Entries in Social Security (25)


Obamacare Offers Slight Improvement to Medicare Outlook

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new government review shows that the passage of the Affordable Care Act -- also known as Obamacare -- has extended the life of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by nearly a decade.

According to a press release from the Department of the Treasury, the Medicare HI Trust Fund now has sufficient funding to cover its obligations through 2026, two years later than was projected last year. In the last report issued before Obamacare was passed, the trust fund was expected to run out in 2017.

A separate review from the Social Security Board of Trustees determined that the Old Age, Survivor's and Disability Insurance fund will last until 2033. The Department of the Treasury's press release points out that at that point, annual revenues from the dedicated payroll tax would be enough to fund approximately 75 percent of the scheduled benefits through 2087.

Despite the improvements, both Medicare and Social Security face added difficulty as the baby boom generation begins to retire. Because of that, both Democrats and Republicans have put forth proposals to extend the lives of the two entitlement programs.

The two sides remain far apart, however. Republicans hope that any budget agreement will include deep spending cuts, while Obama is seeking a deal including cuts in government spending, such as reductions in entitlement programs, but also tax increases.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Social Security Part of Cuts in Obama's Budget Plan

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama outlined a $3.77 trillion budget plan on Wednesday that aims to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and cutting popular entitlement programs, saying “we've got to get smarter about our priorities as a nation.”

“For years the debate in this town has raged between reducing our deficits at all costs and making the investments necessary to grow our economy,” Obama said in a brief statement in the White House Rose Garden. “And this budget answers that argument because we can do both. We can grow our economy and shrink our deficits.”

The White House says the president’s budget proposal would reduce the deficit by an additional $1.8 trillion in the next 10 years.

The budget formalizes the offer the president made to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations in December, including cuts to both Social Security and Medicare paired with tax increases.

The White House hopes the cuts will attract bipartisan support, but the budget is largely seen as a symbolic negotiating tool and it stands little chance of becoming law.

“When it comes to deficit reduction, I’ve already met Republicans more than halfway, so in the coming days and weeks I hope that Republicans will come forward and demonstrate that they’re really as serious, as serious about the deficits and debt as they claim to be,” the president said.

Obama has invited 12 Republican senators to dinner at the White House Wednesday night, as part of his effort to seek out lawmakers who are willing to compromise.

The president’s budget also includes many of the proposals outlined in his State of the Union address, including $50 billion in infrastructure investments, $1 billion for manufacturing innovation institutes, a “Preschool for All” initiative financed by raising the federal tax on cigarettes, and raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour.

The new investments are fully paid for and offset, according to the White House, and the budget would reduce the deficit to 2.8 percent  of GDP by 2016.

“Our economy is poised for progress, as long as Washington doesn’t get in the way. And frankly the American people deserve better than what we’ve been seeing: a short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making like the reckless across-the-board spending cuts that are already hurting a lot of communities out there, cuts that economists predict will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs during the course of this year,” Obama said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Graham Says No Debt Ceiling Increase Without Entitlement Reform

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) – Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), said Sunday he would vote no to raise the debt ceiling, if concessions to reform Social Security and Medicare were not made, despite a previous statement by Graham to suggest that most Republicans were never willing to stomach a U.S. default back in 2011.

“Why would I raise the debt ceiling again unless we address what put us in debt to begin with? I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we get serious about keeping the country from becoming Greece, saving Social Security and Medicare,” Graham said today on “Fox News Sunday.”

Graham’s not alone.  House Speaker John Boehner, (R-Ohio), said in an interview earlier this month on “Fox News Sunday” that House Republicans will never give up control of the debt ceiling.

“It’s the only way to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would if left alone,” Boehner said.

Congress voted in July to avert a U.S. default as part of a larger deficit reduction package, but not before the uncertainty cost the federal government $1.3 billion due to higher borrowing costs, according to the Government Accountability Office.

After Congress reached a deal in 2011, Graham told Politico that, in the end, Republicans weren’t willing to let the country default.

“Our problem is we made a big deal about this for three months. How many Republicans have been on TV saying, ‘I’m not going to raise the debt limit?’ You know, Mitch [McConnell] says, ‘I’m not going to raise the debt limit unless we talk about Medicare.’ And I’ve said I’m not going to raise the debt limit until we do something about spending and entitlements.’ So we’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves,” Graham said.

