All Articles Tagged "social security"
The big political news today is President Obama’s latest budget proposal, a $3.77 billion plan that would be put into effect for fiscal year 2014, which starts October 1. Given the continuous battle back and forth between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, The Wall Street Journal sums up the goal of the proposal as such: “Obama Reaches For Middle Ground With New Budget Plan.”
“The White House will seek to persuade Republicans to warm to its proposal to embrace more short-term spending, which administration officials say will boost jobs, while also locking in medium-term tax and spending changes to reduce the deficit,” the article says. “So far, the White House has found such an approach a tough sell, with Republicans opposing tax increases and saying much of the spending is wasteful.” Overall, the article says, the spending budget is up six percent to counteract the sequestration spending cuts (remember those?) that went into effect March 1.
At the start of the fiscal year, The New York Times explains, “the federal deficit would be $744 billion, according to administration officials. That would be equal to about 4.4 percent of the gross domestic product, down from a high of about 10 percent at the height of the recession. By decade’s end, the annual deficit would be 1.7 percent, officials said, though deficits would increase thereafter as aging baby boomers drive up costs for federal benefit programs.” The 10-year plan would cut spending by $1.2 billion and would raise $580 million by pulling more taxes from the wealthy, including the imposition of the Buffet Rule, which would take 30 percent from anyone making a taxable income over $1 million.
The spending and taxes included in the proposal aren’t to the Republicans’ liking, who still want to see the federal budget decrease. What has riled Democrats are the proposed cuts to future Social Security benefits.
But there will be additional spending. Infrastructure is a priority in the budget, as is expanding prekindergarten education. And in response to calls from people across the political spectrum following the massacre in Newtown, CT, $235 million has been allotted for mental health programs. The money would pay to train teachers and other professionals to better detect the warning signs of mental illness in students, to provide in-school professional mental health services, and to help schools that have a high level of violence, according to The Washington Post. The paper says that mental health advocates are pleased with the attention, but note the billions of dollars in cuts that have been made across states over the past few years.
President Obama will be having dinner with prominent Congressional Republicans this evening in the hopes of talking through a compromise. Meanwhile, Congress could vote this week on gun control measures. The two sides seem to be ready to compromise on issues like universal background checks, says CNN.
You’ve definitely noticed a change in your paycheck since the beginning of the year. A bad change. A very bad change.
The tax relief that we’ve enjoyed for the past couple of years came to an abrupt and painful stop on January 1 when the Social Security tax went up from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. The increased taxes are already taking a toll on consumer confidence, which, according to BusinessMirror, dipped to a point we haven’t seen since November 2011. With less money to spend, it looks like there’s going to be less shopping in all of our futures.
Ad Age estimates that, for an income of $50,000, the increase amounts to $1, 000 per year. (The tax increase applies to wages up to $113,700.) Analysts say that totals something in the range of $115 billion-ish. That’s money that people won’t be using to buy stuff at the mall, with consumer spending projections going down.
There is some debate about where Americans will be spending their money now. Will they flock to discount retailers like Target? Will certain retail areas, like home decor, be hit the hardest? Will fast food restaurants like Wendy’s benefit? If there’s less money in people’s pockets, it’s likely that a variety of companies and industries will be hurt.
Research from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released just yesterday shows that Americans spent the extra cash they had been getting in 2011 and 2012 rather than saving it or paying what they owe. Nearly a fifth of people (19 percent) who said they would use the money to pay off debt actually spent it on other things. And 70 percent of people who said they intended to spend it like there’s no tomorrow kept their promise. “All told, about 36% of the extra income was spent by respondents — a relatively large figure,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
The report also found that it’s the folks who make more money, not the low-income earners, who are more likely to go on a spending spree. Low-income earners were actually more likely to use the money to pay debt.
We’ve talked a lot about budgeting cash on this site, and hopefully most of you out there are able to readjust without too much trouble. What are some of the things you’re doing to account for the lower take-home pay? Let us know in the comments.
