The Gang of Six plan, Social Security and other entitlements

Jim Galloway’s Political Insider blog will return later this  week.

Some additional points on the deficit reduction plan by U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and the Gang of Six:

– When U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., withdrew from the bipartisan effort to reduce the deficit after five months of negotiation, many in Washington pronounced the Gang of Six dead – or at least, irrelevant. Which in D.C. is worse than dead.

But on Tuesday, there was Coburn in the members-only briefing of the Senate, endorsing the proposal. What brought him around? For one thing, an increase in 10-year savings from Medicare and Medicaid, from $370 billion or so to $500 billion. Just how those savings will be accomplished are details that would be left to the proper Senate committee.

– Look for a good deal of emphasis today on making Democrats more comfortable with the Gang of Six plan. “Balancing the deficit on the backs of the elderly” is the slogan they’re vulnerable to. Proponents today are emphasizing that savings from Social Security reform – means testing is a possibility – are to be plowed back into the Social Security system. They wouldn’t be applied to the deficit.

– The silence – so far — from the House Republican side is a sign that the Senate venture is being taken seriously. Certain elements of the GOP base and the tea party, of course, are another matter. One Tweet from this morning from Adairsville Rob to U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, who was celebrating his Tuesday vote for the GOP caucus’ cut-cap-and-balance plan:

Thank you, sir! Now PLEASE run against Saxby Chambliss! Pragmatism is killing the Republic!

That is a thought certainly worth discussing.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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246 comments Add your comment

Jack

July 20th, 2011
10:45 am

Pragmatism may be America’s best hope. Those on the extremes are killing this democracy. Thanks to Saxby and Obama for finding some common ground that can help us lean forward.

jd

July 20th, 2011
11:01 am

Our country is what it is due to our pragmatic innovations! The Tea Party wants to return to the state of nature… Let ‘em — just leave the US alone!

grizzybear

July 20th, 2011
11:12 am

this so called plan will cut military benefits for all,yet saxby continues to protect his farm subsidies. both parties put us in this mess so why don’t they cut there pay and benefits. over 20,000 army families are on food stamps, the va has a backlog of over 1 million medical claims, and they want to cut military benefits! our senator plays 70 rounds of golf at exclusive clubs every year, you know where his priorities are!

Doug

July 20th, 2011
11:13 am

The far right and the far left do not care that if you do not turn the ship in time it WILL founder. They are willing to destroy the nation’s credit rating for their principles. I am not willing to go down with them if there’s a way to avoid the rocks, and it looks like this is the way. Churhill said that “you should never stand so high upon a principle that you cannot lower it to meet circumstances.” And he would know.

CobbGOPer

July 20th, 2011
11:13 am

Saxby should be challenged in a primary for many reasons, but this is not one.

[...] ZerosNPRCounterrevolution: GOP Elite Revolts Against Tea PartyBusiness InsiderNew York Times -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -CBS Newsall 5,320 news [...]

No Longer Republican

July 20th, 2011
11:17 am

Still no end in sight to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Instead take benefits away from the sick and poor. That’s the American way!

jcb

July 20th, 2011
11:20 am

It would seem that most of the folks in Washington have lost track of who they server…it is WE THE PEOPLE and not themselves. It really doesn’t matter if they are proclaimed to be Liberal or Conservative (Far Left or Far Right) The folks in so called public office, make programs (retirement and medical plans) for themselves that is far better than what is set asside for WE THE TAX PAYER. The majority of the legal residents of this country are getting the shaft.

kc

July 20th, 2011
11:22 am

not just going after sick and poor…all these congressional millionaire leaders trying to stick it to main st, middle america….why tea party does not get this is beyond me. goldman sachs, those job creators, are laying off 1000 folks….to preserve their large bonuses….bunch of blanktards

td

July 20th, 2011
11:28 am

No Longer Republican

July 20th, 2011
11:17 am
Still no end in sight to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy

This is a myth. The Bush tax cuts also helped the middle class. I am very middle class and the Bush tax cuts saved me about 5%.

How much of a person’s money is enough for the government? How much of a person’s income should go to the government? I do not think it should be more than 25% for all government services (Federal, state and local).

td

July 20th, 2011
11:31 am

jcb

July 20th, 2011
11:20 am

Until WE THE PEOPLE get off our lazy butts and get involved (more than just voting) in our political system then we are getting what we deserve.

td

July 20th, 2011
11:35 am

kc

July 20th, 2011
11:22 am

So what is the answer? Is it for the government to get involved and tell a company how to run their business or is it up to like minded individuals to band together and not do business with companies that act this way?

kc

July 20th, 2011
11:37 am

it would help if all retired educators and state employees donate a week or more if possible to their state or local government, but not at expense of firing more folks….age and physical condition permitting…..

sf

July 20th, 2011
11:45 am

Shouldn’t they be called the Deadly Six? Instead of policing these programs for fraud, they want to cut the benifits of these programs. It looks like when they kill off the sick, damaged and elderly, they could balance a budget leaving their inflated salaries for 3 or 4 months work and their and resigned in-strange- circumstances congresspeople’s benefits intact. If Congress really cared about the citizens of this great nation, they would start cutting from the top down of waste and excess; and, leave the services for the American people alone. Common sense has been replaced by greed and power. If a head-person-in-charge isn’t doing the job, get rid of him; don’t promote or transfer him and keep him drawing the company’s assets down with him. We need another Teddie Roosevelt to handle the Robber Barons before this country crumbles like the Roman Empire did from within. All our enemies have to do is be patient and let us self-destruct. Wakeup people; history does repeat itself.

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
11:49 am

td keeps on banging the “fairness” drum acting as if the Bush tax cuts were an actual boon to the economy.

Face it, trickle down didn’t work under Reagan and it didn’t work this time. I completely understand that no one wants to pay more in taxes, hell, I don’t either. But the Bush tax cuts were sold to us as a way to spur the economy, to create jobs. It didn’t work and there is no rational argument that it did. It’s time to grow up and realize that the recipients of social security and medicare are not the only ones who need to be tightening their belts. Cut spending…..absolutely. Reform the tax code, close some loops holes and roll back some of the tax cuts…..equally important. Without a balanced approach there is no solution to this.

Doug

July 20th, 2011
11:53 am

I long been against term limits, but I am coming around to the idea. Too much of what’s been going on in DC these past weeks has been about playing to or appeasing a particular base and not about really, truly, fixing our problems.

The states need to get the ball rolling on some constitutional amendments: one to establish term limits for Congress, another to end pensions for federal legislative service, and another to require that all laws they pass will be applicable to members of Congress as well.

But it will have to come from the states, these people are never going to do anything to themselves!

double

July 20th, 2011
11:53 am

savings from social security reform, plow the savings back into social security, so we can have more to write IOU’s against.Balancing deficit on backs of eldery.No way these savings going back into SS.

Dick

July 20th, 2011
12:09 pm

When the “Gang of Six” are done, the federal government will have so much of what I make, I will never be able to retire. I will lose the bulk of my 401K deduction, the mortgage interest and taxes on our retirement home, which is our current “second home”, and the charitable deductions we personally sacrifice to make. But, hey, at least, the top 1% of income earners will have their taxes “flattened” by six percent. So glad I could help!

jsmtih

July 20th, 2011
12:11 pm

the gov needs to stay completely out of peoples lives. get rid of social security, and medicare and every other big government program. the only program the gov needs to keep is the military and other agencies that PROTECT THE PEOPLE. let the free market work out all other things the people want and need. the U.S. economy would sore and it would be the envy of the world. now for all the people that want the government to give you everything and run your lives you need to pack up and move to north korea or cuba and enjoy the rest of your life. here is a novel idea: work hard for your money be responsible for your OWN LIFE and the lives of your FAMILY. keep the gov out of education, religion,medical care,retirement and your wallet and the USA would become the greatest nation on earth again.

Curtis Rivers

July 20th, 2011
12:18 pm

As one of Dr. Gingrey’s constituents, it is great to hear support for his continued non-support of the elderly, handicapped, children’s health, environmental issues, and rational needs of the American people. What a great day for corporate America when we elected Dr. Phil to an office which rewards him for daily decisions which, if he were still actively practicing medicine, would immediately open him to litigation and professional censure for repeatedly breaking his vow “to do no harm.”

duh

July 20th, 2011
12:24 pm

Cut the food stamp program benefits down. A family of three with low income receives $526.00 per month in food stamps. A family of four receives 668.00 per month. Too much.

td

July 20th, 2011
12:27 pm

OMG…Really

July 20th, 2011
11:49 am

What about the approach of government getting out of the way and letting job creation happen? Job creation would allow more people to pay taxes and then allow government to spend less money. There are several steps the government can take here:

1: Most small and medium size businesses are saying they will not hire because it is going to cost to much when Obama care is fully implemented. Repeal the law and jobs will be created.

2: Stop the war against domestic oil drilling: Open the gulf back up and off every coast. Allow the exploration of Shale in the middle of the country on public lands (or coarse charge the oil companies to explore on public lands) and open up Alaska. This will raise revenues, put a lot of people back to work, and lower the gas prices so that middle America has more money to spend on consumer goods.

3: There is no reason for 25% of this country to be on Medicaid and Food Stamps. Divert have that money to rebuilding our infrastructure (Bridges, roads, sewers, canals, ports). This will put more people back to work and turn them into tax payers.

4: Take all of these new revenues coming into the government and put them directly into paying off the debt.

5: Saving Social security: Start raising the age by a month for each year for anyone currently under the age of 45. Also, raise the cap from the current $106,000 to unlimited but reduce the % paid for the more money you make. Also, toughen the SSI requirements. It seems we are paying a lot of SSI to able bodied people that can work and that is taking away money for the old.

6: Flatten the tax rate and make ALL citizens have to pay something. The Dems are on here talking about all the deductions the rich get, well fine lets do away with these airplane deductions ect, but lets not forget about the other side. We tax Social security benefits as income but what about child support? Should this not also count as income? How about Food Stamps? Medicaid? Housing assistance? It all should be counted as income and should be taxed as well.

Aquagirl

July 20th, 2011
12:34 pm

“Pragmatism is killing the Republic!?” Someone please sterilize Adairsville Rob. These friggin’ wingnuts who think they’re the equivalent of the Founding Fathers or Minutemen are what’s killing the Republic. This isn’t the playground, boys, and you’re not the Good Guyz(tm) heroically standing against the Evil Darkness. Sheesh.

td

July 20th, 2011
12:40 pm

Aquagirl

July 20th, 2011
12:34 pm

“Someone please sterilize Adairsville Rob.”

He is not the one that needs to be sterilized. It is all the people that can not take care of the children they have and get government handouts to take care of them, while at the same time, have not learned what put them in the circumstance to start with and continue to have additional children for the government to care for.

Red

July 20th, 2011
12:43 pm

Pragmatism is quite easy when you base a plan on hypotheticals and vagueness. This plan is based on what MAY happen and IF the economy improves. Also, the weakness of this plan is pushing much of the change to occur well beyond 2012 – which means a change of heart in Congress could very well negate this plan. Saying “we will cut random and unspecific spending in a few years” is not pragmatism. It is pandering to mediocrity. Cuts must be immediate to actually achieve anything.

This plan symbolizes everything that is Saxby – vague and lacking specifics. Anyone can throw out a plan that sounds good. But without specifics and immediate action, this is pleasantries and warm, fuzzy failure. The sad part in all of this is that the President is still failing to lead. He is quick to say what he will not sign, but fails to say something specific in a plan of his own. As with health care, he throws out some vague concept that he wants and leaves it to Congress to actually do something. This way if it fails, he has no dirty hands himself. But if it succeeds he claims to be the initiator. Complete failure of leadership. Sad.

Red

July 20th, 2011
12:45 pm

OMG – Bush tax cuts put money directly into the hands of the people. All of these bailouts and shovel ready nonsense from Obama – who benefited from that? Ironic that Obama’s “aid” has done more to help Wall Street than Main Street. But yet all you can do is harp on a plan that actually returned to you what you earned.

georgiadawg70

July 20th, 2011
12:54 pm

Saxby,

You have been in Washington too long. It’s time for you to retire to Moultrie and spend time with your grandchildren.

yuzeyurbrane

July 20th, 2011
1:06 pm

Let’s get some things straight here:
1. SS has not caused 1 penny of the deficit. It in fact has a $4.5 trillion surplus from the FICA taxes of millions of Americans.
2. SS will pay at 100% for next 25 yrs. even if there are no changes.
3. Minor modifications only are needed to be sure the program continues to pay at 100% for at least another 75 years after that. In that regard, as Bert Lance once said: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
4. Reaching that result should be done in the normal legis. process (hearings, votes, etc.), not at the point of a deficit ceiling gun.
5. Resist the temptation to do a reverse Robin Hood by stealing from the SS Trust Fund to pay for the deficit caused by other programs. This is what the Ryan bill (see Article VIII) does and many other proposals currently being floated do, despite deceptive spin to the contrary. That is exactly why proposals should be calmly deliberated in the normal process. As a Senior, I certainly don’t want to contribute from my SS for the multi-trillion dollar tax cut given by W to the wealthy.

Last Man Laying Down

July 20th, 2011
1:11 pm

A deal will be made. The rest of what all of you are saying is just wasted breath, or perhaps keystrokes.

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
1:13 pm

Td,

These are good points that you attempt to make but unfortunately some appear to be built upon myths and other completely unrealistic. Taken in order.

1: The health care law creates jobs in and of itself. Good or evil, every study outside of those done by partisan, hate everything D’s do groups back that up. Second, the whole idea that the bill is having this impact on small business is a right wing myth that has come to be seen as fact when viewed through the partisan lens.

2: This one I’m torn on. I’ll agree that more exploration is warranted but here there is more at stake. I’m leery of opening up areas like anwr for the same reason that I am leery of opening up more near-shore drilling: the track record of cost benefit analysis of the companies always seems to come down on the side of cutting corners and damn the consequences. I can agree with you on the exploration of the shale but even if all of those things are done the economic impact is too far off to have any effect on the issues at hand.

3: Here you seem to be arguing against yourself. The rebuilding of infrastructure will mean the expenditure of tax revenues. In order to spend this revenue it must be sufficient to cover the costs and the money clearly isn’t there. Confusing, this position.

4: Where are you seeing new revenue here? I think you are parroting the line “we don’t need more taxes, we need more taxpayers” but I just don’t see how the above three will accomplish that goal on the short term.

5: I am totally with you on SSI. I spend a number of years as a Public Defender and I would say the vast majority of my clients were on SSI for reason I couldn’t understand. I believe the program is valid and necessary but more scrutiny is way past due. I also agree that a raise in the age is valid but I don’t think I follow your plan.

6: In theory I agree with this point. In practice, it’s not possible to achieve this goal as you laid it out. If a person in actually in need of Food Stamps, Medicare, Section 8, etc, from where exactly will the money flow? As for Child Support, the taxes on that money have already been paid by the person earning it. This seems to me, to steal a popular right wing line, to be a little bit of “poor envy”.

Bottom line for me is that it’s time for the screamers and ranters to get out of the way and let some sense come back into the argument. Contrary to what both fringes think, neither represent most Americans and I, for one, am getting a little tired of being governed to satisfy the extremes.

Atlantan

July 20th, 2011
1:29 pm

As a small business owner I can attest that the cost of healthcare has gone up significantly and this primarily due to ObamaCare according to our insurance group.

Obama just threatened to withhold SS checks if the debt ceiling isn’t lifted. Imagine the threats and CONTROL once the government runs and owns healthcare. Who in their right mind wants to submit to this level of control?

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
1:32 pm

Red,

Personally, anything that helps me is great. But the cuts were sold as a way to make things better, to spur job growth, to expand the economy. Yet the result has been nothing but expansion of debt and minimal job creation by the “job creators”.

And to be very clear I am not harping on the Bush tax cuts. I am calling them bad policy, bad economic thinking and abject failures if evaluated against their positive impact on the nation as a whole. I’m not cynical enough yet to buy into the “I’ve got mine, hope you get yours” mindset. I have kids to think about.

cubbie

July 20th, 2011
1:32 pm

I agree with sf and Doug. Congress should be looking at their own salaries and benefits. How about they take out a common HMO instead of the finest health insurance. “Common sense has been replaced by greed and power.” Obama is spending his time making money for his re-election. I’m sure others are as well, the heck with the budget, that is more important.

Since it’s inception, Congress has been partisan. That isn’t the problem, narcissistic politics with a parsimonious electorate is the problem. Doug, I’ve come around to term limits, too. If we have a good congressman, she/he can run again in another ten years.

As for SS, the National Debt Awareness Campaign (NDAC) gives the following reasons for the money problems. I don’t know if the figures are accurate, but I tend to believe this organization more than our government. A sad state of affairs.

- There is no money in the Social Security Trust Fund, it has all been spent. A record has been kept, so we know what’s supposed to be there and who borrowed and spent the money (hint: other government agencies, and it’s part of the National Debt).
- Currently workers are paying more into Social Security than beneficiaries are taking out. Money going into the program is paying the benefits, and what’s left over is being “borrowed” by government for general budget spending.

RetiredSoldier

July 20th, 2011
1:32 pm

Bush tax cuts this…Bush tax cuts that…. Please remember this are now the Obama tax cuts. Like I said yesterday, the tax cuts Obama oppossed before he supported them before he opposed them. Not the Obama tax cuts you reply?

Well the Dems controlled the House and the senate last december and Obama signed the extension. Can we all agree now they are the Obama tax cuts?

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
1:34 pm

Atlantan,

Exactly how has a program that has yet to be fully implemented had this effect. I run a small business as well and the costs of healthcare were spiking long before the healthcare reforms were a twinkle.

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
1:35 pm

I use the term Bush tax cuts as a descriptor. If it makes you feel better call them moon cheese subsidies. No matter what you call them they were bad policy and bad for the nation as a whole.

Fred from Fitzgerald

July 20th, 2011
1:37 pm

Tom Perdue will make sure Saxby runs so he can make another million or so re-running old Saxby TV ads.

RetiredSoldier

July 20th, 2011
1:42 pm

OMG-

Why can’t you call them what they are, Obama tax cuts. You don’t like the tax cuts? Fine. Blame the right guy, Pres. Obama. Liberals have no problem blaming conservatives, they just have a different standard when one of their own commit the same offense. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own truth.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

July 20th, 2011
1:44 pm

The far right and the far left do not care that if you do not turn the ship in time it WILL founder.

getting a little tired of being governed to satisfy the extremes.

What are you two talking about? Exactly what has “the far left” done to create this alleged “debt ceiling crisis”?

When is the last time anyone in our government listened to “the far left”? If they had, we wouldn’t have made the epic mistake of invading Iraq for no reason. We wouldn’t have enacted the disastrous Bush tax cuts for plutocrats (Anyone remember DIck Cheney: “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter”?)

And we wouldn’t have deregulated the banks and had a financial crisis.

Too bad we don’t listen to “the far left”.
~

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
1:50 pm

Because it doesn’t matter except to hacks like you who need a boogie man to blame things on.

It’s the cuts that were wrong headed and they were initiated by GWB. That’s where the description came from. How about we call them the “Obama Cuts that Retired Soldier Hates”. Make you feel better little boy?

Sheez.

RetiredSoldier

July 20th, 2011
2:01 pm

thunder-

Surely you jest, in the small chance you are serious I submit the following:
1. The far left has done at least two things to create the “debt ceiling crisis”. They have made all previous spending look petty by the huge deficits the past several years. And, they want more money and more government.

2. Iraq? You mean the fine job of Obama, following the Bush plan in Iraq, keeping Gitmo open, keeping tribinials, doubling down in Afgan., and starting a new in Libya. Yep Bush was really bad.

3. deregulation, ok but look at what Obama has done, the economy has really taken off hasn’t it?

td

July 20th, 2011
2:04 pm

OMG…Really

July 20th, 2011
1:13 pm

1: We shall disagree on this one. The information I have seen is from the Chamber of commerce and its small business arm.

2: Most of these plans from the right, left or the President do not start for years to come. If these areas are open at least these companies will start to hire the engineers and other white collar people now to do the research. Just the opening will drive down the speculation and drop gas prices.

3: All I am saying is that if you divert these funds from the programs (Not raise any new revenue) and spend it instead on actual projects then the people currently on the programs can become productive tax paying citizens. The bottom line would be less money going out from the government and more coming in due to the increase in tax payers.

4: The new revenues are going to be from the more people taken off the current welfare rolls and put onto the tax payer rolls. The government would not have to outlay as much money and would be able to receive more money. Again this is not short term in the since of 2 to 6 months but I would guess that we could see benefits coming in the next 12 months.

5: If you are currently 45 then you can not start receiving until you are 65 and 1 month, 44 would be 65 and 2 months… If you are currently 25 then you could not receive until 66 and 8 months. This would be a gradual increase in retirement age and allow the younger generation to plan for their retirement.

6: ” As for Child Support, the taxes on that money have already been paid by the person earning it.” We currently make people claim in kind support from individuals or your company (like if a company supplies you a car) as income, is not CS the same? Alimony is counted as income also. CS is not taxed and is not counted as income. There are many custodial parents receiving $20,000 to $50,000 plus per year, not having to report it, work a part time job to show $8,000 to $12,000 a year and claiming the EITC where we are giving them and additional $2000 to $3000 per year. Nice scam isn’t it.

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
2:11 pm

td,

Unfortunately life is intruding upon my fun time and I have to actually do some work.

But unless I miss my guess we are engaging in an intelligent discussion even though we are disagreeing. Is that possible? Are we actually on a blog? Wish I could keep it up.

RetiredSoldier

July 20th, 2011
2:16 pm

OMG-

So name calling is ok, shame on you, maybe I’ll take my ball and go home. I don’t hate the tax cuts so your new name would not be correct. But being correct doesn’t appear to matter.

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
2:21 pm

Act like a child and I’ll call you one.

OMG...Really

July 20th, 2011
2:22 pm

And I’ll gladly shoulder the shame.

Red

July 20th, 2011
2:26 pm

OMG – please tell me what is wrong with a person keeping more of their money? With that money, a person spends it on goods – moving product/inventory off of shelves thus creating jobs and wealth and revenue for government. Please show me how placing that money in government hands does better for an economy? Because last I saw the great experiment with shovel ready jobs completely failed at creating jobs and spurring economic growth. Do you have a third option to add?

RetiredSoldier

July 20th, 2011
2:31 pm

Well said Red

Dan

July 20th, 2011
2:37 pm

OMG and TD, kudos to both of you. I have really enjoyed reading your debate.

Red– I disagree with your premise, and so do a lot of other people. From what I have read, the less income one has, the more one actually spends what they have on goods and services. So you’re correct there. But when those with higher incomes “keep more of their money,” they don’t spend it– they save it, or invest it long-term somewhere (which has only an indirect and diluted benefit to the economy, again from what I understand). That’s the fallacy of “trickle down.” If you over-tax, of course, then you can drive business elsewhere, but we’re nowhere near doing that in this country. I don’t care how high our theoretical corporate tax rates are; with all the deductions and loopholes available, corporations in the U.S. don’t pay near those rates. The real problem is tax havens where they pay *nothing*, and lowering taxes won’t solve that problem, unless we lower them to near zero.

You get a free shot at responding, because I have to get to work.

Dan

July 20th, 2011
2:40 pm

By the way, I pretty much agree with you on “shovel-ready.” That appears to have been mismanaged, with too much red tape and bureacracy. To the extent it helped, it could have been much more efficient.

Bye now.