich want a better cut of the action than all of the rest of us.
What will happen? I have no idea but, you can be sure if it comes down the way the chairs suggest…you ain’t seen nothin’ yet from tea-party and tax-revolt people.

Posted by: AZdave | November 11, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing "bold" about this so-called plan.

"We know we have a problem. And here's what we should do about it... just not today. or tomorrow. We have to keep spending like drunken sailors until I'm safely retired and out of office. Someone else needs to pay the price for fixing the system. Not me."

Posted by: jnojr | November 11, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing "bold" about this so-called plan.

"We know we have a problem. And here's what we should do about it... just not today. or tomorrow. We have to keep spending like drunken sailors until I'm safely retired and out of office. Someone else needs to pay the price for fixing the system. Not me."

Posted by: jnojr | November 11, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse


Fascinating from RubberDuckey2 - below

"All contributions to members of congress from addresses or organizations not within their electoral districts should be classed as ordinary income and made public within 24 hours of deposit or receipt, whichever is first.

Soliciting bribes or receiving bribes from whomsoever should be a capital offense by both the on offering and the on accepting such bribes."

Of course, ALL private - corporate and personal - campaign donations are bribes. We must have federal and state funded elections and outlaw campaign contributions even by the candidate for him/herself. (No Meg Whitmans)

Posted by: DavidinDallas | November 11, 2010 1:39 PM |

AMEN! Let me also add that subsidies to giant corporations are a response to those bribes and should be the FIRST thing cut from the budget. But they will not cut them because of politics. As long as Iowa has the first Presidential primary, for example, our legislators will not cut subsidies to the giant farming corporations.

Posted by: Whazzis | November 11, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I still believe we should only be taxed when we SPEND cash, not when we earn it. Just this idea alone would create jobs in repairing goods instead of the buying of new goods that are engineered to fail in 5 to 7 years.
We need to return to CAPITALISM. We are now trapped in an economy of CONSUMERISM. Building value through the transformation of raw materials into more valuable goods is the way to wealth.
Jobs created through the sale of goods imported into our market that lose value as soon as they are purchased only devalues our economy.

Posted by: ripper368 | November 11, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It's called defense!!! It's 60% of the federal budget. Make a law that says it cannot exceed 40% and all the problems will be solved. The military/industrial combine won't be happy but every American will be.

Posted by: crossroadsnow | November 11, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Social Security has a multi TRILLION dollar surplus, that won't be gone for at least another CENTURY. Stealing from old people so you can pay off your own extravagant spending is just ABOMINABLE!

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | November 11, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me what fraud has occurred regarding Social Security? It's transparent: you get the notice from SSA showing how much you've paid and the benefits you have accrued.

Also, a previous poster was correct: the average lifespan for those over 65 isn't radically different now than it was in 1950. See these links:
http://longevity.about.com/od/longevity101/p/life_expect.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lifexpec.htm

Posted by: nickthap | November 11, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Lots of good ideas and interesting comments, but everyone seems focused on too many 'little' things. The problems in this article aren't caused by welfare, or health care or even social security. It's all about the power of capital. We've allowed those with significant capital power to take over the country. What's worse is that the only effective check-and-balance on the power of capital is political power, and we've also allowed the wealthy to paint a picture labeling anyone who favors political power as 'liberal' or 'socialist' or 'pro-big-government'. People just don't get it. The ONLY thing that really matters in a political-economic system as large and complex as ours is that no one faction gets too much unchecked power. It doesn't matter if that group is government, military, business, or religion. An overabundance of unchecked power destroys the system. And right now the super-wealthy have an overabundance of power. If we don't do something soon to take some of that power back from them, it may be too late to stop the collapse of this nation....

Posted by: dwhite619 | November 11, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

It seems that people do not understand how Social Security has been implemented.

There is no money in the Social Security trust fund, just a pile of IOUs from the Federal Government. Current beneficiaries are paid from existing workers contribution. This works all of the time there is a surplus but in a few years time Social Security will have to start redeeming the IOUs when Social Security payments exceed Social Security Taxes.

The Social Security IOUs (Trillions of Dollars) do not show on the National debt. So if benefits are to be maintained spending will have to be cut and taxes increased.

Unfortunately our illustrious politicians have spent all of our Social Security saving providing services to the electorate and freebies to special interests.

Posted by: txstubby | November 11, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey Matt of WAPO - So I guess you have a string of articles ranting against the actions in which libturds wasted multi-trillions to get us in this mess (mortgage guarantees your fellow libturd never paid back a dime on to pork-u-lus on steroids pay-back scams) since you don't like the approach the conservatives are espousing.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | November 11, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

More of the usual lies. People don't live 14 years longer. Infant mortality just isn't as high as it once was. There's no call for progressive indexing of benefits now or in the future as you're supposed to get benefits as a function of the replaceable wages you were taxed on. There's also no call to change the COLA calculation because Social Securtity is supposed to replace a portion of wages, not be indexed to inflation measures that tend to understate inflation in any event.

Posted by: destor23 | November 11, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

What we need in the US is a radical legislative agenda to go after the business community to create jobs. Only well-paying jobs, created in the millions, will retire the debt and reduce the deficit.

One must go where the money is and that's business. Time to reduce profits on the business side and increase jobs that pay taxes.

Its the only way. All else is window dressing.

Posted by: Maddogg | November 11, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Erasing COLA for Social Security is a "backdoor" tax increase.

It'll never fly.

If we want a tax we need a "war tax".

Posted by: Maddogg | November 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

How about Mr. Miller dealing with his central disconnect?
The left has already flipped out over the "boldness" of this report, yet Miller calls it anything but bold.
How is WaPo going to herd its liberal cats toward the tough love Miller invokes but fails to detail? And what is he going to say going forward as the left digs in ever harder in avoiding these realities?
Can anyone see WaPo chastised and driving its cat herd forward in face of hysterical defiance by its own constituency?
Not I.

Posted by: tom75 | November 11, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick of seeing people whine and moan.... Sick of my govt staring disaster in the face and doing nothing... This plan isn't perfect but at least it's an attempt - good for Obama to do a study... Now let's get it rolling and put in some real cuts! I like it! Cmon congress! Grow a pair and do what's right!! Move social security to 68 by 2050? Hey! That impacts ME!! And guess what! I'm for it! Make it 68 and save the system! Congress!! You stupid morons.... Just do it!

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | November 11, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

WE"RE GOING THE WRONG WAY and will repeat the history of a long and painful economic recovery unless we turn around.
Just as after the great depression, the risk taking that greatly contributed to the cause of such, is what we now wish to avoid. WRONG! We must recognize that risk is no longer an option for us, only levels of risk to be undertaken in efforts to create new economic growth that will reduce deficits and make programs affordable.
During the great depression President Roosevelt told the nation that the only thing it had to fear was fear itself. Let's reflect on those words. Fear is a greater threat to our economy today, as it was then, than circumstance. We must recognize fear, we must face it, we must be willing to overcome it. We must again take risk in new efforts promoting domestic economic growth and we must reflect on past mistakes during such, learn from it and make adaptions to ensure success in new efforts.

