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April 28, 1989 | From Associated Press
Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady on Thursday rejected a proposal to reduce Medicare catastrophic health insurance premiums that congressional analysts expect will generate a bigger surplus than is needed. Brady, in a letter to Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), said the insurance program "is literally in its first few months of life" and the Bush Administration wants to be sure it is not left with insufficient reserves. The new insurance program, approved by Congress last year, provides extended coverage for the costs of hospital and medical care and drug benefits.
April 14, 2014 | Michael Hiltzik
A certain William Wachtel, the co-founder of WhyTuesday , an election reform group chaired by former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, wrote me over the weekend to complain that I treated Young harshly by criticizing his proposal to require Social Security to issue photo IDs. I called it "a terrible idea. " Norman Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute and another co-founder of WhyTuesday, also defended the proposal, which Young mentioned at an event last week marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Ornstein mounted his defense via Twitter , which only made Young's idea sound even shallower and more foolish.  What these gentlemen failed to do is explain why requiring Social Security to issue photo IDs is not a terrible idea.
April 27, 2012
Re "Fix Social Security, now," Editorial, April 25 It's hard to take this editorial seriously because it fails to talk about the Social Security payroll tax holiday enacted in 2010. If you want to fix Social Security, the first thing you need to look at is rolling back this tax break. With every extension of the payroll tax holiday, the prospect that Congress will ever restore the tax to its statutory 6.2% of covered income becomes increasingly remote. In case you haven't figured it out yet, this is the tax that funds Social Security, so it should be no surprise that Social Security will run into trouble if we don't pay it in full.
April 13, 2014 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: I went with my brother to his credit union to refinance his house and found out his wife has about eight medical bills that went to collections and he owes a phone company more than $2,000. Their debt totals about $6,300. I could lend them the money or they could do a debt consolidation or talk to a credit counselor. What's your opinion on these options? Answer: None of these options is likely to work the way you hope. Your brother should be wary of any "debt consolidation" offers he gets, as many will be scams and others will charge outrageous interest.
August 13, 2012 | By Michael Hiltzik
For a 77-year-old, Social Security is looking pretty spry today, the anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt's signing of the Social Security Act in 1935. The program covers more than 54 million Americans, providing a dignified retirement and keeping the families of premature deceased workers out of poverty.  Among those who should be celebrating: Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., the newly-anointed GOP candidate for vice-president. As has been widely reported , Ryan's father died in 1986, when the future congressman was 16. The younger Ryan collected Social Security survivor benefits, which he put away for college, until the age of 18. Yet he returned the favor by proposing one of the most draconian plans to privatize Social Security in 2005.
November 25, 2012 | By Scott Wilson, Los Angeles Times
Deciding when to start collecting Social Security retirement benefits is one of the most important financial decisions Americans face. Beginning too soon - or too late - can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how long you live. Some key things to consider: • You can start receiving Social Security payments at age 62, but the amount will be reduced 25% to 30% from what it would be at your "full" retirement age. If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67. For those born from 1943 to 1959, it's somewhere from age 66 to 66 years and 10 months.
August 18, 2011 | By Maeve Reston
Reporting from Dover, N.H. -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a voter in Dover, New Hampshire Thursday that he had no plans to change the Social Security system for those who are nearing the point where they would receive benefits.  "You don't have to worry about anything," Perry told an older man who asked him to explain his position during a visit to Harvey's, a coffee shop in Dover. "There's not going to be any changes in the program that we've got for folks that are your age. We'll have a conversation with the rest of the country about what is the age that we start transitioning away from the program we've got now. " "The folks who are either on or soon to be on, they don't have anything to worry about.
April 12, 2013 | By Lisa Mascaro
WASHINGTON -- President Obama's proposal to trim Social Security's cost-of-living adjustments has sparked not only Democratic outrage, but Republican confusion. In the days since Obama put the idea in his 2014 budget, Republicans' reactions have included support, opposition and refusal to commit. The proposal was once a mainstay of the GOP's deficit-reduction overtures to the White House. House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that the idea, the so-called chained Consumer Price Index, “is the least we must do to begin to solve the problems in Social Security.” DOCUMENT: President Obama's 2014 budget But the chairman of the House Republican Congressional Committee, who is trying to preserve the party's majority in the House in the next election, called it a “shocking attack on seniors.” “You're trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors and I just think it's not the right way to go,” Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon told CNN.   That potentially off-message comment provoked swift rebuke from the powerful Club for Growth, the conservative advocacy group that supports the measure as a starting point for reining in spending on government entitlement programs.