“We shouldn’t have said that if we didn’t mean it.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geither wrote a letter to Congress this week warning that the United States is fast approaching its debt limit and that the country would likely default without action in the next couple of months.

Most economists believe that a U.S. default would throw the worldwide economy into chaos.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


SSA Worker Reprimanded for Flatulent Habits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- An employee at the Social Security Administration’s Baltimore office has been formally reprimanded for “conduct unbecoming of a federal employee,” specifically for disrupting co-workers “by passing gas and releasing an unpleasant odor.”

According to the letter, issued in December and obtained by the Smoking Gun website, the employee, who has been identified as a 38 year-old male but was not identified by name, had been informed by his supervisor during a “performance discussion” in May 2012 that his co-workers had complained about the gas issue in the past. The individual was referred to an “Employee Assistance Program” to look into whether the frequent and unpleasant incidents could be symptomatic of a medical issue.

It seems the problem continued for some time after that though. The letter, which has been redacted so as not to include names, runs five pages long and details numerous similar exchanges.

“On July 17, 2012, I spoke with you in regards to your releasing of bodily gas in the module during work hours,” the letter reads. “I asked if you could make it to the rest room before releasing the awful and unpleasant odor…You said that you would try not to pass gas and that you would turn your fan on when it happens.”

The letter lists 60 specific incidences of gas passing from this employee over the roughly seven month period between mid-May when the issue was brought up, and early December when the reprimand was issued.

A reprimand is essentially formal slap on the wrist and doesn’t carry any tangible long-term punishment. However, the federal worker is being represented by a lawyer from the American Federation of Government Employees in conjunction with the letter.

The AFGE did not respond to email inquiries from ABC News about the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Joe Biden Courts Seniors, Blasts Romney-Ryan on Social Security, Medicare

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- Vice President Joe Biden tried to court the senior vote Friday afternoon and draw a contrast between how President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney approach two issues of great concern to senior citizens -- Social Security and Medicare.

The vice president, speaking at the Century Village retirement community, alleged that Romney’s plan would raise taxes on Social Security and the Republican presidential ticket would turn Medicare into “vouchercare.”

“If Gov. Romney’s plan goes into effect, it could mean that everyone, every one of you, would be paying more on taxes on your Social Security,” Biden said. “The average senior would have to pay $460 a year more in taxes for their Social Security. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s … while these guys are … hemorrhaging tax cuts for the super wealthy.”

Biden’s allegation is based on a Tax Policy Center analysis that tried to explain some of Romney’s economic goals -- cutting taxes by 20 percent, closing undisclosed loopholes and balancing the budget. Romney’s plan does not specify that he would achieve such goals by raising taxes on Social Security, and Biden has his own history with raising taxes on Social Security. While serving in the Senate, he voted for President Clinton’s 1993 budget, which raised taxes on Social Security benefits.

Biden did not mention that vote in his speech Friday, but the Romney campaign later attacked Biden over Social Security taxes.

“Vice President Biden is using Social Security to fabricate the Obama campaign’s latest false attacks,” Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Romney, said in a statement. “However, these attacks will backfire when voters learn he has repeatedly supported higher Social Security taxes, and that seniors face a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut because of President Obama’s failure to lead on this issue. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a plan to save and strengthen Social Security that does not raise taxes and ensures that our middle-class seniors receive all of the benefits they’ve earned.”

Biden, calling retirement security a “family affair,” defended President Obama’s Medicare plan, saying it was endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the AARP. He argued that that Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would turn Medicare into “vouchercare” and increase the direct costs seniors would have to bear.

“Rather than tell you, since their convention or even at their convention, what their position on Medicare is, they’ve gone out of the way and spent tens of millions -- I don’t know maybe hundreds, I don’t know how much, millions of dollars -- on advertising telling you what they say our position on Medicare is,” Biden said. “All of you in this room know that President Obama has increased the benefits available to people on Medicare today by the action he took.”

Biden claimed a federal budget proposal made by Ryan and endorsed by Romney, a plan that later was modified, would have had dire consequences for seniors’ Medicare costs.

“Folks, I ask you the rhetorical question: Can you imagine me as vice president, can you imagine the president supporting a plan that would, under any circumstances, would raise the cost for seniors $6,400, your out-of-pocket?” Biden said.