Posted by: reenie10 | November 11, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Stop rewarding illegals with free education, welfare, foodstamps and medicare. Lots of money saved there.

Stop rewarding welfare moms who pop out babies every 9 months - it's profitable for them to do so and those babies learn how to work the system too. More money saved.

I haven't had a raise in 3 years and make less money than 10 years ago - sign of the times, but Congressmen and Senators should suffer right along with the rest of us. No pay raises until this mess is straightened out.

Healthcare - I don't like it, but make our political representatives a part of it too - nothing different for them and see how it would improve.

Stop the earmarks, stop the greed, start testing the depth of knowledge before bills are signed. All this dishonesty makes me sick.

Posted by: RookiePoster | November 11, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

What a CROCK this all is...the only thing you have to do to END the deficit is stop fighting ENDLESS wars, and let the ENORMOUSLY WEALTHY start paying TAXES again!

Bingo! No more deficit! These greedy corporations and billionaires have the people buffaloed into thinking that the average joe has to resolve the deficit on their backs. It's the tax cuts for the RICH that created this stinking deficit, the endless wars that we fought for NOTHING - and somehow I have to work until I drop dead?

Stop being STUPID, people!

Posted by: nadinem | November 11, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

It is indeed a fool's errand the commission went on. They even came back with a fool's toolbox, complete with $1 trillion in tax hikes.

If this group were even halfway competent, they would have suggested amending the Budget Act of 1974's provision for baseline budgeting - the villain that put federal spending growth on automatic pilot (Nixon vetoed but congressional Democrats overrode).

Second, you rollback the federal budget to 2006 levels and implement a cap that federal spending can never exceed 18% of GDP except in case of World War.

Problem solved.

Posted by: pub123 | November 11, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm a finance planner...corporate flavor. So I like numbers, logic based projections, and tying out data as much as the next guy.

But we also need to bring real life common sense to the table.

Social Security retirement age can't be the factor to fixing social security. While life expectancies are still increasing in the US, the ability to work later in life is NOT. The only people that can work longer into their senior years are US Senators and people pushing pencils. How many 69 or 70 year old carpenters, painters, plumbers, electrical engineers, policemen, firemen, teachers, coaches and etc... do you know. What will we do with the people who are too old to work but because we fixed SS bu raising the age, they are starving from age 62 to 70. I guess that's the old white guy in the US Senate's plan to fixing social security....death squads for workers who can't work anymore just because their bodies have warn out. That's fix that life expectancy problem....

2nd item on SS....move all government employees and elected officials into the SS system - PERIOD. We'll be amazed how quickly the Republicans will acknowledge the truth...the social security system is SOLVENT today and we can fix it without raising the retirement age. The RT age should be 65....not raised.

And then we have the $ 1 trillion we spend on the military policing the world, researching better nukes (not in the Pentagon budget but in the DOE), and the V/A hospital system. The military charter needs to be changed back to the pre-WW II charter....we need to cut the military spending by at least 50% ($ 500 B annually). Bring the troops home from Iraq & Afghanistan, bring 'em home from Europe & S. Korea & Japan. We should only be securing our borders and the western hemisphere.....PERIOD!

Posted by: go2goal | November 11, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The overall goal here is to renege on the Social Security Trust Fund.

It was established during the Reagan administration to pay for the Boomers' retirement. It has since been consumed by tax cuts (in effect, income taxes have been systematically replaced by payroll taxes), achieved by wholesale investment of Trust Fund money in Treasury bills.

Some would like to keep it that way (namely, every member of the GOP caucus). The only way to do that is to refuse to raise taxes to pay back the Treasury bills when they mature, and the only way to do that, in turn, is to get rid of the need to redeem them altogether by cutting Social Security.

Social Security is in good shape. Small benefit cuts and/or small tax increases will make it solvent for the foreseeable future. But that assumes that when Treasury bills held by the trust fund mature, they are paid off. Take that off the table and you have trouble.

Medicare is another story altogether, but to solve it requires confronting powerful and wealthy entrenched interests. That why all discussions mention "Social Security and Medicare" as if they were the same thing and then pivot immediately to Social Security alone.

It's a big fat lie.

Posted by: pj_camp | November 11, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Have they gone "line-by-line" through the Budget?
That is what Obama promised they would do.
Unless they go line-by-line, through the entire budget, questioning and evaluating every line... they haven't done their job.
It doesn't matter how small or how large,
taxpayers shouldn't be paying a penny more than they need to.
This should be done on an annual basis, too....

Posted by: ohioan | November 11, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I guess when you know the people ultimately going to make the decisions aren't bold you don't don't get to bold in your suggestions. Neither Party has the courage to stand up for what has to happen. for instance social Security should have had automatic premium raises as the coast of living increased. No private insurance plan can duplicate it, everyone forgets that it has 4 basic features. Income for survivors when children are involved, long term disability, retirement and of course it's very small death benefit. it's cheaper to increase the deductions for SS than go privitized by a mile. Don't believe me, call up your insurance agent and sit down when he quotes you the rates. Gas Tax could be higher and the cuts need to happen. Conservatives don't understand that Bullets aren't recyclable. Don't know how to conduct a War either, think it's a john Wayne movie.

.

Posted by: johnturkal1 | November 11, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

It is so absurd when people propose the following to reduce the debt: Cut welfare, tax the poor (or the bottom 50%) more, cut Congressional salaries... these changes are PENNIES, virtually nothing in the national budget. And "close the border"... are you joking? How expensive would that be?

Sorry, the things that need to be changed or cut are Social Security and Defense. That is the vast majority of the budget. Also: Medicare and Medicaid.

Posted by: brian_away | November 11, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

How about the crooks and thieves who blew up the deficit now get to pay for it? And where were all you "fiscal" republicans when Bush was sinking us trillions of dollars into debt? The hypocrisy in this country is worse than the economy.

Posted by: donnasaggia | November 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Amazing this plan is unveiled AFTER the midterm elections.. apparently delusional Nancy and Reid thought they would be validated at the polls. Obama's hand picked commission (of course, he picked ones that would support his ideas) came out with attacks on SS, Medicare, mortage interest deduction, which would have really given the Repubs fodder to defeat the Dems. The truth is it is the Dems who are after the middle class...

Posted by: rickshawjim | November 11, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

so the Banks were bailed out instead of mainstreet USA and now this ...aus·ter·i·ty
the American Dream ... you have to be asleep to believe it ...

