Let’s face it: Most forms of entitlement reform are theft

posted at 7:11 pm on May 25, 2012 by Dustin Siggins

In the debate over how to deal with America’s looming budget problems, liberals and conservatives have starkly different solutions to entitlement reform. Necessary for the financial security of America, entitlement reform is difficult for a myriad of political, ethical and financial reasons. As Michael Linden of the liberal Center for American Progress stated last year: “It’s true in the long run…the major drivers of the federal deficit are an aging population, which means higher costs for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and also rising health care costs generally…we are going to have to have some really serious conversations about how to get those things under control.”

How serious will these conversations have to be? Social Security and Medicare spending alone totaled about $1.217 trillion in 2011, or one-third of the federal budget, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. This budgetary impact will reach 50% of federal spending in the next 20 years, as Veronique de Rugy calculates here. By 2020, according to the Government Accountability Office, 92% of the federal budget will be taken up by Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and interest on the national debt. Lastly, Social Security and Medicare alone will eventually require 100% of federal tax revenues to cover their costs.

So what is the solution to our growing Social Security and Medicare cost problems? Regardless of one’s political leanings, it boils down to one word: stealing. Despite having taxed employers and workers at a combined 15.3% of each employee’s paycheck at the point of a gun (AKA the rule of law), reforms are discussed primarily with the following four politically-viable options in mind:

  1. Raise taxes on some or all earners. Given payers into the Social Security and Medicare programs were initially given a promise of sorts from the federal government that they would receive a certain level of benefits for a certain level of taxation, this is theft.
  2. Directly cut benefits for current and/or future seniors. This is similar to Point 1 except benefits are being directly diminished instead of increasingly taxed.
  3. Means-test Social Security and Medicare. While a popular option for both Republicans and Democrats, it would take away retirement monies from wealthier seniors who were promised the same benefits as everyone else.
  4. Raise the retirement age for those receiving Social Security and Medicare. Average life expectancy for 65-year old Americans is over 40% greater than that of 65-year old Americans in 1940, yet the retirement age has yet to increase by even one year since that time. Unfortunately, raising the retirement age for anyone who has paid into the program – and especially for older workers – is to change the unwritten promise around which people organize their retirement plans.

 

(Note: Other options are available, and popular in certain circles, for reform. One of these is the partial or full privatization of Social Security to be received by seniors. This would not be stealing, but it is for all intents and purposes very politically difficult, if the 2005 failure of then-President Bush’s partial privatization plan to get through a GOP-controlled Congress is any indication. Payment reform related to greater efficiencies in Medicare is also often discussed and would not be stealing. This was included in the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, but those reforms are still in the experimental stage and thus their impact is as of yet unknown. Medicare voucher proposals such as those in the House-passed budget proposal are also of somewhat experimental value, and so far have received little Democratic support.)

Given the fiscal impossibility of maintaining retirement benefits as they currently stand, how should this theft be enacted? Is it right to take from current seniors, who are in the middle of retirement but who are also much wealthier as compared to younger people? Is it right to take from middle-aged people, who are years from retirement but have spent decades preparing for it with expectations of certain levels of federally-funded retirement dollars? Or should the focus of reforms be on young Americans, who have more time to change personal habits and prepare financially for lower benefits…but who as the Debt-Paying Generation are likely to face dire employment and other financial challenges that could prevent them from having the kinds of financial means in retirement today’s seniors possess?

Options abound for how to fix the programs, but in the final calculation stealing is likely to be most or all of the answer. Whether it be the financial collapse of Social Security and Medicare with no changes (thus stealing from all citizens), raising taxes on the wealthy or means-testing benefits (thus targeting the most successful of us for doing nothing intrinsically wrong or illegal) or increasing the retirement age for all recipients (thus forcing people to work for more years before receiving benefits), the federal government’s retirement promise to America’s citizens is going to significantly change in the next two decades. The only question that remains is to whom that promise will be broken, and how drastic the break will be.

To clarify: from a strictly legal perspective, the federal government is not actually stealing from seniors by doing any of the above. The original language of the legislation which created Social Security, for example, stated “The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to the Congress.” Additionally, the 1960 Supreme Court case Flemming vs. Nestor declared that American taxpayers are indeed not legally entitled to the dollars they think they are. However, the implicit promise still exists, if the language of politicians and special interest groups is to be believed, and most Americans believe they are indeed entitled to receiving retirement dollars for which they have been taxed. Use of the word “stealing” is thus applied more from a moral, ethical and “if it weren’t Congress it would be illegal” perspective.

[This was originally published at Right Wing News.]

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Why not offer rich people a chance to opt out in return for some sort of tax credit.

