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Hiltzik: GOP will use coronavirus to bypass Social Security



Hiltzik: GOP will use coronavirus to bypass Social Security

We must marvel at the admiration for determining the enemies of Social Security among Republicans and conservatives:

Not only do they refuse to let a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic divert them from a long-term campaign to undermine the program, they also use the crisis to justify cutting benefits.

The latest idea of ​​making a round of anti-Social Security caucuses is to pay for a coronavirus stimulus aid for Americans who need it most by forcing them to borrow from their future retirement benefits to keep themselves eating and living today.

Social Security is the insurance benefit obtained. That’s not a piggy bank.

Alex Lawson, executive director of the Social Security Jobs advocacy group

The news that the White House was eyeing the idea came from the Washington Post, which reported over the weekend that the government is concerned about the impact on the national debt battle against COVID-19.

It’s no secret that Republicans have begun to collect deficit arguments for further assistance to Americans who have lost work or work hours due to the virus.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Called for the brakes to be applied to further stimulus measures because of concerns about the federal budget soon after the passage of the $ 2 trillion CARES Act in April. Since then, they have strengthen their stance for further assistance.

Interestingly, in a frightening way, are options contemplated by Trump administration officials to maintain further stimulus assistance from burdening the richest taxpayers. The Post reports that they are “exploring” proposals submitted by two conservatives that allow workers to receive up to $ 10,000 today, but pay their money back by delaying their Social Security benefits once they retire.

Proposal comes from Andrew Biggs from the American Enterprise Institute and Joshua Rauh from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Biggs and Rauh closed their plan by calculating that a $ 5,000 loan would require a maximum defer in just under five months, for a worker with very low income to take out a loan at the age of 60.

For high-income and younger workers, the suspension will be shorter. But as Biggs and Rauh have shown, the burden is greater for those on the lowest incomes.

A worker who gets a maximum Social Security wage ($ 137,700 this year) who takes a $ 5,000 loan at the age of 25 must defer benefits after retirement for less than a month. The worker will receive a partial allowance check in the first month and full benefits afterward.

The Biggs and Rauh plans to charge interest every year from the time the money is borrowed to retirement. They suggest 1.6% a year, which means that a worker who borrows at age 25 will end up with a debt of around $ 9,700, or nearly double the loan amount, at retirement.

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That said, it is also true that scheduled benefits will also increase during one’s working life – if they increase by more than 1.6% a year on average, the relative costs of payments will shrink.

How seriously the Trump administration considers this kind of plan open to conjecture. Biggs told me via email that he had made contact with White House staff about the idea, but solely on technical issues such as “how changes in loan size or interest rates could affect months of delayed benefits in retirement.”

He said he had not yet had “a large-scale discussion that would tell me how seriously this policy was being considered.”

Such proposals are likely to get the spotlight from Democrats, who have moved generally towards a plan to increase, not reduce, Social Security benefits. Partly because they recognize that this program is the most important stronghold against poverty in old age, especially for working-class Americans with limited access to retirement savings or pensions.

Social Security benefits, in blue, represent most retirement resources for everyone, but the top 10% of Americans measured by wealth – far more than retirement accounts, pink, or liquid savings, green.

(Wharton Business School)

In essence, a proposal to use Social Security to fund stimulus benefits will effectively free the richest Americans from their responsibilities to society at large, while haunting 99% with more burdens. In the current case, they will force middle and low income workers to bear the costs of the struggle against COVID-19.

The Jamsostek advocate is quite right in the weaponry of this very concept.

“These ideas represent a huge abuse of Social Security for a purpose unrelated to its core goal: providing basic retirement security for American workers,” stressed the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare.

They are right. Proposals for Social Security prepaid provide false benefits about how the program was designed. As Alex Lawson, executive director of the Social Security Works advocacy group observed: “Social Security is the insurance benefit gained. That’s not a piggy bank. “

That’s because Social Security is not solely a retirement plan. This is a social insurance program that combines disability coverage and benefits of survivors with pensions, including inflation protection and lifetime benefits.

