"Senator Sherrod Brown is joining the push to expand Social Security, and he’s making a startling argument: Dems should go on offense on entitlements, rather than let Republicans and Beltway fiscal scolds frame the discussion as one over how much benefits should be cut, not one over whether they should be cut at all.

“There are two fundamental numbers that make this a moral case for Democrats to make,” Brown told me in an interview today. “One is that a third of seniors rely on Social Security for virtually their entire income. The other is that more than half of seniors rely on Social Security for significantly more than half their income.”

Brown is endorsing Tom Harkin’s bill to expand Social Security benefits, which would boost benefits for beneficiaries by $70 per month, change the cost-of-living calculation to keep pace with rising costs of things seniors need, and scrap the payroll tax cap to strengthen the program over the long term. The crusade to expand Social Security got started with liberal bloggers such as Atrios began pushing for it, and gained some momentum when liberal groups such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee began mobilizing behind the idea. . . . "

The Washington Post: Liberal push to expand Social Security gains steam

 

 

". . .For a start, we cannot impose more austerity on people who are already suffering. When 95% of all new income between 2009 and 2012 went to the top 1%, and while tens of millions of working Americans saw a decline in their income, we cannot cut programs that working families depend on.

Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must end the absurdity of corporations not paying a nickel in federal income taxes. A 2008 report from the Government Accountability Office found that was the case with 1 in 4 large U.S. corporations. At a time when multinational corporations and the wealthy are avoiding an estimated $100 billion a year in taxes by stashing money in tax havens like the Cayman Islands, we need to make them pay taxes just as middle-class Americans do.

While Congress in January finally ended Bush's tax breaks for the richest 1%, lower rates were left in place for the top 2%, those households earning between $250,000 and $450,000 a year. That must end.

At a time when we now spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we can make judicious cuts in our armed forces without compromising our military capability.

And frankly, Congress must listen better. Some Republicans learned a hard lesson when the American people said it was wrong to shut down the government because some extreme right-wing members of Congress did not like the Affordable Care Act. Well, there's another lesson that I hope my Republican colleagues absorb. Poll after poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly do not want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, according to a recent National Journal poll, 81% do not want to cut Medicare at all, 76% do not want to cut Social Security at all, and 60% do not want to cut Medicaid at all. Other polls make it clear that Americans believe that the wealthiest among us and large corporations must pay their fair share in taxes.

It is time to develop a federal budget that is moral and makes good economic sense. It is time to develop a budget that invests in our future by creating jobs, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and expanding educational opportunities. It is time for those who have so much to help with deficit reduction. It is time that we listen to what the American people want."

The right way to make a federal budget - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/must-read/the-right-way-to-make-a-federal-budget.

 

 

"On October 6, 60 Minutes ran a report called “Disability, USA” that relied on anecdotes and misinformation to paint Social Security’s disability programs as wasteful and full of abuse. This comes just a few months after a report on NPR’s Planet Money created a similar picture. Both stories were quickly denounced by fact-checkers and disability advocates as not only misleading and inaccurate, but missing essential facts about the disability programs – they have high standards, low fraud rates, and the benefits are far from cushy. Here are the key facts to understand the Social Security disability programs:"

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/10/16/2787821/facts-disability-insurance/

 

 

 

When reality distortion fields fail, those inside often deny, rationalize, become disoriented, and then scramble to reset their distortion fields. This is happening now to the Republican Party. It often happens to vocational experts when their data and methods are challenged by competent attorneys at disability hearings. It may happen sooner than you think to the entire framework of the 1991 Revised 4th Edition of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles used by the Social Security Administration in disability adjudication.

Here is a recent example, in which an expert explains his numbers, assumptions, and methods, and then panics as his distortion field disintegrates around him.

 

 

 

"It looks like CBS News can no longer afford to do their own news reporting so they are picking up material from other sources. There seems no other way to explain the piece it ran last night on the Social Security disability program on Sixty Minutes which is best described as a spinoff of an earlier This American Life piece.

The remarkable aspect of this story is that it completely ignored all the comments from experts in the field in response to the This American Life piece pointing out that fraud is in fact not rampant in the disability program (e.g. here and here). There were any number of experts who could have been interviewed on this topic to counterbalance the views of a far-right senator who is best known as a denier of global warming (Tom Coburn). But Sixty Minutes apparently could not be bothered to present a more balanced picture of the disability program.

The basic fact, which may be painful for CBS News and Sixty Minutes, is that it is not easy to get on Social Security disability. Close to three quarters of applicants are turned down initially and even after appeal, 60 percent of applicants are denied benefits.

If Sixty Minutes was actually interested in the incidence of fraudulent claims it might have turned to the authors of a University of Michigan study [PDF]. . . "

Beat the Press http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/cbs-news-60-minutes-joins-the-disability-bashing-bandwagon.