PattyJ on May 25, 2012 at 7:16 PM

One minor correction: Although reduced benefits can start at 62, normal benefits start after 65. I did not receive my first check until I was 67. I believe that a graduated scale still exists. Maximum benefits begin at 70.

FirelandsO3 on May 25, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Yeah, when you promise something no one can ever deliver, someone is going to be disappointed. Surprise.

Kohath on May 25, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Any attempt to do the right thing will be opposed by Dems who will use it as a club for electoral advantage. The Senate Dems will probably even filibuster for a short time before allowing Republicans to hang it around their own necks. This is going to be VERY hard. And of course the legacy media will go with the Dem story. This will be very scarey for Republicans who come from districts that are not overwhelmingly Republican.

mydh12 on May 25, 2012 at 7:26 PM

The reforms are theft? I thought the unsustainable entitlement schemes themselves were the theft and reforms could be a way to mitigate the damage.

It’ll maker a nice talking point for the Democrats though: “Even Hot Gas says entitlement reforms are theft! Paul Ryan’s plan is Satanic!”

forest on May 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Most forms of entitlements are theft.

Social Security contributors and recipients were given a phony promise yet were forced to buy into it nonetheless.

If you send you kids to safer, competent private schools instead of dangerous, incompetent publik skools you’ve lost out on taxes taken for what you’ve wisely avoided.

If you are in temporary need of government housing yet decide you’d rather not be Trayvoned within a week you’ve lost out on taxes taken from you before your time of need.

If you have worked in one of the cities which had an Occupational Tax for those working in the city but living in the safer suburbs and that Occupational Tax is eventually overturned as confiscatory you still have lost out on those monies taken until those, now devalued, long ago government squandered funds, are returned to you, which likely will be never.

There is an interesting situation in Jefferson County, Alabama (Birmingham area, which also had an occupational tax struck down) where that county is bankrupt because the urban political machine looted their Sewer and Water Board to the tune of about 3.2 billion, not million, billions of dollars. Part of the fix is an attempt to charge a sewer fee to those in rural parts of that county having septic tank systems.

Entitlement theft takes many forms. One is those whom feel government owes them something for nothing. The other is government which feels the people owe them something for nothing.

viking01 on May 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM

If you are under 50 and are counting on SS to pay you, you are delusional. The music has stopped folks, time to fight for a chair.

I believe a solution is available, I also believe that the can will be kicked until it gets lost in the weeds. Our political class is not up to the task. 2010 was the biggest swing election since the 40′s and they caved when it counted. It’s almost too late right now, in a few years it will be too late. The amount of debt we currently hold is unsustainable if interest rates were anything close to historic norms.

Mord on May 25, 2012 at 7:36 PM

I note the article leaves out the oft touted benefit of having MILLIONS of immigrants, both legal and illegal in the nation to take up the demographic slack, so to speak and bolster the workforce and prevent that ‘age bubble’ that nations like China now face.

I’m also deeply concerned by the media’s seeming inability to refrain from vilifying seniors, casting them continually as ‘a problem’ for which one must seek ‘solutions’.

Seniors and those middle aged people soon to become seniors contribute a huge amount to the economy and the nation. How many younger people are currently living ‘back home’ with either their parents or their grandparents because they couldn’t find employment or are chronically and acutely underemployed, the parents or grandparents providing a roof over their heads as well as paying the utility bills, taxes, and providing the food? How many parents and grandparents provide ‘day care’ so that the younger family members may work and avoid the expense of professional day care? How many also provide care for the children of those employed younger family members simply so that the younger workers can have an evening out? How many man hours do seniors contribute volunteering in everything from shelters to hospitals? How much do seniors and soon to be seniors contribute to charities? How much do businesses run and operated by seniors and those soon to be seniors contribute to the economy and how many jobs do they provide? How many seniors are paying taxes and mortgages, thus adding to the local, state, and federal revenues?

Its easy to simply view seniors in a cynical way classed as a problem to be solved. That’s rank ageism. Let’s see some honest articles that reflect the actual contributions, in economic terms, that seniors make to the nation.

thatsafactjack on May 25, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Let’s face it: Most ALL forms of entitlement reform are theft

FIFY.

MidWestFarmer on May 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

the answer is-all off the above

1. gradually raising the full retirement age-to what i don’t know.
2. means testing seniors-what level i dont know
3. using different criteria for cost of living SS adjustments.

On medicare

the only option I see is a premium support plan similir to what Romney/Ryan propose.

and means testing

gerrym51 on May 25, 2012 at 7:39 PM

The entire entitlement system was based on theft from the start. The fiction that somehow you could pay in a small amount of your funds now and get far more than that back later. That might be possible if there were actual assets behind these programs that would be increasing in value but there was not.

