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2011 Discussion Archive

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Project on Social Security in Rural Areas Reveals Impact of the Program on Local Economies

Jennifer Clark, National Academy of Social Insurance

The Center for Rural Strategies, an awardee of NASI’s Improving Lives of Vulnerable Americans Through Social Security project, recently analyzed Social Security recipients by county in the U.S. The Daily Yonder (affiliated with the Center for Rural Strategies) used this breakdown of Social Security beneficiaries to find the counties most dependent on Social Security.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for Three Key Social Insurance Programs That Kept More Than 24.0 Million Americans Out of Poverty in 2010

Jasmine Tucker, National Academy of Social Insurance

This Thanksgiving, more than 24.0 million Americans, will undoubtedly be thankful for three critical social insurance programs that helped keep them out of poverty in 2010: Social Security, unemployment insurance and workers' compensation.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Open Letter to The Washington Post on Incorrect Social Security Claims

Janice Gregory, President, National Academy of Social Insurance

Dear Editor:

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Posted on November 4, 2011  |  Write the first comment
Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lessons from the Likely Demise of CLASS

Lee Goldberg, National Academy of Social Insurance

Lee GoldbergOn October 14, the Obama administration halted implementation of the new federal long-term care insurance program – the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) initiative, which had been tucked into health care reform legislation. It is disappointing, but not surprising that the administration was unable to design a financially self-sustaining, voluntary long-term care insurance program. The unusual legislative journey of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which had no House-Senate conference to clean up the bill, left CLASS with statutory limits that proved unworkable. Without mandatory participation or some other way of achieving near universal participation, the program did not stand a chance.

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Posted on October 27, 2011  |  3 comments  |  Add your comment
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Social Security Privatization: What the Candidates Can Learn from Central Europe and Latin America

Elaine Fultz, Former director of the International Labor Organization office for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia*

In recent weeks, all but one of the Republican Presidential candidates (Jon Huntsman) have made comments favoring privatization of social security, that is, its replacement or partial replacement with privately managed individual investment accounts.  This was the approach advocated by President George W. Bush, unsuccessfully, after his reelection in 2004. The candidates’ renewed interest in social security privatization is striking given the recent volatility of financial markets and the losses that Americans have incurred in their 401(k) and other private investment accounts.  It is perhaps even more striking given the large body of analysis showing that privatization would disadvantage low- income workers while benefitting the wealthiest Americans. This was, for example, a key finding of the U.S.

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Posted on October 20, 2011  |  Write the first comment
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why aren’t we talking about increasing Social Security benefits?

Jennifer Clark, National Academy of Social Insurance

For a long time – even before some of the current crop of presidential candidates began accusing America’s most successful public program of being nothing more than a “Ponzi scheme” – the national conversation about “fixing” Social Security has centered around cutting benefits or raising the retirement age (also a benefit cut, albeit by another name).

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Posted on October 13, 2011  |  3 comments  |  Add your comment
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

COLA Lite? There's a rumor that the supercommittee may push for the chained CPI

Virginia P. Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance

Rumor has it that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka “supercommittee,” is considering a switch from the present Consumer Price Index (CPI) to a “chained CPI” to determine Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). While proponents describe the change as a “technical correction” (because the present CPI is believed to overstate the inflation experienced by average consumers), the chained CPI would understate the inflation experienced by older Americans, largely because of their relatively high out-of-pocket healthcare costs and their limited ability to make substitutions (such as fuel for food) when prices rise. Switching to a chained CPI would mean cutting Social Security benefits by gradually eroding their purchasing power – a cut that would compound over time, becoming more and more severe as beneficiaries grow older.

Two NASI fact sheets discuss the consequences.

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Posted on October 13, 2011  |  Write the first comment
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Midsummer Policy Sonnet

Erik Shive, Former Intern, National Academy of Social Insurance

The piece was written in August 2011 

Now is the summer of our blasted dissent,
With our eyes cast upward at the debt ceiling,
And no one seems even remotely content.
Will this fallout leave us fiscally reeling?

Into this bloodless, ever-present, hot fray,
Come bright-eyed, eager interns ready to learn.
They are told for social insurance to pray,
For nothing it will give and take all we earn.

Unemployment is in federal error,
The Class Act has been passed but still needs a fix,
Medicare is causing the old to terror,
Social Security’s done by ‘thirty-six.

But UI’s computers will be updated,
A tweak here, one there, and the Class Act will roll,
By healthcare reform, Medicare is sated,
Though Social Security still has a toll.

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Posted on October 11, 2011  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Monday, July 11, 2011

How Would Shifting to a Chained CPI Affect Elderly and Disabled Americans and the Federal Budget?

Virginia P. Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance

Shifting to a new CPI to lower future Social Security benefits is part of current debt ceiling negotiations. Some call for using the new consumer price index to make cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in Social Security and other federal benefits and to adjust brackets in the federal income tax code. Proponents of the new index – the chained CPI-U – describe it as a technical correction that would make the benefit adjustments more accurately reflect the cost of living experienced by average consumers. In fact, the chained CPI-U falls short of reflecting the living costs of the elderly and disabled because it does not take account of their higher out-of-pocket spending for health care. NASI has two fact sheets on this topic.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

The Case Against Cutting Social Security

Virginia P. Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance

The case against cutting Social Security is strong.

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Posted on June 20, 2011  |  2 comments  |  Add your comment
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Look Before We Leap: Ryan’s Plan Would End Medicare’s Basic Guarantee of Access to Care

Lee Goldberg, National Academy of Social Insurance

Representative Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, yesterday released a plan entitled Path to Prosperity that would fundamentally restructure Medicare, the program that has provided health care and financial security for America’s elderly and disabled population since 1965.

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Posted on April 6, 2011  |  4 comments  |  Add your comment
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Views from the Stakeholders of OASDI: Employers, Workers, and Vulnerable Communities

Rachel Frazier, Borchard Fellow, National Senior Citizens Law Center

How should we evaluate proposed changes to Social Security?  Whose perspective should we take when judging the strengths and weaknesses of social insurance policy? In “Views from the Stakeholders of OASDI: Employers, Workers, and Vulnerable Communities,” Session III of NASI’s 23rd annual policy research conference, four groups were represented as stakeholders of Social Security: employers, workers, children and families, and persons of color.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shoring Up the Unemployment Insurance System

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Joint PhD Student, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government

The unemployment insurance (UI) system has provided an essential source of support for American workers and their families. Yet the system is not without its flaws, as panelists highlighted at the “Strengthening UI” session of NASI’s 23rd annual conference. The three speakers addressed a broad range of areas where the UI system could be improved and offered proposals that ranged from the very specific to new ways of conceiving of employment arrangements.

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Posted on March 9, 2011  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Improving Social Security’s Benefits is Critical to Economic Recovery and Security

Alex Stone, Communications Manager, Economic Opportunity Institute

At NASI’s 2011 annual conference, the session “Should We Adopt the Social Security Recommendations of the Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs?” demonstrated the complexity of the Social Security reform debate.

Charles Blahous, a Social Security trustee, argued in favor of adopting the Fiscal Commission proposals, which he characterized as a “reasonable compromise” because it utilizes ideas from both sides of the aisle.

Andy Stern, a member of the Fiscal Commission, ultimately voted against the co-chairs’ proposal. He emphasized that while a crisis exists, it is of middle class retirement security in general – not Social Security – due to shrinking personal savings, fewer pension plans, and the erosion of family-wage jobs.

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Posted on February 22, 2011  |  Write the first comment
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Social Insurance Programs and the President’s Budget

Virginia Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance

Lee Goldberg, National Academy of Social Insurance

Tom Bethell, Visiting Scholar, National Academy of Social Insurance

President Obama’s February 14th budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 would freeze or reduce funding for many federal programs as part of a strategy to begin reducing the federal deficit. The nation’s major social insurance programs – Social Security and Medicare – appear to have been exempt from such changes, at least for the moment.

The release of the President’s budget proposal is, of course, only the beginning of what will be a difficult and unpredictable negotiating process with a divided and contentious Congress. In the course of negotiations the pledges made this week by the President could be markedly altered, with potentially long-term consequences for the people who rely on these social insurance programs.

Social Security
Under the heading “Secure Social Security,” the President’s budget message states:

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Posted on February 16, 2011  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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