(Ben Sargent via GoComics.com)
Be of good cheer! The Great & Glorious Krug-thulu reassures us that “The Geezers Are All Right“:
Last month the Congressional Budget Office released its much-anticipated projections for debt and deficits, and there were cries of lamentation from the deficit scolds who have had so much influence on our policy discourse. The problem, you see, was that the budget office numbers looked, well, O.K.: deficits are falling fast, and the ratio of debt to gross domestic product is projected to remain roughly stable over the next decade. Obviously it would be nice, eventually, to actually reduce debt. But if you’ve built your career around proclamations of imminent fiscal doom, this definitely wasn’t the report you wanted to see.
Still, we can always count on the baby boomers to deliver disaster, can’t we? Doesn’t the rising tide of retirees mean that Social Security and Medicare are doomed unless we radically change those programs now now now?
… The latest projections show the combined cost of Social Security and Medicare rising by a bit more than 3 percent of G.D.P. between now and 2035, and that number could easily come down with more effort on the health care front. Now, 3 percent of G.D.P. is a big number, but it’s not an economy-crushing number. The United States could, for example, close that gap entirely through tax increases, with no reduction in benefits at all, and still have one of the lowest overall tax rates in the advanced world.
But haven’t all the great and the good been telling us that Social Security and Medicare as we know them are unsustainable, that they must be totally revamped — and made much less generous? Why yes, they have; they’ve also been telling us that we must slash spending right away or we’ll face a Greek-style fiscal crisis. They were wrong about that, and they’re wrong about the longer run, too.
The truth is that the long-term outlook for Social Security and Medicare, while not great, actually isn’t all that bad. It’s time to stop obsessing about how we’ll pay benefits to retirees in 2035 and focus instead on how we’re going to provide jobs to unemployed Americans in the here and now.
What’s on the agenda for the start of another work week?
This week will be work interspersed with packing for Mountain Jam–3 days in the Catskills with a few thousand other aging boomers to listen to good music, eat some good food and drink some good drinks.
One of this year’s treats will by Friday’s set by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers (whose van sessions I was first introduced to on this blog). Looks like at least part of the weekend will be rainy but who cares?
A big old plate of work, with a side of dentist.
While it is encouraging to see someone print the truth about this austerity hysteria (henceforth to be referred to as “austeria”), the masses aren’t going to get it until they see it in their own lives, because they won’t see it on our FerengiMedia™.
Couple of days of catching up and then off to Savannah.
I wish I could have been closer to this osprey.
Funny you say that because on the local news last night, they teased a frightening “story” about how SS and Medicare are going broke. When they ran the story, it was all hysterical about how it’s all going to hell. And then the last couple of lines was about how they are both in better shape than a year ago and should continue to get better. But, in 20 or 30 years, LOOK OUT! So we obviously must reform them right this minute, preferably by starving the Baby Boomers who can’t afford cat food and then letting them die with no medical care.
I hate the media.
Sssh! Deficits only matter (according to the GOP) when the war is against middle America, as opposed to the middle east.
Hopefully, a quiet week after a busy but fun weekend. We drove up to Whitney Portal. It’s a couple of miles and about 6000 feet below the summit. Really pretty and got a chance to try out the new camera. We made a side trip to the Manzanar internment camp from WW2. I knew the history, the wife didn’t and was pretty surprised what happened back then. I just finished modifying the battery display on my tablet and the tablet hasn’t blown up, yet.
I am at the very early part of a new sewing project: Classic blazer, mit der button holes und interlining and all that stuff. I have found the project daunting [Wah! I can’t do a tailored jacket! Whimper!]. However, I keep breaking it down into smaller segments and muddle through a bit at a time. This morning I plan to attach the fusible interfacing. And no, I’ve never done such a thing before.
Who would have thought that such a peaceful pursuit would involve so much drama?
BTW, there are some really nice tutorials on YouTube.
Filling in for a vacationing employee, trying to do as little as possible so I’m in good shape for my Maine fishing vacation next week. Yes, a vaca that actually means I wake up even earlier than work days.
Paul Krugman’s blog has a link to an interview he did on CNN about austerity. link
They weren’t wrong about the future solvency of social Security and Medicare – they were lying!
The Wonkette meetup was good. The personal life is questionable. At least we have another Star Trek.
@p.a.: Stripers or offshore?
