Fed groups get in front of COLA calculation debate

Fed groups get in front of COLA calculation debate

 Thursday – 10/10/2013, 5:57am EDT

By Jason Miller

Any discussion of cuts to federal employee, retiree and veterans benefits out of the conversations to reopen the government, increase the debt ceiling or reduce the deficit should stop before they start, according to a variety of groups representing these constituents.

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, the Military Officers Association of America, the American Foreign Service Association and others say White House and Congressional leaders need to come with better options than moving to the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) formula to determine future cost of living adjustments (COLA).

The White House and congressional leaders have floated the idea of using the chained CPI formula instead of the CPI-W approach, which has been in use since 1996.

The groups representing current and retired federal employees, veterans and others believe this formula would hurt seniors or people with disabilities at a time they can least afford a reduction in payments. Continue reading “Fed groups get in front of COLA calculation debate”

Social Security: 6 Facts You Need to Know

Social Security is our most important family protection program that works not just for retirees, but also for people with disabilities and children who’ve lost a working parent. It’s a promise for all generations. People pay for this benefit throughout their working lives. Social Security is immensely popular with voters across the political spectrum, which is why those who would like to dismantle the program consistently distort the facts and falsely claim the program is “bankrupt.” It’s important for working people to know the truth about the program and push back against Social Security myths and lies and fight for more, not less retirement security.

Here are six Social Security facts you need to know:

  1. Working Families can count on Social Security for decades to come. Social Security can pay 100% of promised benefits until 2033. Without any changes, the system can pay three-fourths of promised benefits every year after that. SeeA Summary of the 2012 Annual Reports” from the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees.
  2. While Social Security benefits are modest, they’re a big deal to most people. The average annual benefit paid to retired workers is about $14,800  today. Among people 65 and older receiving benefits, two-thirds of them count on Social Security for 50% or more of their income. More than one-third of them get 90 cents of every dollar of income from Social Security. See “Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2010” from researchers at the Social Security Administration.
  3. Social Security has become increasingly important because people can’t count on pensions or retirement savings. Just 15% of workers in the private sector have a real pension at work. Just 60% of families closest to retirement (ages 55 to 64) have any retirement savings at all in a 401(k), IRA or similar account. Even a $100,000 account, for a couple retiring at age 65, translates into just about $400 per month in income. See “Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2007 to 2010: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances.
  4. Raising the retirement age is a big benefit cut for all workers. If Social Security’s full benefit age were increased to 69 (from 67 today), a worker who would have gotten $12,000 a year retiring at 67 under current law would see her benefits cut by nearly $1,600 per year. See “Cuts in Retirement Benefits Resulting from Raising the Retirement Age to 69” from Strengthen Social Security.
  5. Wealthy earners don’t pay the Social Security tax on all their earnings. The Social Security contribution tax, which shows up as the OASDI contribution on your annual W-2 form, doesn’t apply to earnings above $110,100 in 2012 ($113,700 beginning in 2013). That means a $1 million earner is paying under 1% of his or her earnings to support Social Security in a typical year, compared to the 6.2% of anyone making $110,100 or less contributes. Scrapping the cap so that all earnings are subject to the payroll tax would go a long way toward closing Social Security’s entire projected 75-year funding gap. See 2012 Social Security Changes from the Social Security Administration for information on the tax cap. Also, see the Social Security Administration’s analyses of proposals by Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) that scrap or raise the cap.
  6. Proposals to make the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) “more accurate” cut benefits for today’s retirees. Changing the way benefits     are adjusted, such as by using the “chained Consumer Price Index,” actually make the COLA less accurate because it does not adequately take into       account the health care costs paid by Social Security beneficiaries. The impact will snowball for today’s retirees. By age 80, an average earner getting     the lower COLA every year in retirement would have lost $8,100 in lifetime benefits, and if she lives to 90, the total cut adds up to more than $19,000. See “Cutting the Social Security COLA by Changing the Way Inflation Is Calculated Would Especially Hurt Women” from experts at the National Women’s Law Center.

 

Does President Obama Want to Cut Social Security by 3 Percent?

https://i2.wp.com/www.sanders.senate.gov/images/structure/bg-header.jpgDoes President Obama Want to Cut Social Security by 3 Percent?

Monday, 17 September 2012 09:56 By Dean Baker, Truthout | News Analysis

Source: Truth-out.org

September 17, 2012

That is a pretty simple and important question. Unfortunately, most voters are likely to go to the polls this fall without knowing the answer.

If the backdrop to this question is not immediately clear, then you should be very angry at the reporters who cover the campaign. One of the items that continuously comes up in reference to the budget deficit is President Obama’s support for the plan put forward by the co-chairs of his deficit commission, Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles and former senator Alan Simpson. On numerous occasions, President Obama has indicated his support for this plan.

One of the items in the Bowles-Simpson plan is a reduction in the annual cost-of-living adjustment of roughly 0.3 percentage points. This would be accomplished by using a different index that, by design, would show a lower measured rate of inflation. It is important to recognize that this is an annual cut that would accumulate over time. After a retiree has been receiving benefits for ten years, the cut would be 3.0 percent; after 20 years. it would be 6 percent. If a typical retiree lives long enough to get benefits for 20, years the average benefit cut over their years of retirement would be 3 percent.

Continue reading here.

Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech Ignites Media War Over Facts

Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech Ignites Media War Over Facts

Posted: 08/30/2012 4:12 pm Updated: 08/30/2012 5:18 pm

Paul Ryan Media

TAMPA, Fla. — Before Rep. Paul Ryan left the stage Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, journalists took to Twitter for some real-time fact-checking.

Soon after, several media outlets, including The Huffington Post, called attention to misleading statements from Ryan’s speech. The New Republic‘s Jonathan Cohn asked if it was the most dishonest convention speech” ever. New York‘s Dan Amira described it shortly before midnight as “appallingly disingenuous and shamelessly hypocritical,” with his colleague Jonathan Chait — who claims to have “the equivalent of a master’s degree in Ryan lie-ology” — later calling out the Republican candidate for “brazen dishonesty.”

At around 12:15 a.m., the Associated Press hit the wire with a piece detailing “factual shortcuts” on issues like Medicare, economic stimulus, and the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis. Continue reading “Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech Ignites Media War Over Facts”

GOP platform takes aim at federal workforce

GOP platform takes aim at federal workforce

The Republican Party unveiled its national platformTuesday, revealing its plan to downsize the federal workforce, trim federal benefits and privatize airport screeners.

The platform calls for a wholesale reinvention of the federal government, which has become “bloated, antiquated and unresponsive to taxpayers,” according to the plan.

“It is our intention not only to improve management and provide better services, but also to rethink and restructure government to bring it into the twenty-first century,” the drafters of the Republican plan wrote. Continue reading “GOP platform takes aim at federal workforce”