For decades, Social Security critics have faced this fact as a hindrance to the many proposals to “reform” the program.

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Defining Social Security as if it were just an individual retirement account is the key to the efforts under George W. Bush to privatize Social Security. (Biggs was a staff member of the Bush privatization task force, and later became an official in the Social Security Administration.)

The proposal to raid Social Security to provide a lump sum for individuals has taken steam in recent years. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joined Ivanka Trump in 2018 to apply for family leave benefits which will also be funded by parents who give up some of their Social Security benefits. They based their proposal on a plan previously floated by Biggs and libertarian lawyer Kristin Shapiro.

Earlier this month, a group of scholars at the Wharton School of Business attempted give academic credibility to rob Social Security, stressing that “giving workers initial access to only 1% of their future Social Security benefits” would allow “most households to maintain their current consumption for at least two months.”

All of these ideas seem to make superficial sense, especially since their arithmetic seems to work. What could be simpler than taking money now and paying it back 40 or 50 years from now? But as policies – especially Social Security and safety net policies – they don’t make sense.

The effect will damage Social Security by eroding the fundamental structure. The Wharton Team immediately discussed this.

“A lump-sum payment from Social Security benefits will accelerate the depletion of the Social Security trust fund by several years,” they wrote. “Thus policy makers will be forced to consider rights reforms, such as tax increases or deductions for beneficiaries, more quickly.”

One can already imagine the argument coming from the Republican caucus: “We prefer to maintain Social Security, but the virus forces us to cut it.”

The truth is that a proposal to attack Social Security to pay for coronavirus assistance will hit the most vulnerable Americans – they are people who really need money now, and will pay relatively high fees to get it. As Wharton’s paper observes, “access to Social Security serves the needs of workers vulnerable to the crisis, but does not increase the obligations of the federal government as a whole.”

Because the overall obligations of the federal government are conventionally protected in large part by progressive taxation – that is, heavier tax principles on the rich – we can see who benefits most from making Social Security pay for freight.

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As Richard Johnson of the Urban Institute said at the Rubio / Trump family leave proposal, lump-sum Social Security payments would add another channel to the pension system that has made millions of Americans vulnerable.

“Already we have a lot of leaked pension systems,” he said. “People can use their 401 (k) savings or borrow it, so people cannot retire with as much savings as they should. One thing they have now is Social Security, but if we let people borrow Social Security, it adds to the vulnerability of the pension system. ”

Another subtle text of this proposal is that many recipients of the latest stimulus checks – up to $ 1,200 per adult in households earning up to $ 150,000 – are not feasible. Checks will not only be given to workers who have lost their jobs, but also retirees whose income is not affected by the corona virus locking or government workers and others who have not been laid off or experienced a reduction within a few hours.

Turning stimulus assistance into a voluntary program with costs at the end of Social Security benefits will limit government outflows and help ensure that it goes to those who need it, Biggs and Rauh argue.

But those goals can be achieved while leaving Social Security out of the process. Payments that don’t need to be recovered by taxing, for example. The 1040 tax form next year can ask: Have you been laid off in 2020? Decrease income? If not, add $ 1,200 to your tax bill.

Basically, the question raised by this proposal is why Social Security should be part of a stimulus program at all. Biggs and Rauh said that to avoid deficit financing, in this case “future taxpayers must pay off debts incurred by the federal government, either through direct taxation or inflation.”

A reasonable response to that concern is: So what? Until the coronavirus crisis hit, the biggest contributor to the federal deficit over the next decade is expected to be a tax cut imposed by the Republicans in 2017, which will add more than $ 1.5 trillion in red ink this decade.

The cuts are mainly for companies and rich people. But the recipients were not asked to submit their Social Security benefits, or actually sacrifice anything, in return for government contributions. Corporations do not even adhere to the rules that require them to invest their profits in wages or equipment, so that many give money to shareholders through billions through repurchases of shares and dividends.