Laundry — a couple of loads at least. And I need to look through mail and pay bills. (I lead an interesting life.)
Am now less than a month away from retirement, and I have a lot of accumulated annual leave to burn off so I’m heading out Thursday on a two-and-a-half-week road trip to the Georgian Bay, with detours to visit friends in Ohio and Michigan. So the work week will be short and intense.
Colonoscopy today! Drinking magnesium citrate as I type this. Gotta go
Nor is it the report they imagine was delivered. They still hear “Disaster. Disaster. Disaster.”
@the Conster: I hope everything comes out okay.
@the Conster: 2 weeks for me.
Oh, it is. Stuff works as advertised.
Retirement, eh? You’ve decided to become one of the takers. Didn’t you get the memo that you’re supposed to work until you die so that we can have more tax cuts for the wealthy?
Shame on you.
I’m sure you do! Kinda like the Energizer rabbit, actually. Hope you and the report come out clean.
@SiubhanDuinne: Intense envy over here. I’m trying to make sure my layoff doesn’t become permanent retirement yet, but having turned 59 on Saturday, nothing is assured.
But there’s always work as a WalMart greeter, right?
I can’t believe the people who are always wrong were wrong. But I’m sure they’ll be right next time . . . law of averages and such.
What’s on the agenda for the start of another work week?
My work week is still underway. I worked through Sat/Sun to meet a customer goal. This was semi-successful.
My agenda for the week is to avoid speeding forklifts, unfamiliar food microorganisms and the German engineer in the pink Barbie hard hat, who seems to have it in for us. And cerveza. Mexican beer does not seem to agree with me.
It’s actually kind of nice being away from US politics for a while. I know it’ll still be a klownshow when I get back but for a while I get to fret and suffer over more immediate worries.
I thought I was finished with a lovely cardigan but after blocking it I noticed that the pockets looked puckery and the button band didn’t look right. I could have just worn it anyway since no one else seemed to notice– but no I took it apart and will now re-knit and sew and block.
Wah–knitting is supposed to relax me.
@geg6: The media is every bit as much a threat to our country as the NeoConfederates are. Maybe bigger.
My youngest graduates high school on Friday. Empty nest rapidly approaching….
I hope you have nice weather for your fishing trip. The last week here in Maine has been strange. Wednesday night we wore winter fleece and sat by the fireplace it was so cold and then Thursday we were wearing flip flops and shorts and dealing with temps in the 90s. Then last night thunderstorms.
There was a water main leak under a mall that created a lake Friday. We have water pressure back and can flush toilets, but it’s still Don’t Drink the Water.
This is too weird. I mentioned this yesterday, and I admit I’m not tech-savvy so I don’t know how it’s done, but it seems Daily Caller is buying search terms or something?
Here’s a Google News search I did for “hunting accident, Tennessee.” I got ALL Daily Caller stories which have nothing to do with hunting accidents in Tennessee.
Why are Daily Caller stories filling up my news requests? I’ve cleared my cache, I never click on them, and yet …
Two comments are in moderation for unknown reasons and then I’m told I need to slow down because I’m posting too quickly.
And good morning to you too.
Why is Daily Caller in all of my news [email protected]? Like This is too weird. I mentioned this yesterday, and I admit I’m not tech-savvy so I don’t know how it’s done, but it seems Daily Caller is buying search terms or something?
this one I did for “hunting accident, Tennessee”? None of these Daily Caller stories have anything to do with hunting accidents in Tennessee.
Fuck the moderation thing. I’m outta here.
What’s on the agenda for the work week?
Read Balloon Juice, of course!
I’ve had 25 (mostly very enjoyable) years with my employer, and they’ve actually asked me to work part time on a contract basis on a number of stand-alone projects for a few months. So the transition will be a little gentler than it might have been. But I’m 71 in August, and I want some time to myself to putz around and travel and tackle a few of my own long-deferred writing and blogging projects.
Got an interview with a Fire/ Rescue Department at the end of the week I’m prepping for and hopefully switching over to the National Guard [from the Reserves] so I can go back into Combat Arms.
Well, there’s the day job. The CEO is coming in so it should be … interesting. For the night job, I have band practice with one of my bands on Wed. night, then playing with them at The Toucan (famous pub in Kingston), then opening for another band at the Touc on Saturday night with my other band. It’s great: I don’t need to tear down my rig between gigs this weekend, and no PA to lug.
