H.R. 860, Social Security 2100 Act

SocSecCards

All major Social Security reforms were the product of Democrats and Republicans joining together to improve this landmark program.–Rep. Tom Reed (email, 9/21/19)

Social Security is based on non-partisan compromise; it is a very conservative retirement insurance program. Compromise was possible because legislators shared a common goal–workable retirement insurance for most Americans.

Reed claims:

However, the Democrat Social Security Plan (H.R. 860) would raise taxes on hardworking people while a Congressional Budget Office report released last week says the plan will only achieve solvency for another nine years – not permanent solvency as advertised. (email)

Reed is wrong. The CBO report he cites doesn’t say what he says it does.

As shown in Table 1, CBO and JCT estimate that over the current baseline projection period (2020 to 2029), enactment of H.R. 860 would:

  • Increase Social Security outlays by $386 billion;
  • Increase federal revenues by $911 billion, the net effect of a decrease in on-budget revenues of $719 billion and an increase in off-budget revenues of $1.629 trillion; and
  • Reduce the federal deficit by $525 billion (excluding any effects on direct spending for programs other than Social Security).

The discussion of on-budget and off-budget is confusing; there is more detail in the report. The CBO report continues:

In the long term, H.R. 860 would increase Social Security revenues more than it would increase benefits, nearly closing the funding shortfall that is currently projected. Under the bill, the 75-year summarized value of revenues would increase by 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and the 75-year summarized value of outlays would increase by 0.3 percent of GDP, CBO estimates. The net effect of those changes would be to reduce the Social Security system’s 75-year actuarial deficit from 1.5 percent of GDP under current law to 0.1 percent under the bill (see Table 2).

This doesn’t sound bad. The report continues

At the end of the 75-year period in 2093, CBO projects, under H.R. 860, spending would increase by 0.4 percent of GDP and revenues would increase by 2.2 percent of GDP, compared with the amounts projected under current law. This would significantly reduce but not eliminate the annual gap between Social Security’s costs and its revenues. Under H.R. 860, that annual gap would be widening by the end of the 75-year period and would continue to widen thereafter, causing the program’s financial shortfall to increase in subsequent years.

The report notes that projections far into the future are uncertain. With this in mind 75 years of sustainability sounds rather good. Here is the section that Tom Reed misconstrues:

Under H.R. 860, the newly established Social Security Trust Fund would be exhausted in calendar year 2041. Under current law, CBO projects, the existing Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) trust funds will be exhausted in calendar year 2032 and fiscal year 2028, respectively. If their balances were combined, the OASDI trust funds would be exhausted in calendar year 2032. (Following common analytical conventions, CBO often considers the two trust funds as combined.)

Tom quotes predictions for current law which the CBO report says will be a concern in nine years, as if they applied to the proposed law: H.R. 860.

Is Tom, uninformed, careless, or disingenuous. What do readers think?

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/55627

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/860

 

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Posted in 2020, Campaigning, Constituents, Reed's Views, Social Security | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia attacked

I.F.Stone.jpgI. F. Stone, (Isidor Feinstein Stone, December 24, 1907 – June 18, 1989) was a politically progressive American investigative journalist, writer, and author. He is best remembered for I. F. Stone’s Weekly (1953–71), a newsletter ranked 16th among the top hundred works of journalism in the U.S., in the 20th century, by the New York University Journalism Department, in 1999; and second place among print journalism publications.–Wikipedia

 

Projectiles are objects that move in space under the influence of gravity. The missiles fired by N. Korea into the sea, presumably ballistic missiles, can be called projectiles, but why not ballistic missiles? Cruise missiles, drones, aircraft aren’t projectiles. Why is that word used for such as that?

U.S. officials are blaming Iran for an attack on Saudi Arabia, but President Trump seems to be lowering any expectations of a fierce U.S. response. The president told supporters in New Mexico that he is weighing his options, one day after tweeting that the U.S. is “locked and loaded.” Sources tell CBS News many of the projectiles involved in the weekend attack were fired from Iranian territory. At least one missile passed through airspace over Kuwait, a U.S. ally.–CBS News

Stone’s forte was ferreting out facts hidden in news reports.

  • The attack on Saudi Arabia was so expertly executed that the Pentagon can’t say for certain where it originated. There is something fishy about this. This points more to Israel than Iran. Does the Pentagon know but not want to identify the attacker?
  • The attack on Saudi Arabia was said to be done with precision. Pictures show direct hits on multiple oil tanks by multiple missiles. Is Iran capable of that?
  • Houthis claimed responsibility. If they lack the capability, why did they make a false claim?
  • If the attack used Iranian munitions, does that make Iran responsible? When Israel uses American weapons, do we take responsibility?

Who stands to gain and who stands to lose? Why did DJT first threaten retaliation then back off. Did he learn something that hasn’t been disclosed? Can he withstand criticism from the far right if he appears weak. As he often says, we must wait and see what happens next.

 

 

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Firearm Legislation

minutemanCarl Hulse, writing in last Sunday’s New York Times, discusses firearm legislation. His account starts in 1994 when the subject arose. About the 1994 assault weapons ban, Hulse writes:

With Congress prepared to again clash over gun safety, in the aftermath of a murderous August, the circuitous route to passage taken by the assault weapons ban 25 years ago illustrates just how perfectly the legislative stars must align for contentious gun measures to become law. It also shows what such an effort entails — true bipartisanship, a committed White House, a readiness on all sides to compromise and a willingness by some lawmakers to take a significant political risk.

