Community Panel/Q&A on Social Security Monday, 10:30 a.m.

by jhwygirl

With Social Security celebrating its 75th anniversary, people here in Missoula have the opportunity to participate in a community forum designed to bring a myriad of state and community leaders – and the general public – together to discuss the issues facing Social Security.

On Monday, at 10:30 a.m. in city council chambers, located at 140 W. Pine Street, Mayor John Engen will join with former U.S. Senator John Melcher and U.S. Representative Pat Williams to lead a panel discussion on Social Security, along with a list of numerous community leaders, including:

State Senator Dave Wanzenried
Mike Mayer, Summit Independent Living
Paul Meyer, Western Montana Rehabilitation
Jack Chambers, Opportunity Resources
Susan Kohler, Missoula Aging Services
Mark Anderlik, Missoula Central Labor Council and
Cris Volinkaty, Child Development Center

The format will be a panel discussion with plenty of opportunity afterwards for a question and answer period to the panel participants.

I’m hoping to be able to make it, but my schedule is pretty tight – but the attendees on the tentative list are impressive and I know that organizers have been working to bring in those with conservative viewpoints.

Dave Budge, are you reading?

Because I doubt I’ll be able to make it, I really hope MCAT is able to cover it. It’s an important issue and as the Obama Administration begins the discussion to look for solutions, it’s important for communities around the U.S. to be involved in offering their viewpoints and suggestions.

For a primer on what Social Security means for Montana, read this report, titled Social Security Works for Montana.

  1. Lizard

    ah, social security, the crown jewel of the social safety net for the american workforce who pay into this economic system.

    yet many in my generation cynically scoff at the mere concept of seeing any kind of pay out from our national payees. that’s how well the social security “crisis” has been packaged and sold to us.

    i wish i could attend tomorrows little listening session. i hope there are some decent questions asked of the panel. i doubt anyone will point out that the current administration has signaled cuts to entitlements are fair game while war spending is sacred and untouchable.

    in browsing around for five minutes, i ran across this piece by allen smith. here’s a snip:

    The mishandling of Social Security funds has been going on since the mid-1980s. As soon as the surpluses, resulting from the 1983 payroll tax hike, first began to flow into the Treasury, politicians from both political parties began using the money like a giant slush fund. At that time, it would be at least 30 years before the funds would actually be needed for Social Security, so politicians developed the bad habit of “temporarily borrowing” the money and using it for non-Social Security purposes. That bad habit never was broken, and every dollar of the $2.5 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue, generated by the tax hike, has been spent, leaving no real assets in the trust fund.

    Some members of Congress were outraged by the practice and tried to nip this misuse of Social Security revenue in the bud. On October 13, 1989, Senator Ernest Hollings of SC expressed his outrage during a speech on the Senate floor. Excerpts from that speech, taken from the Congressional Record, follow. “…the most reprehensible fraud in this great jambalaya of frauds is the systematic and total ransacking of the Social Security trust fund…The public fully supported enactment of hefty new Social Security taxes in 1983 to ensure the retirement program’s long-term solvency and credibility. The promise was that today’s huge surpluses would be set safely aside in a trust fund to provide for baby-boomer retirees in the next century. Well, look again. The Treasury is siphoning off every dollar of the Social Security surplus to meet current operating expenses of the government…The hard fact is that in the next century…the American people will wake up to the reality that those IOUs in the trust fund vault are a 21st century version of Confederate banknotes.”

    yeah, i think folks are waking up to a whole mess of deferred problems that got papered over decades ago.

    the crisis of social security is actually the crisis of wall street. housing popped and derivatives poisoned the global system and our foreign creditors are getting jumpy. with the stimulus running out and the fed backing off, the heart of the economy, consumer spending, is flatlining.

    they are using the language of crisis to justify looting one of the last big pools they can get access to. under bush they couldn’t do it. will the rebranding of their efforts be successful this time around?

    • carfreestupidity

      Why even bother… By the time I’m ready to retire… What a quant thought… Social security will be long gone. We could easily cut spending elsewhere to offset the cost of social security, but I think deep down inside all of us we now that long after all social programs are cut in this country the only thing the federal government will be involved in is debt financing, defense spending, and building highways.

      • Sadly, after hope and change was derailed by corporate lobby power over our congress, young people have become apathetic.

        I don’t blame them.most of them now believe in voting as much as they believe in social security’s ability to survive to their retirement.
        Poor leadership and corruption feeds their apathy. We give them little to believe in while policies continue to enlarge the growing gap between rich and poor.

  2. Democrats are now taking a shot at Social Security, as Republicans failed.

    The important question to ask the panelists is this: Do they, or do they not, intend to honor the deal we struck in 1983 wherein we allowed the government to raise our taxes to very high levels to build up a trust fund to pay our benefits for the next thirty years.

    If they hem and haw, say we can’t afford it, talk about sustainability or whatever, then the answer is “no”, and there is no more to learn.

  3. mr benson

    It sounds like the same old group of special interests to me.

    Social security needs to be treated as income tax and applied to all income, and in a progressive manner.

    Payouts need to be means tested.

    Medicare, ditto.

    It’s been kiting between generations bullshit for decades, and now that the pyramid is about to collapse, well, we need to call a spade a spade.

    The single mother waiting tables should stop paying old people to take trips to Europe.

    • I think the program far less a pyramid than, say, defense spending or tax cuts – that is, it is far more sustainable. And yet the doomsday forecasting is applied only against SS.

      A minor adjustment, merely lifting the cap, would preserve the program in perpetuity.

      Anyway, you make good points, and I agree except on the idea of means-testing. I tend to think that the benefits ought to go to all who pay in, and that they should not be taxed, as they are now.

      • mr benson

        Definitely on the whole “government spending” issue. When will we apply “sustainable” to “government spending”?

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