The GOP is engaged in bad policy and bad politics here, so it’s squirming. And that seems to have pushed Republicans to distort the facts about Social Security’s condition even more than usual. Here’s what they’ve been saying this week, as quoted by NPR on Tuesday. I’m appending reality checks to each of the quotes, something I’m sure NPR just forgot to do.
California is facing a whopping $26.6 billion deficit, but budget discussions this week focused on a question that might sound small: whether the state’s public retirement system should cut its assumed future return on portfolio investments from 7.75 percent to 7.5 percent.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS) decided to hold steady at 7.75 percent — and the impact was significant. It meant the pension fund won’t have to dip into general revenues for an additional $200 million or more.
Reverse mortgage ads often portray contented silver-haired couples enjoying the comfort of home, confident that their decision to tap home equity will bring lifelong financial security.
Step one: Take professional money managers responsible for the portfolios of large pension funds, and throw them into a vicious bear market.
Step two: Let them compete against individual retirement investors to achieve the best rate of return. Who are you going to bet on?
Government workers in Madison are trying to save their pensions by camping out in Wisconsin’s capitol building. That’s the state of things in the public sector, where nearly all employees still have traditional pensions. How about the private sector? Can anything be done to bring back the Great American Pension in Corporate America, where it’s an endangered species?
Workers still want defined benefit (DB) pensions –- 84 percent of poll respondents tell Matthew Greenwald & Associates that workers with pensions are more likely to have a secure retirement, and 77 percent think the disappearance of pensions has made it harder to achieve the “American Dream.”
Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and other Republican governors are counting on taxpayer support in their battles to cut state workers’ bargaining rights, pay and pensions. But public opinion favors the unions, because government workers aren’t the only ones worried about economic security these days — especially where retirement and pensions are concerned.
A national poll by Mathew Greenwald & Associates to be released next week shows Americans are in a state of near panic about retirement security. The research was commissioned by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), and covered a representative sample of all age groups. I see plenty of foreboding retirement sentiment surveys, but the NIRS findings are especially grim, and suggest that the financial meltdown and Great Recession simply have beaten expectations straight into the ground.
Remember the public option?
Progressives fought for a government-sponsored insurance program in the healthcare reform law, and failed — with one exception. A little-noticed provision of the Affordable Care Act created a public option for long-term care insurance. The Community Living Assistance Services and Support plan (CLASS for short) aims to fill the country’s yawning gap in long-term care (LTC) protection by offering modestly-priced coverage that emphasizes more flexible, community-based care over nursing homes.
But the success of CLASS is by no means assured. The law mandates that the plan be self-funded through enrollee premiums, but critics charge it won’t be financially sustainable and will create a long-term drag on the federal deficit. President Obama’s deficit commission recommended reform or repeal of CLASS last December; Republicans in Congress are pushing for the latter option.
The past decade produced a rare event — two vicious bear markets that wrecked the plans of many retirement investors. The impact was especially severe for those close to retirement, or already retired. What, if anything, could retirees have done differently to avoid running out of money in retirement — and what could they do differently in the future?
T. Rowe Price examines this question in a new study that uses Monte Carlo probability analysis to look at likely outcomes of different retiree responses to a bear market. T. Rowe examined strategies that would help retirees restore their odds of success — defined as not running out of money before age 95.
Why do reporters parrot misinformation about Social Security? It’s probably done in the name of balance and a centrist approach. Trouble is, the center on this issue has been pulled so far right that the Beltway consensus portrays Social Security as a program in crisis and a main driver of the federal budget deficit.
But the consensus is wrong, and so is much of the reporting.
The latest example among many: National Public Radio’s story on Feb. 9 claiming that Social Security has hit a tipping point. Why “tipping?” Because the program has gone cash-flow negative. NPR quotes alarmed politicians who express dismay that Social Security is taking in less than it spends — but that’s no surprise at all.
Herb Burtis and John Ferris met while both were undergraduate music students at Michigan State University in 1948. Burtis was 18, and Ferris was a 22-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army. They studied with the same organ teacher and connected initially through their mutual love of music
Burtis and Ferris committed to one another and ultimately spending 60 years together. They were married in 2004, after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.