Tag Archives: deficit commission

Pie in the Sky in Eastern Europe: The Ryan Plan in Action

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has been pushing Social Security privatization for the better part of a decade. What if his plan was actually implemented? An important new paper looks at what happened when Hungary and Poland attempted something similar with their national pension systems. The results were ugly.

It’s been reported that Paul Ryan is no longer pushing Social Security privatization. House Republican leaders “refused” to let their Budget Committee chair “add changes to Social Security” into the budget he wrote last year and that passed the chamber with solid GOP support. This year, he and his colleagues again “left the program untouched.”

That’s not quite true. Ryan has now written two budgets, both of which include Continue reading Pie in the Sky in Eastern Europe: The Ryan Plan in Action

Paul Ryan’s Hammock

How stands the Social Security discussion in Washington following State-of-the-Union night? More or less where it was before. Which, for defenders of the program is mostly not good.

President Obama honored his pledge to congressional Democrats over the previous weekend not to endorse cuts to the program. In fact, he went a bit farther, rejecting any plan that would include “slashing benefits for future generations.”

There’s more to say about that. But first, what about Paul Ryan and that Michele Bachmann? Continue reading Paul Ryan’s Hammock

The Greed of the “Bottom Half”

We’ll shortly be hearing the objections of deficit hawks to the deficit reduction package Demos, The Century Foundation, and the Economic Policy Institute. No doubt they’ll echo the criticisms that have already been leveled at the deficit-shrinkage roadmap Rep. Jan Schakowsky put on the table earlier this month. To get a sense of what those criticisms are likely to be, I recently had a close look at a Schakowsky critique by The Atlantic’s resident deficit hawk, Derek Thompson.

The first thing that makes Thompson’s November 16 piece interesting is that it actually acknowledges the existence of Schakowsky’s plan. The second thing, only slightly less extraordinary, is that Thompson makes an effort to analyze and understand the proposal. It took the New York Times nearly two weeks after Schakowsky released it to even note that it was there (and even then, didn’t provide details).

What’s most remarkable about Thompson’s analysis, however, is that he lectures Schakowsky for not squeezing poor and low-income workers hard enough. Continue reading The Greed of the “Bottom Half”

Schakowsky’s Deficit Reduction Plan Is Game Changer

Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s deficit reduction proposal is a game changer: a serious, moderate, balanced blueprint for addressing the nation’s long-range fiscal challenges, by a leading progressive lawmaker. How her colleagues on the president’s deficit commission respond to it will be a test of how serious they really are about solving the deficit puzzle in a fair and equitable way.

Jan Schakowsky is sometimes described as “one of the most liberal members” of the commission. But the deficit reduction plan she released on Tuesday is moderate, sensible, and actually more effective at lowering the deficit over the next few years than the plan co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles tabled last week ($427 billion in savings by 2015, vs. $250 billion). Continue reading Schakowsky’s Deficit Reduction Plan Is Game Changer

Bowles-Simpson: The Unequal Marriage of Reaganomics and Rubinomics

The Bowles-Simpson plan isn’t a fair and equitable way to reduce the long-term federal deficit, whatever its co-authors might claim. In fact, it’s the biggest proposed experiment in supply-side economics since early Reagan.

Long story short: The proposal put on the table last week by the co-chairs of the president’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is essentially a wedding of Rubinomics and Reaganomics. As such, it’s what we might get if Bill Clinton and the late Ronald Reagan were locked in a room together and required to cut the long-term budget deficit – without any regard for the impact of their handiwork on low- and middle-income people.

You’ve probably guessed which partner has the upper hand in this deal. And we’ll explore that in a moment. But first, some background.

This wasn’t an overnight meet-court-marry. The supply-siders and the deficit hawks – as the two lovebirds are also known – have been trying to join hands even since 1985, Continue reading Bowles-Simpson: The Unequal Marriage of Reaganomics and Rubinomics

Hail Mary! Co-Chairs Spin While Deficit Commission Staggers Toward Deadlock

I’ve been saying for months that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is probably doomed. The co-chairs, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, appear to agree.

So my first real question is, What have these people been doing with $500,000 of the taxpayers’ money for the past nine months? Lori Montgomery in the Washington Post reports that many of the commission’s 18 members were “startled” by the Bowles-Simpson plan, which Bowles himself called a “starting point.”

Starting point? Are you kidding? This commission was empaneled in February and held its first – official – meeting in May. It’s now less than three weeks Continue reading Hail Mary! Co-Chairs Spin While Deficit Commission Staggers Toward Deadlock

A Short Guide to Social Security Doublethink

Figuring out what Social Security’s critics really want is sometimes difficult. They’ve become so afraid of being tarred as “privatizers” that they’ve developed an elaborate vocabulary of code words to soften the edges of their positions on the issue. A closer examination clears away some of the fog, however.

The polite way to describe them is “terms of art.” George Orwell came up with a cruder but more forceful alternative: doublethink. Either way, the language that Social Security’s critics use to state their position is calculated to calm the fears of the vast majority of Americans who don’t want to see the program privatized. This has been going on for at least 15 years, ever since the first serious proposals to carve private accounts out of the program were tabled on Capitol Hill and Democrats pounced on them. Today, if use of the term “privatization” is the litmus test, there’s only one lawmaker in Congress Continue reading A Short Guide to Social Security Doublethink

Social Security and the Deficit: Panel Discussion in Washington, Fri., Oct. 1

Economists for Peace and Security will be holding a half-day strategic policy symposium on Investment, Social Security, and Economic Recovery, Friday, October 1, from 9am to 1:30pm at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center. A panel on Social Security, Medicare and the Budget will feature Nancy Altman, Teresa Ghilarducci, Eric Laursen (yours truly), and Diane Archer (invited).

According to the press release, “The symposium will discuss economic forecasting and budget issues in the face of a new economic slowdown, the deficit hysterics and the impending report of the Simpson-Bowles commission. The discussants will take a close look at Continue reading Social Security and the Deficit: Panel Discussion in Washington, Fri., Oct. 1

The Social Security Trustees’ “Infinitely” Unreal Projections

Friends of Social Security on the whole should be pleased by the numbers in the trustees’ annual report. Except for one thing: they continue to include a dubious “infinite” projection in the report alongside the traditional 75-year forecast. This Bush-era innovation in Social Security accounting should be eliminated.

The trustees’ annual report is generally regarded as the best benchmark of Social Security’s long-term fiscal health. (There are a number of very good reasons to take it with a grain of salt as well, but we’ll leave that for another time.) And this year, the numbers look pretty good. Despite two years of a terrible economy, with payroll tax receipts down and the depressing effect of high unemployment likely to continue for some time, the most important number in the report actually got better.

Continue reading The Social Security Trustees’ “Infinitely” Unreal Projections

Grannies with Cat Food on the Mall

The Obama deficit commission is, at bottom, an attempt to end-run the electorate by enabling lawmakers and political appointees to cut a backroom deal to slash Social Security. One way to stop it emerged this morning from the America’s Future Now! conference in Washington.

At a panel on “Holding Congress Accountable,” Darcy Burner of ProgressiveCongress.org and Progressive Congress Action Fund suggested that the people who would be harmed by Social Security cuts need to become more visible.

“We have the potential with this to stir up a lot of outrage. An army of old ladies marching on Washington with cans of cat food would be a strategy. We nede to mobilize all the people who would be affected by this – that the idea that they get too much from the system is ridiculous.”

Continue reading Grannies with Cat Food on the Mall