Indeed there was political risk. Hulse continues:

The consequences of the vote were so severe — Democrats lost the House after four decades of control, with the assault weapons ban ranking high among the reasons — that Congress has been unable to advance major gun safety legislation since.

Hulse quotes Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, who backed the crime bill.

I know people on the Second Amendment side go nuts when you say this, but what is the purpose of an assault weapon? I was surprised by the reaction.

Hulse concludes:

Despite a summer of mass shootings, it will be difficult for Congress and the White House to come together on major gun restrictions as they did for that moment in 1994.

Still, with most Americans in favor of reform, effective legislation must pass sooner or later. How many more must die first is an open question.

 

 

Posted in 2020, Congress, Gun Violence, Political | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Firearm bills

H.R. 1186 – Keep Americans Safe Act

CRS summary:

This bill establishes a new criminal offense for the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD).

The bill does not prohibit certain conduct with respect to an LCAFD, including the following:

importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession related to certain law enforcement efforts, or authorized tests or experiments;

importation, sale, transfer, or possession related to securing nuclear materials; and

possession by a retired law enforcement officer.

The bill permits continued possession of, but prohibits sale or transfer of, a grandfathered LCAFD.

Newly manufactured LCAFDs must display serial number identification and the date of manufacture.

Additionally, the bill allows a state or local government to use Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program funds to compensate individuals who surrender an LCAFD under a buy-back program.

H.R. 1236 – Extreme Risk Protection Order Act

No CRS summary yet.

H.R.3076 – Federal Extreme Risk Protection OrderAct

No CRS summary yet.

H.R. 2708 – Disarm Hate Act

No CRS summary yet.

H.R.1186 – Keep Americans Safe Act
https://www.congress.gov/…/116t…/house-bill/1186/text…

H.R.1236 – Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019
https://www.congress.gov/…/116t…/house-bill/1236/text…

H.R.3076 – Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019
https://www.congress.gov/…/116t…/house-bill/3076/text…

H.R.2708 – Disarm Hate Act
https://www.congress.gov/…/116t…/house-bill/2708/text…

Posted in Congress, Gun Violence, Political | Leave a comment

Agriculture

fall-in-the-fingerlakesLiz Peek, writing in The Hill, writes: We are told that the tariff tiffs have caused a collapse in U.S. agricultural exports to China, and consequent heartbreak in our heartland. It isn’t true.

What are her arguments?

  • DOA forecasts an increase in farm income this year.
  • What about Obama?
  • Subsidies offset losses.
  • Farmers Union is dominated by Democrats.
  • House Dems haven’t passed USMCA.

None of her points, right or wrong, directly support her thesis. Her conclusion: Democrats don’t care about farmers.

Well, maybe there is some truth in Trump critics’ claims. Peek writes:

The reality is that yes, the trade confrontation with China has hurt the farm community. But many in that group continue to support the president, confident that his quest to rein in Beijing’s unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property are worth some short-term pain.

Liz Peek is a conservative Fox News contributor.

 

https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/460208-farmers-prosper-in-spite-of-trumps-trade-battle-with-china

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Is Peace Possible in Afghanistan

twitterOnly international backing, ideally through the UN Security Council, can make any agreement durable.–op. cit.

Vikram Singh and Jacob Stokes, opinion contributors to The Hill, discuss peace prospects in Afghanistan. These authors claim that regional powers and the United States have common interest in a stable peace in Afghanistan. They suggest that an international coalition might promote and enforce a peace agreement.

I find the authors’ views optimistic:

  • They discuss the interests of regional powers–China, India, Iran, Pakistan–but brush over the role of the Taliban.
  • The Taliban is unlikely to give up in negotiations what they have won after decades of war.
  • A toothless international coalition is unlikely to have much influence with the Taliban.

To an extent the authors acknowledge these points. They conclude:

Presidents Trump, Xi and Putin have a real interest in directing their diplomatic, military and intelligence establishments to work together on ending this war. The question remains whether their common interests in this one sphere will be enough to drive focused cooperation despite broader tensions and competition. 

“Focused cooperation” is a vague goal far short of “lasting peace.”

Vikram Singh is senior advisor for Asia at the United States Institute of Peace. He was U.S. deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and deputy assistant Secretary of Defense.

Jacob Stokes is a senior policy analyst in the China program at USIP. He previously served on the national security staff for former Vice President Joe Biden and as a professional staff member for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

https://thehill.com/opinion/international/459533-can-us-china-and-russia-cooperate-on-afghan-peace

Posted in Terrorism, War | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Recession

recessionSerious recessions may not be inevitable, more likely they have an avoidable cause. The housing crisis, the dot com bubble, and the current trade war are examples.

Annie Lowrey, in an informative article in The Atlantic, writes:

The Next Recession Will Destroy Millennials

Lowrey notes that millennials’ fininacial stress hurts the economy and thus affects all. I am reminded that poverty among seniors would similarly depress the economy; cuts to Social Security and Medicare would exacerbate this.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/08/millennials-are-screwed-recession/596728/

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-08-26/trump-sell-china-order-to-u-s-firms-means-trade-war-recession

 

Posted in Economics, Seniors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment