Social Security faces a long-term funding shortfall of $23.1 trillion, according to the most recent report from the program’s trustees, up nearly $3 trillion from last year. Like other entitlements, the program — expected to consume 6.8% of the economy by 2038 — is in dire need of reform to ensure its fiscal sustainability.
But Leftists in Congress are in denial about the fiscal problems with Social Security. Instead of reforming the program to ensure that it’s around for future generations, they want to expand it.
In a speech from the Senate floor on Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) endorsed legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) to expand the fiscally shaky program and warned of, what she called, a “retirement crisis.”
“A generation ago, middle-class families were able to put away enough money during their working years to make it through their later years with dignity. On average, they saved about 11% of their take home pay while working,” Warren, who has been floated as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, told her colleagues.”
“Many paid off their homes, got rid of all their debts, and retired with strong pensions from their employers. And where pensions, savings, and investments fell short, they could rely on Social Security to make up the difference,” she said. “That was the story a generation ago, but since that time, the retirement landscape has shifted dramatically against our families.”
It’s no secret that Howard Dean, the former Vermont government who served as DNC chair, isn’t a fan of Obamacare. He’s frequently criticized the law, once calling it a bailout for insurance companies.
But during an appearance last week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Dean expressed concern that the subsidies available for some who purchase coverage on the exchanges will increase federal spending. The comments came in an exchange with David Gregory about whether young people need to sign-up for coverage to make the math behind law’s promise of “affordable” coverage work.
“But, governor,” Gregory told Dean, “the White House officials who work most closely with this say what’s key to making it successful is to get the risk pools right.”
“David, I know they say that. I thought they were wrong from the beginning. This is the same consultants that put together Romneycare,” Dean replied. “They believed that, I don’t believe it. And I don’t believe it because I have 20 years experience in making this work. We can go into that another time.”
“The bottom line though is the next crisis here, assuming we get through all this is the tax subsidies,” Dean said. “It is going to make the federal budget more expensive.”
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) easily won re-election last night in the Garden State, defeating state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) by a 22-point margin, clearly a landslide victory.
Before he even sealed this big win, some establishment-types were gushing about Christie, hailing him as somewhat of a savior for the Republican Party, a title once bestowed on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee last year, made that proclamation over the weekend, telling Meet the Press host David Gregory that Christie “stands out as one of the very strongest lights of the Republican Party.”
Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor at the conservative National Review, wrote on Monday that the New Jersey Republican’s campaign is a model for conservatives, contrasting it to that of the fledgling Ken Cuccinelli campaign in Virginia. The reason? Christie has stayed away from the social issues that have hurt Cuccinelli.
On that, Ponnuru is right. Social issues are becoming increasingly detrimental to Republicans, especially in purple states like Virginia, as public opinion on these issues has shifted notably.
The National Park Service came under intense scrutiny during the government shutdown after park rangers closed off open air monuments and forced people from their homes and businesses in an effort to make sure that average Americans felt the pain of the political stalemate in Washington.
The already small chance of Congress passing any sort of entitlement reform in a budget agreement before the mid-December deadline may have gotten a little smaller thanks to a prominent labor leader.
In a speech before the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans on Monday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka promised that Big Labor would “never stop working” to end the careers of congressional Democrats who support entitlement reform.
“Let me just say this one for the record. No politician — I don’t care the political party — will get away with cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. Don’t try it. And this warning goes double for Democrats,” said Trumka, according to the Washington Examiner. “We will never forget. We will never forgive. And we will never stop working to end your career.”
For all the Democrats’ complaints about conservative groups and organizations making it difficult for Congress to get anything done, labor unions have long had a stranglehold on the party. Since 1990, Big Labor has given $751.8 million to Democratic candidates, which is 92% of their contributions. And in 2008, they worked heavily for then-candidate Barack Obama, who promised them their long-desired legislative goal, card check.
The government shutdown may have come to an end and the debt ceiling may have been raised, but that doesn’t mean that the fight to rein in the United States’ runaway budget deficits and national debt are over.
Citizens Against Government Waste, a DC-based organization focused on reducing spending, has launched a series of edgy videos this week that they hope will raise awareness to the river of red ink still flowing from nation’s capital and the $17 trillion — and growing — national debt.
The first video, released on Tuesday, shows a salacious, perhaps indecent text message conversation between two people, before noting that the “size of government debt is shocking”:
The second video, released on Wednesday, shows reactions of shocked and appalled people, leading one to believe that bewilderment is because they’re discovering the size of the national debt for the very first time:
Yesterday’s video showed a bunch of filthy pigs feeding at the trough, a comparison to cronyism and greed of interests groups who far too often lobby Congress for a piece of the budgetary swill:
President Barack Obama told reporters on Wednesday evening that he’d have a lot to say about the government shutdown and debt ceiling following the House’s passage of the measure.
Boy, did he ever?
During a 20-minute speech on Thursday morning, President Obama spent a lot of time decrying “brinksmanship” and lecturing Republicans who opposed a spending measure that didn’t defund or change his signature law. He also took shots at groups and bloggers that oppose his administration.
“We know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington,” said President Obama. “At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what?”
It appears that there is a deal in the works between Senate leaders that would temporarily raise the debt ceiling and fund the federal government while yet another “super-committee.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have been working behind the scenes since a bipartisan compromise offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) fell apart over the weekend. The two leaders are cautious because whatever they agree to has to pass the House of Representatives.
“We have had an opportunity over the last couple of days to have some very constructive exchanges of views about how to move forward,” said McConnell from the Senate floor on Monday. “Those discussions continue, and I share [the] optimism that we’re going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides.”
The basis of the deal, according to various media reports, is a Continuing Resolution that funds the federal government until January 15 and extending the debt ceiling until February 7, though some outlets are reporting February 15. The sticking point for Senate Republicans is maintaining the sequester cuts and the $988 billion funding level for FY 2014.
There are also some minor changes to ObamaCare that are being considered, but Politico notes that negotiations on those provisions could fail, which would take the controversial law off the table.
Modifying or changing ObamaCare doesn’t even seem to be a part of the conversation anymore as at least some congressional Republicans are now trying to ensure that the spending cuts passed in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created the sequester, remain the law.
The weekend started with some promise as the White House signaled that President Barack Obama would sign a short-term debt limiting increase while House and Senate negotiators hammered out a larger budget deal. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) nixed the idea.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was willing to undo the sequester for a budget deal that enacted entitlement reforms, which are the real drivers of federal spending. That, like other House-backed proposals, was shot down by the White House and the Senate. The devil will be in the details on this, of course, as President Obama and Democrats will likely want tax hikes to supplement changes to entitlement programs, making the path to a deal very rocky.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) had put together a potential deal, working with a handful of Senate Democrats, to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. But the deal was rejected after Reid balked at the spending levels.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) gave an impassioned plea on Wednesday to his Democratic colleagues to approve measures passed by the House of Representatives to reopen parts of the federal government affected by the government shutdown.
Paul, a likely candidate for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, countered arguments that Republicans are unwilling to negotiate to end the government shutdown and slammed the “farce” of closing federal memorials and monuments.
“We’ve offered request after request to reopen the government. We’ve offered to negotiate. From the other side, we hear, we will not negotiate. We will not compromise. And we will not reopen the government,” said Paul from the Senate floor. “We have offered 13 different compromises today to reopen the government. We are willing to open the government, and they say, oh, you must agree to everything or we will open nothing. We will not compromise, and we say to them, why don’t we open the parts of government that we agree to?”