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | November 11, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Medicaid has been cut and/or eliminated in many states--have you seen a great reduction in the deficit? As for SS, it's not part of the debt so it shouldn't be used to pay for it. The military is the 9000-pound elephant in the room, and these unnecessary wars are sucking up our tax dollars for no return. Stop the wars and you'll reduce the debt. Tax breaks for the rich contributed greatly to the debt and should be eliminated long before anyone touches Medicare and SS. Congress should keep its stinking hands off those entitlement programs because they are not responsible for the debt and the people who benefit from them had nothing to do with this debt. This is a debt of the rich--and the middle class should not have to pay for it!

Posted by: donnasaggia | November 11, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

OK, I accept what you say is wrong with their proposal.

But please give us something better.

bob mason

Posted by: rmason178 | November 11, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

OK, I accept what you say is wrong with their proposal.

But please give us something better.

bob mason

Posted by: rmason178 | November 11, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I do agree with you that : "The Bowles/Simpson size of government goal is a fantasy -- it will not happen." Nevertheless , we have to start some where , particularly in a situation when the GOP lead by the two GOP leaders in the Congress , divided and insecure because of 38 new Tea party members in their ranks . The leader in the new House will have a difficult job to deal with quite a few members , who are opposed and not tolerant enough to accept diverse points of views in Congressional deliberations . The Republican minority leader of the Senate has repeatedly said his main goal after this election is simply " to win the next one ." The deficits and debt has to be dealt with on an urgent basis . These two problem issues are closely linked to the crux of our tax policy for both the short term and long term . The Corporations including small business for the last two years have been holding their new investments decisions , expansion and hiring plans largely because of the uncertainties and unpredictability related to Obama administration and Congress' s non action in this area . The State and local governments in a very large numbers are in their worst fiscal situation than ever in along time . They would soon need bail outs which has not been considered by the Congress yet . It is about time to get to nations' work together for President Obama and the Congress on debt and deficits .

Posted by: dmfarooq | November 11, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Yep... more pain courtesy of the Odumbo Administration.

Posted by: rg019571 | November 11, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

All I'm seeing these days is screw the producers, screw Medicare that citizens have paid into for decades, screw social security that citizens have paid for one way or another for decades. Big old government ponzi schemes. Tough luck producer suckers, you've been had. We won't go after the bloated wasteful government, we won't seriously go after waste fraud and outright thievery, we won't ask all those that have been on the dole for literal generations to work in any capacity. We won't stop paying women to have illegitimate kids. We'll just have you keep paying for those that enter your country illegally. Nope, we'll just screw ya cause you're used to it by now right?

Posted by: thebink | November 11, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

This proposal, while it may possibly have some positive effects on the economy, still ignores some of the most expensive and wasteful government programs.
If they really want to rein in spending they should start with major welfare reform. Welfare payouts have increased from 400 billion in 2006, prior to to the Dems taking over the country's purse strings, to a 2010 estimate of 750 billion plus. This is more than the DoD budget the left complains so much about, and at least our military serves a purpose, welfare recipients do not. Cut the welfare budget back to 2006 levels.
Until we get control over our country's spending we should also stop all foreign aid, which is on track to exceed 50 billion in 2010. Charity starts at home.
Major immigration reform and stiff penalties for companies that hire illegals should also be on the agenda. Non citizens and illegal aliens are estimated to receive 200-300 billion in HHS funds and medical care in this country, a large part of it fraudulently. Illegals working under the table also cost the country upwards of 400 billion a year in unpaid income taxes according to a recent Barons report.
End all energy subsidies, especially those going to wind, solar, and ethanol, all three of which have proved to be impractical and inefficient cash cows that cannot ever stand on their own. Wind power has proved to be one of the most ecologically damaging energy sources yet devised and is a complete fraud being pushed on people that would really like to help the planet. Cutting these subsidies would save 20-25 billion a year and save the country from the Eco disaster these "green" power sources cause.
Leave the UN and evict them from NYC. The UN complex is worth just slightly more than the UN owes the US for over-payments of dues so we break even there but between the 1/2 billion in dues we pay and the 100+ billion Obama has pledged to them, there are some big saving to be had by leaving. The UN is nothing more than the biggest organized crime syndicate on the planet anyway and nothing they do is in this country's best interest.
Put all new government employees into the social security program doing away with federal retirement programs from this point forward. For employees already in the federal retirement system, raise the vesting period and do away with the "minimum years worked" system that is used now to determine eligibility for benefits, changing it to a "no retirement benefits before 65 without major penalties" system like Social Security. Extending this program and rules to all federally subsidized groups like teachers, police, and firemen would also help state budgets.
I figure there's close to a trillion in savings there. Pull our troops out of the middle east on top of that and we might even be able to start paying back the interest we owe China.

Posted by: gravitysucks | November 11, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

We can no longer afford to spend $1.3 trillion a year for wars, defense and national security. It's $300 billion a year now just for soldiers pay, pensions, the VA, and TriCare for life. Social Security should be a "lock box" trust fund. But, it looks like Republicans have their eyes set on it as a fraudulent way to cut the deficit. Go after where the money really is, the wars, bases and $100K a year soldiers!

Posted by: magnifco1000 | November 11, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey! Wall Street/DC.

Stop taking everything we have.

And at this point it's not much.

The real hoarders live in the banks, trading houses and Treasury Department.

Occasionally they swap places.

Rarely do they actually produce anything.

They just crank up the financial sector mechanisms and take a faster cut of the action.

What an absolute scam.

CDO's that represent bets on bets on bets that ultimately cause a liquidity crisis that shuts down actual factories that produce actual products while providing actual jobs to real people.

And they are coming back for a second bite.

First the illegally foreclosed on homes, unconstitutionally collected usurious interest.

But now, they want to squeeze the miserly benefits of those living on a fixed income: social security retirees.

Go squeeze Goldman Sucks instead, and Hank Paulson while you're at it. They have hoarded billions of the American taxpayers dollars for themselves.

Posted by: inojk | November 11, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

we need a 47% Media Tax,
yes, this includes you,
and all of your earnings Matt'

Is that radical enough for you?

how about bring home all of our troops
overseas... close down the bases,
and we STOP ALL FOREIGN AID....

we have 17% underemployment,
record mortgage foreclosures,
and yet, hillary and barack found
$600 Million for the Palenstinian Authority.

missiles to kill baby jews....
how is that political correctness???

Posted by: simonsays1 | November 11, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

How many times are we going to accept these bought-experts reports to preserve the wealth of the people who are paying the experts.

Is that dumb or what.

Does anyone remember the rating agencies nonsense on all the repackaged mortgages that folded.

Get real.