They are Ponzi schemes and were destined to crash. The reforms are only a realization of what anyone with a brain knew was coming. The people who get in the pyramid early make out and the ones towards the end lose. Every time, all of the time. End them all. The government has no business being in the health care or retirement business. They have mismanaged these programs beyond all repair and have us headed for a fiscal meltdown at the same time they have made people dependent on them. It was immoral from the get.

echosyst on May 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM

There are many who are forced to start at 62 because they lost their jobs and need some income. Unfortunately, they will remain at the lower level permanently.

FirelandsO3 on May 25, 2012 at 7:42 PM

or means-testing benefits (thus targeting the most successful of us for doing nothing intrinsically wrong or illegal)

You are close to being correct. It is not just that those of us who have saved for our own retirement have done “nothing intrinsically wrong or illegal,” but that we have done everything we were supposed to do to follow the American dream.
My wife and I started with no money, we got student loans, we got our education, we got jobs, we had kids and my wife mothered them well, I paid full social security and then medicare taxes for 41+ years, always at the highest rate, we always lived under our means, we paid off our loans in full, we ensured that our kids got good educations and are contributing members of society, and we are now comfortably retired. We have two enemies: the federal government and the California government.
I expect to be punished going forward for having done all the rights things in the past, probably in the form of “means testing” plus additional progressive taxes.

GaltBlvnAtty on May 25, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Three comments.

1) I don’t really buy the “stealing” term. Until the past few years it was possible to balance Soc Sec without changing benefits for those in/near retirement, without raising taxes, simply by changing the rate of growth of the initial benefit formula going forward. For the most part this leaves untouched any benefits already accrued; I can’t quite buy that it’s “stealing” to simply change the relationship between contributions not yet made, and benefits not yet earned (esp since that’s been changed so many times already). The mindset that any change to the formula, however prospective, is “stealing” is what has delayed needed reforms to this point and made the eventual reform, when it comes, much harsher. (Unfortunately, btw, we’ve lost so much time that we can no longer spare those near retirement from changes if we want to avoid a tax increase, only those already in retirement).

2) I also think it’s slanted to say that reducing the growth of future benefits, or delaying the retirement age, is “stealing” when in the past benefits have been RAISED repeatedly in statute (see the 1970s program amendments) and the age of first benefit claims was LOWERED relative to the program’s inception. Why is it that the contract can only be rewritten to promise higher and earlier benefits, only higher costs, never lower costs?

3) As for what’s fair: the fairest thing would be to phase in changes as rapidly as possible pre-2035. Younger generations stand to lose 4% of their lifetime wages to Soc Sec even if they get all the benefits they are promised under current formulas, a situation exacerbated by the tax burdens they’ll carry to pay promised benefits to the baby boomers. This income loss is for one program alone. For higher-income Americans the net losses would be far higher, but even poor younger workers will lose net income. Holding older generations completely harmless is nothing more than a decision to inflict huge income losses on younger generations.

Chuckles3 on May 25, 2012 at 7:44 PM

we are going to have to have some really serious conversations about how to get those things under control.”

By really serious conversations they mean shrill political recriminations and demagoguery, by the way.

squint on May 25, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Most forms of entitlements are theft.
viking01

It’s also been said–by Libertarians, I think–that taxation itself is [merely] legalized theft.

Olo_Burrows on May 25, 2012 at 7:49 PM

The whole thing is theft. Now it’s just an argument among thieves and suckers.

VorDaj on May 25, 2012 at 7:50 PM

There is theft all right all enabled by laws Democrats fight tooth and nail for.

Single Women having children for the purpose of Stealing Government Benefits. These are definitely guilty of Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Illegal Aliens are the biggest thieves in America. First of all they literally are but secondly they steal our jobs our votes our tax money in benefits and our culture.

Then there are the Politicians. Almost all of them are thieves. They write laws to fatten their wallets. Many only get elected to steal. Almost every one steals the truth to get elected. 11% approval for a very good reason almost all of them are worth spitting on.

Obama trashes the constitution on a daily basis and Congress does nothing. Worthless scum.

Steveangell on May 25, 2012 at 7:51 PM

The retirement ‘system’ has been based on the three-legged stool of SS, Pension, Savings for a long time. Pensions have given way to 401k’s etc (except for the elites in the unions and public sector). The Fed has pegged the interest rate to zero for the next many years to force people into risky assets (just what seniors want /s)

SS is basically a government slush fund. Whatever increase in funding, or decrease in expenditures will go to fund other programs so that pols can get on TV and smile

So there you have it. the baby boom made leftists pols look brilliant by enabling them to promise more and more. Then the housing bubble made pols look brilliant for a while.

r keller on May 25, 2012 at 7:56 PM

…nothing will be done.