Biden previewed a potential attack line he and President Obama could use in their upcoming debates as he argued a federal budget Ryan proposed as a congressman would cut discretionary spending by 19 percent.

“The Ryan budget calls for every single program in the government, from the FBI to every program, to be cut by 19 percent, a devastating cut,” Biden said. “Then, whenever we raise this, and I think you’ll see this in the debates, whenever you raise it they say, ‘Oh no, we’re not going to cut that program.’"

“Well which one are you going to cut 40 percent?” Biden asked. “Notice they will not name a single program, not a single thing.”

Biden also digressed to praise President Obama on Israel, saying the president was working to ensure the U.S. ally’s security is maintained -- despite claims to the contrary in Republican attacks.

“I’m proud to say that although, as we say in my family, although I was raised by a righteous Christian, my dad, I was raised by an awful lot of folks back home politically who have taught me early on, along with my pop, that we have certain special obligations around the world. And one of those is Israel,” Biden said. “I just want to tell you how proud I am, how proud I am, to stand shoulder to shoulder with a guy who has done more for Israel’s physical security than any president I’ve served with.”

Biden, who was accompanied by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is currently on a two-day campaign swing through Florida, his eighth trip to the state this year.

Biden told the crowd that he wouldn’t mind making Florida his home.

“Hello, Century Village! I’m here and I don’t want to go home,” Biden said to laughs from the older crowd. “We were riding in, the young man in the car with me, riding along as two young children and a very young guy, and he said, you know, God, he said, ‘I’d like to live here!’ I said, ‘You gotta wait 25 years, you don’t qualify!’”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Biden Targets GOP, Ryan Budget on Medicare and Social Security

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(LONDON) -- Vice President Joe Biden pointed to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget as an example of Republicans adhering to a “different value set” than Democrats when it comes to reforming Social Security and Medicare, issues that he called “a family affair”

“I'm not playing the game, you know, these guys are bad guys. They just have a different value set as to what is the most important thing that we should be doing,” Biden said of congressional Republicans during the White House Community Leaders briefing on senior issues Monday.

“Folks, we'd be much better off if we spent a lot less energy fighting off efforts to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, get rid of the Affordable Health Care Act, and more time working to figure out how to provide better health for the American people and preserve Medicare and Medicaid,” he later said.

The vice president cited a phrase used by his father: “Don't tell me what you value; Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value,” and argued that the Ryan budget and Republicans’ eagerness to extend the Bush tax cuts show the GOP is willing to sacrifice the interests and well being of senior citizens in order to extend tax cuts to the wealthy in America.

“They've made a clear choice: lower the standard of living for those on Medicare and Medicaid rather than ask anything of the wealthiest among us,” Biden said.

Biden highlighted how the various versions of the Ryan budget would affect senior citizens, saying it “dismantled Medicare” and was “overwhelmingly rejected by the American people.”

“This year, they came back with one that's more subtle, but it really didn't change. It didn't change the core of what they want to do. They're still pushing Medicare vouchers, it's a plan that would still mean higher cost for almost everyone who depends on Medicare. And that goes for Medicaid too,” he continued.

While he stressed that he was not saying Republicans “don't care about the elderly,” Biden did accuse them of placing future generations in jeopardy by not working with Democrats to properly reform the existing Medicare and Social Security systems that exist today.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alan Simpson Decries ‘Wretched Group of Seniors’ Over Social Security

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson sent an fiery letter filled with expletives to the California Alliance for Retired Americans for a flyer the group sent out slamming the Bowles-Simpson commission report for proposed cuts to Social Security as one way to deal with the long-term deficit.

“Your little flyer entitled 'Bowles! Simpson! Stop using the deficit as a phony excuse to gut our Social Security!' is one of the phoniest excuses for a 'flyer' I have ever seen,” said Simpson in a letter obtained by Politico.

The flyer from the group argues that Social Security is in no risk of going bankrupt.

“Even the most pessimistic forecasts say Social Security’s $2.5 Trillion surplus will fund 100% current benefits until 2037, and 78% current benefits forever, even if nothing is done,” it read.

Simpson doesn’t agree with the group’s positive outlook and goes on to call the group’s message an irresponsible slap in the face to young people.