Posted by: inojk | November 11, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

We need to drop the mortgage interest deduction period, not just for mortgages over 500k. We also need to drop the deduction for state and property taxes. And the health insurance deduction for businesses. These 3---that's all it would take to get rid of the debt over a short period of time.

Posted by: jibe | November 11, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

At least the whole issue of the hard choices we will have to make to reduce the deficit is being discussed. I don't remember that happening in the GW Bush administration when he was adding more to the deficit than all the presidents before him combined.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | November 11, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Wealthy Americans need to start paying taxes, the top 1% of Americans owns 1/4th of the USA's wealth, but pays on average 15% of income in taxes. Many even pay no taxes at all. Write off's, loopholes, the avoidance of taxes is easy for the wealthy.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | November 11, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

A reasonable solution for Mortgage Interest deductions is paring it back to a maximum of $100k of taxable income.

Reduce everyone’s Social Security tax from current 6.2% to 4% by expanding income contribution to all Millionaires and Billionaires income. The GOP wants to shield Billionaires from contributing by cutting Social Security for the elderly.

The GOP and tea (oil & coal) party have begun their attacks on social security with plans to harm the elderly, by raising the age and reducing the benefits, instead of having the Rich contribute more. Stop working to shield the Rich at the expense of the middle-class and poor. Benefits for the elderly should not be reduced in any way to protect the incomes of the wealthy. Social security benefits should be increased and all income, not just the first $107k, modestly taxed to support it. Tax all income, but lower everyone’s tax from current 6.2% to 4%.

Raise the Social Security Tax to include all income and not just up to your first $107k. As more people have gotten wealthy, wealth has been shielded from the Social Security Tax as it has not kept up with inflation.

http://politics.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2010/09/20/cutting-benefits-isnt-the-way-to-save-social-security.html

“Cutting Benefits Isn't the Way to Save Social Security: The answer isn't raising the retirement age; it's making the rich pay a fair share. Most people don't know that someone making $300,000 or even $30 million a year pays no more in Social Security taxes than someone earning roughly $107,000. In 1983, 90 percent of wage and salary income was taxed, but today it's less than 84 percent. That's a huge windfall for the rich and a serious shortfall for Social Security.”

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 11, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Starting from the beginning, this commission was seriously flawed. Most of the members, whether Republican or Democrat, are moonlighting for corporations. Their allegiance is not to their part-time job on this committee, but to their real backers. The real backers behind these proposals are big business. Notice there are no proposals to cut subsidies to agribusiness or big oil. The added life expectancy of a 65 year old since the retirement age was first established is 1.5 years, not 14. So the only reasonable adjustment would be to 66.5, not 70. Big business would rather steal from the elderly than reduce their own dependency on welfare. And our medical costs are not being contained by the so-called reform. The insurance companies are middle-men, collecting premiums and the only way they increase profits is to deny needed care. Real reform would provide a public option and reduce costs. This business controlled committee did not of course propose to revisit health care for real savings. And what about the elephant in the room? War! If not for the trillions spent on the two undeclared, illegal wars that were started under false pretenses - there would be no deficit. Remember, before Bush, we were looking at surpluses as far as the eye could see. These proposals come from the wrong people, do not address the real problems, and even if enacted, which is highly unlikely, will not reduce the deficit. This is just another smokescreen. Meanwhile, the FED is printing money as fast as the mint's press can print. So what if the government owes a trillion dollars - that will soon be the price of a dozen eggs.

Posted by: lorax2 | November 11, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

How about those multinationa corporations and Wall Street banks and other insitutions bearing some of the pain? I know, every once and a while someone posts here that pou corporate tax rate is the highest in the world, but most countries don't allow deductions. In terms of actual dollaes paid in taxes, we are the lowest in the world. So let's make it fair and have a minimum tax, at least for orporations that outsource so much as one job, imprt something made in an offshore factory, or use even one guest workers. Let's be fair and make that tax, as a percetage of gross income, just equal to whatever the average middle class taxpayer has to pay. So, instead of zero taxes, Google would have to pay... what 7% (FICA) + 6% + 15% (federal income tax) = 33% ... and no more deductions whatsoever ... so Google qould owe 33% of $197.36 billion or $65.1 billion. And, since *all* of the companies in the Fortune 500 pay virtually no US taxes, you're looking at $25 TRILLION dollars!!!! And that's per year! The national debt is retired, Social Security is secure forever, and, becasue the ONLY way these corporate traitors will ever see a tax break ever again is to stop outsourcing, we will get our jobs back! Of course, they may elect to leave the country entirely. Hit every import from them with a 33% tariff and you collect even more revenue AND we can quickly displace them from our economy entirely with new small businesses, employing US workers. Let's get real about our economy and the mess these vermin got us into. They need to pay up, one way or another.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | November 11, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Democrats and Republicans and Tea Party members; all have been spoiled for the last few decades to use others fund to make living, declare wars and enjoy. We are spending each 40 cents of our dollar borrowing from others and it will continue unless we accept the written on the wall; either to declare bankruptcy or cut our expenses. If we are not ready; the last alternative is to declare war with our creditors or finally dis-owned our debts. Let anyone who has guts to stand up to our threat. We still have enough Nukes to rubble them one by one or all together.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | November 11, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Let all Bush tax cuts expire and then propose a new middle class tax cut.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost roughly $108 Billion/year not counting Billions more for the future costs of caring for America’s wounded veterans. The running total of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001; One Trillion One Hundred Billion is enough for 200 Nuclear reactors or Thousands of Wind and Solar Farms:

http://www.costofwar.com/

2010 Total USA Defense Spending = $830 Billion ($722 Billion plus the $108 Billion for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq = 34.58% of $2.4 Trillion in revenues), all of which is borrowed deficit spending money.

Defense spending rises to $895 Billion for 2011: 34.8% of $2.57 Trillion in Revenues.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/budget-2010/

Despite this; Millionaires and Billionaires pay $0.00 in estate taxes in 2010

Estate Taxes and the USA deficit:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/07/research_desk_compares_whats_t.html#more

The current Estate Tax giveaway to the Rich is costing the USA $300~700 Billion between 2009 and 2018.

Steinbrenner heirs could save millions from one-year gap in estate tax

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/13/AR2010071305028.html

“The year-long hiatus of the estate tax, which normally falls on the very rich, could cost the U.S. Treasury an estimated $14.8 billion in 2010. "In the midst of this terrible recession, the idea of giving billionaires a massive tax break is obscene," “

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 11, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely right this does not go far enough.

Eliminate the Farm Subsidies completely. Oh, you'll hear the red state kooks whimper and whine then! "Get your hands off my welfare checks! I work hard not growing crops! I need that money for sitting on my backside!'

Watch those commie-loving exporters of American jobs and food run for cover then!