KOOLAID2 on May 25, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Most forms of entitlements are theft.
viking01

It’s also been said–by Libertarians, I think–that taxation itself is [merely] legalized theft.

Olo_Burrows on May 25, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Just to be clear my perspective is entitlement suggests someone is owed something because of who or what they are or what they look like rather than what they’ve earned or created. Thus our projects are a mess, our Welfare Queens are a mess, SocSec squanders far more than ever went into it, Affirmative-Action set asides get looted by the likes of Zerobama and Elizabeth Warren and the once mildly useful EPA has morphed into a GeStaPo.

I’ll agree with the Founders that taxation is necessary to provide the common defense and ensure domestic tranquility but beyond that (including the Whiskey Tax and how it convinced government {which came to being in part by rebelling tea and rum taxes} that government was “entitled” to) all bets are off.

viking01 on May 25, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Now, if one’s body really was one’s own, neither this thread, nor its subject matter, would exist.

OldEnglish on May 25, 2012 at 8:00 PM

The only problem with these entitlements was that in 1947 Justice Black killed GOD in America and put Satan in charge. Satan immediately started doing every thing possible to make families smaller breaking the first Commandment of GOD Multiply and Replentish the earth. Birth per Woman went from almost 4 to less than 2.

Were it still 4 these benefit programs would easily be in the black America would be an even richer and more populous nation.

Steveangell on May 25, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Steveangell on May 25, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Theft is theft – the numbers are irrelevant.

OldEnglish on May 25, 2012 at 8:04 PM

What needs to be done, privatize Social Security for those who were forced to pay into it, and end it for those who have yet to be trapped in it, is clear.

Mustering the political will to do so, good luck with that.

Rebar on May 25, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Gotta raise the age limits. It’s not stealing, and not even unprecedented.

To keep from having to do it again, tie the age to actuarial tables.

I still think the public in general will support such a change.

. Get something started to slowly phase in, and start NOW.

connertown on May 25, 2012 at 8:13 PM

yet the retirement age has yet to increase by even one year since that time

There is small group born around 1959 (me) that have their benefits postponed about a year before eligibility.

bbordwell on May 25, 2012 at 8:13 PM

The more we dither, the worse the problem gets. Gingrich tried in the 90′s, and was reviled. George W. tried in 2005, and received little or no support from either side of the aisle. Obama has only made it worse with high unemployment reducing the income, and his “tax cuts” reducing the revenue stream. Obamacare steals $500 billion to finance care for illegals on top of that. How will Romneycare differ?

FirelandsO3 on May 25, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Give me the lump sum of my contributions and my employer’s and a modest interest,about 200K, and I’ll marshal it with my TDA and investments, look for a 5% return and say thank you very much. If I’d had an extra 15% over the last 40 years I’d have a lot more than 200K to play around with, even if I only used savings accts and CDs.

xkaydet65 on May 25, 2012 at 8:18 PM

For those who are commenting about the term ‘stealing’ from social security – well that is the correct term. SS has expanded to include SS disability. Most of the people that apply do not meet the legal criteria for getting it. In come the shylock ambulance chasers that go to the illegal administrative judges and negotiate the SSDI payments. You see these hucksters and A-Os on television all the time. That is what is breaking the system. Do you know that the applications for SSDI have skyrocketed many-fold when unemployment runs out. If you see any of these so-called lawyer POSs, insult them all you want. They deserve it. There are hundreds of thousnads, if not millions, robbing the social security trust fund by these antics.

Old Country Boy on May 25, 2012 at 8:22 PM

I read an article recently that pegged the number of FOREIGN BORN immigrants, legal and illegal,at about 13% of the entire population. This is more foreign born in the nation since 1920, the last high point. The lowest level of about 4% was reached in 1970.

This influx of immigrants was SUPPOSED to offset the retirement of the Boomers and provide for the rise in entitlement spending. Apparently, according to Siggins article and many others which suggest that we are facing an untenable entitlement debt, this has not been the case. So… what happened?

What happened was that instead of able bodied, young,skilled workers, too many of the immigrants were dependents, and of the workers, too few were skilled. Lower skilled jobs pay less, and due to the current tax structure, often low skilled workers not only pay no federal taxes, they often receive money back from the government in the form of tax credits and subsidies.

Illegal aliens generally don’t pay taxes. Every year this nation spends around $113 billion on social services for illegal aliens but takes in only about $13 billion in revenues from that group. Currently the estimates of illegal aliens in the nation range between 11-25 million. Illegal aliens received about $4.2 billion in tax credits for the Additional Child Tax Credit alone. All that was required to file was a tax ID number which are handed out for the asking, allowing illegal aliens to work in the US and garner tax benefits for that work. ( Information cited from FAIR Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform).

