‘a non-hysterical progressive analysis of so called social security cuts’

HamdenRice (Daily Kos): …. a lot of DKers have a lot invested in certain views about economics and finance that are not really open to empirical (ie factual) analysis, but instead are based on political commitments and emotion….

But today’s hysteria over the “cuts” to Social Security on the proverbial political table and the even wilder assertion that the Obama administration is committing political suicide by discussing them, let along enacting them, has persuaded me to provide a dollars and sense (as well as economic theory) explanation of what’s going on.

If you don’t like economics, public finance or numbers, then let me not bury the lede and explain exactly what’s on the table.

If enacted, the average social security recipient would get 14 cents less of an increase per month, but only in a month in which the social security benefit actually went up by about $34  ….. so yes, it does look like 11 dimension chess (offering the Republicans nothing of substance).

The so called “cuts” being discussed are not cuts in actual benefits, but cuts in how increases are to be measured based on the consumer price index.

…. At minimum, the diary moves the discussion to a discussion of the effect of inflation on SSI, the importance of purchasing power parity, and actual numbers from “zoh my god!!! Teh evul Obama wants to kill social security, destroy the Democratic party and force grandma to eat cat food!!! They’re spitting on Ted Kennedy’s grave!!!”

I also think its interesting – and useful – that some people tried to fact check this, but I have to note that I’ve rarely seen those same emo progressives fact check certain diaries that, for example, describe collateralized debt obligations as mortgages that have been sliced and diced and “sprinkled with fairy dust.”  My question would be what kind of fairy dust?  How much in percentage terms? Was it sprinkled or sprayed?

Full post here


Generally, I’d be quicker to link to a ‘Bachmann Is A Goddess’ site than to DK, but Suzanne and Dorothy let me know about this post and it’s just too good to ignore. How completely refreshing to read the views of someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Charles Koch/Cato Institute’s Glenn Greenwald tried to write about ‘Obama’s Betrayal!’ today, and all his effort proved is that he knows even less about the debt ceiling issue than me …. the poor guy just embarrassed himself. He really should stick to his ‘OMG! Obama Continues To Torture Manning!’ scribbles.

51 Responses to “‘a non-hysterical progressive analysis of so called social security cuts’”

  1. 1 GGail
    July 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for going to the dark side for us Chipsticks. This was worthy to be on our TOD site.

  2. 2 meta
    July 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I’m going to trust your word on this but I will not go to dKOS. Just can’t do it.

    P.S. I DETEST Rick Perry. No amount of posturing is going to win you the Presidency.

    • 3 theo67
      July 8, 2011 at 2:18 am

      I felt the same way about dkos, but this was a truly awesome diary, and worth breaking your oath. I had to concentrate to get through all the math, but it was worth it. He made complicated stuff quite interesting. And his updates beat down those who were determined to discredit his diary so they could continue whining. What a great article! Thanks for bringing this, Chipsticks, and I’m glad I read it. I feel like I’m prepared for battle.

      Only thing is – how to explain this in normal people terms, since attention spans are very short? He needs a graph.

  3. 4 TrumpDog
    July 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    That was a very good and informative post.

  4. 5 ChristiMtl
    July 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Rachel Maddow is at it again with the ”hippies punching” and ”finger salute to his base”.
    Who need the right wing media?

    It must have been difficult for you Chips to find an intelligent diary on DK, It was total hysteria, as usual.

    • 6 hopefruit2
      July 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm

      That place was a hot mess today, but there were a few good diaries sprinkled here and there. At this point it’s obvious that these folks’ issue with the President has NOTHING to do with policy. As it becomes more likely that he will in fact win in 2012, despite their nonstop carping, they are becoming increasingly unhinged. 2012 is not going to be 2010, no matter how much they wish that were the case.

      • 8 meta
        July 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm

        Yeah, don’t watch that garbage. It’s obscene.

      • July 7, 2011 at 10:12 pm

        That’s what I did. I quit watching Rachel, Ed Schultz and Lawrence. I have never watched Cenk. I am so tired of being lured in by them speaking the truth on an issue that supports the President, and then lower the hammer and bash him to no end. I am done with that. If I want to hear Obama bashings, I would tune into Fox News.