Posted by: colonelpanic | November 11, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I share a real concern for this country, where I was born & where I will die. Our parents are taxed before we're born,providing for us to adulthood,taxed on what we earn,taxed on the little we can save,taxed on our food,clothing, the cars we buy to get to work & the gas to make them run. To survive,we need the basics to live: food,fuel,phone,electric out the yen yang with all the extra city,county,state & federal fees attached,sizeable! We're taxed on top of being taxed already. Now after paying in to support Medicare, I learn we now have to pay for it too on top of having to buy health insurance? If you don't have a job, then how can you pay for all this healthcare? Where has all the money gone? Ours is not a global society as some like Soros is trying to create & what did we ever do to you? No, you are not a God.; please just leave us alone. We helped assist other countries who now enjoy that new found rich economy where our jobs have been outsourced for years overseas. If it's true that our space program is going to end so that we can subcontract to use Russia's spacecraft,how many more jobs will be lost across this great land of ours? Just think how much more it will cost to hook up with them on their space program? IF our well paid government can't quit borrowing money to give it to other countries while we're already indebted to China, how in the world can we ever get ahead. Why do we need India's help to get jobs here in USA? I humbly admit I'm concerned where we are going as far as job stimulation, helping protect our future for Americans to come. God bless America & help us all.

Posted by: trickytoads | November 11, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Too late. All the special interests have stripped the Treasury for the past 30 years.

And when Bennie Boy gets rates up to 15% on treasuries, katy bar the door on deficits.

Posted by: wesatch | November 11, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

For True Deficit Hawks:

All Bush era tax cuts should expire, but the tax code should be simplified with a minimum rate of 15~20% for all individuals and corporations. The corporate tax rate of 35% is a Joke when loopholes allow companies to write off 100% of their taxes and force small business and individuals to bear the greatest blunt of America’s tax burden. America needs a minimum tax rate of 15~20% for all businesses and individuals after all deductions

http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/01/ge-exxon-walmart-business-washington-corporate-taxes_slide.html?partner=abcnews

“It's the tax benefit of overseas operations that is the biggest reason why multinationals end up with lower tax rates than the rest of us. It only makes sense that multinationals "put costs in high-tax countries and profits in low-tax countries," says Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation.”

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/09/our_dumb_corporate_tax_system.html

“A lot of businesses, like S-corporations and partnerships, don't pay corporate taxes. Others use loopholes and exemptions and deductions to push their actual rate way down. We could have a simpler code with lower rates that would raise more money.”

All Bush era Tax Cuts, Oil Industry subsidies; estate taxes giveaways and Feedstock and Cotton Subsidies from top to bottom should end. Stop this $4~5 Trillion in giveaways to the most wealthy. End the $150~$200 Billion over 10 years to Rich farming conglomerates while victims of decades of abuse and discrimination cannot get a dime. End the $80 Billion in subsidies for rich oil companies over 10 years. End the Estate Tax giveaway that costs $300~$700 Billion over 10 years.

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 11, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I find it amusing that so many writers here think the solution is to have people work longer. Hello--we don't have enough jobs right now. Having older workers continue to work keeps jobs from younger workers!
Our national debt problem is mainly due to President Bush's really stupid idea of getting us involved in Middle East wars. People who thrive on our military ops lie all the time about the "true" total cost. These wars directly and indirectly consume over 50% of our budget and provide very few jobs in the U.S. Every time we use a drone strike to kill 5-10 terrorist we are pounding another nail in our own coffin. The cost-benefit ratio is by far in their favor. They will win by simply bankrupting us!

Posted by: danceblade | November 11, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Miller, take another glance at the bloggisphere. There is a move afoot, slowly gathering momentum for citizens to sue for the return of all their social security payments.

Curbing social security is not an option. The American government is not a private corporation enabled by said "government" to steal the pensions of those who contributed to them.

Along with said discussions on suing for return of SS contributions is that demand to the end of Bushie tax breaks for the wealthy.

Long, long, overdue. We are a welfare state for the billionaires.

Ever read about the street demonstrations of the thirties, Miller?

Your suit could get dirty on your way to your tailor's.

Posted by: FarnazMansouri2 | November 11, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Thousands of Black farmers are still waiting on the $1.25 Billion settlement money from discrimination by USDA and federal agencies and 500,000 Native Americans are waiting on the $3.4 Billion settlement from Tens of Billions of Oil and Gas revenues stolen from them. Pull the $4.65 Billion for justice and restitution from the annual $15~$20 Billion USDA Feedstock and Cotton Subsidies to Rich Farming Companies. That’s $150~$200 Billion over 10 years to Rich farming conglomerates while victims of decades of abuse and discrimination cannot get a dime. The Oil and Gas industries that have stolen Native American resources should be coughing up their share too.

PORK - PORK - PORK - PORK - PORK - PORK - PORK - PORK

I want my babyback..babyback..babyback, I want my babyback..babyback..babyback….Billions

End the $15~$20 Billion a year in Feedstock and Cotton Subsidies to Rich Farming Companies. That’s $150~$200 Billion over 10 years to Rich farming conglomerates.

Farm Subsidy Database:

http://farm.ewg.org/region?fips=00000®name=UnitedStatesFarmSubsidySummary

Recipients of Total USDA Subsidies to farms in United States totaled $15,410,000,000 in 2009;

http://farm.ewg.org/top_recips.php?fips=00000&progcode=total&page=0&yr=2009

America borrow moneys from China, to pay Big/Rich Agriculture Companies, and then pay Tribute/Penalty to Brazil because this practice places all other Exports and Jobs at risk.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/06/AR2010060602928.html

U.S. government has been paying cotton growers more than $3 billion per year since 1991, with most of the largess going to big agribusiness in the South. The USDA should not be subsidizing the wealthiest of Agriculture corporate conglomerates to the tune of $150~$200 Billion every 10 years and ignoring the decades of Billions in Oil and Gas revenue stolen from Native Americans and the decades of discrimination of Black farmers.

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 11, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Your "Centrist" plan is still as right-wing as it gets. You put the burden on the elderly and the poor while the wealthy and powerful continue enjoy the lowest tax rates since the 1930s.

Cut defense in half. Wait a decade then cut it in half again.

Return tax rates for high-end earners (over 250K) to the rates they enjoyed under the Republican Nixon administration. 70% at the top.

Eliminate incentives for corporations to offshore revenues.

Raise tariffs on imported goods in proportion to our trade deficit with the source country. This will eliminate those countries currency advantages and improve manufacturing job prospects here, increasing the tax base.

Prosecute employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Legalize and regulate all drugs but especially marijuana.

Posted by: croaker69 | November 11, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Tax Tobacco to pay for rising health care deficits; The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that health costs caused by smoking total $7.18 per cigarette pack sold and smoked in the United States. Cigarette smoking was estimated to be responsible for $193 billion in annual health-related economic losses in the United States ($96 billion in direct costs and $97 billion in lost productivity).