This nation needs to be far more selective in whom we accept as a legal immigrant and we also need to secure the borders and enforce existing federal immigration laws across the board. IF we cannot afford the seniors who built the nation and defended it, we cannot afford unskilled immigrants and low skilled immigrants, legal or illegal. We should tie legal immigration to a 5% unemployment rate and we should restrict legal immigration to those who’s skills we need… like doctors, engineers, and scientists until we reach that 5% unemployment rate and can sustain it.

thatsafactjack on May 25, 2012 at 8:25 PM

“It’s true in the long run…the major drivers of the federal deficit are an aging population, which means higher costs for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and also rising health care costs generally…we are going to have to have some really serious conversations about how to get those things under control.”

What a crock of BS, how about this federal entitlement listing, you’ll start laughing when you read some of the titles, enjoy. http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/index.shtml

mixplix on May 25, 2012 at 8:28 PM

Raising the age limits is fine, but it creates a new problem for young people entering the job market. People staying in their jobs longer allows for less job openings. Also, with ageism being a problem older people who are laid off have trouble finding new positions. Raising the age limits will only work if we have a booming job market, one that allows for older workers and younger workers to have access to employment.

Rose on May 25, 2012 at 8:38 PM

ENTITLEMENT is theft.

wildcat72 on May 25, 2012 at 8:47 PM

This obligation, as well as all other US debt, is going to be monetized. Can anyone spell “Weimar”?

The Reasonable Man on May 25, 2012 at 8:49 PM

Here’s another option: LET THE YOUNG OPT OUT!

GarandFan on May 25, 2012 at 8:56 PM

It’s not theft becuase there is no money to pay out. It was lies from both sets of politicians over the last 50 years, making promises impossible to keep just to stay in power.

In a few weeks or months Greece will implode, their senior’s pensions will be cut a ton and there will be riots on the streets. Hopefully us north americans see this as a warning and make appropriate changes.

But, until this happens the current politicians on both sides will keep kicking the can down road.

Canuckistan on May 25, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Hopefully we can have this conversation and come up with solutions before the entitlement train slams into us.

itsspideyman on May 25, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Here’s the equation. The government (or any government for that matter) takes away your freedom and your wealth. In exchange you get justice and order. The overall problem is that governments ALWAYS want more. That means less wealth and freedom for we the people. Limit government folks! God only wants 10% so let’s limit the government to 9%.

As to the “reform” problems; the democrats have made a suicide pact to stop all reform so forget them. The only hope is that we can get enough republicans with courage to make changes. If not we’ll be living in Ayn Rand’s dystopia America of Atlas Shrugged.

Mojave Mark on May 25, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Means testing on some level makes sense. It pains me to say it because people paid into this bogus system, but I have close relationships with a few people who get hefty SS payments whose assets and expenditures are far and away beyond the average.

In truth the above is a bogus stop-gap and a full-scale reform is required. But the above makes sense if you buy into the socialist mindset that seems to popular with the current regime.

CorporatePiggy on May 25, 2012 at 9:47 PM

Average life expectancy for 65-year old Americans is over 40% greater than that of 65-year old Americans in 1940, yet the retirement age has yet to increase by even one year since that time

Well this isn’t true and it’s important because the age was raised to 67.5 in my case and I believe it goes up to 68 at some point and that was done in Reagan’s second term and it proves that compromises can be made.

The current path is unsustainable and many people are opting to retire at 62 for greatly reduced benefits because they have no choice as there are very few job available and for others they don’t believe that SS will last and they want to get as much money as possible (I’ve been told this by many). I think they will have to restructure the entire system and possible fined an additional method to fund the system (but that is dangerous in the hands of politicians)

whbates on May 25, 2012 at 10:13 PM

My solution to the problem: Slowly phase out all entitlement programs until it is completely eliminated in the future. While we’re slowly phasing out government entitlement programs, we slowly transition to the private sector.

Conservative Samizdat on May 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Howzabout

5. Giving a portion of federal lands, WITH MINERAL RIGHTS, to those whose money was confiscated, the value of which lands is not to be less than amount confiscated, adjusted for inflation.

avgjo on May 25, 2012 at 10:44 PM

The stealing occured many years ago when Congress robbed the Social Security Trust Fund and used it for their spending.

Christian Conservative on May 25, 2012 at 10:57 PM

I am 44 years old and have been paying into the system every week since I was fifteen. Someone is going to get hurt if they have taken my money for all these years and then as I get close to my age, then they cut out SS. I am not kidding, I will go postal on someone. They already steal from us all with taxes. If the government cut out all the wasteful spending, taxes would be 1/3 of what they are, stupid Mother F-ers.

F_This on May 25, 2012 at 11:20 PM

My brother has paid into the system since he was 13 years old.

He is 67, still working thus still paying into the system. He has
elected to not take social security until age 70 in order to maximize payments because his real estate investments and savings
have tanked.

I do not know exactly what he pays for health insurance, however,
can give you approximates. Medicare is around $100.00 per month;
in 2013/14 (?) it will go up to $150.00. His supplemental insurance (which pays the balance of what Medicare does not pay)
is $160.00 per month and his prescription drug coverage is
$35.00. This is for one person. The 3% he pays for Medicare
from his income comes to approximately another $200.00 per month.
That is a total of $495.00 per month; in 2013 or 2014 it will total
$545.00.

Two points I would like to make:

1. Our government “borrowed/stole” the funds that were supposed
to be reserved for Medicare.

2. The fraud in Medicaid is the real problem.

Quit blaming the seniors who have paid far more in taxes over the
course of their lives than any of the new age hippie “dope smokers” who complain about them.

Amjean on May 25, 2012 at 11:53 PM

In a few weeks or months Greece will implode, their senior’s pensions will be cut a ton and there will be riots on the streets. Hopefully us north americans see this as a warning and make appropriate changes.
But, until this happens the current politicians on both sides will keep kicking the can down road.
Canuckistan on May 25, 2012 at 9:08 PM

…nothing will be done.
KOOLAID2 on May 25, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Gird your loins.

Cleombrotus on May 26, 2012 at 12:20 AM

While I feel badly for anyone who has been planning to rely on Social Security and Medicare, let’s be honest. Both systems were terribly badly planned. Social Security assumed an ever expanding work force and Medicare never dreamed of the rapid advances in medical technology that cost a phenomenal amount and also pushed the life expectancy up.

Playing a blame game, however, is a waste of time. That headline is a stupid one. Entitlement reform isn’t theft. Giving people a sense of entitlement is. I don’t care what you have paid in. I guarantee you I have paid more. I’ll never see any of it. I also never voted the people into office who created it. I’ve never fallen for the false promises of those who run for office. I’ll never join AARP.
Am I stealing from you? FAT CHANCE.

Your entitlement mentality is destroying the next generation, already suffering from ridiculous student loans, record high unemployment, and a mind boggling national debt. How do you expect these people to start families and own homes?

The days of retiring to Arizona or Florida are RAPIDLY coming to an end. Expect a resurgence of the old extended family model, and working, either inside, or outside the home until you drop. That’s going to be the way it is for us all soon.

And beg your grandchildren for forgiveness.

WryTrvllr on May 26, 2012 at 12:50 AM

Necessary for the financial security of America, entitlement reform is difficult for a myriad of political, ethical and financial reasons.

I couldn’t disagree more. It is only difficult in political terms. Ethically and financially, there is only one responsible recourse. Divest from the federal to the states, and drop every cent spent on entitlements. Of course it would take a decade to accomplish, and of course it would be fought by every hustler in the nation, but those excuses don’t change it from being right.

Freelancer on May 26, 2012 at 2:02 AM

I believe most of this falls into the category of, “That was then, this is now”. The rules of entitlements are not cast in stone. This is the same for the private sector as well. The government will need to do belt tightening on entitlements and be d@mned what a bunch of Ponzi-scheming politicians implicitly or explicitly promised when the set the schemes in motions.

Sailfish on May 26, 2012 at 3:35 AM

Step 1 of legitimate entitlement reform is to cut every dime of foreign aid, cut everything that can be cut and sell everything that can be sold.

Americans are not going to get the money that they are entitled to, their own money that they were promised they would get back. When that happens, there had better not be free money in the kitty to give away to foreigners who are entitled to nothing and to spend on endowments for the arts.

The savings for these things may be nickels and dimes next to the sums entitlement reform involves, but symbols sometimes matter, and this time they do matter.

David Blue on May 26, 2012 at 4:31 AM

I’ll show you exactly how this ends.

click

trigon on May 26, 2012 at 4:31 AM

xkaydet65 on May 25, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Hey, I’m willing to walk away from every dime I’ve paid in–I never expected to see it anyway–on the condition that we scrap the entire system(s) and go back to people planning and managing their own lives.

DrMagnolias on May 26, 2012 at 5:16 AM

David Blue on May 26, 2012 at 4:31 AM

Well said.

DrMagnolias on May 26, 2012 at 5:17 AM

Americans are not going to get the money that they are entitled to, their own money that they were promised they would get back. When that happens, there had better not be free money in the kitty to give away to foreigners who are entitled to nothing and to spend on endowments for the arts.

