It begins with the way the U.S. government measures inflation, which would deliver “a less generous chained-consumer price index,” to quote FT.
This decision alone would devastate elderly women, as I’ve written before.
Research from IWPR has shown the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women, and these findings have been supported by research from other organizations. Adult women are 51 percent (27 million) of all beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and the survivors of deceased workers (52.5 million). Women are more likely to rely on Social Security because they have fewer alternative sources of income, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become permanently disabled. Moreover, due to the recession many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets. Older women—and older low income populations in general—have become more economically vulnerable and dependent on Social Security benefits. – IWPR
To give you an idea of the story framing at FT, they call Medicare and Medicaid “large government healthcare schemes for the elderly and the poor.”
As for Social Security, we just learned that according to the U.S. Census the only group not being dragged into poverty in the Obama era is senior citizens. There’s only one reason why, but our Democratic President thinks it’s time to “reform” their reality.
… Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that the period from 2001 to 2007 was the first recovery on record where the level of poverty was deeper, and median income of working-age people was lower, at the end than at the beginning.
“Even before the recession hit, a lot of people were falling behind,” he said. “This may be adding to people’s sense of urgency about the economy.”
The suburban poverty rate, at 11.8 percent, appears to be the highest since 1967, Mr. Sherman added. Last year more Americans fell into deep poverty, defined as less than half the official poverty line, or about $11,000, with the ranks of that group increasing to 20.5 million, or about 6.7 percent of the population.
Poverty has also swallowed more children, with about 16.4 million in its ranks last year, the highest numbers since 1962, according to William Frey, senior demographer at Brookings. That means 22 percent of children are in poverty, the highest percentage since 1993.
Too bad the poor and children don’t squawk as loud as seniors, aren’t represented by AARP, but also don’t vote in as large numbers.
It’s funny how Republicans and now even Democrats are so courageous about putting the people’s safety net on the block, but these same politicians turn yellow when it comes to making real choices about military overspending, extravagance and waste, as if our military footprint around the globe isn’t a huge part of our economic problem.
But I’m reasonable.
So, I can be convinced to make serious entitlement reform, but something else has to happen first.
Get out of Iraq and begin a much more rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan, because Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is scattered and broken apart; at the same time redeploy our troops from Germany and Okinawa, for starters, with an assessment begun by a committee filled with national security, military and Pentagon busting experts (like Winslow Wheeler) not currently attached to the Pentagon or having lobbyist ties, to ascertain the other countries from which we can remove U.S. forces, based on U.S. strategic interests.
Do all of these things then come to me and ask about entitlement
UPDATE – 9.15.11: Under pressure, today the White House pushed back on the FT story, with reports in the Washington Post and the WSJ reporting Pres. Obama will not tinker with Social Security. The problem for Pres. Obama is that he’s already floated these ideas, so whether he does it on Monday or not it’s in the political water, bolstering the Right’s passion for pulverizing the U.S. social safety net.
The last time President Obama negotiated with Republicans about overhauling the nation’s social safety set, he put several significant and politically explosive proposals on the table.
This time, it may be different.
As Obama prepares to present Congress on Monday with a detailed plan for taming the nation’s debt, a pivotal question is whether he will again propose raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and propose cuts in Social Security benefits.
Over the objections of members of his party, the president had agreed to those changes as part of an unsuccessful effort to strike a debt deal this summer with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). But Obama’s aides say the plan being released Monday would not represent that sort of compromise.