And now, amazingly, Republicans cry poverty on behalf of the federal government which is systematically impoverished. As is almost always the case, they plan to take costs out of the neediest.

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Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira in 16th place after the first free practice in Assen – DNOTICIAS.PT



Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira in 16th place after the first free practice in Assen – DNOTICIAS.PT

Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira (KTM) finished the first two free practices of the MotoGP Grand Prix in Assen in 16th place.

Oliveira finished the day with a time of 1.34.676 minutes, 1.402 seconds behind the best rider of the day, Italy’s Francesco Banagia (Ducati). Spaniard Aleix Espargaro (April) was second with 0.178 seconds and French champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) was third with 0.305 seconds.

After the first session in the rain, in which the rider from Almada was sixth fastest, the rain stopped before the start of the second session.

The riders started with intermediate tires, but as the track in Assen in the Netherlands, considered the “cathedral” of motorsport, dried up, they installed dry tires (slicks).

Under these conditions, Miguel Oliveira was losing ground in the table, ending the day in 16th place, despite an improvement of about nine seconds from the morning’s record, in rain, in which Australian Jack Miller (Ducati) was the fastest. , fifth in the afternoon.

On Saturday there will be two more free practices and qualifications.

The 10 fastest in the set of the first three sessions go directly to the second stage of qualification (Q2), and the remaining 14 “brawl” in Q1, resulting in the two fastest qualifying to the next stage.

Fabio Quartararo enters this 11th round of the season leading the championship with 172 points, while Miguel Oliveira is in 10th place with 64 points.

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Portuguese MNEs defend that Mercosur is a “natural partner” of the European Union at the moment – Observer



Portuguese MNEs defend that Mercosur is a "natural partner" of the European Union at the moment - Observer

This Thursday, Portugal’s foreign minister said that at a time when the European Union (EU) seeks to diversify suppliers and markets, MERCOSUR is a natural partner whose importance cannot be “underestimated”.

For Portugal, “the current delicate context makes us appreciate even more the mutual advantages of the Agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR,” João Gomes Cravinho said, without directly referring to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“At a time when the EU is seeking to diversify suppliers and markets in order to ensure greater strategic autonomy, MERCOSUR is a natural partner, whose importance we cannot underestimate“, the minister added at a conference entitled “Brazil and Portugal: perspectives for the future”, which takes place from Thursday to Friday at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) is a South American economic bloc created in 1991, whose founding members are Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.


But still, within the framework of the European Union, Joao Gomes Cravinho believed that EU strategic partnership with Brazil left ‘untapped’.

The Minister stressed that in the context of the EU, Portugal “always knew how to use its position in favor of strengthening relations with Brazil.”

Therefore, it was during the Portuguese presidency, in 2007, that a “strategic partnership with Brazil” was established, he stressed.

However, according to the head of Portuguese diplomacy, this is “a partnership that has clearly not been used for a variety of reasons and which still retains the ability to position Brazil as Europe’s great interlocutor for South America.”

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With regard to bilateral relations between the two countries, the minister emphasized that “in this context of global turmoil, the wisdom of the central characteristic common to the foreign policy of Brazil and Portugal, which is active participation in many multilateral structures, in recognition of the indispensability of multilateralism, international cooperation and global rules based order.

Portugal meets with Brazil in all areas of Portuguese foreign policy. We are Atlantic, we are Ibero-American and Portuguese-speaking,” he said.

In the Atlantic dimension, “Portugal and Brazil are united by an ocean, which we recognize as growing in importance in the context of new, complex and truly existential issues,” he said.

According to João Gomes Cravinho, “Some of these problems can be answered in the Atlantic Center, co-founded by Portugal and Brazil”, and “the other part of the huge ocean problems will be addressed in detail at the great Summit.” Oceans”, which will be held in Lisbon next week.