Here’s band number one (Bent on Soul) hitting a couple of classics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RX6IoELGc7o
And here’s band number two (Funkyfrenz) doing the same: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTnxMmJxTvI
Good luck on that interview! I’ll be sending positive vibes your way.
I’m so jealous I could just scream. Retirement…man, I hope I actually get to do that one of these days. Sadly, I don’t think I will.
Meanwhile, I hope Benen is correct and this is going to start getting some play:
How much do I adore David Plouffe for this?
@Linda Featheringill: I am in awe of you! If I had to sew or go naked, I would go naked.
@Cassidy: Break a leg.
We are getting a new puppy this week…can’t wait.
I’m just winding up a 2 year commitment to a volunteer project at a local non-profit over the next few weeks. There are a lot of odds & ends to get tied up to finish off the project properly. Of course I’m a “non-producer” and a “taker” since I’m retired , collecting a (quite modest) pension & social security, so my work has no value.
Plouffe went THERE with Issa.
Never shoulda given y’all twitter.
David Plouffe @davidplouffe
Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler. And loose ethically today. http://thehill.com/video/house/302933-issa-calls-carney-a-paid-liar-on-irs-scandal …
5:00 PM – 2 Jun 2013
Sunday’s Washington Po contained a long one about the massive benes military members get (plus HUGE SAVINGS AT THE COMMISSARY) and the usual quote about it being unsustainable.
Meanwhile, gotta keep those payments to MilIndustry coming.
Sometimes I wanna go down to the Capitol and crap on the steps. (But then I think of the Capitol Police and decide not to.)
To them, it’s a moral issue. The poor need to be punished. The upstart in the White House must be opposed. Doing the right thing will lead to success, doing the wring thing (helping people) will lead to failure. Facts and actual real world results are irrelevant.
Mitt Romney Inc.: The White House That Never Was
By Zeke J Miller
June 02, 2013
In the months before the 2012 election, a group of high-powered consultants and political operatives prepared a secret report for candidate Mitt Romney, explaining how he should take over and restructure the federal government should he win the presidency.
“The White House staff is similar to a holding company” read one PowerPoint slide, which would have been presented to President-elect Romney as part of an expansive briefing on the morning after Election Day. It went on to list three main divisions of the metaphorical firm: “Care & Feeding Offices,” like speechwriting, “Policy Offices,” like the National Security Council, and “Packaging & Selling Offices,” like the office of the press secretary. This was the view of the Presidency Romney would have brought with him to Washington, a glimpse of the White House that never was — and plan that never saw the light of day.
But now the secret is out. On May 29, the Romney Readiness Project, the Republican candidate’s transition organization known as R2P, published a 138-page report detailing how it prepared for a potential Romney victory. It is the product of a team of nearly 500, who labored in Washington and around the country to be ready to help Romney assume the reins of power on January 20th, 2013, in accordance with the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010.
The non-profit R2P, Inc., chaired by former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt and run by former General Motors chief financial officer Christopher Liddell, benefited from free rent and other federal support, and drew heavily from the business and consulting community Romney, a former consultant and private equity executive, knew so well.
Among the recommendations for the Romney administration:
•Corporate-style training seminars were planned for appointees and nominees before the inauguration to teach management skills.
•A plan to restructure White House operations to suit Romney’s corporate management style, with clear deliverables.
•Detailed flow charts delineating how information and decisions were disseminated through the administration to achieve “unity.”
•Plans to evaluate Cabinet secretaries’s performance by “systematically assessing the efforts of their departments in contributing to [Romney’s] priorities and objectives, perhaps by a newly created ”deputy chief of staff for Cabinet oversight.”
More than 100 detailed one-page project management sheets were in circulation at R2P headquarters by Election Day, charting the organization’s progress and preparing for the run-up to inauguration. Movements for Romney, his wife Ann, and Vice President-elect Paul Ryan were heavily choreographed for the days following the election, and many campaign staffers were told to prepare to assume roles on the transition immediately following a victory. (All were guaranteed a job on either the transition or the inaugural committee.) A painstakingly prepared seating chart and floor plan was developed for Romney, his aides, and transition staff across three floors of the Mary E. Switzer Building in downtown Washington, ready for the rapid post-election expansion
Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/06/02/mitt-romney-inc-the-white-house-that-never-was/#ixzz2V9vzYbz1
@geg6: Has there ever been another US politician who might genuinely burn down the White House if he doesn’t get his way?