Americans are living longer as a whole, but there are certain states where people age more gracefully, according to a new study. “Nationwide, the centenarian population has grown 65.8 percent over the past three decades, from 32,194 people who were age 100 or older in 1980 to 53,364 centenarians in 2010, according to new Census Bureau data,” reports Yahoo News.
But people who live to be 100 appear to have certain living circumstances in common. Surprisingly, most Americans who live longer live in urban areas. So forget the quiet country life. Actually, 85.7 percent of centenarians lived in urban areas in 2010, compared with 84.2 percent of those in their 90s, 81.5 percent of those in their 80s, and 76.6 percent of those in their 70s, writes Yahoo News.
The Northeast and Midwest have more centenarians than the national average of 1.73 per 10,000 people. The West and South have below-average proportions of centenarians. People in the Northeast tend to be more highly educated, and education is associated with a longer life expectancy, reports the website. And, North Dakota is the only state with more than three centenarians for every 10,000 people in the state.
Here’s a sampling of the states with high numbers of centenarians:
1) Iowa had 846 centenarians, according to the most recent Census.
2) In Connecticut, 930 people had reached 100 in 2010.
3) New York state has 4,605 centenarians, second only to California (5,921). However, a much larger proportion of New York’s population is age 100 or older (0.024 percent), compared with California (0.016 percent).
4) There are 1,520 people age 100 and older in Massachusetts, which accounts for 0.023 percent of the population. And 50,258 Massachusetts residents are in their 90s.
5) In 2010, there were 1,211 Minnesota residents who were 100 years old.
All of these older Americans have made government programs like Medicare and Social Security that much more important. While it’s a possibility that the sequester — $1.2 billion in automatic spending cuts that would go into effect on March 1 — will happen, CNBC reports: “Democrats are also digging in, with many of the most liberal lawmakers content to see the cuts occur because they exempt Medicare and Social Security benefits.” Nevertheless, if those cuts take place, it could be trouble for all of us in this still ailing economy.
Let’s start with the obvious — Joe Biden killed it six ways to Sunday in last night’s debate. The media’s reporting on polls showing a draw, but seriously. No.
Showing that one shouldn’t underestimate Joltin’ Joe, he came armed with a “You’ve got to be kidding me” laugh, a lifetime of experience and facts. #FactsMatter was actually one of the popular hashtags of the night, and with good reason. Biden has been in the White House for the past four years, witnessing all that the Obama administration has accomplished. He has more than 30 years in Congress. And he wasn’t afraid to talk it up and call a spade a spade.
On foreign policy and military matters, he spoke plainly and with authority. Explaining the policy in Syria versus the one in Libya, he started by stating simply, “They are two completely different countries.” In other words, I understand the nuance of the dynamics across that region. It’s not a monolith. Ryan was clearly overwhelmed by the topic. On healthcare, Biden discussed the dollars and cents of what people will spend and save. On women’s issues, he made it clear that despite his religion, he believes in a woman’s right to determine what’s best for her own body.
And without letting too much time pass, he jumped all over Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment. On MSNBC, a commentator made the point that VP Biden speaks the language of populism well, a good point. Much of the criticism of Biden comes from those who thought his laughing was over the top or downright rude. It was noticeable and maybe even a touch too much, but it didn’t overshadow his words.
So a big topic, of course, was the economy. On the issue of small business, Ryan said that letting tax cuts expire on high earners (they would remain for the middle class) would mean big trouble for job creators and VP Biden said it would only impact a small portion of small businesses (defining small businesses and those earning less than $250,000 per year, which is the vast majority). The Washington Post‘s analysis shows that both of them have a point. Ryan continued to be vague about the loopholes and tax breaks for the super-wealthy that they would cut.
