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Comments for: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012: Entitlements, political tracker and out-of-state hiring

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  • Anonymous

    “entitlement” is what people like Romney and Wall St bankers feel. Getting medical insurance and some money after working all your life and paying taxes should be called “earned benefits”.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, but there still has to be an accounting of how we pay for those things. No free lunch and these things cost more than we take in, and will very soon cost more than the rich can fund.

      Fully funded health care for everyone over 65 is very expensive and growing at 20% per year: not sustainable without a similar increase in the Medicare tax. I believe we should increase the cap on the Medicare tax and also look very carefully at ways to restrain cost growth. Maybe 65 is too young these days. I don’t have all the answers.

      Social security is the same. The issue is the demographic base is shifting increasingly towards too many collectors and not enough payers. The money you put in now is being spent, and the promise to be supported remains, but that promise will be shouldered by our children and grandchildren. This really bothers me and is my main beef with the system. Yes, I’ve “paid in” and deserve something back, but it pains me to see the burden my children will have to bear. The issue, of course, is that when we pay in a Social Security surplus, all it does is create a promise/liability for our kids to make good on: there is no pot of $$ being saved.

      • Anonymous

        The surplus that has been created since Reagan raised Social Security taxes to their present rate has been invested in the only funds allowable under current law: U.S. Treasury bonds. This is rated one of the most secure investment in the world and is the same investment sophisticated investors make in times of economic uncertainty.
        Only Republican claims that the money is not invested undermine the perceived security of that investment. The claims are false.
        There is no cap on Medicare taxes on earned income. There is a cap on Social Security taxes on earned income (around $106,000). Lifting the cap on Social Security taxes and enlarging the Medicare tax to reach capital gains income solves the very long-term problems for Social Security and any shorter term funding problems for Medicare.
        The core problem is that corporate America and the very rich are paying the smallest share of the total federal tax burden at any time since the New Deal. Both want the middle class to pay for their extended tax holidays by reducing Social Security and Medicare benefits.
        Actually, health care for those over 65 is beginning to slow its rate of growth, which has never been 20% per year. Moving from fee for services to fees based on keeping patients healthy (a feature of Obamacare) will continue to bring that cost curve down.
        Don’t believe the panic about a fiscal cliff. It is more like a fiscal speed bump.

        • Anonymous

          Umm, and who will have to pay the Social Security Administration when the bonds come due? You guessed it: our tax paying children and grandchildren.

          It’s all one pot of money and all paid for by the same people. The investment in bonds is just a way of keeping score. One branch of the government lending another branch money is not an investment, it’s an accounting trick. The money was spent as soon as the bonds were issued by the general fund, and now the general fund has to pay the SS administration back. Either way, it’s coming out of my kid’s pockets.

          • Anonymous

            No, the future payments will come largely from corporate and individual income tax revenues for high income earners that were artificially lowered by Reagan. The top marginal rate was lowered to 28% by the end of his terms. Corporate taxes, as a percentage of federal revenue, were 27.3% in 1955 and were 8.9% in 2010. We are being fleeced by the plutocracy.

          • Anonymous

            Sure, we will be able to raise some of the money there, but my point is that it comes out of the general fund and as the current cash flow goes increasingly negative, it will continue to put pressure on the general fund. Raise those taxes: I have no problem with it. But that might not always be an easy sell (hasn’t even passed yet!)

          • Anonymous

            You understand it.

          • Anonymous

            They come due all the time, 365 a year.

        • Anonymous

          At some point inflation is going to kick in because we are monetizing the debt. The administration and the fed have artificially kept interest rates low. They can pretend they can do this indefinitely but even they know that eventually smoe crisis will happen and the house of cards will fall.

          At that point those Treasury bonds become so much paper.

          Raise the cap on Social Security. But under the present lie that social security is “insurance” people paying in more should expect to receive more. But Democrats have a solution for that as well. Means testing. When that actually happens, (and is probably inevitable), you will have to admit that social security is not really insurance at all but really is nothing more than welfare for the elderly and payments to social security are not premiums but simply another tax. Eliminating that cap increases marginal tax rates on the wealthy to over 50%.

          • Anonymous

            Name one Democrat that has advocated means-testing for Social Security. This has been a Republican-only idea.
            Why is the interest rate on 30 year T-bills so low if you are right about inflation?
            One cannot get Social Security unless he or she has paid taxes into the system for a sufficient number of years. It is not and never has been a welfare program.

            As the wealthy generate most of their income from capital gains (currently taxed at 15%), you are sadly mistaken as to their marginal tax rates. For the working wealthy, the marginal tax rate would still not reach 50% and the effective tax rate (total taxes divided by adjusted gross income) would be in the 30% range.

        • Anonymous

          “The core problem is that corporate America and the very rich are paying
          the smallest share of the total federal tax burden at any time since the
          New Deal.”

          You are right about the percentage paid by corporations. That has more to do with the changing nature of corporations than anything else plus the effect of crony capitalism. A huge percentage of businesses that once would have been conventional corporations and taxed as such are now s-corps, LLCs, etc and pay as individuals.

          You are completely wrong about the percentage paid by rich individuals.

          • Anonymous

            Cite? I am talking about total federal taxes, which includes FICA and income taxes. Your are relying on data that limits itself to income taxes. This is a subset of the endlessly repeated deception that “47% of Americans don’t pay taxes.”

          • Anonymous

            You said: . ” Corporate taxes, as a percentage of federal revenue, were 27.3% in 1955 and were 8.9% in 2010.”