“What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people that we are trying to save, while the ‘greedy geezers’ like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap.”

The Bowles-Simpson commission, also known as National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, was established by President Obama in late 2010 to establish a long term plan for dealing with the Nation’s $15 trillion debt.  Read their report here.

One of their proposals calls for gradually raising the Social Security eligibility age and an increased payroll tax.  The commission also calls for a progressive benefits based system that would reduce benefits for higher income seniors.

Not everyone agrees with the Bowles-Simpson assessment on Social Security.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is one of the most powerful defenders of the current system declaring that the program, while in trouble, is not headed for a crisis.

Indeed many critics of Social Security cuts argue that the program itself is sound but has suffered recent fiscal challenges thanks to Congress extracting money from the Social Security trust fund. Congress and President Obama took $100 billion in short-term revenue from Social Security when they passed the Payroll Tax Holiday back in February.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., raised eyebrows among progressives a few weeks ago after expressing support for Bowles-Simpson but then later clarified on ABC’s This Week that she is interested dealing with Social Security as a separate issue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney's Entitlement Programs Plan Similar to Ryan's Plan

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- For the second day in a row, Mitt Romney focused his campaign on explaining to voters how his fiscal policy will breach the budget gap and will include making sweeping changes to federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

Delivering remarks on Friday at the Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Summit" in the nation's capital, Romney laid out his three-pronged plan to reduce spending by $500 billion per year in 2016 to achieve what he says will be a "simpler, smaller and smarter" government.

First debuted in Exeter, N.H., on Thursday evening, Romney's speech explained how if he was elected, would, eliminate and cut some programs, send others back to the states, and improve government productivity and efficiency.

"We need to turn Medicaid back to the states and allow them to craft the health care solutions that suit their citizens best," said Romney.

Senior advisors to the Romney campaign say that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid would be preserved under Romney's plan. Medicaid would still exist, but so would other choices. The current Medicare plan would be made into a premium support system, according to aides, that would allow seniors a fixed-amount of money to purchase health insurance.

The campaign acknowledged that the premium support system is in line with Rep. Paul Ryan's plan, but said the difference between the two lies in Romney’s allowance for the traditional Medicare choice to be available to seniors.

Social Security would also remain under the Romney plan, but the age of retirement would gradually rise to "promote longevity." How that age would rise, or how fast, was not specified by the Romney campaign. The growth of benefits for higher-income retirees would also be slowed under Romney's plan.

"These ideas will give tomorrow's seniors the same kinds of choices that most Americans have in their health care today," said Romney."The future of Medicare should be marked by competition, choice and innovation – rather than bureaucracy, stagnation and bankruptcy. Our path for the future of Social Security and Medicare is honesty and security. Theirs is demagoguery and deception."

"The plan I propose to make government simpler, smaller and smarter represents the biggest fundamental change to the federal government in modern history," he said. "It is a change we must make if the words 'full faith and credit of the United States' are to mean anything at all."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Ryan applauded Romney’s plan, saying, "Look at what he put out! This is a great development. It shows that the elusive adult conversation is taking place, but all on one side."

The audience reaction in Washington, D.C., was notably muted compared to the one received by Romney in New Hampshire less than 24 hours before. The greatest round of applause from the group of conservative activists came when Romney said the "easiest cut" he'd make would be to Obama's health care plan.

The Obama campaign promptly released a statement responding to Romney's plan calling it a "carbon copy of the House Republicans' budget."

"It would wipe out investments essential to creating jobs and promoting growth and would leave millions of older Americans to fend for themselves by privatizing Medicare," wrote Ben LaBolt, the press secretary for Obama for America.

"The fundamental challenge of our time is how we rebuild our economy so that hard work and responsibility are rewarded and that economic security is restored for the middle class," LaBolt said. "Mitt Romney's proposal takes us in exactly the opposite direction: It places a great burden on the middle class and the elderly, and instead of asking all Americans to do their fair share, it continues to offer special breaks for large corporations, millionaires and billionaires."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Hits Bernanke and Fed; Talks Immigration, Border Security

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Perry touched on many of his trouble issues in an interview with CNBC Thursday morning, as he attempted to fine-tune his message on immigration and border security, clarify his stance on Social Security, and explain his views on the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke, who he openly criticized in the first days of his campaign.

