Reforming the Disability Welfare State?

The number of people ages 18-64 receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) under the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability (OASDI) program has increased dramatically in the recent past. Ana Swanson (Washington Post, Wonk Blog) has brief piece that focuses on SSDI. It includes a map (by Seth Kadish, Vizual Statistix) graphically representing the percentage of beneficiaries … Continue reading Reforming the Disability Welfare State?

Moving On from the Debt

There was a brief moment a few years back when concerns over the size of the budget deficit were leading to some discussions of the long-term fiscal imbalances and the potentials for a grand bargain. But with last month’s budget deal, the debt is no longer on the agenda.  As Alex Seitz-Wald notes in National … Continue reading Moving On from the Debt

Budgetary Realities

As you likely know, the Congress seems poised to pass a $1.012 trillion omnibus spending bill to avoid another shutdown (see coverage from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Hill).  It appears that both the Democrats and Republicans will get things they hold dear in the spending provisions and the riders (Ed O’Keefe … Continue reading Budgetary Realities

The Debt Ceiling and Social Security

Forgive me if I am confused. On May 13, 2013, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds. A few salient points: In 2012, the OASDI Trust Funds had $840 billion in income, including $509 billion in contributions, $27 billion from … Continue reading The Debt Ceiling and Social Security

The Motor City Mess—A Harbinger of Things to Come?

The Economist thinks so, and has dedicated a good deal of space to the question in the newest issue (here  and here). A few quotes: Other states and cities should pay heed, not because they might end up like Detroit next year, but because the city is a flashing warning light on America’s fiscal dashboard. … Continue reading The Motor City Mess—A Harbinger of Things to Come?

The Political Costs of Reform

President Obama’s budget proposal supports entitlement reform, in part, through the introduction of the chained CPI (rather than the current CPI-W) for calculating cost-of-living adjustments. This change has been part of various reform proposals over the years, although it has often been discussed as part of progressive indexing (i.e., maintaining the CPI-W for low wage … Continue reading The Political Costs of Reform

The Inaugural

There was little that I found surprising in President Obama’s second inaugural address (if you didn’t watch it or have a chance to read it, you can find it here). He clearly articulated—however vaguely—a center left agenda, much as one might have predicted.  Unless the Democrats capture the House in the 2014 midterms, I don’t … Continue reading The Inaugural

Dancing on the Cliff

The Fiscal Cliff has been averted postponed, if not made worse. Big takeaways: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has once again proven himself to be incapable of leading the Senate.  Is there any stronger rebuke than McConnell’s appeal to Biden as he searched in vain for a negotiating partner in the Senate? The Democrats have … Continue reading Dancing on the Cliff

The Prologue

The protracted negotiations over the fiscal cliff suggest how difficult things will actually become once we begin to address the simple fact that existing entitlements cannot continue to exist in their current form. The one significant reform that was proposed earlier by President Obama during his discussions with the Speaker involved using the chained CPI … Continue reading The Prologue

Advice to the GOP: In the Spirit of the Holidays, Accept the Gift

The fiscal cliff debates seem to be at a standstill as we approach the end of the year.  On the spending side, the proposal to change the indexing for Social Security seems to be quite positive. The use of the CPI-W has fueled growth in the real value of benefits and the substitution of a … Continue reading Advice to the GOP: In the Spirit of the Holidays, Accept the Gift

Slow Train Coming

Actually, it appears to be accelerating. The train is the impending insolvency of the large entitlement programs. The news today: Social Security. A summary of the latest trustee report (as presented in the Christian Science Monitor): The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 — three years earlier than previously projected — the government … Continue reading Slow Train Coming

Krugman and “Imagine There’s No Welfare…”

Paul Krugman (NYT) turns to the article that we have been discussing on Pileus (here and here) and Monty addressed in an insightful post on Ace of Spades.  Krugman has never really acknowledged the reality of a looming entitlement crisis (indeed, it often appears that there can be no program large enough, no deficit large … Continue reading Krugman and “Imagine There’s No Welfare…”

Imagine There’s No Welfare, Its Easy if You Try…

A few days back I posted (here) on an article in the NYT that focused on recipients of welfare (usually Social Security, Medicaid, disability) who are dependent on the state but also seem without options. My post ended on a somber note: “the expansion of the safety net has been accompanied by changes in social norms … Continue reading Imagine There’s No Welfare, Its Easy if You Try…

The Social Safety Net. What are the Alternatives?

Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff had an interesting piece in the NYT this weekend entitled “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It.”  An early quote provides the context:  The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary … Continue reading The Social Safety Net. What are the Alternatives?

A Note on Entitlements

The WSJ has an editorial today entitled "Entitlement Nation" in which it outlines America's political history that has led to so many millions of us today receiving, even living off, payments of money, goods, or services from the government. The numbers are shocking: "50.5 million Americans are on Medicaid, 46.5 million are on Medicare, 52 million … Continue reading A Note on Entitlements

What About the Social Security Trust Fund? Depends on When (Not Who) You Ask

In an interview with CBS News, the President has issued some stark predictions of what will happen should Congress fail to extend the debt ceiling. "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do … Continue reading What About the Social Security Trust Fund? Depends on When (Not Who) You Ask

Throwing Grandma Off the Cliff

In an interesting piece in Politicotoday, Alex Isenstadt argues that GOP plans to reform Medicare could open the door to the Democrats retaking the House in 2012 (something no one would have predicted following the results of the 2010 midterms). According to Isenstadt, the Democrats are in possession of a “silver bullet.” the GOP’s Medicare … Continue reading Throwing Grandma Off the Cliff