Tuesday, October 18, 2016

HuffPost is gonna HuffPost

From "Social Security Beneficiaries Are Getting A Modest Raise — But Many Say It’s Not Enough"
Some seniors react to the COLA as if it were a policy crafted by lawmakers, expressing anger at elected officials when, as was the case this past year, they do not get a yearly increase.
In reality, the size of the COLA is not in politicians’ hands. Designed to keep inflation from eroding benefits, the COLA is automatically based on growth in the consumer price index designed for wage earners and clerical workers, a metric known as the CPI-W. A year-over-year rise in the CPI-W means an increase in benefits for Social Security recipients.
However, that doesn’t mean progressive groups are engaging in empty political posturing. To be sure, they are using the meager COLAs to advance their larger argument that Social Security benefits are too modest, particularly in light of the growing role the program plays in providing retirement security.
So there's this government program and the rise in benefits is dictated by the current law which is based on the inflation rate.  The inflation rate has been historically low, so the rise in benefits is low.  But that's no fair!  And it's not political posturing - perish the thought.

The answer, of course, is to raise the Social Security tax rate so that seniors can receive more generous benefit hikes.  And since SS is universal program with a flat tax rate, this tax hike would apply equally to all income.  What do you say, Bernie Sanders?  Let's have a tax hike for everyone.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The answer, of course, is to raise the Social Security tax rate so that seniors can receive more generous benefit hikes. And since SS is universal program with a flat tax rate, this tax hike would apply equally to all income. What do you say, Bernie Sanders? Let's have a tax hike for everyone.


As long as you disregard decades and decades of monotonously stable polling showing steadfast public approval for maintaining Social Security with tax increases, that's a really potent "gotcha."

Eric2 said...

I beg to differ. There is approval for taxing "the other guy" by raising the cap or means-testing benefits. There is no appetite for raising the payroll tax such that it hits everybody equally.

Anonymous said...

That would be incorrect. A sampling from the past 40 years:

Forbes, 2014: New Survey: Americans OK With Tax Hikes To Protect Social Security
http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2014/10/24/across-age-income-and-party-americans-back-social-security-even-if-it-means-tax-hikes/#58f0804c5a5f

CNBC, 2013: Americans Will Pay to Shore Up Social Security: Poll
"About 8 in 10 (77%) say it is critical to preserve Social Security even if it means increasing the Social Security taxes paid by working Americans."
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100426765

CBS/NYT, 2011:
62% favored raising taxes to cutting benefits
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/jun/29/john-boehner/polls-taxes-show-people-favor-mixed-approach/

Gallup, 2005 and 2010 and 2015:
In all three surveys, people said they'd rather raise taxes than cut SS benefits (by margins of 15%, 9% and 14%).

1991:
In three different age ranges, 63%, 62% and 58% favored "increasing taxes somewhat"
http://www.electionstudies.org/Library/papers/documents/nes002292.pdf

Harris survey, 1981:
Majority support for increasing taxes to shore up SS
https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v52n12/v52n12p2.pdf

Hart Survey, 1979: "Higher taxes were not only preferred as an alternative to lower benefits but were also preferred as an alternative to raising the retirement age."
https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v52n12/v52n12p2.pdf

Shapiro/Smith polling, 1976:
Public support for higher taxes by a 2-1 margin in two separate polls
https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v52n12/v52n12p2.pdf

Eric said...

Hmm...the prestigious "National Academy of Social Insurance" has been busy polling.

But let's assume it's true that Americans will support universal tax increases in the payroll tax to pay for a quasi-universal program. Why isn't Hillary out there running on this popular idea?

Because people support the cleverly-bundled push-polled tax increases...until it hits them in the wallet. That's why Democrats are lockstep in getting those bad ole Richie Riches to pay for everything.

To paraphrase Barney Frank: "Government is the things we decide to do together...except pay for it."

Anonymous said...

Hmm...the prestigious "National Academy of Social Insurance" has been busy polling.

And yet their poll results mirror all the others. Beginners' luck!

The fly-by-night Gallup has been polling on Social Security for at least a quarter-century, and their results haven't changed.

Because you mistook your own opinion for the national mood, you've had to go from "there's no appetite for raising the payroll tax" to "push poll trickery," "I dispute one of those pollsters," and "well, why doesn't she say she's gonna do it, then?"

Decade after decade, poll after poll shows support for raising taxes over cutting benefits in theory. But obviously, "neither" is the runaway people's choice.

The public also prefers raising the retirement age to cuts in benefits... yet is against raising the retirement age. A paradox!

Your dilemma is the same dilemma you would have had in 1940, 1960, 1980, or 2090 if you make it: America loves its third rail. Even if we invalidate those nasty NASI polls.

Eric said...

Americans are really going to love the third rail when it short circuits in 2032. Well, sucks for...me.

I checked Gallup and after I got past the story "Many Americans Doubt They Will Get Social Security Benefits" I found that the numbers you cite are generic "should we raise taxes or cut benefits." What does this mean? Well, if you're 60+ in age, why should you give a damn if younger Americans have to foot the bill for a benefit they will never get back in full? Furthermore, if you listen to the Democrats' rhetoric, "raising taxes" NEVER means "raise it on me." It means raise it on the "other guy." Where's the poll of working-age Americans willing to pay more to shore up this creaky Depression-era program? There isn't one.

Too bad, kids. Now fork it over so you can get your 75% promised benefits, maybe.

Anonymous said...

Specific, in-depth poll questions that you’ve drawn larger conclusions from:
*“Right direction/wrong direction?”
*”Do you support Obamacare?”
*Obama’s 2012 approval rating, which proved he was “gonna lose” to Mitt Romney.

The question that’s too unspecific to be of any practical use:
*”Would you be willing to pay a higher payroll tax in order to maintain Social Security benefits?”

Must be because the responses to the first three poll questions never vary by age.


I checked Gallup and after I got past the story "Many Americans Doubt They Will Get Social Security Benefits"

One of the above links includes a series of annual polls in which more than half of Americans expressed little or no confidence in the future of Social Security. 60% were skeptical one year, 57% the next, rising to 67%, 64%, 68% and so on. Those polls were taken between 1978 and 1984. All of the respondents who said "not at all confident" have since gone on to collect full benefits, and in some cases, die.