Posts Tagged ‘Social Security’

Suddenly, a blizzard of truth from Republicans. Sam Goldwyn Awards* for all three.

February 17, 2011


Everybody in politics knows that federal spending is unsustainable: ending earmarks, eliminating waste, cutting non-defense discretionary spending won’t make more difference than baling out a sinking ship with a teacup. Drastic action is called for. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security have to be cut back or they’ll bankrupt the nation.

But our political leaders run from the problem. In the debate last year over health care reform, Republicans accused proponents of wanting to ration health care, and the Democrats, instead of saying, “Yes, it’s rationed now and we’ll have to ration it a lot more,” denied and denied. “Not us!”

Now come three prominent Republicans to speak truth to power—to the voting public.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) grabbed the third rail of American politics when he told an American Enterprise Institute audience, “You’re going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Oh, I just said it. And I’m still standing here. I did not vaporize into the carpeting, and I said it.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) was even bolder—and more comprehensive—in a thoughtful speech to CPAC ( the Conservative Political Action Conference) in Washington. He told the right wing audience that his own party hasn’t tackled the problem, dealing instead with trifles: “Talking much more about [earmarks], or ‘waste, fraud, and abuse,’ trivializes what needs to be done and misleads our fellow citizens to believe that easy answers are available.” Instead Daniels proposed cutting defense, and radically changing Social Security and Medicare (more…)


Which is more unethical: Nancy Pelosi staying on as Democratic leader or Nancy Pelosi sabotaging the bipartisan deficit commission?

November 11, 2010


Nancy Pelosi is labeled an “ethics dunce” by Jack Marshall, in his Ethics Alarms blog: “Pelosi’s refusal to step aside places her own ego above the needs of public service and country, and is as blatant an example of power corrupting judgment as one can imagine. At a time when all ethical considerations argue for her to swallow her pride and let others take over, she is willing to jeopardize not only her party’s comity, unity and image but her own legislative achievements.”

Marshall reserves the dunce label “for those individuals and organizations who display a complete ignorance of ethics through their persistence in, defense of, or comfort with blatantly unethical conduct.”

But Pelosi’s behavior this week is even more deserving of the “ethics dunce” label than her unseemly clinging to her leadership position. Yesterday, within minutes of the release of the President’s deficit commission’s draft report, she blasted it as “simply unacceptable.”


The unethical federal budget

February 14, 2010

Is it ethical to make a commitment that you know you can’t keep? Heck, no! Some employers used to promise retirement benefits that they didn’t set aside money for. The government decided to outlaw such unethical behavior: now the law requires employers who promise retirement benefits to set aside funds to pay when the benefits come due.

Sadly the government isn’t about to do what it’s required employers to do. The government has promised Americans that they’ll be covered by Social Security and by Medicare, and—if they’re poor—by Medicaid. The costs of these “entitlement” programs are growing steadily as:

  1. the baby boomers are just starting to come under Social Security and Medicare. (The first boomers, born in 1946, become 65 next year, then an avalanche in the next ten years.)
  2. life expectancy is increasing—babies born this year have a 50-50 chance of living to 100
  3. medical care gets more expensive as people grow older, and
  4. medical science is developing ever-more-expensive treatments.

All in all, this “perfect storm” will either bankrupt the country or force America to break its promises to the elderly.

So what are our politicians doing to fix this problem? Some are calling for budget cuts, knowing that the entitlement programs are not cut-able under present law. Others are calling for reform, knowing that reform can’t come close to solving the funding problem. Every one of our legislators knows about the problem. But it’s not being addressed. This is profoundly unethical behavior: they agreed to do the people’s work if they were sent to Washington, and having won election they are sloughing off the problem to our grandchildren.

Whose fault is it and what can be done? I’ll address this in coming blogs.