        • July 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm

          Everything you said. My husband watches those shows. If we are both in the same room, I grab my laptop, get my ear phones and read here or at one of the other acceptable blogs to me. I refuse to watch any of those shows.

        • 11 meta
          July 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm

          I don’t watch this garbage but what I’m gathering from the voluminous outrage every freakin’ day at a certain hour is that people are somehow addicted to the spectacle of, “what they’ll do next?” Except it’s pretty predictable: they will self-aggrandize and go for high drama no matter what it takes. That much seems inviolable.

        • 12 Eleroy
          July 7, 2011 at 11:03 pm

          The damage they are doing is sad to say the least!!!

          I rode with a colleague to a meeting this afternoon and he had his radio tuned in to somebody called Norman Goldman(?!) What a bleating fool!!!

          Some guy calls in who’s obviously a “black guy”. The caller is very disrespectful of President Obama, utilizing every adjective and meme the PL has put out there. The Norman guy asks this caller if he is “black” and what he is “hearing” in the “black community” about President Obama to which the caller eagerly responded that the black community is “done” with President Obama, that he “stinks” and that some now even deride him openly as “Barack Hussein Obama” (a clear allusion to the FOX/Limbaugh influence, not so much the PL!!!)

          Norman is thrilled to hear this and immediately does this excited jig about the whole if Obama loses the ”black vote he’s done” theme!!!

          The call sounded so contrived and the caller very rehearsed and eager to please Norman with his comical denigration of President Obama – including the little dramatic angle of how he now “carries pepto bismol around with him because President Obama turns his stomach”!!!

          I was livid but my colleague who is black, was amused by it. He says he listens to them for comic relief and to see the distance they (the left and right) will go to manipulate and destroy this president!!! I told him there was nothing funny about it and that they were doing a lot of harm to the President’s base of support to which he wisely responded:

          Those who fall for this never really supported this President!!! He tells me that there will always be a few “stragglers” in his community who out of envy, pettiness and greed will allow themselves to be used to fight and take down the best amongst them!!! The exploiters will always go out of their way to find and prop up these stragglers to poison the well!!!

          The PL is obviously on a mission to strip President Obama of as much support as possible and in this regard, they share a joint mission and goal with the republicans and we MUST do everything in our power to counter their every move!!!

          • 13 meta
            July 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm

            You know, to be honest, I really really don’t get this need to listen to denigration as sport. All it does is give an audience to and lift up this disgusting opportunistic crap. It really is NOT entertaining or amusing in the least. It does nothing that is worth your time. Listening only violates the environment. UGH.

            • 14 Eleroy
              July 8, 2011 at 12:01 am

              I totally agree Meta, and told him as much!!! They end up getting an audience for whatever reason and they don’t care if they like them or not, they just want the audience!!!

              And I say, DENY them that satisfaction!!! TURN THEM OFF!!!

    • 15 Anonymous
      July 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm

      So she’s back to saying she’s the base…..I think these media people live in a bubble and reallly think they are the “base” until they get hit on twitter, then everybody eles is crazy….she’s such a disappointment.

      They are still pissed that he doesn’t repeart “their” talking points like the GOP repeats the talking heads talking points.

      • July 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm

        He is so on to them and refuses to jump at their whim. And because they have this little platform, they think this is license to go after him as they do.

        Every time I think about them going wack, I think about that scene when PBO brushes dirt off his shoulders during a speech during the campaign.

        That was so sweet.

        • 17 meta
          July 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm

          Ha! Thanks, I haven’t seen that in awhile. I remember it being such a monumental moment in a way. You can see how the crowd responded and it was PBO doing what he does at a time when he was really being hammered. It was SO perfect. What a man.

          • 18 utaustinliberal
            July 8, 2011 at 1:05 am

            I remember when he did this after a particularly nasty primary debate in which Hillary Clinton accused him of everything under the sun. Boy was she brutal, yet PBO kept his cool time after time. When he “brushed his shoulders off,” I immediately got the Jay-Z reference and the crowd was also quick on the uptake because they got it. Some gestures are just universally symbolic.

