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"No, Mr. Clinton. 'Means Testing' Does Not Make Social Security A More Progressive System" [Corrected/Revised]

Alexa's picture

After further reading, I felt that I had "mis-conflated" Mr. Clinton's words to refer to the Special Minimum Benefit.

I will address the importance of the 'Special Minimum Benefit' and the 'Hardship Exemption' in a later post. It really should be important to all of us, for several reasons. The foremost reason is that 'we' should collectively care about the most vulnerable members of our society, and this benefit is essential. Secondly, we need to realize that the PtB are "out there" strongly implying that the proposed increase in this benefit, is one reason that it is necessary for the rest of us to "take a haircut." And this is absolute hooey.

Indeed, his reference to 'how his Social Security benefit might be lowered, or done away with,' clearly demonstrates that his intended reference was to the (B-S) Fiscal Commission's recommendation that Social Security benefits be subjected to progressive price indexing, or 'means testing.'

This glaring error demonstrates that 'it is best not to start writing a blog at almost midnight.' ;)

I can't imagine a more galling statement than to claim that slashing benefits through applying 'means testing' to almost all Americans, makes the Social Security system more progressive.

I guess if your measure of progressivity is "that there is less of a gap between what the rich and poor receive in Social Security benefits" (after applying the stringent 'means-testing' recommended by the Commission), his convoluted statement could be considered accurate.

But the real kicker was Mr. Clinton's implication that this cut only applies to those in his economic strata. This is an especially outrageous and egregious statement.

It should worry everyone that the elites are willing to go to this length to sell this reform package. We must do everything possible to educate folks regarding this toxic proposal.

Mr. Clinton's remark tells me that "everything is on the table," when it comes to bamboozling the American People.

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

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mtngun's picture
Submitted by mtngun on

Good info, thanks for enlightening me.

I suggest progressive should counter with their own constructive platform:

-- all retirees get full SS benefits regardless of how much they paid in. Period.

-- universal participation in SS. Everyone pays in, everyone gets SS when they retire.

-- make the SS benefit something you can actually live on

-- fund SS from the general budget instead of the imaginary "trust fund"

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

information regarding the "Special Minimum Benefit" and the "Hardship Exemption" still stands, of course (since it was basically quoted from the Strengtening Social Security website).

I was stunned to find out that the "Hardship Exemption" was solely income based. If I understand it correctly, [and I am still checking this out, so don't quote me on this one] that would mean that a RN would not be eligible for this, and I personally don't think that's right. Other very physically demanding jobs (which pay better) such as a brick mason or pipefitter, would also be disqualified if the B-S measure is applied. That is ridiculous.

Clearly both of these proposals are "window dressing," designed to help sell the draconian cuts that B-S are proposing. Won't work, if we can get the word out about this.

I plan to repost the Special Minimum Benefit and Hardship Exemption information, but need to get some statistics first. I was shocked last evening when I ran across this statement:

"In 2001, 35 percent fewer individuals were receiving a benefit based on the special minimum PIA than in 1973 despite a 52 percent growth in the total number of Social Security beneficiaries over the same period. Not surprisingly, special minimum benefits currently are payable in less than 0.03 percent of annual new OASDI benefit awards, and declines even over the past few years are apparent from the Social Security Administration’s beneficiary records.

In 1997, 1,925 new OASDI beneficiaries received a special minimum benefit, compared with 1,365 in 1999 and 1,122 in 2001. Special minimum beneficiaries as a group therefore tend to be older than other beneficiaries (see Chart 2)."

[Social Security BulletinVol. 64 • No. 2 • 2001/2002]

Considering the fact that there are tens of millions of Social Security recipients, this sounds like a ridiculously low figure to me.

And I wholeheartedly agree with your "progressive platform." I mean, really, if anything, Social Security benefits should be beefed up, not slashed.