Moving on, Ryan criticized the rate of economic growth the country is experiencing now and even went so far as to say joblessness is increasing, a claim that is in stark opposition to the unemployment numbers we’ve gotten over the past two weeks. And then both candidates fiercely debated about Medicare and other entitlements, going back and forth about whether the GOP side is advocating for vouchers. Here’s a good breakdown of the economic issues that were discussed. And here’s full video along with issue-by-issue clips.
Two final notes: ABC’s Martha Raddatz did a bang up job last night, gained thousands more Twitter followers as a result of her work, and launched the #MoreMartha hashtag, with people requesting that she moderate the remaining two presidential debates.
And Joe Biden may single-handedly bring back one of my favorite words: “malarkey.” The word was erased from proper parlance last year when the AP Style Guide removed it. They should rethink that.
According to a new study from LIMRA, a trade association for the financial services industry, 49 percent of Americans aren’t contributing to a retirement fund. And only one-third of Americans over the age of 50 are working with a financial professional to prepare for retirement. And it’s not that they don’t know better. Only 29 percent of adults ages 55 and older are confident they have enough money for retirement. Yikes.
Lucky for everyone, it’s not too late to get started. Fox Business offers some tips for getting your finances in order so you can enjoy your golden years. The first step is to honestly answer some questions about where you are right now. How much do you have? How much do you need? What sort of expenses will you be looking at? And what will Social Security/pensions/retirement funds provide?
Next, start saving, keeping in mind that you need to be prepared for your retirement to last between 25 and 30 years. And take advantage of tax credits and special programs available to older workers. Unfortunately, even those who are planning don’t see far enough into the future, failing to take into account the longer life spans we all have.
Finally, talk with family members about your financial situation and any help you might need once you’ve retired. These are the people that will be shouldering the responsibility for your economic and physical well-being once you reach your older years.
If that hasn’t inspired you, maybe this will — a new study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that women ages 65 and over are living in poverty in greater numbers than men even though they’re contributing to their employer’s retirement plans. Among the reasons: women live longer than their spouses and make less during their lifetimes. Some things in life you can’t control, so it’s important to get a handle on the things you can. You owe it to yourself to enjoy your old age.
At the very outset I’d like to make an unequivocal assertion – entrusting our economy and the well being of the poor and middle class to the GOP is like entrusting the well being of a child to a convicted child molester. If you think that’s hyperbole, simply ask yourself who was the last Republican president who didn’t drag our economy into a ditch. If you want to say Ronald Reagan, forget it. In spite of the fact that Reagan ran on a platform of limited government and economic responsibility, during his tenure he not only tripled the national debt, but did more spending than all of the presidents who preceded him – COMBINED. In addition, he effectively destroyed our industrial base in the process..
The GOP is only good at two things – propagandizing, or reframing their message to put the best face on their grossly malevolent agenda, and squandering our national resources in pursuit of that agenda. You see, they love the economy just the way it is – the rich are making money hand-over-fist, the government doesn’t have the resources to sufficiently regulate their activities, and the poor and middle class are in such dire straits that instead of making demands, they’re fighting among themselves for any crumbs that the rich are willing to throw at their feet.
In short, the GOP is engaged in the process of lowering the standard of living of the American middle class in order to make their corporate friends more competitive in the new global economy. So if they have their way, our current condition will never change. In fact, they intend to make it a lot worse.
And why shouldn’t they? After all, the recession isn’t having a negative impact on them or their corporate constituency – they’re doing better than ever. It’s only the poor and middle class that’s suffering, and once they get rid of Social Security, Medicare, and the unions, we’ll be totally dependent on the corporate class for our very survival. Then they’ll be right back up in the catbird seat, just like the good ole days, before they had all these pesky rules and regulations, and before that “socialist,” Franklin Roosevelt, decided the American people needed to be protected. “Let ‘em protect themselves; that’s the American way, survival of the fittest – cope or die” It’s interesting to note, however, that they didn’t feel that way when their corporations were in trouble.