            Great article by a sane person at DKOS. Thank you Suzanne and Dorothy for wading into the cesspool to retrive a gold mine. This is what the PL and msm fail to understand. PBO will never actually cut real benefits from medicare, medicaid and social security. He just wants to streamline the programs so that they are more efficient and the benefits go to the people its supposed to and not to providers who bilk the system.

  5. 19 ChristiMtl
    July 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I received my first insult on Twitter woohoo, someone said that Maddow knows a lot more than I do lol. I’ve been pushing back at the PL daily. There’s no way that 2012 will be the same as 2010.
    Even when I don’t watch them, I can see online what’s going on……….like sociopath Adam Green on the Ed Show.

    Hey africatimes2a, it’s nice to see that clip again. I love it!

    • 20 meta
      July 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      I’ve got some weird people following me, like the NYPost Opinion and some guy from Politico. UGH. I’m waiting to be blocked by Rusty. Heh.

      • July 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm

        NY Post Opinion is following me, too. Weird.

        • 22 Eleroy
          July 8, 2011 at 12:09 am

          It means you are getting under their skin!!! I think they are shocked at how quickly we supporters of the president have mobilized and are pushing back!!!

          They never expected it and it is making them nervous because we are messing up what was supposed to a smooth running operation to destroy this President!!!

          We must not let up!!!

    • 23 Betsy
      July 8, 2011 at 12:18 am

      Way to go ChristiMtl!

  6. July 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    They are all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
    The PL is about making money, just like Huff puff, they are no better then the GOP, if Obama fail their money will increase. They spread fear just like fox news because it sells. If you notice the nonsense that they write all the time and look at druge report it the same nonsense, and you wonder how can they be so dumb, they are not that dumb only greedy. In this world sex sell and so do fear. But we going to keep believing in hope over fear, God give you hope, devil give you fear They are just tiny devils out to bring down obama. hope over fear hope over fear hope over fear hope over fear hope over fear hope over fear hope over fear hope over fear

  7. 25 dotster
    July 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I see the Congressional Black Caucus has decided to once again jump on the Obama bashing bandwagon re. unemployment. Not helpful, to put it mildly.

    • 26 meta
      July 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      Just saw that, too. Talk about piling on. ARGH. Democrats make me want to weep.

      I recently sent back my DNC survey with a long note about how I refuse to donate to them until Democrats unite behind our President. I am an Obamacrat and will not play the splinter group game.

    • 27 HZ
      July 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      So people just do not know when to stop. Not listening or watching Rachel. We will not deal with the negative. Until she in particular tells me that she is having daily briefings with the President and Vice President and Senior Advisors, I’ll be listening to her. I have no respect for her anymore. We have a liar on one side, a Senator telling poorer people how they need to help. What more does a person need to go off the cliff. No more, AND NOT THIS TIME. We are listening to the President of The United States and right now, I included some Miles Davis,”Kind of Blue.” Smooth, Zen moments or wherever you want to be except that negative place. Plese stop lady, you CANNOT Dictate to this President and expect him to move when you say move, Rachel. We are moving first of all with RESPECT, and DECENCY for a man who is working 24/7. Lay Off OF MY President!!!

    • 28 Eleroy
      July 7, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      That’s sad!!!
      You know I’m becoming rather turned off Keith Ellison and his group of media hungry “congressional progressives” Something just doesn’t feel right about their covert plans and their willingness to bash the President on television!!!

  8. July 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I listen to Ed, till I could not stand it anymore. I am sick of the whole Msnbc lineup. I’ve had enough of them, to hell with them all.

    • 30 meta
      July 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      I think you will be astonished if you just stop watching all this BS altogether. It doesn’t take long before you feel SO much better.