“In any of the areas, new prospects are opening up for Portuguese-Brazilian relations,” he stressed.

With regard to Ibero-America, the minister believes that Portugal and Brazil share “an enormous strategic space with the Castilian-speaking countries, where a joint Portuguese-Brazilian reflection is undoubtedly recommended on the potential to exploit opportunities and create synergies”.

“Value of CPLP [Comunidade de Países de Língua Portuguesa] is gaining more and more recognition at the international level – and the evidence of this is the growing number of states that become associate observers” of the organization, he believes.

“Because they want to engage with us and reinforce the value of the linguistic, cultural and historical ties that unify lusophony and create a unique dynamic for relationships with third parties,” he stressed.

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But even at this level, he argued that there was an urgent need to find a “convergence of visions and desires” that “allows us to enhance” our “separate realities.”

The minister also mentioned that “despite the break caused by the pandemic”, Portugal has a “real air bridge” with Brazil, consisting of more than 74 weekly TAP flights, which is a cause and effect of “a dynamic that is being updated and reinvented”. relations between the two countries.

This dynamic, according to Gomes Cravinho, is also reflected in economic and commercial relations.

Thus, “Brazil is the first Latin American export market for Portuguese merchandise and is already the fourth largest merchandise export destination (outside the EU).

“However, the conviction remains that the potential is far from being realized, and that nostalgia for the future entails a vision of a different profile of our exchanges, a technological, creative profile that corresponds to global geo-economic transformations,” he defended. .

At this stage, João Gomes Cravinho also underlined the potential of the port of Sines, “whose strategic importance, which has long been noted, takes on new importance in the troubled times that we are going through.”

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A cycle of Portuguese cinema will be held in New York from Friday.



A cycle of Portuguese cinema will be held in New York from Friday.

Dand from June 24 to 30, an event called “New Stories from Portuguese Cinema” will present the perspectives of a new generation of filmmakers “whose films embody the artistic, social and political reflections that mark the 21st century,” according to the organization in a statement.

Balad o batrachio by Leonor Teles, Amor, Avenidas Novas by Duarte Coimbra and O Cordeiro de Deus by David Pinheiro Vicente are three of the 20 films that are part of this cinematic cycle.

Pedro Cabeleira, Laura Carreira, Susana Nobre, Joao Rosas, Tomas Paula Marquez, Catarina de Souza and Nick Tyson, Maya Cosa and Sergio da Costa, Christel Alves Meira, Paulo Carneiro, Pedro Peralta, Diogo Salgado, Catarina Vasconcelos and Aya Korezli other directors integrated into this movie cycle.

In addition to FLAD, this event is also the result of a partnership with New York-based Anthology Film Archives, an iconic venue for independent and experimental filmmaking, hosting a Portuguese film cycle featuring Francisco Valente.

“Anthology Film Archives has been a reference space for over 50 years. It seemed to us ideal to promote the works of these directors, emphasizing their uniqueness and quality. We believe that Portuguese cinema can gain more space in the United States and we want to do our part to internationalize it,” said FLAD President Rita Faden.

Francisco Valente, guest programmer, explained that the 18 selected directors are distinguished by “their unwavering commitment to using the screen to express their personal freedom, reflect their racial and gender identity, and develop narratives that comment on and expand our reality.” – in Portugal, in the United States, or in that beautiful and imaginary country called cinema.

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This connection between Portugal and the United States of America is also expressed in the documentary “In the Footsteps of Utopia”, based on the testimonies of “weird” teenagers from Queens, filmed by Catarina de Souza and Nick Tyson, who will come to New York to find out their joint production, which closes this cycle.

The program of the cycle is available in the Screenings section of the Anthology Film Archives “website” ( and on the FLAD “website” ( /uploads/2022/02/new_tales_final_bx.pdf).

See also: Michael J. Fox received a humanitarian “Oscar”, and Diane Warren – an honorary “Oscar”.

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