Scare tactics for seniors

President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats plan to use Republican proposals to slash Social Security and Medicare as a key wedge issue in the 2024 election campaign, showcasing the partisan divide in Washington over crucial programs that are facing long-term financial collapse.

The president is already warning that the benefits millions of Americans rely on from the twin programs are at risk as House Republicans refuse to back a straightforward increase in the federal debt limit. Biden will keep talking about protecting the programs even after the debt-ceiling issue is sorted, a White House official said on condition of anonymity.

Source: Bloomberg

Slash defined: to cut with a violent sweeping stroke or by striking violently and at random, as with a knife or sword.

Get the imagery?

Nobody is going to “slash your benefits. The programs are not facing financial collapse and the only long-term risk is if Congress does nothing.


  1. “I am actually kind of new at this.” I said, meaning income inequality. Then it hit me; maybe I’m not.
    “Why does this look familiar?”
    “Where have I seen this before?”

    I have been debating for years in several forums on the difference in compensation between public and private employees. It has been claimed (including on this blog lately) that government employees used to be (80s?) paid less in salaries, so they had higher pensions to compensate. Now they have the same or higher salaries and still have pensions. Not true, although the difference in compensation is always changing, as would be expected.

    The AVERAGE difference…

    In real life…

    1. Lower level government workers earn about the same salary as equivalent private workers, but, due to pensions and benefits (retiree health, notably) their total compensation is (much) higher than equivalent private sector workers.

    3. Higher level public workers, professionals, doctors, attorneys, CPAs, etc. earn much lower salaries than equivalent private workers, and the higher benefits are not sufficient to compensate for the lower pay.

    2. In the middle, logically, and empirically verified, is a group of public employees whose lower salaries are roughly offset by higher benefits. The “average” public worker paradigm .

    Good old fashioned redistribution, in other words. Lower overall compensation of the professional group allows for higher compensation of the lowest income public workers. This pattern recurs in every state and most other countries. Why? Hard to say because I have never once seen it explicitly or implicitly stated as a goal. Most people are not even aware that this redistribution exists.
    One idea? The concept of government as model employer…
    Government supports and encourages racial non discrimination in hiring, and leads by example. Government encourages employment of and accommodation for the disabled, and leads by example. Government encourages employer provided healthcare, and employer aided pensions. Etc., etc., etc.

    Considering one out of seven Americans is a public employee at some level, that’s a whole lot of modeling. The biggest component of this redistribution is pensions and health care. As Martha Stewart says, That’s a good thing.

    As dismal as all the disparity stats look, comparing. U.S. to other countries, without the public sector, we would look even worse. Even though, public workers at the lowest level (including military) by the thousands, have salaries low enough to qualify for one or more social entitlement programs. Even me for the first couple of years.

    But go ahead, cut entitlements. Individual responsibility should take care of it.


  2. “So, sorry, nothing we can do.”

    “And yet the US has a higher median income and a higher middle class income. If the US wants incomes to be enhanced by much higher social spending and support, let’s be honest. It means higher taxes of all types on the entire population.”

    “It would be nice to move the bottom of the US distribution up since it’s a bit of an outlier for countries with average income in the vicinity of ours. But that might require raising taxes on the wealthy and redistributing income, or at least using the money to try and improve the conditions that lead to this outcome. That would then cause the people at the upper end of the distribution to quit working hard and taking risks, people would stop innovating, and our entire society would devolve into socialism ending our way of life as we know it. So, sorry, nothing we can do.

    [Update: I didn’t think I needed the tag, but given some of the comments, guess I was wrong.]
    (Economist View blog, Sept. 16, 2010)

    It does not mean “…higher taxes of all types on the entire population.”*

    You still can’t get blood from a turnip. Other (most) countries have similar or lower …average… incomes, but higher incomes in the lowest decile. It’s income redistribution, plain and simple. Granted, it’s not just tax the rich. Those with average or better incomes will see increased taxes also. I would have no problem with that here, and I believe most other average Americans would not, either.

    * Is that scare tactics? That we will increase taxes on the poor? The very ones we are trying to help?


  3. OPM

    I am actually kind of new at this. A lifelong Democrat for sure, but I’ve been comfortable. I’ve worked hard. And I have been lucky. Luckier than average.
    But the more I look into this, the more I agree with Bernie.

    Redistribution. Other People’s Money. How did that money get there in the first place? Does it matter? Rich people are OK. Average people are OK. Most people are OK. But, there needs to be a floor on income and healthcare. We need those people at the bottom. We have to maintain them and keep them healthy… and happy. It is to our benefit. Start with me. TAKE MY MONEY.


      1. And yet the US has a higher median income and a higher middle class income. If the US wants incomes to be enhanced by much higher social spending and support, let’s be honest. It means higher taxes of all types on the entire population.


  4. “I’m here right now to tell you one thing you probably have never heard from a politician: It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up from the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said during a campaign stop February 23, 2010, in Cache Valley, Utah. “People who advise me politically always tell me it’s dangerous and I tell them, ‘In that case it’s not worth my running.’ That’s why I’m doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort, they need to be pulled up.”

    But wait, there’s more…

    “Lee has also stated that he was against “entitlement programs” that “redistribute wealth,” noting those programs are not in the Constitution.”

    He is not alone.


      1. “He is not alone.”

        Mostly Republicans who have apparently agreed, for now, not to touch SS are bent, even more so now, on decreasing or eliminating other “entitlements” like healthcare, SNAP, TANF, Sect 8 housing, etc.

        It’s that whole “personal responsibility” thing that is misinformed and misguided. As you alluded, we live in a society, not an economy.


      2. We are in an era of extremes left and right. If we don’t get a reasonable middle, it’s only downhill. Anyone who wants to eliminate any well established program better have a viable alternative. I’m all for self reliance and responsibility, but unfortunately human nature rarely fits that mold.


      3. I do not disagree.


        IMHO, the “blame”, and therefore, the remedy, seems to fall on the lowest level of workers.
        You are lazy.
        You are irresponsible.
        You are stupid.
        You are unethical.
        You are wasteful.
        If you didn’t get ahead, it’s your fault.
        “Sire, the peasants are revolting.”
        (Sorry, old joke.)

        Worst of all, it’s true! I can give you almost countless examples!*

        Welcome to the Pareto Principle. Lazy, unethical, wasteful people occur in every occupation, at every income level. Some of them, in fact, may be cause of the very disparity we see at the lowest income levels.

        According to continuing Gallup polls, only about 30 percent of employees are actively engaged. About 20 percent are actively DIS engaged.
        “…engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. Actively disengaged employees are disgruntled and disloyal because most of their workplace needs are unmet.”
        But they all make about the same money.

        Look around you, how many co-workers are really carrying the load? Look in the mirror, you never know.

        * The difference between anecdotal and empirical evidence.


  5. The scare always works. A lot of social security recipients act like a flock of frightened chickens every time a politician mentions the bad guys cutting benefits.
    The letters to the newspaper and online pleas for deliverance are comical as many times as this trick works on them.
    That said, something has to be cut or taxes have to go up to keep the deficits down to a minimum.


  6. When I first saw an ad this week on the subject I thought I missed something. I don’t even know if I would call it a freeze on the program benefits. I am still waiting for the final passage verbiage.

    I would love to see some budget slashing starting with the 3-letter agencies that have over-reached and lost trust with the American public. (Social Security is a 2-letter agency).


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