Survey: Public not just opposed to Social Security cuts, they’ll pay to strengthen it

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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Here’s some news for the austerity fetishists who insist that “everyone knows” Social Security must be cut. The public emphatically disagrees.

Chart showing majority view for paying more in taxes to save Social Security.

That’s from a survey released this week by the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation’s leading experts on social insurance. As NASI points out in their press release, they find “a sharp contrast between what Americans say they want and changes being discussed in Washington, such as cutting benefits by using a ‘chained’ Consumer Price Index to determine Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).” Huge majorities, including 74 percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats, agree that “it is critical to preserve Social Security even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans.” Comparable numbers, 71 percent of Republicans and 97 percent of Democrats, support lifting the payroll tax cap on income of the current limit of $113,700.

In addition to being asked basic support/don’t support style questions, survey participants were given the opportunity to choose a preferred package of changes from a “various combinations of 12 possible changes, including raising taxes; lowering benefits by raising the full retirement age, changing the COLA, or means-testing benefits; and increasing benefits.”

The most favored package of changes—preferred to the status quo by seven in 10 participants across generations and income levels—would:

  • Gradually, over 10 years, eliminate the cap on earnings taxed for Social Security. This would mean that the 5% of workers who earn more than the cap would pay into Social Security all year, as other workers do.
  • Gradually, over 20 years, raise the Social Security tax that workers and employers each pay from 6.2% of earnings to 7.2%. The increase would be so gradual that someone earning $50,000 a year would pay about 50 cents a week more each year, with the employer’s share increasing by the same amount.
  • Increase the COLA to more accurately reflect the inflation actually experienced by seniors, who typically pay more out-of-pocket for medical care than other Americans.
  • Raise Social Security’s minimum benefit so that a worker who pays into Social Security for 30 years can retire at 62 or later with benefits above the federal poverty line ($10,788 in 2011). Currently, lifetime low-wage workers are at risk of falling into poverty in their old age, even after paying Social Security taxes throughout their working lives.

So much for what “everybody knows” about Social Security. The people who are actually going to have to live with the decisions policymakers land on, the people who really truly do have skin in the game recognize that Social Security benefits shouldn’t be cut, they should be increased, and that it’s such a critical priority they are willing to pay for it.

Under fire from Republicans, Hagel ends marathon confirmation hearing

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s choice to be secretary of defense, finished a day-long marathon confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, enduring nearly eight hours of testy and skeptical questions from Republicans.Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s choice to be secretary of defense, finished a day-long marathon confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, enduring nearly eight hours of testy and skeptical questions from Republicans.

Ordered to Germany, Pvt. Hagel wound up in Vietnam

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — Chuck Hagel says a funny thing happened on his way to the Vietnam War as an Army private 45 years ago.

U.S. sues to stop beer deal to unite Bud and Corona

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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View of Anheuser-Busch InBev logo outside the brewery headquarters in LeuvenWASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Anheuser-Busch InBev SA from buying the half of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo that it does not already own, saying the $20.1 billion deal could mean higher U.S. beer prices. The government's move calls into question the future of one of the biggest deals of 2012 and a related deal that was set to change the fortunes of the world's largest wine company, Constellation Brands Inc . Shares of all three companies fell sharply on the news. …

US looking at action against China cyberattacks

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is considering more assertive action against Beijing to combat a persistent cyber espionage campaign it believes Chinese hackers are waging against U.S. companies and government agencies.

Congress sends bill to Obama averting govt default

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, file photo, the dome of the Capitol is reflected in a skylight of the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington. The Senate Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, took up must-do legislation to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, putting off one Washington showdown even as others loom in coming weeks. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress sent President Barack Obama drama-free legislation on Thursday raising the debt ceiling, averting a government default and putting off the next tax-and-spending clash between the White House and Republicans until later in the year.

Daily Kos’s candidate endorsement questionnaire, 2013-14

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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Daily Kos’s 2012 fundraising totals

Whenever Daily Kos considers a candidate endorsement for our fundraising efforts, we ask the campaign to fill out our short questionnaire. It’s not intended to be a comprehensive dossier—if we insisted on asking 50 questions, we wouldn’t get many responses. Rather, our aim is to focus on a handful of issues of key importance to the Daily Kos community, to help give us a feel for the people we’re thinking about endorsing.

Consequently, there are plenty of important issues that don’t appear on our questionnaire. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important to us. To be absolutely clear: We evaluate all candidates holistically and make choices based on all the public information available to us, not just our questionnaire. For instance, if a given candidate answered our questions with flying colors but has a bad record on, say, environmental issues or reproductive freedom, that is something we would most definitely take into consideration.

For the most part, our questionnaire focuses on questions other groups aren’t asking—or at least, aren’t asking publicly. It can be difficult, for instance, to find out a first-time candidate’s views on the Employee Free Choice Act, but it’s a vital piece of legislation. Similarly, we aren’t aware of any other organizations that ask about the Blue Dog Coalition or the filibuster, so we feel it’s particularly crucial that we highlight the importance of these issues. And we try to make our questions as specific as possible, often by tying them to specific pieces of legislation, in order to minimize the possibility of vague or unsatisfying answers.

We also change our questions slightly from cycle to cycle, as events warrant. For instance, last cycle, we included a question about allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. Thanks to the fiscal cliff deal, that question was mostly resolved in progressives’ favor, so we consider that a success and have removed the question. We aren’t making many other changes: We’ve decided to focus on Medicare buy-in in our health care question (rather than the public option), and we’re also now asking about same-sex marriage, to send a statement about our values. If we make further alterations, we will of course let the community (and prospective candidates) know.

Biden: Gun curbs can’t ensure end to mass killings

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Curbing guns can’t ensure an end to mass slayings like December’s killings of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., but it will reduce firearm deaths, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday.

Judge orders end to secret censorship of Guantanamo court

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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Detainees talk together inside the open-air yard at the Camp 4 detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in CubaGUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) – A U.S. military judge on Thursday ordered the government to dismantle a monitoring system that let outside censors halt the public broadcast of hearings for Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the September 11 attacks. The closed-circuit broadcast feed was cut for a few minutes during a pretrial hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base on Monday for the self-described mastermind of attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-defendants. …

Suspension of debt limit wins final congressional approval

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2013-05-2008

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The U.S. Capitol Building stands in WashingtonWASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bill allowing the government to borrow money beyond its record $16.4 trillion debt limit won final congressional approval on Thursday, clearing the way for President Barack Obama to sign it into law. The Democratic-led Senate passed the bill, 64-34, a week after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved it, 285-144. …