Higgs Boson's Mate
Nice catch. It looks as though Team Romney spent more time and effort on planning what they’d do after they won than they spent on determining how to win. When Romney’s staff and prominent supporters declared that it never occurred to them that Romney might lose I thought they were lying. Now, not so much.
Per Huffington Post…
Senator Lautenberg has died from viral pneumonia.
I read the headline about Issa’s accusation and it did upset me. He has to be held to account for outright lying. He has no evidence and just spews nonsense all the time.
Good to see him refuted. That tweet will get around.
And Christie is a GOP.
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
We have now seen the two sides of the MBA president phenomenon. The out of touch legacy slacker was a disaster in office. The ‘dog eat dog’ financial trader was even more incompetent, and not only couldn’t win the election, he didn’t even know he was losing.
@geg6: @Omnes Omnibus: Thank you, thank you. I’m excited. I’m really hoping to be working as FF by the end of this summer.
and with sufficient feathers, i could be an emu.
Yes, let’s adopt our management skill teaching techniques from the field that crashed the economy…
Oh boy. I hope those White House employees weren’t counting on those pensions…
I’m pretty sure previous White Houses had already mastered flow chart technology, but okay…
Translation: an even further politicization of the government apparatus, building on the already pretty comprehensive politicization that had taken place under Bush, complete with a Grand Inquisitor to see to it that it’s enforced.
Higgs Boson's Mate
Both Bush and Romney seem to me to have suffered from a deficit of imagination and an inability to foresee any negative outcomes from their decisions. I think that they are more alike than they would admit.
@cleek: Yeah, Americans are completely irrational about taxes.
This one is classic bad management consultant bullshit. You’re in an environment with threats and change coming at you constantly from unexpected places, priorities are constantly changing, and these doofi are going to have a nice big Microsoft Project plan with little diamonds on it to tell them what’s going to happen. Good luck with that. Guess they figure the Rombot can stroll into the office in the morning, see which ones of the little diamonds on the plan are overdue, yell at the people involved, and be on the golf course by 10.
It does fit with Romney’s corporate management style, which is to ignore reality.
@rikyrah: It may be true. But I can imagine the media seeing this as “The WHITE IS BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS TO HIDE THEIR EVEN BIGGER SCANDAL!!!!!!”
Rather than being pissed off that a serial liar and accused criminal is lecturing them on honesty.
You mean CZAR?!
Good column. Seems short on separate analysis of Social Security and Medicare. Krugman seems to have forgotten his own advice on that.
Maybe I missed it, but on Social Security Krugman should have spent some time on the self-fulfilling prophecy of bad macro-economic management and social insurance crisis. Relatively minor changes in annual growth rates swamp the supposed catastrophic effects of the increasing dependence ratio of retirees to workers. So, the complete utter and total failure of the Bush II macro-economic policies (and the continuation and in some cases worse mismanagement by Obama) that resulted in very sub-par growth rates over the business cycle feed back into cliff hanger stats on program sustainability. Dean Baker’s Beat the Press blog has had some good posts on this topic over the last couple of months. (Edit: to be fair to Obama, the recent mismanagement is joint effort of the GOP influence in Congress and Obama’s timid centrist fetish. Bush II’s utter and complete and total failure was a one hundred percent GOP effort).
And of course, the role of increasing inequality, which more and more evidence indicates is due as much to changes in labor/corporate bargaining power as fundamental changes in the economy also plays a major role.
Would have been better to turn this effort into two columns, one on SS and another on Medicare.
FYWP has migrated over to FYFB. I got blocked from posting for 12 hours because I posted a picture of an award my won won for taking second place in a singletrack mountain bike race.
It was his fourth or fifth time out on single track, so I was sort of proud. Then…BAM!
Hey, that’s pretty cool. Best wishes for a smashing interview.
Today I have fun with COBRA. Let’s see if I’ll be able to still get my dentures fixed. I’ve never had COBRA before so it’ll be…interesting I’m sure.
I always knew that Social Security and Medicare would be fine for this senior generation. Wasn’t that the plan? The rationing and cutting was not going to take place until after?
To get away from Politics for a second.
Release the Quacken!