April 25, 2012
The Social Security trustees projected this week that funding for retirement benefits will run short in 2033, three years sooner than had been estimated a year ago. After that, the program will be able to pay only about 75% of the amount now promised to retirees and the disabled. That's still a long way off, and lawmakers may not want to meddle with Social Security in an election year. But the longer Congress waits to deal with the problem, the harder it will be to solve. The last time lawmakers made significant changes to Social Security was in 1983, when they raised payroll taxes and gradually increased the retirement age. Those changes were made not just to solve a near-term funding crisis but also to gird the system for the baby boom generation's retirement.
April 11, 2014 | Michael Hiltzik
Some Democrats have suddenly embraced the old notion of turning Social Security cards into national photo IDs. The goal is to undermine Republican voter suppression efforts that rely on demanding government-issued photos, by making these universally available. What a terrible idea. First, the endorsement parade: It was started this week by former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young while attending a ceremony at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
April 1, 2014 | By Michael Hiltzik
There should be a rule--or even a law--that politicians who propose "fixes" to Social Security should at least show they know something about the program. By that standard, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would flunk. What's worse, his misunderstandings--heck, let's go ahead and call them misrepresentations--are aimed at taking your money. What's at issue is a passage in the budget resolution Ryan released today , the fourth annual version of his "Path to Prosperity" budget.
March 28, 2014 | By Paresh Dave
Gay rights advocates in Michigan cheered Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.'s announcement Friday that the federal government will recognize about 300 same-sex marriages hastily performed March 22. But the small victory translates to more complications for some newlyweds. After a federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban March 21, Deborah Dolney, 28, and her fiancee, Jessie-Mae Secord, 33, seized the opportunity to get married. Four counties opened their offices the next day to issue marriage licenses, and Dolney and Secord were among those in line.
March 28, 2014 | By Michael Hiltzik
Let's acknowledge at the top that Abby Huntsman, one of the four anchors of MSNBC's youth-oriented news show "The Cycle," has taken on an ambitious task for herself: She's been trying to discuss U.S. fiscal policy, which is chock full of complicated concepts, in her allotted snippets of 3 1/2 minutes at a time. Under the circumstances, it's not surprising that some of these concepts get the once-over-lightly treatment. That's not bad in itself, and kudos to Huntsman for even trying.
March 22, 2014 | By Carla Rivera and Kate Mather
In the wake of some wide-ranging breaches in credit card data, Mastercard and Visa this month announced an initiative to increase payment security, including expanding chip technology in the U.S. “The recent high-profile breaches have served as a catalyst for much-needed collaboration between the retail and financial services industry on the issue of payment security,” Ryan McInerney, president of Visa Inc., said in a statement this month....
March 21, 2014 | By Michael Hiltzik
It's no secret that if you really want to destroy a business, just hack away at its customer service. (Sears has been testing this axiom with considerable vigor.) The principle also holds true for government programs, which is why you should be very suspicious about the relentless budget-cutting at the Social Security Administration. Mark Miller of Reuters brings us up to date on this underhanded campaign, which involves closing field offices by the score, satellite offices by the hundreds and service staff by the thousands.
March 21, 2014 | By David Lazarus
Lee is making some changes in his life. He wants to know what happens if he renounces his U.S. citizenship and becomes instead a citizen of the Philippines. Can he keep receiving Social Security checks? An intriguing scenario. Lee doesn't say why he wants to switch teams, but it could have something to do with taxes. A number of Americans jump ship each year because they're displeased with the U.S. tax system. ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions In any case, the Social Security Administration does have a status for ex-citizens who may be due monthly checks.
March 16, 2014 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: I am 55 and my wife is 65. She only worked a few part-time jobs as she spent most of her working years raising our nine beautiful children. My question is, since she does not have enough credits to collect Social Security on her own work record, can she claim spousal benefits on my work history? If so, at what age and how will it affect my benefits? Answer: Your wife can receive spousal benefits based on your work record, but those checks can't start until you're old enough to qualify for benefits at age 62 (when she's 72)
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