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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Washington Post Has Not Heard that the Retirement Age for Social Security Has Been Raised

The Washington Post Has Not Heard that the Retirement Age for Social Security Has Been Raised

Wednesday, 07 July 2010 05:08

In her column bashing AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus complains that Trumka got angry at the suggestion that the retirement age for Social Security be raised in response to the increase in life expectancy in recent decades. Apparently, Ms. Marcus did not know that the retirement age has been raised already. In 1983, Congress voted to raise the normal retirement age from 65 to 67 over the period from 2002 to 2022. Ms. Marcus seems unaware of this 27 year-old law.

Marcus also implies that Trumka believes that the country's fiscal problems can be solved exclusively by taxing the rich. This is  not true. Trumka and the AFL-CIO have consistently been strong proponents of measures that would make the U.S. health care system more efficient, such as a public health insurance option and negotiated prices for prescription drugs.

Such measures would make health care much more affordable for both the public and private sector. If per person health care costs in the United States were the same as in any other wealthy country, the United States would be looking at huge long-term budget surpluses rather than deficits. It is difficult to understand how Marcus could have missed this aspect of Trumka's political  agenda.

It is important also to note that measures that reduce the trend toward growing inequality, such as improved corporate governance that reins in CEO pay or a trade policy that is not designed to increase inequality, would also have beneficial budgetary impact. As more income goes to those at the middle and bottom, there would be less need for various government transfer programs. It would be useful if Post columnists would try to directly address the agenda of the unions, rather than caricature it in order to discredit it.

Comments (13)Add Comment
written by Kenneth Fingeret, July 07, 2010 6:09
If someones job depends upon them not knowing or understanding something why would you or anyone else expect them to understand? "Ignorance is bliss". When you are in the business to inform it is much easier to misinform by not doing your job if your bosses want it that way. The Post seems to like it as a misinformation tool. Side comment which others have mentioned in the past. One reason for decreased circulation in newspapers is the lack of content and the increase of filler. This comes from one who used to read multiple papers, magazines and other periodicals per day.
With respect, AFL has made the health care problem worse, Low-rated comment [Show]
written by izzatzo, July 07, 2010 6:18
In a new study of life expectancy, researchers were shocked to discover that living longer has nothing to do with growing average GDP per capita in trickle down fashion, but has shifted to become fully determined by growing inequality of income in trickle up fashion, with the upper percentile living longer at the expense of the lower percentile dying earlier.

The good news was passed on to the older generation in the US who recently switched percentile categories with the younger generation after a huge loss in wealth, in order to insure survival of the species.
Jorge you are ridiculous
written by Tom, July 07, 2010 6:41
Jorge, maybe you can also argue that AFL makes food more expensive by ensuring that members make enough to afford to eat well.
Here is Mr Trumka's unfiltered view
written by AndrewDover, July 07, 2010 7:59

As Mr Baker said, the 7th point calls for reducing excess medical cost growth without cutting benefits.

"Ms. Marcus seems unaware of this 27 year-old law." And your evidence is what? Because she did not add "again" to a sentence?
written by npm, July 07, 2010 9:43
Dean - I'm a little confused. You correctly point out that the normal retirement age is increasing, but the column didn't say anything about the NRA. Rather, she says she asked him about the "eligibility age," which Marcus correctly said is fixed at 62.

The problem, however, is that it's not clear how increasing the eligibility age would save money, since people would just get higher monthly benefits.
written by Tom, July 07, 2010 9:44
4 of 11 of the Washington Post's Board of Directors have direct ties to Investment Banking (Finance Capital) plus 1 failed GM executive + Melinda Gates = Who's your daddy Ms. Marcus?

Ms. Marcus, you are on the right track for your career, keep doing their bidding!
Cutting Health Care Spending is a Laudable Goal
written by floccina, July 07, 2010 11:17
Such measures would make health care much more affordable for both the public and private sector. If per person health care costs in the United States were the same as in any other wealthy country, the United States would be looking at huge long-term budget surpluses rather than deficits. It is difficult to understand how Marcus could have missed this aspect of Trumka's political agenda.