USA Map of State Tobacco Taxes

http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0222.pdf

State Cigarette Excise Taxes: 2010

http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14349

State Sales, Gasoline, Cigarette, and Alcohol Taxes

http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/245.html

Tax the cause of health related disease which add Billions to the cost of health care, Medicare and Medicaid.

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 11, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

annnort posts November 11, 2010 8:31 AM
“These 2 guys do NOTHING to stop spending and help the debt or balance the budget! I have an alternative but no one would listen to me.
-------------------------------------------
Not many people listen to crazy talk.

Posted by: MNUSA | November 11, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Since WWII, federal revenues have averaged about 18% of GDP - no matter who was in office, the big government 60's or the Reagan revolution. It can blip up from time to time, like when it got to 20% shortly during the dot com boom under Clinton, but it never lasts. It doesn't matter what you do to taxes either - cut, raise, or rearrange who is being taxed - revenue is NEVER going to support a budget fixed at 21% of GDP!

So while we're knocking something for not being bold enough, let's start by admitting we cannot toss aside sixty years of revenue history.

Posted by: vimrich | November 11, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, Miller forgot to mention raising taxes on the wealthy!

Posted by: bbrockhouse | November 11, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Since Social Security is a trust fund, as a pension plan for older Americans, it should not be counted as part of federal revenue for government operational purposes. It should be kept completely separate. That means federal revenues per GDP are only about 7% GDP and have actually been decreasing. Americans actually pay less taxes today then they did 20 years ago. Big government doesn't actually exist in terms of tangible benefits for the American people. Social Security is already paid for via payroll deductions and is an income transfer program, not federal revenue for operations.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | November 11, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

We expect tired and failed laissez-faire from Simpson, for he rubberstamped the entire Reagan/Bush Error.

"Golly, if we cut taxes on the most wealthy prosperity will Trickle Down. And banks, health insurers and oil drillers will, uhm – police themselves! Cut government!"

Bowles by contrast, is just soiling himself here.

- new; Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | November 11, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I think let we have national referendum for DEFICIT REDUCTION in the next two months. Let Americans decide once for all how and how much should be taxed and how and how much should services should be cut. At least 5 alternatives should be put on ballot and let public decide what they want rather than our law makers who are nothing but puppets of their Masters in this country and far away in the middle east.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | November 11, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

"Radical Centrist", Is that something like a carnivoris vegan or a warrior pacifist or a national socialist?

You Mr. Miller, like so many closet conservatives, love to project tunnel vision and call it stereo . You want the economy to reignite and are willing to throw out any social or tax benefits that helps keep the working or the Middle Class afloat, but when it comes to the Government programs that help the wealthy, well off or the corporations you are (at best) largely silent .

In your drive for budgetary balance Mr Miller, where is the call, for instance, to reform military spending (the largest discretionary part of the budget BTW) by simply mandating competive bidding once again. Why not suggest Mr Miller that the billions of dollars that have gone unaccounted for in our nation's perpetual Wars be investigated and any company found to have swindeled the government be held accountable-Like Haliburton. Why not call for the reform of our Tax laws that make it lucative for an American Co. to set-up their headquarters over seas AND to off shore its production facilities? Why not seek laws to prevent American companys from selling (or giving away) propritory information to foreign countrys for the privilige of building factories or selling goods in that country (how do you think China has leaped ahead so rapidly in so many different areas of manufacturing and engineering)?

And finally and most importantly WHY NOT tax the rich? FDR did it to help balance the budget and lift the country out of the Great Depression, JFK and LBJ did it to help eqaulize the burden of the social compact and fund our country's own great leap forward in technology and education during the 1960's, and Bill Clinton did it in the 1990's to restore our country to a balanced budget and a roaring economy?

No Mr. Miller, like you say "Some has to Say So", and some one has to stand-up for the class of people who were left off the list of those to be "Rescued" when the Great Recession first started. Unfortunatly that someone is not you.

Posted by: oregonbirddog | November 11, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

oregonbirddog _ actually... what China and those other emerging economies do is liberally use trade tariffs and duties and taxes to keep their jobs. There is a 100% tariff, for example, for any imported electronics into India or China. So, you will never have a Chinese or Indian company making their cell phones or computers in, say, Thailand, and shipping them directly back to China without paying a hefty tax. The same thing applies to everything from toilet paper to soccer balls. ONLY the US has done away with trade tariffs and we, because of this, have lost 45 million outsourced jobs. And, even a relatively small 25% tariff would retire our entire US budget, Social Security and all, deficit within 5 years, even if we kept all of Obama's extravagant programs.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | November 11, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Not even close to bold enough. Nobody wants to peel themselves away from popular money-giving from Uncle Sam but the buck has to stop somewhere. These decisions have the equivalent backbone of a wet noodle.

We are staring the gun down the barrel and we need to take action now to cut the spending on social expenses and military. It is unsustainable. It is the fault of many successive Republican and Democratic Presidential Administrations and Congresses and it needs to be fixed now.

We need to layout what the spending now means for the future. It means that my children won't have the kind of public benefits that my parents and I had because we frittered away our taxes on things that didn't need to be covered.

I won't stand for it and there are many others who won't stand for it either. There needs to be strong plans presented by both the Republican and Democratic parties to address this issue now.

Posted by: theartistpoet | November 11, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

The folks that are saying that this is not enough are correct but they are missing the point. As the election results in CA and NY have shown liberal Democratic Voters are not serious about spending reduction or entitlement reform. The complaints against the panels recommendations have predictably come from the left. Selling even this commissions modest proposals will take real leadership from the President of a much higher level than even Bill Clinton demostrated in selling NAFTA and Welfare Reform to the Democrats in Congress. Therein lies the potential for Obama's rebound. If he shows leadership in getting the Dems to support these spending and entitlement reforms he can force the GOP to accept the tax increases. One can only hope he can rise to the occassion.

Posted by: jkk1943 | November 11, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Generally Federal taxes have been between 17% and 20% of GDP since WWII. Clinton saw the Fed government take in taxes reach 21.9% of GDP in 2000, the highest level since WWII, mostly due to high tax rates and the stock market bubble. Bush reduced taxes and by 2003 the Fed government's take was only 16.4%, the lowest since the 1950's. We probably deserved a tax break in 2000, and giving us a tax break going into the recession of 2001 was good macroeconomics, even if it was just lucky. What the article doesn't reflect is that Obama is pushing the Federal governments participation in GDP to about 25%, and when you add the tax burden imposed by States and local governments, were are quickly getting to the point where government at all levels exceeds 40% of GDP. When a majority of the electorate owe their job, or the job of a household member, or close relative, to the government, or are receiving payments from the government for pensions, welfare, medical care, grants, price supports and government subsidies, one might wonder how our democracy might react. If you are one of those wonder how this will play out, just look at how the government of the District of Columbia works.

