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Robert Reich on Social Security

Former Secretary of Labor; Democratic Challenger MA Governor


Open the lockbox & throw away key: Better reforms needed

A serious approach to reforming Social Security would involve reforms like raising the retirement age to 70 (sensible, given that we’re living longer) and making the benefit formula more progressive so wealthy retirees don’t end up collecting such fat Social Security checks every month. But keeping sacrosanct a fictional account called the yearly Social Security surplus is the silliest way imaginable. Not only does it require balancing the rest of the budget even when deficit spending is needed to keep the economy moving, but it also prevents the government from borrowing money to spend on all sorts of other useful objectives--including objectives that might fuel economic growth and help save Social Security.

By pledging not to touch the Social Security surplus and by criticizing Bush for doing so, Democrats are putting themselves in a fiscal straitjacket that has nothing to do with the real issues facing the country. They’d be wise to open the lockbox and throw away the key.

Source: The New Republic, “Out of the Box” , Sep 10, 2001

Privatization is the first cousin of social Darwinism

Democrats have attacked Bush’s tax plan for sloppy math. “No way the numbers will fit” is the common complaint. Inevitably, the Bushies will have to raid the Social Security trust fund, say Democrats. Yet Democrats won’t commit to repealing the tax cut. As a result, they’ve sprung a fiscal trap on themselves-[requiring] even deeper cuts in spending, in order to keep the budget balanced.

The fiscal trap undermines the Democrats’ contention that Bush’s one-sided Social Security commission has painted a misleadingly bleak picture of Social Security’s future. If the Bush tax cut is as fiscally irresponsible as the Democrats say, then Social Security’s future is indeed bleak & they should commit to repealing the tax cut. The issue isn’t the “solvency” of the system but whether we participate together in providing that support or decide that individuals and families should be on their own. Privatization is the first cousin of social Darwinism. That’s what Democrats should be shouting about.

Source: The American Prospect, vol.12, no.15, “Fiscal Irresp.” , Aug 27, 2001

Keep Trust Fund as federal “insurance pool”

[When departing as Labor Secretary], I knew Medicare and Social Security would be revisited. Republicans wanted to turn Medicare into private medical savings accounts, and Wall Street was salivating over the prospect of “privatizing” Social Security. I wanted to be there to argue that the wealthier and healthier shouldn’t be allowed to opt out of these insurance pools, that we can’t have still more shredding of what’s left of the social compact.
Source: Locked in the Cabinet, p.345 , Feb 16, 1997

2010 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Social Security: Robert Reich on other issues:
MA Gubernatorial:
Deval Patrick
MA Senatorial:
John Kerry
Scott Brown

2011 Special Elections:
CA-36:Jane Harman(D)
CA-36:Janice Hahn(D)
NV-2:Dean Heller(R)
NY-9:Anthony Weiner(D)
NY-26:Chris Lee(R)
NY-26:Kathleen Hochul(D)
Retiring 2012:
CA-6:Lynn Woolsey(D)
OK-2:Dan Boren(D)
MI-5:Dale Kildee(D)
TX-14:Ron Paul(R)
Running for Mayor:
CA-51:Bob Filner(D)
Running for Governor:
IN-6:Mike Pence(R)
WA-8:Dave Reichert(R)
Running for Senate:
AZ-1:Jeff Flake(R)
CT-5:Chris Murphy(R)
HI-2:Mazie Hirono(D)
IN-2:Joe Donnelly(D)
MO-2:Todd Akin(R)
MT-0:Dennis Rehberg(R)
ND-0:Rick Berg(D)
NM-1:Martin Heinrich(D)
NV-1:Shelley Berkley(D)
UT-3:Jason Chaffetz(R)
Dem. Freshmen
in 112th Congress:

AL-7:Terri Sewell
CA-33:Karen Bass
DE-0:John Carney
FL-17:Frederica Wilson
HI-1:Colleen Hanabusa
LA-2:Cedric Richmond
MA-10:Bill Keating
MI-13:Hansen Clarke
RI-1:David Cicilline
GOP Freshmen
in 112th Congress:

AL-2:Martha Roby
AL-5:Mo Brooks
AZ-1:Paul Gosar
AZ-3:Ben Quayle
AZ-5:David Schweikert
AR-1:Rick Crawford
AR-2:Tim Griffin
AR-3:Steve Womack
CA-19:Jeff Denham
CO-3:Scott Tipton
CO-4:Cory Gardner
FL-12:Dennis Ross
FL-2:Steve Southerland
FL-21:Mario Diaz-Balart
FL-22:Allen West
FL-24:Sandy Adams
FL-25:David Rivera
FL-5:Rich Nugent
FL-8:Dan Webster
GA-2:Mike Keown
GA-7:Rob Woodall
GA-8:Austin Scott
ID-1:Raul Labrador
IL-8:Joe Walsh
IL-10:Bob Dold
IL-11:Adam Kinzinger
IL-14:Randy Hultgren
IL-17:Bobby Schilling
IL-8:Joe Walsh
IN-3:Marlin Stutzman
IN-4:Todd Rokita
IN-8:Larry Bucshon
IN-9:Todd Young
KS-1:Tim Huelskamp
KS-3:Kevin Yoder
KS-5:Mike Pompeo
LA-3:Jeff Landry
MD-1:Andy Harris
MI-1:Dan Benishek
MI-2:Bill Huizenga
MI-3:Justin Amash
MI-7:Tim Walberg
MN-8:Chip Cravaack
MO-4:Vicky Hartzler
MO-7:Billy Long
MS-1:Alan Nunnelee
MS-4:Steven Palazzo
GOP Freshmen
in 111th Congress:

NC-2:Renee Ellmers
ND-0:Rick Berg
NH-2:Charlie Bass
NH-1:Frank Guinta
NJ-3:Jon Runyan
NM-2:Steve Pearce
NV-3:Joe Heck
NY-13:Michael Grimm
NY-19:Nan Hayworth
NY-20:Chris Gibson
NY-24:Richard Hanna
NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle
NY-29:Tom Reed
OH-1:Steve Chabot
OH-15:Steve Stivers
OH-16:Jim Renacci
OH-18:Bob Gibbs
OH-6:Bill Johnson
OK-5:James Lankford
PA-10:Tom Marino
PA-11:Lou Barletta
PA-3:Mike Kelly
PA-7:Patrick Meehan
PA-8:Mike Fitzpatrick
SC-1:Tim Scott
SC-3:Jeff Duncan
SC-4:Trey Gowdy
SC-5:Mick Mulvaney
SD-0:Kristi Noem
TN-3:Chuck Fleischmann
TN-4:Scott DesJarlais
TN-6:Diane Black
TN-8:Stephen Fincher
TX-17:Bill Flores
TX-23:Quico Canseco
TX-27:Blake Farenthold
VA-2:Scott Rigell
VA-5:Robert Hurt
VA-9:Morgan Griffith
WA-3:Jaime Herrera
WI-7:Sean Duffy
WI-8:Reid Ribble
WV-1:David McKinley
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Page last updated: Nov 06, 2011