It is in pursuit of this agenda that Grover Norquist, one of the most powerful men in the GOP – a man who’s gotten virtually every Republican in congress to sign a pledge to NEVER vote to raise taxes – indicated that he wanted a government small enough to drown in a bathtub. Specifically, he said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
Thus, the GOP wants a government just large enough to protect the interest of their corporate cronies around the word, send American youth to their death in pursuit of their corporate greed, and large enough to cover their gambling losses on the global market. But they want that same government to be too small to protect the American people from contaminated food, drugs, and water, and much too small to protect us from corporate manipulation, and safety, health, and fairness issues on the job – and they certainly want it too small to administer programs like Social Security and Medicare.
This is a totally un-American and ruthless bunch. Norquist is also quoted as saying, “Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We’re sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent’s head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.” The opponent that Norquist is talking about is the well being of the American people, and all those who advocate in their interest.
Take a moment to consider the ramifications of his pledge to never raise taxes. That permanently protects the rich from having to pay their fair share of any burden, regardless of the national emergency. Thus, no matter what tragedy might befall this nation, if we can never raise taxes, that means that the burden of addressing that emergency must come out of the pocket of the poor and middle class in the form of fewer governmental services and protections. That’s their way of attacking the poor and middle class safety net. Since Social Security and Medicare are much too popular among the American people to attack head on, their strategy is to ravage the United States treasury in order to make them too expensive to fund.
We currently see this strategy at work in congress as we speak. Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, is refusing disaster relief funding for states hit by Hurricane Irene without being offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. Talking Points Memo reports that Laene Fallon, a spokesperson for Cantor, said that “We aren’t going to speculate on damage before it happens, period. But, as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”
.This episode betrays much about the GOP mindset. First and foremost, it clearly demonstrates that the GOP leadership couldn’t care less about the welfare of the American people. Secondly, it clearly illustrates their gross hypocrisy. They claim that they’re so concerned about the national debt that they’re willing to deny disaster relief to Americans suffering the ravages of a hurricane, yet, they’re not so concerned that it prevents them from giving trillions of dollars away to the top 2% of the population. Thus, by their demonstrated behavior, the GOP has betrayed their belief that subsidizing the wealth of the wealthy should take priority over relieving the suffering of poor and middle-class Americans – and these people are asking us to turn the government over to them? Please.
And Mr. President, the facts presented above are exactly why it’s so important that you refrain from confronting your base with terms and phrases like compromise, bipartisan, and shared sacrifice for the rest of your days in office. Your base is sick to death of hearing them. We’re not stupid, and we understand that the American people have been compromised to the hilt. And engaging in bipartisanship with the GOP constitutes nothing less than consorting with the enemy of American democracy.
As for “shared sacrifice,” that’s really a joke. What you’re asking us to do is cut a pie into ten pieces, give the GOP nine of them, and then engage in negotiations over the sliver that’s left.Give us a break, Mr. President. Stand up and fight. Give the American people a clear choice, and start lecturing the GOP like you did the Congressional Black Caucus.
Oh, and one more thing. Get that quiver out your voice. We know you ain’t Martin Luther King, and we also know you’re in campaign mode, so don’t insult our intelligence. It’s disrespectful.
(AP) — Leaders of the largest and oldest black civil rights groups said they urged President Barack Obama in a White House meeting Thursday to resist deep cuts to programs that benefit urban communities _ with some of the highest unemployment rates _ as he negotiates the nation’s debt limit. NAACP president Benjamin Jealous and National Urban League president Marc Morial said they left the Oval Office feeling assured Obama understands deep budget cuts to safety net programs such as Social Security or Medicaid would be counterproductive to the country and poorer communities.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – African-Americans across the nation would be hit hardest if Congressional Republicans have their way in slashing Social Security as an affront to President Obama’s recommended 2012 budget. Therefore, Black organizations and constituents must assert their voices in current and upcoming debates, according to a report released by the Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies.
