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1995 - 2001

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Social Security Issues 

Archives  2004

5 Ways to Win the Privatization Debate (2004)
Small investment accounts are very expensive to administer. With privatization, broker commissions and fees could easily burn up as much as 15 cents out of every dollar of a worker's annual investment as they do in some countries with privatized systems. Wall Street brokers and fund managers would stand to make billions of dollars a year thanks to privatization, so it's no surprise that they strongly support the privatization movement! Use these five arguments to win over those who have fallen for privatization propaganda!

Wall St Could Make a Social Security Killing (December 28, 2004) 
Who has the greatest interest in changing US Social Security?... According to Austan Goolsbee, one of the most prominent critics of the privatization, it’s very easy to understand why Wall Street “has so far been silent on the Bush administration's post-election push for social security reform, including redirection of a share of new contributions to private retirement accounts.” To his mind, the profit for Wall Street if there is a reform would be enormous: between $US424 billion and $US1.1 trillion. And it’s not the first time that “the best-connected and most powerful industry” would bring home the gold from the public coffers. And the old people of the USA? Dumped!

The Devil is in the Details of the Bush Social Security Privatization (December 25, 2004)
This writer lays out the tactics that Bush and privatization advocates will use to persuade US citizens that Social Security “must” be changed. Don’t let the wool be pulled over your eyes!

Bush Plans a Media Blitz on Social Security (December 23, 2004)
The Presidential plan on privatization of Social Security is underway. Now, you have to be watchful and try not to be overwhelmed with the Bush Administration’s $15 million media campaign. If they try to convince you that the Social Security is in crisis and that their project is the best way to solve the problem, just remember that tactics used with the unproven mass destruction weapons, the need to attack Iraq and the Bush reelection underwritten by the same financial industry that will benefit from privatizing Social Security.

Details Cloud Support for Social Security Plan (December 22, 2004)

According to a Washington Post-ABC New Poll, President Bush has some support for his argument that Social Security needs a “change” to meet its obligations to future retirees. But there remains considerable skepticism about the Bush attempt to privatize the system with private investments in the stock market and the financial risks that will entail. 

Wall St. Lobby Quietly Tackles Social Security (December 21, 2004)
President Bush prepares to disclose the details of his plan to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars of future Social Security funds into privately held investment accounts. Behind the scenes, Wall Street has begun a low key lobbying campaign supporting privatization.

Social Security Slam-Dunk (December 21, 2004)
Richard Cohen of the Washington Post compares the Bush's Social Security plan to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: here is a new lie from the government, a “false urgency” which is going to be very expensive for everybody and to destroy the US Social Security system which does not seem to be really in crisis.

The GOP's Sabotage of Social Security (December 21, 2004)
“Social Security is the key reason seniors are no longer the most impoverished class in our society or a crushing burden on their children.” 
With privatization, the White House is going to transform and destroy a system of vital importance for a big part of the population, offering a “windfall” to Wall Street and imposing a burden on the younger workers. This situation could create a “a young-versus-old generational fight.”

Social Security Privatization and Women Report
Women are the face of Social Security, comprising 60 percent of beneficiaries over 65 and 72 percent of recipients over 85. Women depend on Social Security's guaranteed, lifetime benefits: 27 percent of women over 65 rely on Social Security for 90 percent of their retirement income. The Social Security system is an embodiment of the long-standing American principle of social insurance. 
For women, poverty in old age is often rooted in the realities that shaped their lives early on: the reality of the wage gap, the reality of caregiving, and the reality of flexible jobs that offer few benefits, especially pensions.
With this report, the Older Women’s League wants to show that privatization plans would divert Social Security payroll taxes into individually owned private accounts, shifting the system from shared risk and collective gain among workers to private accounts that would leave workers to sink or swim on their own.

Bush Plan Will Kill Social Security (December 20, 2004) 
“Trusting George Bush to protect your Social Security is like hiring the wolf to guard the chicken coop.” Here, columnist Dave Fredley explains how the Bush administration plans for privatizing Social Security affect him.

Bush Says Social Security Plan Would Reassure Markets (December 17, 2004)
There are a lot of critics opposing Social Security privatization-- especially the $2 trillion that the government will have to borrow to finance the transition. While Bush said that his plan would reassure financial markets, others disagreed. "Their politics are overwhelming their economic reason," said Gary Gensler, a former top executive at the Goldman Sachs investment firm and the official in the Clinton administration.

Buying Into Failure (December 17, 2004)

“We can learn a lot from other countries that have already gone down that road”: Bush is not the first who wants to privatize Social Security. So it’s important to examine what’s happened in other countries. In both England and Chile, the private sector could not provide cheaper administration of the program than did the governments. (In the US, the current Social Security system costs only 1% for its administration.) Second, many elderly become very poor under privatization. Not wanting to see too many old people die of poverty, both England and Chile have “rescued” the private system with some minimalist public payments to the elderly poor. Why not keep the current program in the US? It does not cost much to administer and keeps most elderly out of poverty. 

Bush Seeks Bipartisan Backing
For His Social Security Plan (December 17, 2004)

Major US citizen groups-- AFL-CIO, AARP, the NAACP, the National Organization of Women—lined up to oppose the Bush plan to privatize Social Security. They said that the Social Security system must be defended and criticized the Bush plan to require the federal government to borrow trillions to support the transition to a privatized system. Others criticized the financial risk to small investors who might make poor investment choices in their accounts—while the brokerages would profit from every transaction. It appears to be a Republican vs. Democrat battle; however, many Democrat representatives have flirted with privatization at the urging of their rich campaign contributors. 

Not Just Your Mom's Retirement (December 16, 2004) 

“The income that Social Security provides to the elderly benefits multiple generations.”
Children, disabled workers and families of prematurely deceased workers all collect Social Security benefits. The program truly serves the role of government safety net as it was intended—lending a hand to Americans in their time of need. The personal investment accounts idea being floated by the White House and its surrogates would effectively shred that safety net. Nancy Duff Campbell and Joan Entmacher of the National Women's Law Center show how.

America’s Seniors Will Fight to Save And Strengthen Social Security - Alliance for Retired Americans Says Privatization Threatens All (December 16, 2004) 
Despite President Bush’s claims that Social Security benefits for current retirees won’t be cut as a result of privatization, America’s seniors don’t believe the President. They will mobilize forces nationwide to fight against plans to privatize Social Security, said George J. Kourpias, president of the 3 million-member Alliance for Retired Americans.

Groups Line Up to Oppose Bush Social Security Plan (December 16, 2004)

As President Bush begins a big campaign to restructure Social Security, Democrats and a host of interest groups are mobilizing to fight his private account plan and protect the traditional retirement system.

The $2 Trillion Question (December 16, 2004)
The reliance on payroll tax is already too high and further reducing workers won't help when millions of baby boomers are ready to leave the workforce. So here's an idea from Get America Working. Instead of taxing payrolls even more to cover Social Security and Medicare, tax energy and natural resources, which we desperately need to use more efficiently? Get America Working president, Robert Walker, explains. Why doesn’t he also suggest that Congress stop efforts to make Bush tax cuts for the richest citizens permanent? 

Letter to President Bush from Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) (December 15, 2004)
Here is a letter from the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations to President Bush protesting against his Social Security privatization plan. They “urge a full accounting of the costs of partial privatization and how those costs would be met.”

Bush's Big Ambitions
Breed Big Opposition (December 15, 2004)

The White House economic conference that kicks off today is aimed at building a foundation for the ambitions of President Bush's second term to privatize Social Security and other items, such as tort reform. Opposition generated by its headline goals suggests that a storm of protest will come on this fundamental Social Security change. 

Twelve Reasons Why Privatizing Social Security is a Bad Idea (December 14, 2004)
Addressing Social Security’s potential long-term financing challenges by taking the dramatic step of diverting its payroll taxes to create new personal accounts will have drastic consequences for federal finances, future retirees, and those who rely on the system the most. Learn more about twelve major reasons why less costly and less painful reforms should be considered instead.

Gambling away Social Security (December 13, 2004) 
Bush's comments suggest America will borrow big and bet it on the market, putting individuals and the economy at risk. Though President Bush never mentions it, the essence of Social Security privatization seems to be the introduction of individual risk and reduction of income security. Safer, saner options exist.

Anti-Social Security (December 9, 2004)
The battle for Social Security's survival is underway. In this article that refutes a number of the Bush key points, Dean Baker calls attention to a recent key maneuver. N. Gregory Mankiw, George W. Bush's chief economic adviser, explicitly floated the idea of cutting benefits, a necessary but unmentioned part of the White House's privatization plan. More details will be presented to the public in the weeks ahead, but the outlines of the Bush plan are already clear, having been laid out by his 2001 Social Security Commission.

Social Security Numbers Game 
GOP Ponders 30-year Scoring Rather Than 10 (December 8, 2004)

Here is how Republicans will push to rewrite budget rules in an attempt to remove financial obstacles that threaten the GOP’s effort to reform Social Security: They intend to move to craft budget language that would direct the Congressional Budget Office to score Social Security reform legislation over 30 or more years would likely increase the chances that the bill would pass in the 109th Congress. Republicans could also write budget provisions that would remove the program entirely from the budget process.

Inventing a Crisis (December 7, 2004) 
Privatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.

A False Start on Social Security (December 3, 2004)
White House and Congressional budget leaders have been floating the idea that the Bush plan to create private retirement accounts within Social Security won't require a major increase in the federal budget deficit. This is dangerously misguided. Unwilling to raise taxes, Congress and the administration will have to borrow well over $1 trillion to turn the president's wish into reality. A very poor idea!

Social Security -The 2 Trillion Dollar Travesty (November 24, 2004)
“President Bush and his cronies in Congress are working a Social Security privatization scheme that would add trillions to the national debt, cut retirement benefits and raise taxes.” The plan is actually to cut guaranteed Social Security benefits and replace them by privatized accounts: this is really risky and will be very expensive. Read the financial details to privatize US Social Security.

Social Security is a Women's Issue (November 23, 2004)
“Nothing is more important to women and families than Social Security.” It’s why the Social Security system has to be “carefully strengthened”, and not by privatizing it. If Bush applies his plans, women will be the first affected persons. 

Don't Let Bush Rob Social Security (November 23, 2004) 
Social Security isn’t broken, but Washington is full of reformers looking to fix it. Many, especially those who favor privatization, claim that the retirement of baby boomers and budget problems will bankrupt the Social Security Trust Fund anywhere from the next decade to the next 40 years. Ideologically driven claims rather than facts, however, lie at the heart of the pro-privatization arguments. This article sums up the point of view of those who support a universal public social insurance program in the USA.

A Warning For Social Security "Reformers" (November 17, 2004)
While the Bush Administration drives toward replacing part of Social Security with private investment accounts, a government agency is planning to go to Congress to ask for a bail-out. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), which guarantees private pension plans, just announced that its net liabilities are double earlier estimates, more than $23 billion. Bernard Wasow details how risky private accounts will be—and warns US citizens against buying the sales talk for privatization. Caveat emptor!

Raiders Of The Lock Box (November 17, 2004)
Robert Reich argues that the basic concept of Social Security is one based on trust—which is why the spectre of future generations placing money into private accounts breaks that trust. It also raises the question of where the money will come from for the next retiring generation. Bush's guarantees that he won't change Social Security benefits for current retirees is highly unlikely under a privatization plan. Refer to the Institute for America's Future campaign to protect Social Security for more information on Social Security privatization and ways to fight it.

AARP Opposes Bush Plan to Replace Social Security With Private Accounts (November 12, 2004)
Gearing up for battle over the future of Social Security, AARP, the influential lobby group, said Thursday that it opposed President Bush's plan to divert some payroll taxes into private retirement accounts. But given the AARP’s deceptive record of promoting the Medicare Modernization Act, many members will be skeptical of its so-called opposition to privatization. Who does AARP speak for? Many wonder if AARP’s substantial interests in pharmaceutical and financial services overrides what Ethel 
Andrus, the retired California schoolteacher, set out to do when she founded the organization. 

Dual for the White House: The Pensions Threatened by Georges Bush (October 25, 2004)
(Article in French)
Social Security change dominated the US presidential campaign. The two candidates diverged on this question. Indeed, whereas George Bush would like privatization, John Kerry is totally against this idea and says that it would be a disaster. The economist James Galbraith agrees with the Democrat candidate’s theory. According to him, the actual situation of the American public pension doesn’t need this kind of change. It will only be in 2018 that the funds won’t be in surplus anymore. The solution lies, he says in well paid jobs, “because it’s on those jobs that the most important amounts of taxes are deducted,” he explains. On the contrary, privatizing would be a catastrophe.

Looming Pension Woes Trouble Experts (October 24, 2004)
Under-funded pensions remain a painful issue for the U.S. taxpayers, with the possibility of a multibillion-dollar public bailout on the horizon. While lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, struggle to find solutions for the U.S. pension crisis, opinions among the experts are split into two dimensions: Few, like the conservative Cato Institute, say defined benefits plans are on the way out. Others say that traditional plans represent deferred wages to workers—who have done the labor during their employed years. Now the company must come up with the pension; otherwise it violates the trust—and in some cases—the collective bargaining agreement that companies made when they hired the workers. 

Bush, Kerry Clash Over Social Security Reform (October 14, 2004) 
US President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry clashed Wednesday night over how to reform the Social Security system, in their third and final presidential debate. Bush wants to let young people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. He said the reform of Social Security would be "a vital issue" in his second term, if he got re-elected. According to Kerry, this way of changing the Social Security is "an invitation to disaster." He wants to protect Social Security: "I will not privatize it. I will not cut the benefits. And we're going to be fiscally responsible, and we will take care of Social Security," he said.
Soaring Costs of Senior Care( October 4, 2004) 
The USA faces large costs for Social Security and medical care in the next 70 years. (Of course, citizens and policy makers knew that US citizens were getting older for the last 60 years---so it should not be a surprise. ) But if you think this nation's health care and pension problems are huge, look abroad. The population in many developed countries is aging faster than the U.S. population. That means fewer young people to support a rapidly growing number of senior citizens. All the countries who have to meet the costs of an aging population (Japan, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Estonia, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany…) use different weapons. It’s a lesson for the USA: Paying for a graying society isn't easy. It's not cheap. But it's better to start now. Lobby for measures such as taxing the rich, not the poorest; creating public jobs, stopping ageism in hiring practices and pay levels.

Retiring around Social Security (October 7, 2004) 
“The fundamental problem of saving for retirement is making your money last longer than you do” --- John Waggoner from USA Today lists various facts regarding the issue of income security for older persons. According to the estimates provided by the American Academy of Actuaries, more than a quarter of those now aged 65 will live to 90, which means their savings have to last more than 30 years. What should American workers know in order to save wisely for their retirement?

How Not To Save Social Security (September 23, 2004) 
Social Security protects everyone because it includes everyone. According to the New York Times, a partial privatization of Social Security that President Bush has been pushing would “weaken Social Security, hurt the economy and endanger many workers’ retirements by pushing them into unreasonable risks in the stock market.” Because of huge deficits caused by the transition and the higher risk in investing money in the stock market, reductions in government services or higher tax will most likely occur. Those who will retire with a personal account will end up getting smaller benefits. In addition, those who are unemployed and the poor will be driven out of the system because they would not be able to come up with the money to invest in personal accounts. Privatization of Social Security will, therefore, not produce positive outcomes for future retirees.

Social Security COLA Reductions Would Weaken Financial Security for the Oldest and Poorest Retirees (September 20, 2004)
Cutting retirement benefits by making Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) is one way for the government to save Social Security money. This is exactly what Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan proposed earlier this year. However, COLAs, according to Urban Institute, could produce some problems for those who are relatively old and/or poor. If Social Security reform is conducted using COLAs, since the pension payment will be based on the cost of living, many older Americans who spend a lot of money on health care will end up receiving smaller benefits because the price for health care usually increases faster than the cost of living. Also, it would “substantially reduce family incomes for the oldest and most vulnerable retirees.” Urban Institute examines the pros and cons regarding the use of COLAs for a possible pension reform.

Bush Calls Kerry’s Social Security Warning ‘Tired, Pathetic’ (September 14, 2004)
According to Michigan pollster Ed Sarpolus, many voters who are not 100 percent committed to either candidate are elderly women, and therefore, issues such as Social Security and health insurance remain pivotal in the presidential election. While President Bush criticized Kerry’s strategy for Social Security reform calling it “the most tired, pathetic way to campaign for the presidency,” Kerry is proud of his proposal to expand the health insurance system through tax credits and subsidies. During the Bush presidency, Medicare costs have increased rapidly along with the number of Americans without health insurance. Ron Fournier, AP reporter, closely follows the debate over Social Security reform between the two candidates.

Ambitions to Fix Social Security- Present Big Hurdles for Bush (September 2, 2004) 
Jackie Calmes from the Wall Street Journal carefully points out the weakness of Bush’s proposal for Social Security reform--- to create private accounts alongside the government benefits. Adding private accounts would not fix the finances and it would even increase the system’s financial burden, Calmes insists. Other proponents of the accounts claim that workers would come out ahead on retirement with their combination of Social Security benefits and returns on their investment accounts. Critics of privatization point to the difficult task of covering transition costs to a private program—paying current retirees and adding to “individual accounts.” GAA will follow the debate on our website in the months ahead.

Pension Payment ‘Fix’ Is Costly For Some Localities (September 1, 2004)
As a part of the pension system reform, NY Governor George Pataki approved legislation earlier this year to move back the deadline for making the next pension fund payment from Dec. 15, 2004 to Feb. 1, 2005. Localities will benefit from this change, the Legislature says, because it will allow them to move the payments onto their next fiscal year’s books since most localities start their fiscal year on April 1. However, Saratoga County Treasurer J. Christopher Callaghan points out the unfairness of the change. Because local governments routinely get a “discount” due to the fact that the pension system holds their funds and makes money off them through investment for the period of Dec.15 to April 1, a county like Saratoga, which has a pension payment due of $6.2 million, will end up losing $60,000. Edward Farrell, executive director of the state Conference of Mayors, has commented “I have not heard anyone else complaining. [Localities] are thankful that they could go through the fiscal year without making a payment.”