    • 31 HZ
      July 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm

      Amen, anniebella. I feel so much better. When I have replenish my soul, I will decide what to do with these people, but NOT until my soul has been refreshed with the positive and wonderful mode in which our President is moving with grace, love, compassion, and hard work. We have too much great energy here to allow them little minded people come into our good space. We have a great gift who is worthy of our time, space, respect, and hard work. We have so many people to help get to a better space and place within their minds, hearts, and children’s lives. Let us more in that direction. YES WE WILL!!

    • 32 theo67
      July 8, 2011 at 2:42 am

      Funny thing is that when you stop tuning in to the shows, you stop hearing the nonsense they’re saying.

  9. July 7, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Keep hope alive say a little prayer daily

    Father God, May Your Holy Light shine upon Barack Obama,
    May Your Holy Light surround him and may he and his family be protected.

    May his words carry strength, and inspiration and hope,
    May he be used by You, Father God, to help heal our Nation.

    May his enemies be confounded, their hatred turned back on them, and their wicked schemes be defeated permanently. 
    May You, Lord Jesus, forgive this country its transgressions as we attempt to begin to change our path from wrong thinking and violence, to justice and peace.

    May the Holy Spirit protect Barack Obama from all harm and guide him to victory for the sake of this nation’s and of the world. And So We Pray, In Jesus Name, Amen.  

  10. 38 hopefruit2
    July 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I think these media people know fully well that they’re not the President’s “base.” How can you be his base if you didn’t vote? They’re just saying that to spread propaganda and engage in brainwashing. They probably thought that they (the media) got him elected in 2008, but they are delusional. No amount of media hype can overcome a flawed candidate (in this day and age), although that may have been true in the Bush years and prior. We’ve seen examples of media hype not helping flawed candidates with the likes of Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Jon Hunstman, and we shall soon see it with Michelle Bachman. They are all glaring examples of MEDIAFAIL!!

    And that’s what the MSM is realizing. That people are forming their own opinions about this president (and other political candidates), especially now that they have seen him in action numerous times. He has a serious track record and has accomplished things that no other president could under the most trying of political and economic circumstances. Ordinary people who are not supported by Koch-sponsored money can readily see the competence in this President. People all over the world LOVE this President. An entire villiage in Ireland has experienced a psychological renewal and economic boost because of this President. He has 9million followers on twitter. He caught bin laden who had eluded the US gov’t for NINE years. He resurrected a failing auto industry. For all these reasons (and more), the MSM is becoming increasingly irrelevant. I wouldn’t doubt that the Koch brothers, at the behest of the GOP political operatives, have given some of the supposed “left” wing pundits a higher salary in exchange for doubling down on their negativity towards this PResident. But, it will NOT work. There are some things that money simply cannot and will not buy.

    • 39 meta
      July 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      I just think we’re being primed for the election. The media is hoping that we will spend money on their pathetic idea of what our country is all about. That we’ll wait breathlessly to hear what they have to say and will be persuaded by their filth. We are being played.

    • 40 Betsy
      July 8, 2011 at 12:21 am

      Can I quote you? Seriously, you have made so many excellent points that I can’t express as well. Awesome, awesome post.

    • 41 theo67
      July 8, 2011 at 2:46 am


  11. 42 N
    July 8, 2011 at 12:02 am

    One of my good friends from high school works in Congress and worked on the healthcare bill. She is very progressive but she would ignore so much of what the professional left was saying about healthcare policy. She just felt like most of them didn’t understand the policy. I bet it’s the similar situation with Social Security!

  12. 44 kefauver
    July 8, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Heh, I read the first 10-20 comments below the diary and loved watching ColoShiz get schooled. That was a really great diary and great explanation of what the so-called “cuts” would look like if adopted. Increases cut by $0.14/month?! OH NOES!!!!!!

    • 45 CoyotiMarti
      July 8, 2011 at 3:19 am

      Excuse me, but please remember that “just 14 cents” hits the poorest of the poor, and did y’all know that for the past many years the cost of living increase in SS was just barely enough to cover the INCREASE in the Part B Medicare outpatient deductable… ie NO real net increase at all? Yep. Better to inch up the social security cap on wages.