In the wide ranging interview, Perry said he would not reappoint Chairman Ben Bernanke, and sent a message to the Fed to stop conducting bad policy. “I think the statements towards Chairman Bernanke need to be very clear to him that making monetary policy to cover up bad fiscal policy is bad public policy, and that’s what we’re seeing a Fed that is getting involved in things that frankly it does not need to be involved with so printing more money doesn’t do anything at this particular juncture but to make the dollars in our pocket worth less money,” Perry said in an interview on Squawk Box.  

In August, Perry exposed his distaste for Bernanke and the Fed’s monetary policy, suggesting that printing more money would be "almost treasonous."

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election,” Perry said at a house party in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in August, “I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.  Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous in my opinion.”

The Texas governor offered a tip to the federal government on how to better help governors do their jobs -- strengthen border security.

“One of the things I wish the federal government would do, that a lot of problems that we have to deal with as governors would go away if they would secure the border of this country with Mexico.  We’re having to deal with the results of a federal government that has failed in their duty.”

Perry suggested the federal government is to blame for creating new issues for states to deal with, such as determining whether states should offer in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants, due to poor border security.

“In Texas, and it’s a sovereign state issue, we decided it was better because the federal government forcing us to take care of these individuals and the federal government is who allowed them to come in with their lack of security," he said.  "We have to make decisions on how to deal with that in Texas.  We thought in 2001 it was the best interest of our state to have those young people educated rather than kicking them to the curb and not allowing them to be educated and then having to pay for them in some other form with government programs or what have you.  But how to cure that is for the federal government to secure that border.”

On Social Security, the Texas Governor repeated his assurances that the entitlement program will exist for those nearing retirement age but needs reform for younger generations.  But the Texas governor also went as far as suggesting the current system goes beyond the intent of the Founding Fathers.

“What we talked about in the book [Fed Up!] was that this was one of many places where the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. or Congress or President of the United States went well outside our Founding Fathers,” Perry said.  “But look, Social Security is in place, that program is going to be there, it’s just got to be transformed, and that’s what we’re talking about doing.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry: We Don’t Need ‘Obama Lite’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In his first televised interview since announcing his candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry found a new way to categorize his Republican rivals who bear similarities to President Obama or the president’s policies -- “Obama lite.”

“We don’t need to nominate Obama lite. We don’t need to nominate someone who is going to blur the lines between President Obama and our nominee,” Perry said in an interview on Fox News Channel’s Hannity.

Perry highlighted the link between Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts and the national plan developed by President Obama in 2010.

“I think it’s important that we have a clear distinction between any of the candidates,” Perry said, “and when you take a look at what Mitt did from the standpoint of Romneycare in Massachusetts, you’re going to have a hard time finding a difference between Obamacare and Romneycare. That’s just the facts and there’s no way around it. The facts are the facts.”

Romney and Perry engaged in a back-and-forth Wednesday on Social Security, with Perry arguing Romney’s tactics are an attempt to “scare the senior citizens” and are “irresponsible.”

“That’s the old tactic that the Democrats used back through the years to try to scare the senior citizens,” Perry said. “If anyone on that stage that’s a Republican and wants to be a Republican nominee is trying to scare our seniors with this issue -- that somehow or another I’m going to do away with Social Security, that’s just not appropriate. It’s irresponsible.”

Perry has yet to offer a plan for reforming Social Security, but Wednesday night he outlined some potential starting points for discussions on how to fix the system -- raising the retirement age, allowing younger people to hold private-sector accounts managing their own funds, and means testing.

Perry has taken heat for his acceptance of some stimulus money in his state. But the Texas governor justified his decision to accept some stimulus funds by arguing that the money originated from the people.

“We sent a lot of money to Washington, so the fact is to not take dollars that we send to Washington, D.C., would not have been in the best interest of people in the state of Texas,” Perry said. “The purity of the notion that you’re just not going to take any money -- If they’ll make the trade, if we don’t have to send any up there, then we’ve got a deal.”

The Texas governor, who has received the brunt of attacks from his Republican rivals in recent debates, said his years as Texas governor have prepared him for the criticism and accusations launched by his opponents.

“I’ve been doing this for a pretty good spell,” he said. “Running three times in Texas for governor, we’ve caught a lot of javelins.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio