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2019 Discussion Archive

Friday, November 1, 2019

In Memoriam: Elijah Cummings

Bill Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

In reflecting on the passing of Representative Elijah Cummings, we at the National Academy of Social Insurance recall his stirring tribute to William (Bill) Spriggs, recipient of the 2016 Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance.

We invite you to watch the late Congressman’s remarks during that memorable evening in which the Ball Award was presented to Bill Spriggs. (Congressman Cummings was actually a surprise guest speaker, so this intimate 7-minute recording was captured by none other than Bill Spriggs, via his mobile device!)

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Posted on November 1, 2019  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Addressing Inequality, Increasing Economic Security

William Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

A new study indicates that the United States continues to lose ground when it comes to addressing inequality. According to the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) released in September 2019, the gap between the richest and poorest U.S. households is now the largest it has been in the past fifty years. Despite a national economy with low rates of unemployment, more than ten years of consecutive growth in gross domestic product (GDP), and median household income at an all-time high ($61,937 for 2018), disparities in income along racial, generational, and geographic lines grew.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Recession Readiness: The Role of Social Insurance

William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer

Recession Watch

A defining trait of severe recessions is the staggering levels of long-term unemployment that follow. During the last recession, between 2008 and 2009, 8.4 million jobs, or 6.1% of all payroll employment at the time, were lost. Prior to the last recession, the largest share of the unemployed experiencing long-term unemployment was 26.0% in the early 1980s. The same long-term unemployment rate exceeded 40% into the early 2010s, amounting to over 4%of the entire labor force, and is only now falling to pre-recessionary levels.

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Expertise and Engagement

Bill Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

As we strive to enhance our Academy’s effectiveness in fulfilling our mission – increase public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security and advance solutions to challenges facing the nation – one of my major concerns in today’s polarized environment is the distrust of expertise among segments of the U.S. population.

Some of this distrust is due to deliberate efforts to undermine evidence-based research. My January 2017 message to Academy Members, “What does a “post-truth” era mean for the Academy?” addressed this. There are, however, other factors in such distrust.

Nervous States

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Posted on August 16, 2019  |  Write the first comment
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Monday, August 5, 2019

In Memoriam: Merton Bernstein

William Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

 

Merton C. Bernstein 

1923 - 2019

Merton Clay Bernstein, Walter D. Coles Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington University in St. Louis died at home in Brewster, MA on August 3, 2019.  

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Posted on August 5, 2019  |  Write the first comment
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Addressing Social Security's Long-Range Financial Stability

Bill Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

Significant proposals to enhance Social Security’s long-range financial stability are emerging from a variety of sources. Although there was only one mention of Social Security during the first round of Democratic Presidential debates in June, it is likely to get much more attention from candidates in the coming months.

Recently, I attended the annual Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s Fiscal Summit in DC. (The Peterson Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the Academy’s work.)

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Posted on July 16, 2019  |  Write the first comment
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Strengthening Social Insurance: The Role of Policy Innovation Challenges

Elaine Weiss, Lead Policy Analyst - Income Security

The National Academy of Social Insurance and AARP will soon be announcing the winners of the 2019 Social Security Policy Innovations Challenge: Ensuring Adequacy for Workers. Through this Challenge, we will identify 3-5 feasible policy proposals that specifically address the income adequacy needs of older workers, who must claim Social Security retirement benefits before their full retirement age due to ill health, an inability to continue to perform physically demanding jobs, or other factors. (This 2019 Challenge in some ways builds on past crowdsourcing efforts the Academy has led over the past decade. As discussed further below, the Academy’s Challenges have produced a range of feasible ideas and policy proposals for strengthening Social Security.)

 

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Posted on June 14, 2019  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Socialism or Social Insurance?

Bill Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

The political air is charged these days with claims that various policy ideas, like Medicare-For-All and the Green New Deal, are “socialistic.” Such charges have been made in American history since the late 19th century, often in response to bold new policy concepts put forward to address gaps in income and health care security. This leads us to revisit a fundamental question – what differentiates Socialism from Social Insurance?

Social Insurance as Collective Action

In the words of Robert M. Ball, Founding Chair of our Academy: “Social insurance derives its unique strength from the principle that the best form of self-protection is mutual aid on a universal scale; when everyone contributes, everyone can be protected.” Academy Member and historian Edward D. Berkowitz also quotes Bob Ball:

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

In Memoriam: Alice Rivlin

William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer, National Academy of Social Insurance

 

(Alice Rivlin receives the 2013 Ball Award with then Board Chair, Lisa Mensah) 

With deep sadness, we learned of the passing of Alice Rivlin, a Founding Member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, and recipient of the 2013 Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance.

 

(Alice Rivlin with her family at the 2013 Ball Award) 

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Posted on May 15, 2019  |  Write the first comment
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Taxes, Contributions, and Social Insurance

Bill Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

 

With most Americans focused on taxes this month, it’s a good time to take a look at the relationship between federal income taxes and social insurance contributions.

Overview of Federal Taxes and Distributional Effects

The latest report by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Overview of the Federal Tax System As In Effect for 2019, provides a comprehensive starting point. This report breaks out the current federal tax system into four elements:

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Key Takeaways from the Regenerating Social Insurance for Millennials and the Millennium Conference

Bethany Cole, Research Assistant, National Academy of Social Insurance

Griffin Murphy, Research Assistant, National Academy of Social Insurance

Posted on February 22, 2019  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
Saturday, February 16, 2019

Regenerating Social Insurance for Millennials and the Millennium: Lessons Learned

Bill Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

The Academy’s 31st annual policy conference – Regenerating Social Insurance for Millennials and the Millennium – was by all measures a success. It represented a different approach to one of the Academy’s signature events in both style and substance.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Assured Income as a Mechanism to Promote Economic Security

H. Luke Shaefer, Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and Director, Poverty Solutions, University of Michigan

“Universal basic income” (UBI) has only recently come into popular usage, but the idea of assuring a base level of income to all is not new. Social insurance programs have been performing a similar function for much of the last century. Social Security and Unemployment Insurance both provide a base level of income given one’s eligibility for receiving benefits. The latter part of the statement is, of course, a defining characteristic of traditional social insurance—eligibility is contingent on one’s paying in.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Social Security Across the Lifespan: Addressing Misconceptions among Young People

Jeff Cruz, Senior analyst for Social Security and senior advisor for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the Senate Budget Committee

Kathleen Romig, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Posted on January 24, 2019  |  Write the first comment
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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Achieving Access to Health Care Coverage and Services to Promote Economic Security and Ability to Participate in Work

Renée M. Landers, Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School and Faculty Director, Health and Biomedical Law Concentration

“The first wealth is health.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this observation in The Conduct of Life published in 1860, and the statement remains centrally true to the human condition today. The simple sentence belies the range of factors that have an impact on the health of individuals and populations, including the social insurance and other public policies that affect the ability to maintain health insurance and to obtain access to necessary health care services on a consistent basis throughout the lifespan. Good health is essential to the ability of people to participate effectively in education, productive work, recreation, and civic and community life. The current political and economic environment presents several threats as well as opportunities for ensuring access to health care across the generations.

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Posted on January 19, 2019  |  Write the first comment
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