  13. 46 CoyotiMarti
    July 8, 2011 at 3:13 am

    Some of us just ordinary Dems are deeply worried about the Medicare and SS issues because of messaging, not because of “just 14 cents”. If we agree to anything that can be called a cut as part of this current debt ceiling battle, and dems vote for it while most of the repub house and senate members DON’t (which they won’t), then the repubs will SCREAM the Dems cut your benefits!!! It’s like death panels all over again. So please realize that some of us who dearly love and support POTUS think any move in this direction is pure insanity. Over 65% of the population supports no cuts until it can be discussed more calmly at a later date, as do 50% of Repub voters. So yes, rail against the Professional Left as I do, but they are right on this issue and how it will play out with the average voter.

    • 47 theo67
      July 8, 2011 at 3:32 am

      I have to respectfully disagree. We can’t shy away from solving real problems because we’re scared of messaging or how it will play out politically. We are on the ground, and we have to figure out a way to communicate to the people we know so that they can’t be hoodwinked by the Republicans. There are some who won’t change their minds no matter what we do. But the ones that can be reached need to be reached. It can’t stop us from solving the problems, otherwise we’re just the same as the Congress people who spend each day at a fundraiser so they can keep their jobs, and then they never do anything or don’t take risks because they’re scared to lose their jobs.

      There’s got to be a way to tell people that the effect of the change is 14 cents. Or else we just do it and take the hit, knowing we did the right thing. But we can’t just do nothing.

      • 48 CoyotiMarti
        July 8, 2011 at 4:00 am

        Yes we must do something, but not until we get the House back. But this kind of SS change is NOT “just 14 cents”. It’s actually closer to $4, as the Kos diarist corrected himself. And with compounding it’s thousands of $$ a year to those of us who live past 80. Here’s what it looks like, tied to the changes they are also looking at for COLA. And since it’s women who live longest, guess who it will impact most? In fact, the “catrfood commission” heads who floated this even said themselves that there would have to be a big upward correction made for those of us who make it to 80. And none of this has to happen if we just up the SS wage cap. The repubs have been salivating to make this change for decades:


        Here are three germane paragraphs from that article.

        All seniors – whether already retired or not – would feel the pinch, and the “small cuts” would add up to thousands of dollars over a 25-year retirement. Although billed as a “mere technical correction,” the adjustment in how benefit increases are calculated would further erode the buying power of America’s seniors and could devastate those already living on very tight budgets.

        Contrary to the oft-repeated claim that no one over 55 will be affected by Social Security reform, the increasingly popular prospect of using a “chained” CPI would take effect immediately. It would reduce COLAs by about .3 percentage points each year (and possibly much more in high inflation years). Due to compounding, this would cut Social Security benefits by an estimated seven percent over a 25-year retirement, which adds up to $18,634 for a senior with average benefits who retires this year.

        There is also a larger issue that has been lost in these debates: Which index should determine COLAs? Proposals calling for using the “chained” CPI are really calling for using the “chained” version of the CPI-W. The CPI-W is based on younger, urban workers, who don’t spend as much of their income on health care as seniors. A better option for calculating COLAs is the CPI for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E). By tying the annual increase in the COLA to the CPI-E, in most years, seniors would see much-needed relief in their monthly checks. For example, a senior who retired with a benefit of $460 in 1984 would have received $13,723 more over the past 27 years with the CPI-E.

  14. 50 mimi
    July 8, 2011 at 5:11 am

    I joined dailykos a long time ago and want out…can anyone tell me how to unjoin???

    • 51 CoyotiMarti
      July 8, 2011 at 7:07 am

      ‘Morning mimi! Look up and scan their FAQs section. But as I recall, best bet is to just.stop.going.there. There is no such thing as “delete my account!”. You can go to your profile page and delete as much as possible. And you can write a Goodbye Cruel World Diary Rant, or email directly to Kos or MeteorBlades, which I think gets you pretty much automatically blocked as far as ever writing new comments or diaries or updating your profile. But like everything on the intertoobs, whatever comments or diaries that you put out there are there forever, and your UserID is never reassigned.

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