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Jared Polis, social security, and sneakiness

August 19, 2010

As previously noted, my local democratic congressman Jared Polis is in favor of reducing the deficit by increasing the retirement age of social security.  Leave no doubt that raising the retirement age is a cut.  If the number of years a retiree is on social security is say 13, then a two year rise would be a 2/13 or 15% reduction in benefits.

I object strongly to Mr. Polis’ support for such an attack on the average American.  Even worse is the doubly sneaky manner in which it’s occurring.  Obama first appoints conservative members to the deficit commission who are on record supporting cuts and then sets the commission reporting date after the election.  What deception!  Democrats plan on cutting social security within months after the election but it’s not even a campaign issue!

If Mr. Polis is supportive of the commission and the upcoming cuts, as he told me he was, then he should openly campaign on it now.  He should tell the voters that a vote for Polis is a vote for a xx% cut in social security.  Or, if he chooses to re-evaluate his position, he could proclaim that he will stand firm for NO cuts in social security.  This would hardly be unpopular – I’m quite sure the overwhelming majority in his district would support it.

Openly tell us your position Mr. Polis and quit hiding behind the obscene sneaky post-election deficit commission.

(Mr. Polis and I exchange comments below.)

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From → Colorado, US

7 Comments
  1. Jim,
    I’m not sure why you think I am supportive of any cuts.In fact, the Progressive Democrats, of which I am a member, has been unambiguously against cuts:
    http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/113961-house-liberals-warn-theyll-oppose-social-security-cuts

    You are welcome to criticize my position, IF:
    1)There is a commission report that supports cuts to social security
    AND
    2) I support the reports recommendations.

    Neither condition is yet met, your comments are premature.

    I wish the timing of the report was before the next election, say in October. If so, I would be happy to tell you what I thought about the report.

    As it stands, with a report due out in December, all I can say is that I have an open mind and I hope that you do to.There is simply no way I can pass judgement on something that doesn’t exist yet.

    I am excited about the potential of this report to reign in military spending, and like you of course I hope that there aren’t any cuts to social security. Let’s give the President’s commission a chance to do there work.

    Jared Polis

  2. Mr. Polis,

    I have written my comments based on our conversation the other day in which you specifically expressed support for raising the retirement age as a means to cut the deficit and ‘save’ social security. And we must be clear that the raising of the retirement age is a substantial cut.

    It’s common knowledge that the commission intends to recommend cuts – Obama’s appointed democratic co-chairman Erskine Bowles has stated so on many occasions as have other democrats on the commission. And the timing of the report was clearly set to avoid making it an issue this election – rather undemocratic, don’t you think?

    Decisions effecting the lives of the vast majority of Americans should be made in an open democratic manner and not behind closed doors by unelected commissioners. We have an election coming up this November and it’s therefore highly pertinent to determine a candidate’s position.

    I’m happy to see the chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have issued a strong statement against hitting social security. That’s real good news. The question that needs to be answered before the election, though, is where does Mr. Polis stand – with the Progressive Caucus chairmen committing to no cuts (including raising the retirement age) or having an ‘open mind’?

    The average monthly social security check today for retired workers is only $1,169. I find it unconscionable that a great nation would feel it needs to balance its deficit on their back when it readily spends $1 trillion on its military and we have an aristocratic concentration of wealth. I don’t have an ‘open mind’ about it. And cutting social security shouldn’t be the price for slashing our bloated military.

    Mr. Polis, you’re in a progressive district. I think you’re creating needless hardship, not only for yourself, but for democrats in general. People start losing faith in democrats if they don’t clearly represent the values of the average person.

    Why not stand with your chairmen and commit today to standing firm against SS cuts.

    Regards,

    Jim

  3. Calgacus permalink

    Congressman – Good to see you are against cuts. The thing is that this commission is stacked with people who have no understanding of economics and are fanatical about balancing budgets – a destructive goal in itself – by impoverishing other “lesser” people. Deficit spending is and always has been necessary for any government. Ultimately, it is the only source of the dollars in your pocket and your bank account.

    Copied from the earlier thread:
    Congressman – good to see a real dialogue here. The problem is that it very much depends on which economists you talk to. I suggest calling on a University of Missouri, Kansas City or Levy Institute economist. L. Randall Wray, Scott Fulwiller, James Galbraith, Warren Mosler & Dean Baker (an expert on Soc Sec) would be good people to call.

    Social Security already is on a healthy footing, the worst thing we could do for it and the economy is to make benefit cuts of any kind. The “fiscal problems” are in one word, LIES.

    Mainstream macro-economics has gone backwards in the last thirty years, forgetting hard-won knowledge and replacing it with pseudomathematical pseudoscience. What Jim is proposing has very solid, but insufficiently popularized, academic science behind it.

    In stark terms: Who won World War II? What got us out of the Great Depression? Economics & finance used then was much closer to what Jim proposes than the present orthodoxy. Although there was no emergency causing such single-minded policies, the economics of the era of postwar prosperity until Reagan was a lot better for the ordinary person, and better for overall growth, and worried a lot less about deficits than nowadays. It was closer to these proposals than current misguided decaying academic orthodoxy, which blithely assumed financial crises and depressions were a thing of the past.

    The real problems are unemployment and growth. As Keynes said, take care of these and the budget takes care of itself. If you don’t fight unemployment now, you will get much more massive debt in the future than if you spent on fixing the economy now.

  4. I don’t recall that I “expressed support for raising the retirement age as a means to cut the deficit and ‘save’ social security.” In fact, there are many other ways that I personally would rather save social security. What I did express support for, and continue to support, is that the President has convened a commission to look into how to save social security and Medicare. If there is a recommendation to raise the retirement age, let’s see what it is and discuss it. I certainly wouldn’t support an increase in the age in isolation, and if there is sufficient interest in our district I will plan some town halls around the report.

    For this commission to work, EVERYTHING needs to be on the table, and the President has re-assured us that it is, including health care, defense, and taxes. Let’s see what they come up with.

    A deficit at our near our current levels is simply not sustainable.

    Congressman Jared Polis

  5. Thanks again for your input. There isn’t much to look at now but when the commission issues its report I will ask for the independent analysis of several economists from different perspectives.

    I also emailed you our CRS report on Social Security.

    Congressman Jared Polis

  6. Calgacus permalink

    Again, the way to save Social Security is to do nothing. The commission’s likely recommendations would be highly destructive to SS and our economy.

    Congressman Polis: “A deficit at our near our current levels is simply not sustainable. ”

    This is the product of serious misunderstanding of economics. The deficit is right now much too small. The US has a low National Debt in comparison to other advanced countries. Deficits are just numbers in a computer. The right size deficit is the one that produces full employment. And it is the private sector, not the government, which causes and controls the deficit, by forcing more spending on automatic stabilizers – the cause of most of today’s deficit. The thing is, the automatic stabilizers can be enough to keep the economy from drowning, but high levels of targetted government deficit spending are what is needed to get the economy out of the ditch.

    Again, congressman, it matters a great deal which economist you talk to. Most of them are just failed mathematicians or physicists and essentially quacks hiding their ignorance of economics with mathematics they do not really understand. I’ve had Ivy League economics grad students auditing mathematics classes I’ve taught on differential equations, because of their Ivy League economics professors’ incomprehension of the mathematics they were pretending to teach and use. The standards of the profession could not be lower. For example, the DSGE models which were used by many government central banks thought financial crises like the recent ones were impossible. Why? The models assumed private borrowers could not default, while governments could. Garbage in, garbage out.

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