David Blue on May 26, 2012 at 4:31 AM

There’s that phrase again. “the money that they are entitled to”. NOONE IS ENTITLED TO ANYTHING!!! If our beloved political class hadn’t stolen it from the “lock box” then we would have probably had higher taxes. ie. We already got it back. Where did that 15 cool trillion go?? Years of fat. Now we ALL also get to share the years of lean.

WryTrvllr on May 26, 2012 at 6:22 AM

But I do agree with the rest. Fire sale! Cut to the bone!

WryTrvllr on May 26, 2012 at 6:23 AM

Soylent Green

Bevan on May 26, 2012 at 7:21 AM

What … they left off amnesty for immigrants?

Then there all of those drug dealers, black marketeers, and dead beat dads who want employers to pay them off the books so that they can avoid paying child support (as an employer I know this to be true).

With responsibility comes conservatism.

kregg on May 26, 2012 at 7:28 AM

You left out the fourth option: institute health care rationing and denial of service (aka. Obamacare) in order to deplete the ranks of senior citizens faster.

John Mauer on May 26, 2012 at 7:46 AM

The first thing to try is a supply side solution. In a growing economy these problems recede if some cost containment measures are taken.

1) Drill, baby, drill, particularly fracking.
2) Maximize the use of CNG and LNG, including transportation and residential heating
3) Create a tax and regulatory environment to encourage the growth and rebuilding of our infrastructure by private enterprise including pipelines, refineries, electrical grid, roads, bridges, rail lines, ports and communication networks.
4) Break up any entity that is too big to fail into smaller units. Then let any entity fail using bankruptcy and resolution.
5) Review all regulations, codes and laws for economic efficiency including union monopolies. Make all laws temporary with periodic reviews.
6) Instead of making job formation and enterprise jump through myriad hoops of law and regulation, structure laws and regulation to enable job formation and enterprise.

Viator on May 26, 2012 at 7:47 AM

You all gotta watch out! The common sense demonstrated in most of these Hot Air posts is impressive and astounding. If we can see it, why can’t our gumment parasites? The problem with these solutions is that they are poison to the political system and the federal bureaucracy.

Old Country Boy on May 26, 2012 at 8:04 AM

I think I have the best solution of all. Decimate the federal bureaucracy. Each and every year for the next 4 (or you name a number) years, automatically, by random selection send out firing notices to 10% of the federal bureaucracy, including DOD, but exempting uniformed troops. There will be no severance, no anything. They are gone from the government as if they were pushed from a bridge. Anybody who objects gets pushed from a bridge. Do this each year for at least 4 years.

Have each department zero base their budget and write a statement in 100 words or less (an impossibility for a politician or bureaucrat) as to why the department should be continued to be funded, without reference to any previous laws on the books.

Each and every year, decimate the laws, statutes, regulations, and every other regulatory whim in the same manner. Any law necessary to remain on the books must be re-enacted into a new law in 100 words or less.

Old Country Boy on May 26, 2012 at 8:12 AM

the answer is-all off the above

1. gradually raising the full retirement age-to what i don’t know.
2. means testing seniors-what level i dont know
3. using different criteria for cost of living SS adjustments.

1. To 108% of life expectancy. Just like when it was created. It is an insurance, not a retirement plan.

If any action is done short of ending the entitlement, eventually those changes will fail later.

LoganSix on May 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM

The article makes it sound better than it is at present. Right now Govt Revenue is gone…100% of it goes to untouchable entitlements and welfare……100%

These Sen Cit that will go “postal” if its gone…..do you realize you’ve received 40 SS hikes over the years. For those that paid in up into even the early 80′s–the yearly max was appox 800 bucks, now you get 150% of that per month–just one spouse. Simply Unsustainable

These Sen Citizens want to go postal……..its the youth that should be going balistic if they knew and really calculated what you are doing to them, the future tax burden your putting on them…….

if the OWS movement had any brains….they’d be camping on Sen Citz doorsteps for their movement…….

……its generational theft…….2000% return with no downside risk.

sbark on May 26, 2012 at 9:15 AM

sbark on May 26, 2012 at 9:15 AM

I know you probably don’t realise this, but you are a mathematical dunce. Do you know what present value (PV) or future value FV) is?

If you put in 80% of the maximum for 45 years (PV) and this was matched by the 7% employer contribution (PV), at a 5% rate, that would be over half a million dollars. Please note that for the government charging YOU for anything the rate would be 6%/12%.
Also note that in only the last 4 years has the true lending rate been less than 6%, and it rose over 12% under Carter. Your $800 is BS. If you have Excel on your computer, put your contributions and matching employer contributions in a table, youngest first, then use either PV or FV (depending from which end you are starting) and read what you really paid. By the way, these contribution totals are sent to you every other year by SS.