Cutting health care spending is a laudable goal but the current proposals do little to achieve that. It is important to remember that health care spending in the USA has always been much higher than in the rest of the world even before they socialized medicine (some have even caught up a little since socializing). This puts the effectiveness of socialization in controlling health care spending in doubt.

If the median voter's whole target for health care reform was controlling cost then socialization could do wonders but it is not. They want every thing that their current plans provide and more. IMO over treatment is the biggest problem in health care today but few are talking about it.

Below is my health care proposal it would address the over treatment and encourage cost control while providing health care for all:


The state would provide insurance to all Americans but the annual deductible would be equal to the family’s trailing year adjusted income minus the poverty line income (say $25,000 for a family of 4) + $300. So a family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $30,000 would have a deductible of $5,300. A family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $80,000 would have a deductible of $55,300. Middle class and rich people could fill the gap with private supplemental insurance but this should be full taxed. This would encourage the middle class and rich, who are generally capable people, to demand prices from medical providers and might force down costs. They could opt to pay for most health-care out of pocket while the poor often less capable would be protected.
written by AbqMike, July 07, 2010 11:26
NPM, You're right that the social security "eligibility age" for most non-disabled adults is 62. However, the payment that such early retirees get is reduced considerably. In addition, if they earn slightly more than $14,000 (in 2010), their payment is reduced. As for the savings from increasing the retirement age, one crude basis is that a lot of people will die before they reach the higher age.
written by DHFabian, July 07, 2010 11:33
30+ years of massive, annual corporate "tax relief", always given on the theory that THIS time, it will result in an explosion of "good, family supporting jobs," has failed. We have fewer, not more, jobs. End it.

We've been engaged in war more often than not since WWl. We've reached the point of launching open-ended wars without purpose. Stop it.

Invest our tax dollars in America. Create real American jobs, and provide the training needed to once again have a world-class workforce. Workers are ready and eager. Hire American workers to make products for America, and pay decent wages, enabling them to actually buy the products they make. See to it that any corporation that benefits from a penny of taxpayer money complies with rules that serve as a disincentive to exporting our jobs.

More jobs, better wages, means more taxpayer dollars going to government to pay down the debt and rebuild the US.
written by S Brennan, July 07, 2010 2:43
Once again we see Washington's pimps & hoes shamelessly parading themselves in the WaPo windows
written by Ethan, July 08, 2010 6:34
Right on! Here's one way to think about it.

When the Union's inspiration through the worker's blood shall run
There can be no greater power anywhere beneath the sun
For what force on Earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one
But the Union makes us strong!

It was we who plowed the prairies build the cities where they trade
Dug the mines and built the workshops endless miles of railroad laid
Now we stand out side and starving midst the wonders we have made
But the Union makes us strong!

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn
But without our brains and muscles not a single wheel would turn
We can break their haughty power gain our freedom when we learn
That the Union makes us strong!

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoards of gold
Greater than the might of armies multiplied a thousand fold
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the Union make us strong!

Ah, those were the days!!!
written by Joseph A. Mungai, July 09, 2010 5:06
It’s atrocious the Security Exchange Commission (SEC), Minerals Management Service (MMS) and other “regulatory” agencies aided and abetted the economic and environmental disasters we see unfold each day on Main Street and the Gulf Coast because of their systematized incompetence and cronyism with industries that are destroying us.

It’s abominable that instead of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identifying these recurrent hazards as “High Risk” in SEC and MMS, taxpayers are forced to cough-up trillions of dollars to cover the gambling debt left by Wall Street banksters and decades of cleaning up after the fossil fuel industry.

But the most outrageous is that some in Washington want to cut Social Security to help solve budget woes created by corrupt regulators, the industries they’re supposed to protect us from, and two wars.

The $2.5 trillion dollar surplus in Social Security is our money and performed well because it wasn’t invested in the Wall Street Casino. Our money had absolutely nothing to do with the economic nightmare and is now more important than ever to those trying to keep their nostrils above the oil slicks during crises we didn’t cause.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is loaded with profiteers who hope to persuade us that Social Security is to blame for our fiscal mess, even though it hasn’t added a dime to our deficit and is one of the most successful social programs in our history.

If you don’t want your elected officials raiding your Social Security or that of your fellow Americans you can send them a message through the website National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare at http://capwiz.com/ncpssm2/issu...=14520886.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.