OASDI Beneficiaries by State and County, 2003 (August 2004)
 "OASDI Beneficiaries by State and County, 2003," is an annual publication which focuses on the Social Security beneficiary population at the local level. It presents basic program data on the number and type of beneficiaries and the amount of benefits paid in each state and county. It also shows the numbers of men and women aged 65 or older receiving benefits. This report is a useful planning aid for Social Security Administration field offices and for those providing information to federal, state, and local government agencies. The data tables are available by state or by region. This table specifically focuses on the beneficiaries as a percentage of the total resident population and of the population aged 65 or older, by state. 

How Migrants Help Fund U.S. Citizens’ Pensions (August 31, 2004) 
Author Mark Stevenson describes how millions of undocumented migrants help fund U.S. citizens’ pensions. Most migrant workers who work under false Social Security numbers, or even with false names, do not receive any benefits back, though they pay contributions from their paychecks just like U.S. workers. The so-called “earnings suspense file,” a Social Security account in which contribution payments collected by those undocumented workers are saved, grows at a rate of about $6 billion a year and now stands at $376 bullion. Dan Griswold from a Washington-based research institution, calls the earnings suspense file “gravy for Social Security” because the money in the account is used to fund American citizens’ retirement.

The Elderly are Against America ( August 30, 2004)
(Article in Russian)
Due to the improvement in health care, American citizens are getting older much quicker in comparison to the other countries. This situation challenges the economic and social financing of the country. Allen Greenspan, the economic guru and Chair of the Federal Reserve, believes that raising the pension age from 65 to 67 would help solve the situation. 

Greenspan Warns of Shortfall as U.S. Ages (August 30, 2004)
Concerning the future of the U.S. social insurance system, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that the U.S. may have promised workers more in Social Security and Medicare benefits than it can deliver. In order to avoid “abrupt and painful” pension reforms in the future, he suggested, Social Security and Medicare benefits should be made less generous, for example through later qualifying ages and by discouraging early retirement. However, some, including Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, seem to want to push out older professors. The content of work itself makes a difference. “It’s easy to be a professor at 75… it’s not so easy to lift heavy objects,” said Princeton University economist Alan Blinder who also criticized the proposal to push back the retirement age. Increased immigration to the U.S. could help out; requiring Social Security payments on all incomes instead of limiting taxation to workers with $87,000 in wages or less could also help. Ending age discrimination against those who want to work would be positive. With an increasing aged population, other possibilities are available. 

The Folly of Social Security Privatization (August 12, 2004)
Author Bradford Plumer, overseeing the upcoming presidential election, criticizes President Bush's proposal for privatizing Social Security. Though Bush has argued that workers can get a higher rate of money return by keeping a portion of their payroll taxes and invest them in stocks via government-sponsored accounts, Plumer, like many other analysts, sees a big problem with this proposal: If young workers were allowed to divert their savings into a private account, he insists, then the government would have to come up with "additional" money to pay for this generation of retirees. The transition could cost at least $1 trillion, according to the estimates provided by economists. With these negative effects already foreseen, what advantages can Social Security privatization bring about to American workers as a whole?

SSN Problem Leads To Nash Woman's Fight For Life (August, 2004) 
E.J. Webb, an elderly lady who lives in Nash County, NC, received a letter saying she was dead, due to a mistake made by the Social Security Administration. Because of the mistake, she now lost Medicare and prescription drug card benefits, though she needs 13 different kinds of medicine daily. The Social Security Administration sent her a letter acknowledging its mistake, but in order to fix it and have all of her previous benefits back, she has to bring her birth certificate and five other documents to the local Social Security office, in order to prove she is alive. "I think it can be corrected without the procedures and problems that I've had to go through to get it straight," Webb expressed her frustration. 

Kerry Stresses Social Security, Drug Costs In Appeal To Seniors (August 12, 2004) 
John Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate for the upcoming election, pointed out that President Bush's prescription-drug policies could bring about some negative effects to American seniors. By refusing to allow prescription imports from Canada, Kerry insisted, Bush is preventing seniors from obtaining cheaper drugs in order to protect the benefits of domestic companies. Bush's campaign officials, on the other hand, have accused Kerry of making false statements, saying that "Bush opposes importation from Canada because of safety concerns."

Social Security Checks Missing (August 4, 2004)
Where did the checks go? The U.S. Postal Service and the Social Security Administration have reported respectively that approximately 200 checks that should have been sent to the pensioners of Williamston, South Carolina, are missing. Though anyone in immediate need of his or her check may call the Social Security Administration, help is available only on a case-by-case basis. "People who receive Social Security need their money. this shouldn't be happening" --- Williamston pensioners showed their frustrations towards the mystery of lost checks.

