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3 years, 2 months ago
  • I am a long time opponent of raising the cap totally and/or extending FICA to investment income. Not because I am opposed to progressive taxation, we could go back to Reagan or Kennedy rates and tax capital gains at regular top rates and only get huzzahs from me.

    The fact is that Social Security does not need a subsidy for capital, all the hysteria is just that and in the end just a malicious attempt to make workers believe a worker financed social insurance system is ‘unsustainable’ and that the answer to to ggo begging hat in hand to the top 10% to bail us out. It is bullshit, under current CBO scored proposals Social Security can finance 100% of the scheduled benefit with no increases in retirement age at an initial cost of 40 cents per week per worker.

    In short we don’t need their fucking help. For this limited purpose. On the other hand we will gladly take their money to pay for their wars of choice, or to educate our kids to provide their future trained workforces or the health care that will allow them to show up on the job. But Social Security doesn’t need their money. At all, and only progressives that have bought into bullshit ‘regressive taxation’ arguments advance by plutocrats believe their is.

    Social Security can be fully funded for literal couch change. In 1999 Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot titled their book “Social Security: the Phony Crisis”. And it was and is. Frankly when I encounter smart ass progressives that smugly insist that the answer is so simple it can be summed up in three words: “Raise the Cap” my impulse is to smack them on the side of their heads and reply “Couch Change”. The current 75 year projected gap is 2.22% of payroll with around 75% of THAT not showing up until after 2036. Per CBO you could fix the whole thing by raising FiCA by 0.1% per year, split between employers and employees, for 20 years, or stretch it out at 0.03% a year in an economic model that has real wage going up in historically sucky fashion at 1.2% per year.

    Tax the crap out of the rich, take rates back to Eisenhouer 90% for all I care. Leave Social Security the fuck alone. Or be prepared to show your spreadsheet.

    In answer to your specific question I am not opposed to increasing the actual incidence of the cap back to 90% from current 84%. But that is not where the class enemy is. What part of 99% are we missing here? Taxing six digit public interest lawyers as opposed to the 0.01% represented by hedge fund billionaires is just to lose focus. Tinkering with the cap is just rearranging Titanic deck chairs while the first class passengers are taking all the lifeboats.

    Math is a bitch. But it is our bitch.

  • Intent of the cuts?

    Neo-lib dicks thinking they are smarter than FDR and Perkins and buying into the whole ‘regressive tax’ narrative.

    The current Social Security system is not ‘regressive’. Not once you calculate in insurance benefits that disproportionately benefit minorities and widows plus a payout formula that has lower income workers getting a higher replacement ratio of final wages than higher income workers do. Not to the point that a higher income lifetime worker actually gets a larger check, FDR made sure Title 2 unlike Title 1 wasn’t a pure redistribution system, I.e welfare. But there is significant transfer from top to bottom. But commenters would need to take a page from Hiltzak and know something about the mechanics involved. Tinker with it at your peril.

    Which of course the Obama people not only did but propose to double down on. People like Nancy Altman and Dean Baker who have been on this beat for decades as well as proles like me started squealing about this in e-mail when it was proposed. Because this is DC, there is no such thing more illusorary than a “temporary tax cut” that “sunsets”. Didn’t these brain boys learn anything from 2001?

  • Women were covered under Title 1. In their own right and as survivors.

    Got numbers?

  • And to rebeat the dead horse, Social Security expenses under Title 1, a General Fund financed State based Old Age Pension Plan were larger than those incurred under Insurance Based Title 2 until 1951. Which makes the apparent regressivity of the system much reduced.

    The first monthly benefits under Title 2 didn’t kick in until 1940, at that a year ahead of schedule, whereas Title 1 benefits cut in right in 1936. Until you compensate for the early kick in and the overall greater level of spending on Title 1 for the first 15 years of the program it is literally impossible to pass judgement on ‘regressivity’. A little knowledge as almost always being a dangerous thing.

  • Not this year. The payroll holiday of 2% was exclusively on the employee side. Although Obama is pushing for an equivalent cut on the employer side for next year the current split is 4.2% to 6.2%

  • Welcome Michael, as I have said previously online and via list serv action you seem to be the only economic reporter in a paper of record (as opposed to columnists like Krugman and perhaps E Klein) who actually understands the mechanics of Social Security. It gets pretty damn dispiriting reading the news sections of the NYT, the WaPo, the WSj (tho not as bad as their od ed) and worst of the worst USA Today. A little Hiltzik corrective helps.

    But responding to other commenters. The Social Security Act of 1935 can only be regarded as unfair to blacks if the focus is narrowly on the Title 2 part we know as Social Security today. There was also a Title 1 Old Age Pension plan that directly benefited ag and domestic workers excluded under Title 2, many of whom were black, as well as another Title that established Federal funding for State based unemployment systems. A lot of the “FDR was a racist and Social Security proves it” narrative derives from the same Amith Schlaes “the New Deal was a failure in putting people to work” narrative. One that notably rested on statistics that had German slave labors as “employed” and WPA and CCC folks as welfare recipients.

    I have asked the top leftie experts on Social Security for pointers to a study on relative effectiveness of Title 1 as opposed to Title 2. But nobody seems to have a definitive study. On the other hand reports that both tthe total number of recipients under Title 1 welfare and total dollar payments out were higher than those of insurance based Title 2 until the Social Security Amendments of 1950. Until I see a solid numeric study I am not willing to buy into the ‘Social Security was racist’ narrative that so well fits the larger ‘New Deal was a failure’ one pushed by the Right. There were solid practical reasons to exclude domestics and ag workers from Social Security withholding in the context of 1935, too many ‘employers’ were housewives and small farmers bringing in weekly or seasonal help and compensating in part with room and found. Translating any part of that into dollar wage compensation equivalents and then tracking the employers of your casual washerwoman or harvest hand not being practical. Hard as it is to believe even the working class hired folk for heavy work in pre-war conditions. With some much limited literacy and numeracy on both sides.

  • Davis? Most elite UC Campus? Are you high?

    Davis has a world class medical school, right on a par with UC San Francisco which is a med school with not much else. Davis traditionally has top level engineering programs and after all the University of California system is academically rigorous across the board. But let’s get real, in origin Davis was UC Berkeley’s Ag Campus just as UCLA was once just known as the Southern Campus. Berkeley was, is, and hopefully will always be the flagship of the UC system in all but speciality schools like Medicine and Agriculture.

    Davis is a great school and a bicyclist paradise (everybody rides bikes everywhere, in part because the campus is flatter than a squashed pancake) but it ain’t no Berkeley. Or even UCLA or in the liberal arts UC Santa Cruz. No Davis students no longer need to brush off the hay and scrape cow shit off their boots before coming to the Big City, but neither is it the New Haven or Cambridge of the Big Valley.

  • BruceWebb commented on the blog post Labor Wins Back Working-Class Whites on Issue 2 in Ohio

    2011-11-09 19:06:00View | Delete

    Yes, in fact supporting the Mandate back when FDL folk equated it to pure give away to private insurers is what got me effectively kicked off this site back in 2009.

    Jane and I made it up some in the context of a third person forum since but I had some blistering e-mail from her on this back in the day. Which is why today is my first comment visit back in two years. It is a little amusing having people here shaking their heads over this ‘contradiction’. That was the party line touchstone back during Single Payer Now days at the Lake.