Old Country Boy on May 26, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Reform that does not reform is fraud. All reform other than the recognition of Individual Rights will fail. This means that those who were promised loot lose, pure and simple. The alternative would finish off the idea of America.

The recognition of individual rights would cause an explosion of earning by the productive from whom those who are now going to lose their promised loot will have to ask for voluntary charity. They will have to sell their homes, cars, investments, and retirements because they sold their votes (and their souls) for the promise of a ponzi scheme. Those of us who didn’t buy into the scheme will not be punished for our foresight, intelligence and morality.

Laissez-faire is the only reform.

WyattsTorch on May 26, 2012 at 9:51 AM

Capitalist that I am I do not support a minimum wage, nor do I believe in a retirement age. I retired at 36, then got back in the game at 50.

Work, save, play seems to be in peril, especially if politicians go after 401K’s as yet another burdensome tax vehicle. Regardless of the party vail, government control is the politicians true ideology.

kregg on May 26, 2012 at 9:59 AM

There are only two “entitlement” programs that US Citizens contribute to via payroll taxes: Social Security and Medicare.

Beyond that, they aren’t “entitlements” but “charity” given to individuals by the government instead of charity by a private organization.

People aren’t “entitled” to housing assistance, food stamps, etc. It is charitable, from the largess of others.

We need reform. And we need to start by using proper labels.

ProfShadow on May 26, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Old Country Boy…….Then its not “insurance”……With a true Ins. product you buy a set indemnity for a certain amount of premium.

And it cannot be an “investment” becuase in constant 2011 dollars those who paid in during the 60′s up into the early 80′s recvd a 2000% plus return in constant 2011 dollars with no downside risk as “guaranteed” by the Govt.

You dont get 40 benefit hikes unless of course the premium goes up to match actuaiarl tables accordingly.

The first monthly Social Security check was sent to Ida May Fuller on January 31, 1940. She paid a total of $24.75 into the system. Her first check was for $22.54. After her second check, she’d already received more than she ever contributed. She lived to be 100 and collected $22,88

Investment advisor Porter Stansbury did the math….and his numbers were in constant 2011 dollars…….call him a mathmatical “dunce” then….

sbark on May 26, 2012 at 10:38 AM

sbark on May 26, 2012 at 10:38 AM

I will. I am an engineeer, and a darn good one. I can do math.

Nobody cares what the first recipient got. That is anecdotal and demonstrates nothing. Yes, there were increases based on wholesale price index, not the CPI. That was always smaller. Many years on end there were no increases in benefits. My father, and aunt collected nothing after putting in for over 30 years. My mother and sister collected 2-years after putting in over 40 years. Put together, that is 4 years benefit for putting in 140 years, or about one benefit payment for 35 years payment and no principal return. I collect about 2/3 of a 5% annuity after putting in 55 years. If I had put the “donation” in T-bills over this same time, I would be collecting an additional $1K/mo and my heirs and assignees would have the principal when I croak. Shove that up your financial advisor, bub.

Old Country Boy on May 26, 2012 at 12:10 PM

sbark on May 26, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Actually it is “insurance” in pollitical and legal terms. That is why it is called Social Security INSURANCE.

Old Country Boy on May 26, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Let’s face it: Most ALL forms of entitlement reform are theft

FIFY.

MidWestFarmer on May 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

So paying IN to Social and having all that money isn’t theft?

grapeknutz on May 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Actually it is “insurance” in pollitical and legal terms. That is why it is called Social Security INSURANCE.

Old Country Boy on May 26, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Yeah. Insurance. Right. Like when AIG had to be bailed out by the Gov.??

Or how about how Insurance companies adjust their premiums to account for risk. As in like 6.25% forever……..

WryTrvllr on May 26, 2012 at 7:01 PM

My solution is to go back and take all of every Senator, Congress member, President, and Vice President as well as any other Government official involved with taking the money out of the Social Security/Medicare fund and used it in the General Fund. If I were to take the Retirement Fund from my Company and spend it, loan it I would be in prison. Jimmy Hoffa went to prison for dipping into the Union Retirement Fund. Lets put all of them in Prison and then confiscate everything they own for violating our trust and stealing our money.

old war horse on May 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM

old war horse on May 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM

The problem with Social Security funds is what to do when there is a surplus, as there had been most years until 2010. What should happen to that money? Put it in a large mattress, or should the government start investing in the stock market? Instead they loaned the money to the general fund, and in return received IOU’s in the form of intra-government bonds, to be redeemed when needed.
Unfortunately they are needed now, and the only way the treasury can repay those funds to social security is by printing money, raising taxes, or borrowing more money. Cutting other spending would never be considered.

George Bush offered an alternative, allow the citizens to invest a portion of their social security taxes into a personal account. Congress did nothing.

Dasher on May 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM