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Think You're Going to Retire Someday? Don't Count On It, If The DLC . . .

Alexa's picture

Social Security Card
401 (K) 2012's photostream, Flickr

has their way.

Here's an excerpt from, and link to DLC President Edward Gresser's prepared remarks to the Commission On Fiscal Responsibility And Reform on June 30, 2010.

Rethink Retirement: If we reduce the number of physically and mentally fit people who choose to retire in their late 60s and early 70s, we reduce the government’s entitlement spending obligations. The simplest approach is to raise the retirement age, at minimum for workers in less physically demanding jobs. Other options could include offering ways to mix part-time and online work with partial Social Security benefits after age 67 and into the eighth decade of life, with somewhat higher benefits for in exchange for later retirement.

Here's the video of Gresser's testimony before the Commission. I searched for a C-span version so that I could make a clip of his remarks, but to no avail.

He did not follow his prepared remarks "word by word." There were also three other "experts" who testified in this segment of the hearing, probably worth listening to if you didn't catch it at the time.

Gresser did mention the "real reason" for wanting to raise the Social Security retirement age. You can listen to that portion at Minute 48:00 to 48:35.

He recommends that along with opening up high-skilled immigration (H1B Visas), slowing the growth of the retired population through "raising the retirement age" for those in the least physically demanding jobs (which makes no sense, since unskilled folks may take jobs with varying degrees of physicality involved) . . . will raise the growth capacity of the workforce (economy). At no time does he say that the Social Security Trust Fund is going broke.

“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

[BTW, I'm not the one asking for a beer, LOL! But a contribution to your local animal shelter would be great.]

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nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

While I don't put anything beyond the greedy chasing their greed, this plan is just silly. The result of rising productivity in a developed country is more likely to be need for fewer rather than more workers. More serious is the issue of how to define the "least physically demanding jobs" whose holders must work longer than the people next door who have more physically demanding jobs. I can't even begin to imagine how to write the legal definitions that determine who can draw Social Security at what age.

Say you work in a grocery store. You run the cash register. Does it make a difference whether the employer provides seating or makes the job more physically demanding by expecting you to stand (that can be a real physical issue for someone in her late sixties with arthritis coming on)? Do you need to do occasional restocking, which involves more physically demanding activities? Does all this depend on incredibly detailed legal definitions plus incredibly detailed job descriptions by the employer? If so, if business is claiming burdensome regulations now, wait till something like that kicks in.

And then there's always the issue of how long you work in the job. Say you quit your white collar job at 67, and get a job stocking shelves. Now do you get to draw full Social Security because you have a more physically demanding job?

Sorry to waste time on the obvious silliness of this, but I do have a thing for pointing out how incredibly wasteful and counterproductive the neoliberal governmental philosophy of individualism is.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

in full agreement with your points.

It would be impossible to administer. Heck, the PtB have a problem with folks simply "getting on, and coming off" unemployment insurance. And that program is designed to be a temporary stopgap.

IMO, none of these think tank experts seriously believe that Washington elites would adopt the suggestion that folks in physical jobs, should be allowed to draw Social Security at an earlier age than other folks. (Although I have no qualms with that criteria.)

Unfortunately, that's just not "the American way." Here, all the best benefits consistently go to those at the very top. Take health care reform. One of the earliest benefits to kick in was the elimination of the "preexisting conditions" clause from individual health insurance plans. (Which BTW, I favor.) Let's see--who is it that usually purchases those policies. We know that it's certainly not the waitress at the diner, or the retail clerk at Radio Shack. Right?

Seriously, that benefit, and the benefit that allows "children under age 26" to remain on their parents' health insurance policy, both primarily help more affluent or middle-class folks. [Now, I understand that in a couple of years or so, all children under age 26 can be carried on their parents insurance policy.] But at least for now, if a young person under age 26 is working and eligible to participate in a health insurance plan at his place of employment, he cannot be carried on his parents' insurance policy (even if he could not possibly afford his employer's health insurance premiums.) So it primarily applies to students, and I suppose, unemployed young people.

I don't begrudge that some decent benefits were extended early on. However, I think that it is unacceptable that the exchanges aren't slated to be up and running sooner. (As flawed as they are.)

It is my understanding that Medicare was set up and ready to go in approximately 10 months, precomputer era, after the Medicare law was signed.

(Sorry, got a bit OT.) Back to the topic at hand, I took Gresser to simply be trying to "soften the impact of his hideous suggestion" that folks must start working well into their "eighth decade," by suggesting that some folks be exempt. At this point, I am honestly convinced that Social Security will eventually be scrapped.

BTW, your avatar's a handsome fellow (or lass). :-)

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

She's a herding dog/barge dog mix. Her destiny is to drive the herd where it ought to go and clean out the vermin. I want to be like her.

Submitted by Aquifer on

I am honestly convinced that Social Security will eventually be scrapped."

That will be up to us ....If we give up on it, it is lost, if not we can keep it by putting folks in who are committed to it (hint, hint, that rules out DnRs ...)

PS - I really like the "DnR" bit, who came up with that? Had to be a medical person, no?

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

the DLC link, which I've bookmarked for future reference.

Last year's Gang of Six proposal was scary, not only on account of the cuts that it called for, but if I recall correctly,it recommended a decennial review for further reductions/changes.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Belgian barge dog.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

only to find out that there are at least "two varieties" of them -- Belgian and Dutch!

I "Binged" after your comment, wondering what breed you were referring to. She sure looks more like a Schipperke, than a Keeshond. All that aside, she's a pretty girl.

NWLuna's picture
Submitted by NWLuna on

It is my understanding that Medicare was set up and ready to go in approximately 10 months, precomputer era, after the Medicare law was signed.

Bill signed 1965; benefits received 1966. Too bad Obama didn't have the same timeline for the ACA.

July 30, 1965 President Johnson signed H.R. 6675 to provide health insurance for the elderly. It was signed in Independence, Missouri, in the presence of Harry S. Truman who opened the fight for such legislation in a message to Congress in 1945. ...

July 1, 1966 On this date all persons over 65 were automatically covered under all of the hospital insurance provisions of the new legislation, except for the nursing home provision. Public assistance funds were needed to pay the deductibles for those who could not afford them. Benefits under the voluntary medical insurance program began for OASDI beneficiaries who signed up for it earlier and for elderly persons who received public assistance payments in States that previously entered into an agreement for their coverage.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Truthfully, I went by what I heard at a seminar a couple of years ago, from someone who was considered an expert on our social safety net programs. My memory being was it is, I'm surprised that I was that close. :)

Also appreciate the link.

Submitted by Aquifer on

didn't have the same timeline for the ACA"

No way - the programs he pulled out early were ones that weren't going to cost the gov't anything and were agreed to by Big I in return for those guaranteed customers. Those "present benefits" and the promise of future vouchers for premium support were the mechanisms to defuse the single payer movement - but come '14, when it is time to actually provide funding for those vouchers - "aw gee, we really wanted to, but we just can't afford it .." and by then all the schmucks who voted for this turkey will have flown the coop, or if still there, they will blame the other side for blocking the funding.

This whole mess was never about healthcare - it was about heading single payer off at the pass and padding the insurance industry ....

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

and padding the insurance industry . . . "

You nailed it. But, I would add that there were two other main goals:

(1) Shift the responsibility away from the employer and from the government (federal and state) to "the individual," which the ACA does; and

(2) Eliminate the "preexisting condition" clause for individual health insurance (which has been heavily lobbied for by the entrepreneurial class).

And I must say, I don't feel compelled to apologize to younger generations as you apparently do. But it's good of you, and if you feel better--go for it.

I would like to leave you with an excerpt and link to a Dean Baker piece entitled, "Stop Baby Boomer Bashing: Protect Social Security and Medicare." (BTW, I'm not calling you a "Boomer Basher.")

Here's the excerpt:

"Remember all those headlines about how the baby boom cohorts just lost several trillion dollars in home equity due to the collapse of the housing bubble and how they lost trillions more in their retirement accounts as a result of the stock market crash? . . .

Similarly, the loss of stock wealth would have been concentrated among older workers and retirees. Few workers manage to accumulate any substantial stake in the stock market in their 20s or 30s. This means that loss when the stock market collapsed was almost entirely born by older workers and retirees.

Given the massive loss of wealth incurred by the baby boom cohorts that are nearing retirement, it would be reasonable to think that President Obama and Congress are trying to develop plans to ensure that they can still enjoy a secure retirement. In fact, the opposite appears to be the case. There are reports President Obama is considering establishing tasks to examine Social Security and Medicare with an eye toward making cuts in both programs.

, , , The idea of taking away Social Security benefits from baby boomers was always outrageous. After all, this is a generation that has paid into Social Security at the current 12.4 percent tax rate for almost their entire working life and will be forced to wait until age 66 or even 67 to get full benefits. Their average returns are projected to be lower than the generations that follow and far lower than the generations that preceded them." [My emphasis.]

Here's the link to Dean Baker's article.

The truth is that raising (or even lifting) the cap on FICA taxes, and maybe hiking the FICA tax 1/2 percent to 1 percent (that's after raising it back to the regular rate of 6.2 percent) should take care of any shortfall.

Politicians are simply trying to swell the work force, (since lowering Social Security benefits will obviously effect the ability of most working class folks to take retirement) in order to drive wages down even further, for their corporate buddies.

Then there are plans to go after professional wages soon after the election, by raising the H1B Visa quotas.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

are supposed to be coming from. I don't know anyone over 50 who has a job they wouldn't quit in two seconds if they had a choice and most people don't even have an awful job. They're just scraping by.

Plus, "older" is tough to define. Here in LA, "older" covers a wide range, including people over 40 in the entertainment industry, for example. Ageism has been a problem here (and I suspect in many places) for years, and just telling people to keep working isn't going to change that.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Statistics (BLS), here are some of the employment projections for 2010-2020:

". . . -- The four detailed occupations expected to add the most employment are registered nurses (712,000), retail salespersons (707,000), home health aides (706,000), and personal care aides (607,000). All have large employment in 2010 and are expected to grow faster than the average of 4.3 percent. (See table 6.)

Here's the link.

Also see Table 6 (at the bottom of the page), "The 30 occupations with the largest projected employment growth, 2010-2020."

The PtB need to think long and hard before they eviscerate the social safety net. According to the BLS studies and tables above, of the jobs that will be created in the next decade, 2/3's will be very low paying jobs (and more than a few, quite physically demanding).

Cutting Social Security benefits now, will only serve to create huge numbers of desperately poor seniors, especially in light of the historically high unemployment rates that we're experiencing.