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Entries in Social Security (25)

Thursday
Mar032011

Social Security Scare: Is Government Running Out of Funds?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are hesitant to put Social Security on the chopping block, but with the U.S. debt so large, time to reform the 76-year-old program is running out, experts say.

The debate over a program that has become a sacred cow for senior citizens comes at a time when Democrats and Republicans are wrangling about how to fund the government for the rest of the year and beyond.

Democrats charge that the Republicans' continuing resolution would cut essential funds from the Social Security Administration and in turn hurt thousands of retirees who may not get their benefits or be able to enroll on time.  The cuts, Republicans say, would amount to $125 million from current levels and $500 million from the reserve fund.

The SSA has warned of possible worker furloughs if the Republicans' plan is approved.

Republicans say the cuts are needed to balance the budget.  They blame President Obama for not seizing the opportunity to lead the charge on reforming Social Security, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates will post a deficit of $600 billion over the next ten years.

Social Security comprises 20 percent of the White House's 2012 budget proposal.  Even though the report acknowledges that the program faces a "long-term financing shortfall," it doesn't suggest any reforms.  Instead, the budget provides an additional $1 billion from 2010 -- for a total of $12.5 million -- to reduce the backlog of disability claims.

More than 54 million Americans -- about one in four U.S. households -- receive benefits each month through Social Security.  About 70 percent of those checks, which average $1,076, go to retired workers and their families, and the rest to disabled Americans and recipients' survivors.

The number of enrollees is expected to grow as the baby boomer generation begins retiring, while the pool of workers who contribute to Social Security grows relatively smaller.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb272011

John Boehner: 'No' on Shutdown; 'Yes' on Entitlement Reform

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- In a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters Sunday night in Nashville, Speaker of the House John Boehner will address “the moral responsibility” to cut spending, reduce the deficit and avoid a government shutdown. He will also address spending on entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare.

The speech is just two days after House Republicans proposed a new spending bill that appeared more likely than the previous bill to garner support from Democrats in the Senate and avoid a government shutdown. The government is set to shut down at the end of Friday, March 4, if lawmakers cannot agree on a way to extend federal funding before then.

The Speaker’s press office has released excerpts of the speech Boehner will deliver.

“This is very simple:  Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money,” Boehner will say.

His entitlement reform promise comes with a whack at the White House: “To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economic and moral failure,” Boehner says. “By acting now, we can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans without making changes for those in or near retirement.  And we can keep the promises we have made to our children.”

Here are the rest of the excerpts:

On following the 'will of the people:'
 
“We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face.  That means working together to cut spending and rein in government – NOT shutting it down.  The House has passed legislation – reflecting the will of the people – that would keep the government running through October while cutting spending.   The leader of the United States Senate has refused to allow a vote on this legislation, so the House will pass a shorter-term bill that will also keep the government running while including reasonable spending cuts at the same time.  This is very simple: Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money.  We don’t need to shut down the government to accomplish that.  We just need to do what the American people are asking of us.”

On the economic and moral implications of Washington spending:

“Now surpassing $14.1 trillion, our national debt is on track to eclipse the size of our entire economy this year.  In other words, we’re broke.  Broke, going on bankrupt.  Just as a bankrupt business has trouble creating jobs, so does a bankrupt country. … Yes, this debt is a mortal threat to our country.  It is also a moral threat.  It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt.  It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China.  No society is worthy that treats its children so shabbily.”

On entitlement spending:

“Our budget, under the leadership of our Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, will specifically deal with entitlement reform.  To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economic and moral failure.  By acting now, we can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans without making changes for those in or near retirement.  And we can keep the promises we have made to our children.”

On Republican efforts in the House to address debt and size of government:

“We have a moral responsibility to deal with this threat to freedom and liberate our economy from the shackles of debt and unrestrained government.  Our new majority in the House began this work by humbling ourselves and finding ways to exercise frugality.  We banned earmarks, which had become a symbol of a broken Washington.  We replaced rules making it easy to increase spending with reforms making it easier to cut spending.  We cut our own budgets by five percent. … Earlier this month, the House approved more than $100 billion in spending cuts compared to what President Obama requested for the current fiscal year.  …  Next month, we will propose cutting or eliminating wasteful mandatory spending programs.  …  And we’re fighting to end taxpayer funding for abortion once and for all … we’re working to protect life.”
 
On government and internet:

“Our new majority in the House is committed to using every tool at our disposal to fight a government takeover of the Internet.  Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has pledged, in his words, to be ‘a dog to the Frisbee on this issue.’  … Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, a former broadcaster himself, has introduced a congressional resolution of disapproval to reverse the FCC’s net neutrality rules.  I’m pleased to report the House will act on this measure as early as next month.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Lawmakers Stuck on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Fixes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With all the finger-pointing in Washington this week over the need to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, one thing is clear: it might just be Americans' very sense of entitlement to those programs that's the biggest barrier to getting something done.

The three programs have ballooned to 57 percent of the government budget this year and are widely cited as the most significant contributors to the federal deficit, something nearly all Americans want to see aggressively brought under control.

But while lawmakers from both parties agree on curbing the skyrocketing costs of the programs, few have endorsed a specific way to get that done.

President Obama, who's come under fire for not offering a detailed vision for fixing entitlement spending in his 2012 budget, said Tuesday that he's prepared to work with both parties to "start dealing with that in a serious way."

Republicans, meanwhile, who also haven't united around their own path to reform but promised their forthcoming budget would include a step forward, said they are "waiting for presidential leadership."

Washington's pundits say both sides could come together this year and work something out.  But the "adult conversation" Republicans and Democrats say they're ready to have on entitlements only gets more politically perilous as it gets more specific -- particularly ahead of a looming election battle in 2012.

Fifty-six percent of Americans oppose changes to Medicare benefits and 64 percent oppose changes to Social Security benefits, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University School of Public Health.

At the same time, a majority of Americans oppose tax increases to pay to keep the programs operating at their current levels.

Moreover, heading into a presidential election season, no party or politician wants to be perceived as altering a benefit program that affects some of the most reliable and active American voters -- senior citizens.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

At First Briefing, Carney Weary of Setting Budget Timetable

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - At his very first briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney could not be pinned down on exactly when budget negotiations would begin with Congress.

Carney, who replaced former press secretary Robert Gibbs, refused to set a timetable with Republicans on the budget. He did, however, say that President Obama is optimistic that a compromise can be met.
 
"The president is -- put forward a budget that seriously addresses the need to reduce spending that also protects the key areas that he thinks need to be invested in so that we can remain competitive, grow the economy, create jobs," Carney said. "And he looks forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to, you know, deal with both the budget proposals and the long-term debt.  And he thinks that we can -- there is reason to believe that we can -- we can get this done."

Carney insisted that Obama is confident that entitlements such as Social Security can be reined in.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov102010

Debt Commission Plan 'Dead on Arrival'?

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – President Obama’s debt commission has announced a proposal to not only stabilize but cut the soaring national debt by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has proposed a plan that would impose strict budget rules including $2 trillion in spending cuts, $1 trillion in tax increases, means-testing Social Security and increasing the retirement age to 69 by 2075. The proposal would also force lawmakers to set long-term borrowing goals that could be met with further tax increases and spending cuts if gone unmet.

A congressional aide close to the commission called the proposal "dead on arrival."

"For members that have to get re-elected there are some things in here that are tough to swallow, such as raising the gas tax, upping the retirement age for Social Security, and cutting the mortgage interest deduction," the aide said. "It just goes to show how difficult deficit reduction really is."

And he may be right. Released Wednesday, the plan has already drawn staunch opposition. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly released a statement to show her disapproval.

"This proposal is simply unacceptable," Pelosi said. "Any final proposal from the Commission should do what is right for our children and grandchildren’s economic security as well as for our nation’s fiscal security, and it must do what is right for our seniors, who are counting on the bedrock promises of Social Security and Medicare."

Others, like Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, have hailed the plan as "remarkable."

"This plan does it all - allows time for the economy to strengthen, brings down future deficits and debt, protects the most disadvantaged, makes government more effective and efficient, and promotes economic growth and competiveness," MacGuineas said.

David Walker, the former Comptroller General of the United States, called the proposal a "commendable, comprehensive, aggressive and good faith effort" that "puts ‘everything on the table.’"

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton has said President Obama will hold his comments on the plan until after the commission finishes work on the proposal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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