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New York Times Wages War on Medicare and Social Security

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It's "the nation's largest health insurance program." Payroll deductions defray costs. Tens of millions rely on it. It covers eligible recipients aged 65 or older, some disabled ones under age 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease.

Duplicitous scaremongering claims both programs face bankruptcy.

Republicans never wanted them in the first place. Obama and most Democrats support killing them. They favor death by a 1,000 cuts. Perhaps The New York Times agrees.

On January 5, it claimed Social Security is "Worse Than You Think." Saying so turned truth on its head. 

America must "confront" a "huge cliff," it said. In 2010, "$49 billion dollars more in (Social Security) benefits" were paid than received. Doing so will exhaust Trust Fund revenues "by 2033."

"Those facts are widely known," claimed The Times. If remedial action isn't taken, benefits no longer will be paid.

False! The Times omitted key facts. In 1968, Lyndon Johnson adopted a "unified budget." He combined Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF) receipts with general revenues. He did so to defray Great Society and Southeast Asia war costs.

Henceforth, SSTF surpluses ("Intra-Governmental Holdings of Debt") concealed the true national debt. At the same time, SSTF revenues used annually for federal expenditures reduce Washington's ability to pay future beneficiaries.

SSTF exists in name only. All sources of retirement income and security are under siege. Social Security works well as mandated. It's Washington's most successful program. It could easily be made structurally sound in perpetuity.

Active workers and employers support eligible retirees, their dependents, and the disabled. Steady income is assured. Marketplace uncertainty is avoided.

Critics falsely claim it's going broke. It's sound and secure. Modest adjustments only are needed to keep it that way. Separating Trust Fund receipts from general revenues would strengthen it.

Contractual federal obligations would be assured. Benefits could increase, not decline. The New York Times didn't explain. It claimed otherwise.

"To save Social Security," it said, "tough choices have to be made. One option is (keep) raising the retirement age." Doing so combines a stealth tax increase/benefit decline.

"A second option is increase payroll taxes." Wages are taxed up to $113,700. Low/middle income earners are disproptionately taxed. Most of what high-income ones earn escapes entirely. 

All income should be taxed equitably. None should be exempted. A simple fix would change things. Progressive taxes, a modest Tobin one on speculation, combined with making corporations pay their fair share would raise hundreds of billions annually.

Taxing hundreds of trillions in annual derivatives trades one-tenth of one percent would raise $500 billion alone. Sweeping progressive tax reform would at least double the amount. Cutting defense spending responsibly would triple or quadruple it.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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Excellent exposé.  It's so sad that we're so... by Don Caldarazzo on Wednesday, Jan 9, 2013 at 6:08:33 PM
On this subject I present my first experiment b... by Mahalingam Santhri N on Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 8:34:15 AM