Apr 16 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: Will Social Security be unchained?

President Obama’s efforts to appease Washington’s Serious People ran into serious obstacles last week. Responding to the cries of the Washington deficit hawks, President Obama proposed cutting Social Security by adopting a different measure of the rate of inflation for the annual cost of living adjustment. [..]

While cutting Social Security got the predictable applause from the Washington Post and other Washington establishment types, it prompted far more outrage among the president’s base than he had anticipated. As a result, Obama’s people were busy rewriting the plan at the time the budget was released, trying to ameliorate some of its worst effects.

However, the basic objection remains. Why is a Democratic president trying to cut Social Security in response to a crisis created by a combination of Wall Street greed and Washington corruption and incompetence?

Robert Reich: Why This Is the Worst Recovery on Record

The biggest economic debate is between Keynesians (who want more government spending and lower interest rates in order to fuel demand) and supply-side “austerics” (who want lower taxes on the wealthy and on corporations to boost incentives to hire and invest, and who see government deficits crowding out private investment).

But both approaches have problems. [..]

Both sides of the modern debate have neglected the scourge of widening inequality.

We’re now witnessing what happens when all of the economic gains go to the top, and the rest of the population doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going.

Rep. Keith Ellison: Why Cutting Social Security Benefits Is Such a Big Deal

Last week President Obama announced a budget that includes something called “Chained CPI” as a way to reduce Social Security benefits. I will not support it. And will not vote for any plan that includes cuts to benefits Americans have earned. The proposal has already sparked large protests by groups ranging from organized labor to nonpartisan veterans’ organization. But what exactly is Chained CPI? And what makes cutting Social Security benefits so harmful right now?

To understand, here’s some context. American families have traditionally depended on three legs of a stool to support them during their retirement: retirement plans from their employers, private savings, and Social Security. But over the past 30 years, two of those legs — personal savings and retirement plans — have been rotting away for the American middle class.

Michael Cohen: How payroll taxes expose Republicans’ fundamental anti-tax hypocrisy

The GOP loves to cut income tax but stays shtum about payroll taxes – because only the former gives dollars back to the rich [..]

Payroll taxes, which are used to fund social security and Medicare, are the taxes that every American pays out of his or her salary. These levies account for approximately 35% of all federal revenues; they consume close to 17% of worker salaries; and for three out of every four households, they represent a larger portion of their tax responsibility than dreaded, hated income taxes.

Funny, you don’t hear Republicans complain much about those taxes.

There’s a good reason for that – working-class and middle-class Americans bear the greatest burden from payroll taxes. Income taxes, on the other hand, because they are progressive and thus increase the more money you make, take a bigger hit out of wealthy Americans.

Which goes to prove, as if we didn’t know already, that Republicans don’t really care about taxes … they care about rich people paying taxes.

Paul Buchheit: Looking for Cheats in Corporate Tax Filings: A Descent into the Circles of Hell

When Dante descended into the Inferno, guided by Virgil, he passed through Circles of Gluttony and Greed, and of Heresy and Fraud and Treachery.

The modern-day version is the corporate tax filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Navigation through the hellish form is fraught with anguish and pain and bewilderment, causing the visitor to beg for release from its devilish grasp, to shudder when recalling the sign at the entrance: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

The Circle of Betrayal: Big Profits Overseas, Big Losses in the U.S.

Bank of America, Citigroup, and Pfizer can be found here. In the last two years each one of them made much of their revenue in the U.S., but they claimed billions of dollars in foreign profits and billions of dollars in U.S. losses.

William Rivers Pitt: Obama Joins the Club

I spent the week trying to think of new and novel ways to call the president stupid for putting a Social Security benefit cut into his budget, because coughing up this Chained CPI thing raced into the Unforced Political Errors Hall Of Fame so fast it left skid marks and smoke, and is currently jostling elbows with Nixon firing Archie Cox and Clinton offering the intern a cigar for the marquee spot at the top of the list.

Think I’m exaggerating? Serving up a cut to Social Security benefits – and it is a cut, no matter what the Smart People tell you – was galactically stupid from a tactical perspective. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the anointed mouthpiece for the GOP’s House re-election campaign, has already called the president’s budget a “shocking attack,” and accused the White House of “trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors.”

Get ready for a lot more of that.