Gallagher Calls Social Security, Not Gay Marriage, the Most Important Issue in the Republican Primary (July 13, 2004)

Doug Gallagher, candidate for the U.S. Senate in Florida is using his platform to discuss less "social" issues like Social Security and avoiding topics like the ban on gay marriages. The republican candidate argues that, "Social Security must be saved; otherwise, in the next few decades, Congress will have to put this wonderful benefits program on life support." He does not deny the importance of other issues but insists that few affect the nation's seniors in a similar way. His recommendations for the system include changes to facilitate: a totally tax free scheme, removing work penalties, voluntary investments, optional contributions and prescription drugs. 

The New Cosby Kids (July 8, 2004)
Bill Cosby is making headlines once again. And, like before, his attack on the nation's poor blacks has provoked responses from persons throughout the country. One example is that of Barbara Ehrenreich, Guest Columnist at the New York Times. Ehrenreich approaches Cosby's latest accusations with a mixture of irony and witty innuendos and recommends that he "start picking on a more up-to-date pariah group" such as elderly whites. She cites examples such as "grandpa bandits" who rob banks and the increasing debt being experienced by the group as evidence of the "menace" they pose. In the end, Ehrenreich identifies that like young, poor blacks the nation's elderly remain at the receiving end of a system that offers few rewards and minimal solutions.

Social Security Recipients Warned About Scams (July 6, 2004)
There has been a recent surge in the number of social security scams in the U.S. Commenting on the report, the Commissioner of Social Security, Jo Anne Barnhart asserts, "it is very troubling that our most vulnerable citizens are being targeted by these unscrupulous people." Among the techniques used to con victim's into releasing personal information are, (1) claims by the perpetrator of a power outage and the subsequent need to verify previously recorded information, (2) claims of the need to confirm direct deposit information and, (3) pretense of the cancellation of social security benefits due to newly acquired property or assets. To help authenticate the scam, the caller often places the recipient on hold and plays the same on-hold recordings used by the Social Security Department. 

Mexicans In U.S. May Get Social Security (July 4, 2004) 
The more than 9 million Mexican immigrants residing in the US may soon be eligible for both Mexican and U.S. retirement benefits. If U.S. lawmakers accept the recently proposed bilateral Social Security agreement, Mexican immigrants with U.S. work experience of 18 months or more will qualify for dual Social Security benefits. Many are in opposition to the bill, stating that it could allow the thousands of undocumented Mexican workers open access to the nation's Social Security system. Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform comments, until the U.S. addresses existing problems within the nation's immigration and Social Security system the decision to allow Mexican immigrants access to U.S. social security is both "premature and fiscally irresponsible." 

Social Security Claims Process Going Paperless (June 28, 2004)

US Social Security Administrators have embarked on what many are calling, a very "ambitious" plan to automate the country's Social Security System. The new, "paperless" system is scheduled to be in effect by 2005 and will boast electronic folders to document information for millions of people who file social security disability claims each year. Less than a decade ago, a similar project costing an estimated $71 million was started and later abandoned. Many fear that a similar fate awaits the new system. Brett MacIntyre, IBM Vice President, describes the endeavor as "one of [the] biggest content-management systems in the world." The Social Security Administration has calculated that the online project will save the government an estimated $1.3 billion dollars over the next seven years. Though some 18 states have already been privy to aspects of the new scheme, it still waits to be seen if the Administration will be able to "deliver on their promise."

Social Security's Big Little Secret (June 24, 2004)
"Social Security is not just a retirement program.it is, as President Reagan used to say, our safety net," quotes contributing writer Arvonne Fraser. Only 63 percent of the 47 million Americans who receive Social Security are retirees. The rest are the children of workers who have died or whose parents are disabled. Social Security exists as one of the country's largest life and disability insurance programs. As many Americans remain oblivious to the nature and purpose of Social Security, it remains to be seen whether the retirement of baby boomers will see an end to the "current surplus" in Social Security.

Return of the Fortune Tellers (June 16, 2004)

The new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the future of Social Security shows Social Security revenues and outlays projected ahead to year 2100. These projections are more optimistic than the 75-year projections coming out of the Social Security Administration. However, for Bernard Wasow, these projections are "nonsense," since you cannot plan ahead what is going to happen in 100 years. What you can do easily though is keep Social Security working for the average American. The issue is not money but the will to make such a reform. 

Golden Years Tarnished: Haitian Elders Ponder Retirement Away from Motherland (April 27, 2004)
Are elder Haitians in New York concerned about their homeland? The lack of security in Haiti makes it difficult for Haitians abroad to return home upon retirement. St-Fleur, 50 said, “I’m really discouraged by the way I hear things,” Confessing fear, she said, “… I’d be better off looking for another place, maybe Florida.” If the country were stable, many said they would have moved back. St Fleur, 50 said. “… I need the security first. There should be order for people not to be afraid of others.”

A New Minimum Benefit for Social Security (April 2004)
Since its creation, Social Security helped reduce poverty among the elderly population. However, some people still face great difficulties in old age. The Century Foundation proposed, in a report, the creation of a new minimum benefit. This extra money would increase payments to households heavily dependent on Social Security yet have an income below the poverty line. The proposal would lift them out of old age poverty. 

Give Retirees More Financial Security (April 14, 2004)
To live a long life in the US is more and more challenging for people since the three forms of retirement benefits (Social Security, Medicare and private pension plans) are under attack. Older Americans face rising health and housing costs but see their benefits skink making it hard for them to meet their basic needs. According to Nomi Prins, simple solutions exist. Tax cuts for the rich could be redirected into Social Security. Also, a new Medicare bill could be passed using pharmaceutical profits to pay for consumer drugs. In the end, more financially secure seniors become consumers instead of debtors and the whole economy would gain from it. 

Tough Issues, Awaiting Their Turn (April 13, 2004)
One of the most explosive divisions between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry is over the future of retirement. So far it has not made the headlines, but it should come into the presidential campaign discussions soon since trillions of dollars are at stake. The question between the two parties is whether Americans should save for old age collectively as a nation, or as individuals through private savings and investments. President Bush and his partisans are supporting the idea of replacing Social Security with a new system of private accounts. However, Democrats accuse them of wanting to cut the social safety net and impoverish the elderly. Interest groups like MoveOn.org are ready to put pressure against any initiative hurting the elderly population.

The Progressivity of Social Security (February 2000)

Admirers and detractors of US Social Security often claim that it is a progressive program that redistributes income to the poorest. However, this paper disputes that claim-- looking at a number of sophisticated indicators and conclusing that US Social Security is skewed toward helping the well-off even more. This research paper tries to capture and quantify all of the individual characteristics that are relevant to determine the progressivity of a life-cycle program like Social Security. Julia Lynn Coronado, Don Fullerton and Thomas Glass published their findings for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in a study called the "Progressivity of Social Security." 

Teachers Seek End to Social Security Penalty (March 25, 2004)

Texas teachers and other public employees angry to see their Social Security benefits cut, are urging Congress to do something about it. Since the Texas teachers' retirement system is separate from Social Security and to prevent "double dipping," the federal government decided twenty years ago to cut benefits of employees receiving income from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. In 2002, nearly 50,000 workers had their Social Security benefits cut. This situation discourages people from choosing a career in education and causes many employees in the field to resign or retire prematurely.

Social Security Rehires its Retirees (March 21, 2004)
The Social Security Administration underestimated the number of its own workers retiring and had to rehire 308 of them with both a salary and a pension. The Bush administration approved this new policy and encouraged rehirings in government agencies to allow more flexibility. However, three Democrat Senators argue that this operation cost more than $37 million in combined pay and pension and they urge Congress' General Accounting Office to investigate.

A Brighter Outlook for Social Security (March 8, 2004)

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said last week that "structural adjustments in the major retirement programs" were inevitable. In other words, Social Security and Medicare benefits will be cut to support future retired baby boomers and to cover the federal deficit. However, many economists suggest that Social Security is not broken and just needs minor adjustments. With their reforms, they believe that workers will be able to support the elderly population and still enjoy a rise in their living standards.

The Times Loses Its Balance (March 2, 2004)
The Century Foundation responded to the New York Times' article entitled "Medicare and Social Challenge" of March 2, 2004. Greg Anrig Jr. argues the article just focuses on "gargantuan numbers" giving the impression government programs are on an "inexorable path towards meltdown." This editorial sees both tax increases and Social Security cuts as absolutely necessary. However, tax cuts supported by the Bush administration would cost three times as much as the projected Social Security deficit over the next 75 years. So if we can afford tax cuts, then-alternatively-the US can afford the smaller steps to overcome the long-term financing gap of Social Security.

For your reference, here is the New York Times article: 

Baby Boomers Face Retirement Squeeze (February 27, 2004)
US Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan called upon Congress to cut Social Security benefits to help cover the federal deficit. Greenspan argues that benefits are getting harder to sustain since the senior population is growing faster than the number of young workers. Greenspan's proposal made each presidential candidate take position due to the importance of gray votes. Both the Republican and Democrat candidates distanced themselves from the plan. However, even those who criticized Greenspan's comments concede that changes in Social Security cannot be done at the expense of retirees or future retirees.