Posted by: droberts57 | November 11, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Generally Federal taxes have been between 17% and 20% of GDP since WWII. Clinton saw the Fed government take in taxes reach 21.9% of GDP in 2000, the highest level since WWII, mostly due to high tax rates and the stock market bubble. Bush reduced taxes and by 2003 the Fed government's take was only 16.4%, the lowest since the 1950's. We probably deserved a tax break in 2000, and giving us a tax break going into the recession of 2001 was good macroeconomics, even if it was just lucky. What the article doesn't reflect is that Obama is pushing the Federal governments participation in GDP to about 25%, and when you add the tax burden imposed by States and local governments, were are quickly getting to the point where government at all levels exceeds 40% of GDP. When a majority of the electorate owe their job, or the job of a household member, or close relative, to the government, or are receiving payments from the government for pensions, welfare, medical care, grants, price supports and government subsidies, one might wonder how our democracy might react. If you are one of those wondering how this will play out, just look at how the government of the District of Columbia works.

Posted by: droberts57 | November 11, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

If Congress and the White House do not have enough moxy to let the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy expire as they should where will they get the guts or even sense to cut programs that are actually necessary. This has to be a joke. On one side of their mouth they say increase the deficit by more than $3-trillion to keep expiring tax cuts in place and on the the other side of their mouths they are saying let's starve and stop medical care for the elderly. I guess they figure each starving or dying old person will add a few more dollars to some multi-millionaire's investment account.

Posted by: MickyD1 | November 11, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm Gen-X, and this is all pretty simple for me. I pretty much know that boomers, now that they're getting cranky and older, are never going to stop being the "me" generation. They let the GOP raid Social Security, and gosh now there's trouble. And they don't want to own the trouble, instead they want to screw other people. It's pretty typical of them.

I'll worry more about this when they're dead and no longer an impediment to change.

Posted by: Nymous | November 11, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Let's face facts: the folks who created the financial mess and the national debt are not likely the ones who can solve this problem. Even Einstein cautioned, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

Thus, we need new problem solvers. If we as a nation can look out for creative problem solvers (maybe in another country), then maybe we could learn something new here about deficit spending.

For example, if China can cook the books in their favor, why can't the U.S. do something about our book keeping?

Posted by: rmorris391 | November 11, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Respectfully disagree. Instead of creating Al Gore's Lock Box idea, the Federal Government gutted the Social Security funds in order to waste it on unnecessary wars, bases in countries all across the world, and pork barrel projects like the Bridge To Nowhere. I have a better idea. Cut the pension rates of former Congressman & Senators. If you are not going to give back what you withheld, then elimenate the social security tax.

Posted by: VictorFurman | November 11, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention the wastful freebies America gives to every country in the guise of Foreign Aid. If they are going to hand out freebies, how about giving a foreign aid appropriation to the people in the form of a check.

Posted by: VictorFurman | November 11, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

k here's a no brain solution....
gut the military. use some of the money we use to be the worlds police and protect our borders. use the rest to clean our own house.
please dont give me that 9-11 ballyhoo either. the 9-11 attackers lived in this country for close to a year and were almost discovered twice in country.

on top of that no one has told me why we are still on the hook spending billion to protect europe, england and japan. really? how about fixing my kids school here in the us of a.

so just gut the beast. trillions of dollars right there on the table.

we gut the military in the early 90's and it led to the biggest boom in our history. oh yeah since they weren't making smart bombs they put that good ol american know how into PRIVATE SECTOR and tech. blew up! it worked out pretty good i'd say. fix our country first then save the world from itself.

bah, never happen though...

Posted by: jason916 | November 11, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention the billions and billions in wasteful freebies (handouts) America gives to every country in the guise of Foreign Aid. If they are going to hand out freebies, how about giving a foreign aid appropriation to the people in the form of a check. Rather we get it then some country who probably hates our guts as we speak. Funny how the Far Right calls social security or unemployment handouts but its a-okay to distribute handouts to corrupt countries.

Posted by: VictorFurman | November 11, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Taibi is writing the story that should easily be coming from our Main Stream media---but it's not...hmmmmmm....what is wrong with this picture???

Throughout the mounting catastrophe, however, many Americans have been slow to comprehend the true nature of the mortgage disaster. They seemed to have grasped just two things about the crisis: One, a lot of people are getting their houses foreclosed on. Two, some of the banks doing the foreclosing seem to have misplaced their paperwork.

For most people, the former bit about homeowners not paying their @#$%&! bills is the important part, while the latter, about the sudden and strange inability of the world's biggest and wealthiest banks to keep proper records, is incidental. Just a little office sloppiness, and who cares? Those deadbeat homeowners still owe the money, right? "They had it coming to them," is how a bartender at the Jacksonville airport put it to me.

But in reality, it's the unpaid bills that are incidental and the lost paperwork that matters. It turns out that underneath that little iceberg tip of exposed evidence lies a fraud so gigantic that it literally cannot be contemplated by our leaders, for fear of admitting that our entire financial system is corrupted to its core — with our great banks and even our government coffers backed not by real wealth but by vast landfills of deceptively generated and essentially worthless mortgage-backed assets.

You've heard of Too Big to Fail — the foreclosure crisis is Too Big for Fraud. Think of the Bernie Madoff scam, only replicated tens of thousands of times over, infecting every corner of the financial universe. The underlying crime is so pervasive, we simply can't admit to it — and so we are working feverishly to rubber-stamp the problem away, in sordid little backrooms in cities like Jacksonville, behind doors that shouldn't be, but often are, closed.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/more-over-vampire-squid-enter-rocket-docket-matt-taibbi-takes-fraudclosure-mainstream

Posted by: misssymoto | November 11, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Eliminating Bush tax cuts would save $4 billion over 10 years, Obama's deficit commission proposal saves only $1.5. The choice is clear.

Posted by: paulnolan97 | November 11, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Not bad Mr. Miller:

And this is why we might be looking for greens in the woods soon, if things are not addressed. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs some help. Defense has to be on the list or else we continue to live in make believe land.

Posted by: Gooddogs | November 11, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

So far as I'm concerned crucial Medicare cuts have already been decided. I received notification today that next year Medicare will no longer cover the medication that keeps me alive and functioning. And my wife's inhaler medication which allows her to breathe will no longer be covered either. I figure we'll be paying $800 more a month for vital meds next year because of reduced Medicare coverage. Sterling Greenwood/AspenFreePress

Posted by: AspenFreePress | November 11, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

The usual from the old, white, rich boys: kick those beneath you, suck those above you.

