Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Senate Finance Crazy Talk

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, has developed a health care proposal that would cost taxpayers at least $900 billion while making health insurance less affordable.

The plan includes new taxes on health insurance companies. These would, of course, be paid by customers.

Our federal government taxes gasoline heavily as a conservation measure, that is, to reduce the amount of it we choose to buy.

Taxing health insurance makes sense only if you want to deter the purchase of it. It makes no sense whatsoever as a cure to the problem of too many uninsured Americans.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:05 AM

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's Happening Now

Media: Obama's a neologist; Bush was just dumb.

Jokes to play on the President.

Where does YOUR state rank? (H/T Coyote Blog.)

Examiner: If Americans were getting an average of 20 miles to the gallon before Cash for Clunkers, they are getting 20.0046 mpg after it. In a best-case scenario.

All hail Octavia: A novel new national debt relief program.

"Jackass" was the correct term.

Americans want the legal opportunity to opt out of Social Security, 49% - 37%.

Dr. Roy Cordato: And they say private insurance companies are the bad guys.

Evil doesn't die easily.

Think scientists are objective? Read this.

The power to force people to buy stuff is not in the Constitution.

Superman job: Fact-checking the White House.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:33 AM

Monday, July 07, 2008

Frying Fish While Rome Burns

Keriann Hopkins is reporting for CNS News that the current gap between what's been allocated to pay Medicare and Social Security benefits and what's needed is $41 trillion.

With the number that high, one would expect the relevant Capitol Hill committees to be working this issue almost full-time (House Ways and Means and Senate Finance), but they appear to have other fish to fry.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:00 PM

Monday, February 26, 2007

Social Security Quiz

What percentage of U.S. GDP does Social Security cost each year?

A) 0.0042 percent
B) 0.042 percent
C) 0.42 percent
D. 4.2 percent

Visit for more information about the answer (including a pretty scary chart showing what the future holds for Social Security, sans reform), and go back every Thursday for a new Willism post on the importance of Social Security reform.

The correct answer, by the way, is "D."

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:10 AM

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Social Security Nominee Rejected Because He Believes in Personal Accounts

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has announced he is refusing even to hold hearings on President Bush's nominee, Andrew Biggs, to be the #2 official at the Social Security Administration.

Baucus is refusing to schedule a hearing not because Biggs is unqualified, but because Baucus doesn't like his opinions. Biggs, you see, believes Social Security would be improved if the law were to be changed to allow Americans to put some of money they pay in Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts they control (and can leave to their heirs after their deaths). Baucus wants the government to continue to control every dime, to continue taxing retirees to "give" them their own money back (with a lousy rate of return), and to keep all leftover funds, if any, when the retiree dies.

If you're thinking that Biggs, had he been approved for the #2 spot, would have been unable to create personal retirement accounts, you're right. Such a change would require an act of Congress. So Biggs essentially is being rejected for his personal views -- views he couldn't impose on anyone, had he gotten the job.

We wrote about this earlier here.

Addendum: Michael Tanner, writing about the Biggs nomination on the Cato Institute blog last November, put it very well:
Anyone who thinks that Democrats might be prepared to work in a bipartisan manner to reform Social Security should be quickly disabused by their disgraceful treatment of Andrew Biggs, President Bush’s nominee to be the next deputy administrator of the Social Security Administration. Biggs, who once worked for me, is a distinguished economist and expert on Social Security, who has earned the respect of people on all sides of the Social Security debate. During the time we worked together, he proved to be a rigorous analyst, who followed the numbers wherever they led, always choosing facts over ideology. No one ever criticized his character or the quality of his research.

However, Biggs is an advocate of personal accounts. As a result, some Democrats in Congress, the New York Times, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare have embarked on a campaign to smear him and scuttle his nomination. Democrats appear to be saying that holding any opinion with which they disagree makes one unfit for public office. If that’s the course they plan to pursue in the next Congress, more than just hope for Social Security reform will go down the drain.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:03 AM

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Social Security: A Quick Definition

Willisms describes our current Social Security system:
The government confiscates your money, keeps it for decades, gives you back a terrible return on your money, then taxes you for the privilege.
(Until the system goes bankrupt, that is.)


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:56 AM

Sunday, January 21, 2007

2009-2017: Number of Social Security Recipients to Grow Five Times Faster than the Number of Workers

Willisms says: "From 2009-2017, the number of retirees receiving Social Security will grow by 23.9%, the number of workers by only 4.3%. In other words, the number of retirees will grow more than five times faster than the worker population."

Go here for his post, which has eight more facts as worrisome as that one.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:10 PM

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Social Security Choice We Face

Rep. Mike Pence has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying three important things about Social Security:
1) The White House must take tax increases off the table.

Says Pence: "Such a tax increase would likely lift or eliminate the cap on the amount of salary and wages subject to the payroll tax, currently at $94,200. Raising payroll taxes would prove devastating to working Americans, small business and the economy as a whole. Worse, it would only serve as a short-term band-aid to Social Security's financial woes.

"According to the Heritage Foundation, eliminating the cap will increase taxes by $484 billion over five years. This 12.4 percentage point marginal tax rate increase would hit middle-income families struggling to make ends meet, pay for college and save for retirement. Much of this increase will be borne by three million small-business owners who pay both the employer and employee portion of the tax hike. These entrepreneurs are on the forefront of job creation, and such a tax would cause millions of layoffs. Overall, the entire economy would slow by 2% to 3%, threatening the standard of living and economic opportunities of every American. In exchange for this massive tax increase, Social Security's financing will be preserved for roughly seven years."

2) Focus on personal savings accounts. Says Pence: "Social Security reform must be properly understood. It is not about achieving solvency; it is about improving the system so that it offers a better deal for younger Americans through personal savings accounts. Focusing on solvency will lead inevitably to tax increases and benefit cuts. Focusing on personal retirement accounts improves the chance of enacting sound public policy that also makes the system solvent."

3) Congress must stop embezzling. Pence says: "Third, the administration should submit a budget that fully protects the Social Security surplus from being used to subsidize government largesse, which Patrick Moynihan once described as 'embezzlement.' Voters have repeatedly said loudly and clearly that they object to raiding the Social Security surplus. It is time for the administration to either offer a budget aligned with those expectations, or propose cutting the payroll tax immediately to end the historic practice of over-collecting for a pay-as-you-go system. Doing both would quickly restore the public's shattered confidence in the way we spend their money."
Pence says if we reformers can't get a good bill through this Congress, we're better off passing nothing now: "Republicans don't have to pass a bad Social Security reform bill. If we lack the votes now to pass legislation that will actually preserve the system and protect our nation's economic expansion, we would be wise to spend the next two years seeking to win the debate and leave a foundation of arguments that will not unravel."

Hat tip: Andrew Roth, writing at Social Security Choice.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

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