AARP Critical of Social Security Cuts (February 27, 2004)
AARP reacted strongly against Alan Greenspan's proposal to trim Social Security benefits for future retirees, in order to reduce the mounting federal deficit. William Novelli, AARP's chief executive officer, qualified the plan as "irresponsible". AARP officials also condemned President Bush's privatization plan of Social Security. They argued that Social Security is the best system providing guaranteed benefits to retirees as well as to their survivors. Privatizing the system could cut by half or more the income of two-thirds of the people now 65 or older. 

Bush Misleading On Social Security Begins (February 26, 2004)
President Bush responded to Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan's proposal by saying "those benefits should not be changed for people at or near retirement." However, he refused to say specifically that he opposed cutting future guaranteed benefits for younger and middle-aged workers. The President's reaction differs from what he pledged during the 2000 presidential campaign. At that time he opposed any cuts of Social Security benefits for anyone - young or old.

Alan Greenspan Appelle à Agir face au Creusement du Déficit Budgétaire aux Etats-Unis (February 25, 2004)
(Article in French)
Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, asked Congress to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. Greenspan wants to use Social Security to reduce the federal deficit and be able to cover the costs of the retiring baby boomers. Mr. Greenspan argues that the US should be more careful on what it is spending rather than increasing taxes to cover the extra costs.

To Trim Deficit, Greenspan Urges Social Security and Medicare Cuts (February 26, 2004)
Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, asked Congress to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. Greenspan wants to use Social Security to reduce the federal deficit rather than by increasing taxes. He claims more tax will not cover the costs of the retiring baby boom generation. He also explicitly recommended to raise the retirement age above 67. Both Democrats and Republicans oppose Mr. Greenspan's arguments. But none of them have yet made serious counter-proposals on this politically explosive topic. 

Federal Program Helps Tennessee Retirees Return To The Work Force (February 16, 2004)
US seniors cannot live on Social Security alone, and many find themselves going back to work to make ends meet. In Tennessee, the state-funded Senior Community Service Employment Program trains a growing number of older people who want to return to the workforce. With help from this and other services, many seniors find part-time work they enjoy because it keeps them active and interested.

Pension in Peril for State Workers (January 30, 2004)
The State of  Maine passed a bill in 2001 allowing state workers who retire early to return to work while still collecting their pensions. The State hoped to encourage teachers and other experienced workers to return to State service. However, new federal rules forbid this practice, and the Maine State Retirement System Board of Directors is considering changing the rules to comply with Internal Revenue Service codes. In the meantime, returning workers could lose their retirement benefits if they choose to remain on the job.  

Future Pensions at Risk (January 27, 2004)

Today's pensioners are worried about proposed measures to privatize Social Security, but today's college students will be left to suffer the consequences. Young people tend to dismiss worries about Social Security, even while they often assume it will collapse. 

Women Must Plan for Retirement (January 26, 2004)
Women take the same steps to plan for a financially secure retirement that men do, but many societal factors put women at a disadvantage. Women live longer than men, but their wages are generally only 76% of men's for doing identical jobs. Furthermore, women who jump in and out of the workforce to take care of children don't sustain the "pension clock" long enough to accumulate much. As a result, women need to start saving earlier and smarter in order to remain financially independent in old age. 

Beware of Groups Bearing Reforms for Social Security (January 26, 2004)
During his State of the Union speech, George W. Bush explained that his vision of Social Security "reform" is to give younger workers the "opportunity" to take money out of Social Security and bet it on Wall Street. This "partial privatization" plan is risky for middle- and working-class Americans who stand to lose their entire retirement savings. Privatization supporters insist that the plan would not eliminate traditional Social Security. However, if money drains into individually-owned accounts, nothing will be left to pay benefits for those still in the program.

Americans too dependent on Social Security for retirement (January 12, 2004)
A report by pension fund TIAA-CREF's lead researcher, Douglas Fore, says Americans are saving less and depending more on Social Security for most of their retirement income. Fore speculates that a decline in pension plans and personal savings, an aging population, tax cuts and increasing government spending in other areas like defense could lead to a pension crisis. For the time being, Americans need to make saving a priority, but even more importantly, workers should learn how to spread risk among a variety of savings and investment plans. 

Propondrá Bush pensiones de retiro a indocumentados (January 4, 2004)
(Article in Spanish)
In early January 2004, President George Bush proposed a plan to Congress that would undocumented immigrants to receive pensions upon retirement. Immigrants who would qualify must have worked in the United States for at least ten years and have paid Social Security taxes. Through this proposed plan, they would have the same rights as US citizens.

Retirement push will certainly come to shove (January 2, 2004)
The main source of income for today's seniors is Social Security. Without this moderate and often meager income, almost half of all retirees would immediately fall into official poverty status.


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