Social Security is the best program in the history of the United States. Naturally, the GOP's wet dream has been to kill it. It is working fine now and will work fine in the next twenty years. After that, a few little tweaks is all it needs. And, it wouldn't need anything except for the GOP stealing from the program.

Posted by: rusty3 | November 11, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

The politicians are demagogueing this, this column is treating it as a game, everyone who has no ability to influence it knows how to do it.

The chattering class has learned to treat everything as a game. It is not a game.

This is terribly serious business. Until some sense of citizenship returns to the citizens, the legislators, and the opinion columns, we're lost.

Posted by: jackl31 | November 11, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

The politicians are demagogueing this, this column is treating it as a game, everyone who has no ability to influence it knows how to do it.

The chattering class has learned to treat everything as a game. It is not a game.

This is terribly serious business. Until some sense of citizenship returns to the citizens, the legislators, and the opinion columns, we're lost.

Posted by: jackl31 | November 11, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Politicians and pundits frequently talk about closing budget deficits by raising marginal income tax rates. They assume that raising marginal income tax rates automatically results in increased tax receipts.

But is this really the case?

Turns out, it’s not.

Since World War II, whether the marginal income tax rate was 28 percent or 95 percent of anything in between, the federal government has collected almost exactly 19.5 percent of GDP.

In other words, if you want to collect more revenue, you need to increase GDP. Simply increasing the marginal income tax rate will not do it. Accordingly, if your goal is to decrease a budget deficit, again, raising the marginal income tax rate will not do it.

This is not, as Clueless Comrade Barry puts it, “ideology”. These are the observable facts for the past 60 years.

Please, before you allow political wishful thinking to harden your position on tax rates, learn your basic economics.

For more, see Hauser's Law:

http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/5728

Posted by: LePauvrePapillon | November 11, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Politicians and pundits frequently talk about closing budget deficits by raising marginal income tax rates. They assume that raising marginal income tax rates automatically results in increased tax receipts.

But is this really the case?

Turns out, it’s not.

Since World War II, whether the marginal income tax rate was 28 percent or 95 percent or anything in between, the federal government has collected almost exactly 19.5 percent of GDP.

In other words, if you want to collect more revenue, you need to increase GDP. Simply increasing the marginal income tax rate will not do it. Accordingly, if your goal is to decrease a budget deficit, again, raising the marginal income tax rate will not do it.

This is not, as Clueless Comrade Barry puts it, “ideology”. These are the observable facts for the past 60 years.

Please, before you allow political wishful thinking to harden your position on tax rates, learn your basic economics.

For more, see Hauser's Law:

http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/5728

Posted by: LePauvrePapillon | November 11, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

The main factor contributing to the longer life expectancies we have today is a reduction of infant mortality from what it was in the 1930's. People who live to be 65 today have a life expectancy similar to those in th 1930's. It is longer but no where near 14 years. It is better to spend our resources on Social Security and health care than constant wars.

Posted by: mgolash | November 11, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

GOP. Democrats. They are both incompetent. And I do not mean the Tea Party! We need a credible 3rd party to save us from these corrupt liars-like Mitch McConnell. Wants to cut social security but LOVES KY PORK BARRELS.

Posted by: VictorFurman | November 11, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

The average American is in no mood for more pain. Just try screwing with the Baby Boomer's Social Security benefits and see what happens next.

Let's see, the gov just calculated out the cost of the the Iraq war crime erzats War, $700 billion. And how about ten years of Afghanistan??????? 700 military bases in a hundred different countries. And these Congressional, organized crime members want to cut back on Social Security benefits? Raise gas, heating oil and food costs?

Let's see them try it. I dare them!

Posted by: jsbar | November 11, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Some of you folks need to do 5th grade math. Obama gave wall street 500+ billion recently saying it may not work. He knows it will not work. Why? Companies need to sell products and services folks want. And these $ minus liability = profit or loss. Since the companies are losing giving them money is an endless pit of throwing it out the door.

500+ give away with a 100+ billion in debt does not add up. Why give away the $ needed to balance the budget? Taking care of American should be Obama job 1. He has create a ploy to make you think how bad it is. When Obama is deliberately creating the problem by wall street give aways.

folks use you head and see the truth!

Posted by: billisnice | November 11, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me why there should be an limit on how much income is taxed for social security? I think a certain percentage should be taxed without limit. So if someone makes more than $190,000 than that huge income is not taxed? Why not? They are not means tested on receiving Medicare? Either tax a certain percentage of income without limit, or means test recipients of Social Security to see if they qualify. If they have an income over a certain amount then perhaps they should not receive Social Security at all.

Posted by: rkirlin1 | November 11, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

No way the people will accept paying social security tax if you have to drop dead before you get a chance to collect.

Posted by: VictorFurman | November 12, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Why not a Pay Cut, Benefit Cut & Retirement Cut for Politicians ? Don't allow 1 person to collect two or more Government Pensions .. Example: "Military & the Post Office each pay 1 person a pension" ... stop this. Have the wealthy pay Social Security on ALL OF THEIR INCOME, not just a portion.

Posted by: wasaUFO | November 12, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Thank you. Former Congressmen/Senators have an insane pension program. Take about government waste.

Posted by: VictorFurman | November 12, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article! I just now got Coupons of my Favorite Brands for free at http://bit.ly/cRwn9f

Posted by: faberlacy12 | November 12, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Oh brother. Still juding Life Spans vary upon which job you are in professor. In other words, physical labour life spans will not equal that of desk job workers. Does your "bold, 40- to 65-year plan to bring benefit eligibility ages in line with reality." take that into account???? And you really think the American people unlucky enough to be born today are going to stand an insane "Social Security Tax" extracted from them only a regular basis only for them to never see it. Wake up! Never gonna happen. CUT PENTAGON SPENDING, STOP CHASING PHANTOM WMD. ELIMENATE FORIEGN AID, AND GET RID OF PORK. THE CHILDREN OF TODAY SHOULDN'T PAY FOR THEIR PRECESSORS' RAIDING OF THE COOKIE JAR!

Posted by: VictorFurman | November 12, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Why does the commission recommendation include changes to Social Security and Medicare, when just undoing George W. Bush would bring a 75% larger reduction in the deficit than the commission is getting with their drastic plan?

Article from The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities we have the following quote:

"Just two policies dating from the Bush Administration — tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — accounted for over $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for almost $7 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019, including the associated debt-service costs. 6 (The prescription drug benefit enacted in 2003 accounts for further substantial increases in deficits and debt, which we are unable to quantify due to data limitations.) These impacts easily dwarf the stimulus and financial rescues. Furthermore, unlike those temporary costs, these inherited policies (especially the tax cuts and the drug benefit) do not fade away as the economy recovers"

Posted by: ssg13565 | November 12, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company