“African Americans benefit significantly from the Social Security program—as retirees, as disabled workers or their dependents, and as survivors of deceased workers. Although black Americans are more likely than white Americans to receive disability and survivor benefits and less likely to receive retirement benefits, their return from taxes paid into the Social Security system exceeds that of whites,” says the report titled “African Americans and Social Security: A Primer”.
The report, written by Dr. Wilhelmina A. Leigh of the Joint Center, continues: “In addition, older African Americans are more reliant on Social Security benefits than other groups. Thus, conversations about modifying the Social Security system must include voices of African Americans and other racial/ethnic subpopulations whose dependence on the system is great but whose patterns of usage may differ from the norm.”
(New York Times) — President Obama conceded on Tuesday that his new budget does not do enough to resolve the nation’s long-term fiscal problems, but he counseled patience, suggesting that he would eventually come together with Republicans on a broad deal. But, Mr. Obama said at a news conference, any such compromise to address Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the tax system is months away and will first require an effort to build bipartisan trust — even as Democrats and Republicans battle intensely over how much to cut from the current year’s domestic spending.
The president spoke as Republicans on Capitol Hill accused him of a lack of leadership for not proposing a bolder budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Yet behind the scenes are signs that both parties, for all their public crossfire, are reassessing the politics of deficits. The debt crises last year in Greece and other European countries served as a warning about the economic perils of chronic budget imbalances, and the rise of the Tea Party movement reflected a broader concern among Americans about the nation’s rapidly mounting debt.
by Alexander Cain
Building a retirement and savings’ nest egg has definitely become a key for many consumers during this holiday season because of fears with the economy and the job market. While unemployment remains high, another key aspect of retirement may also be experiencing a shift. As we begin the holiday shopping season, the country’s deficit is reaching all time highs and many states’ budgets remain in crisis mode.
The government continues to evaluate all alternatives to limit its spending. Social security remains at the top of the list as key government officials try to evaluate the future of social security. As reported in the L.A Times, President Obama’s deficit commission has already developed and proposed many tweaks to the current social security system. If these tweaks are allowed, many within the black community will be facing a harder time qualifying for social security and the anticipated income for many upcoming retirees can have many people re-considering retirement.
The first major move was to again increase the retirement age to qualify for full Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration has already implemented an increase of the retirement age from age 65 to age 67 effective in 2022. The commission is looking to go even a step further to increasing the retirement age two more years to age 69 in order to receive full Social Security benefits.
While this might seem like a temporary inconvenience with the additional two years of working, this can have a significant effect on the Black community. With the life expectancy of African-Americans around 73.1 according to the Center for Disease Control, those within the black community can only receive full benefits for four years despite contributing to the fund for over a lifetime.
Along with increasing the qualifying age, there will be a reduction in the overall benefit to those who have at earned at least $20,000 a year prior to retirement. This would definitely have a great impact on the 20-somethings who could be facing a thirty to forty percent reduction by the time they actually qualify to receive their benefits package.
Along with reducing it in the future, the commission also plans to shrink its current cost of living adjustment for those currently receiving benefits. This could be disastrous for people who already struggle with living on their benefits now and are facing increasing health insurance and medical care costs. The overhaul could have disastrous effects for old and young alike as Social Security is slowly being eroded away with higher age requirements and lower benefits.
The impact on the Black community becomes very apparent when evaluating these proposals. With a higher qualifying age, African-Americans are less likely to qualify to receive benefits or experience benefits for a shorter period of time. With a reduction of the overall benefit, we need to be more self-sufficient when we hit retirement. The economic downturn has caused unexpected results as the average Americans’ savings rate has increased as more Americans worry about the unforeseen future. As African-Americans, we must improve our financial awareness beyond just reducing spending. We need to become more aware of investment opportunities and divest whatever we don’t spend into retirement, because this trend of benefit reduction will likely continue. With African-Americans having a shorter life expectancy, that means we have to start saving earlier and more than our counterparts to be able to fully enjoy our golden years. As holiday shopping season begins, I hope we can start thinking about the ultimate gift: retirement without significant financial constraints.