            You are being disingenuous here. That amount of corporate taxes that appears on personal returns has exploded. Trickleup is correct. It is because of s-corps and LLC’s as he/she said.

            It is the same reason that so many of us are upset about the $200k/$250k being rich now. That isn’t income that we are taking home… Its money reserved for operating expenses un-depreciated equipment and real estate.

          • Anonymous

            I’d like a cite as to America’s large corporations now being LLCs.
            Operating expenses are deductible in the year in which they are incurred. Equipment can be depreciated rather quickly.

          • Anonymous

            But if I retain money from one year to the next in order to pay salaries due on January 2nd the next year…. The money is susceptible to taxes in the prior year is it not? Undepreciated real estate… is my major concern. Repay the mortgage over 15 years depreciate over 32.5… hardly “rather quickly”.

            Large corporations are not s-corps or LLC’s but most US corporations are unlike the 50’s when those options did not exist. That is the reality that skews your 1955 vs 2010 number.

            Most Maine corporations are either LLC’s or S-corps….

          • Anonymous

            I buy a piece of equipment this year and have to depreciate it over the next 7 years. If you don’t think that skews and limits what I can reinvest in my business then you are sadly mistaken.

            And it hurts my business particularly hard because it is capital intensive. Much more than most businesses. My income is dependent on purchasing equipment to generate that income. In general it takes me 3 years just to break even and pay for that equipment. An entirely different business model than retail where inventory is turned over for a quick profit.

          • Anonymous

            Surprising that you confuse revenues and gross income with net, taxable income.

          • Anonymous

            You advocate that the rich pay FICA taxes on all their income.

            Are you also going to pay them increased benefits when they retire equal to their much higher contribution?

          • Anonymous

            I advocate FICA taxes on all earned income and Medicare taxes on capital gains income. SS benefits already go up the more one contributes to the system and the rich, given their longer life expectancy, have those benefits paid over a longer time period.

          • Anonymous

            You avoided directly answering the question. So let me make it simpler.

            The cap is at $106,000. The SS site keeps crashing so i do not know the exact benefit someone paying the maximum amount will get. but for an example lets just say for that person making over the cap they will get $2000 a month when they retire.

            Now lets say we eliminate the cap completely. And our rich person makes $1,060,000 a year for ten years. Are you in agreement that this person who has paid in at 10 times the old payment should also when they retire receive 10 times as much per month, $20,000 per month?

            Simple question.

          • Anonymous

            You failed to understand a simple answer. The formula for monthly benefits goes up with income, but not dollar for dollar. The greater life expectancy, together with the higher benefit, works out nicely for most upper income earners. Remember this is not a pure retirement program. Those taxes paid for disability and survivor’s insurance that would have cost far more on the private market.

          • Anonymous

            In other words you believe in a form of means testing and you still avoid saying exactly how much these well off people should get. If you pay them what they have put in then you will vastly increase the money leaving social security. This just kicks the can down the road a bit. And not very far either since most people with high incomes are middle aged or higher.

            Those with more money do live longer. But it turns out that the real correlation is between education and longevity. And people who are more educated tend to make more money and make better decisions about their health and life in general.

            http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/02/14/do-rich-people-live-longer

          • Anonymous

            You still haven’t answered my question.

            You advocate that the rich pay FICA taxes on all their income.

            Are you also going to pay them increased benefits when they retire equal to their much higher contribution?

          • Anonymous

            You are exactly right about who pays those corporate taxes. They now appear on personal returns though form K-1.

      • Anonymous

        There was a time in this country when everyone contributed what they had the ability to give. The wealthy paid a 91% income rate, or at least were assessed at that rate, I’m sure that most didn’t pay the full rate. Most people that reached that rate bragged about it and none of them were living hand to mouth. There was a time when people from all walks of life were called to serve in the defense of their country. Now the wealthy can ship their manufacturing plants over seas, making jobs harder to get here, thus making military service an economic out for many. Our military gets the privilege of protecting corporate interests around the globe.
        It pains me too that our children and grandchildren will be bearing the costs of our bloated military/industrial complex. Most of the money that goes to support that complex is comming off the backs of the 98% with a huge % of the lives and bodies being eaten up in the adventures around the glob that make money for the military/industrial complex.

        • Anonymous

          So, back in the good ‘ol days we had a feel good tax rate that didn’t actually mean anything? What’s your point? Return to those days? Or tax the rich to 91% without loopholes? Still a band-aid, I’m afraid. There simply aren’t enough rich to fund all the social insurance we want. WE (the 98%) need to fund it, and that means paying more or asking for less.

          If we slashed the military budget in half tomorrow, guess who would suffer the most: blue collar workers building stuff we use to blow up other stuff. Yes, war is bad and I’m very much against poking our nose in every conflict around the globe, but as it stands now, slashing the military budget is not a solution. It will have to be a process.

        • Anonymous

          There was a time when the government spent no more than 20% of GDP at its highest. I pine for the good ole’ days when government controlled its spending and didn’t throw money down ratholes at a 40% of GDP rate.

          Now even Liberal Dems like Howard Dean acknowledge that in order to keep up the pace of spending the middle class is going to be taxed more.

          What stuns me is while the progressives have distracted you with the “eat the rich crap” they are making plans to come after you. Did you really think they were gonna let you keep that pittance?

          • Anonymous

            What stuns me is people like you act like Republicans had better proposals. Your guy’s numbers didn’t add up and many estimated that his proposals would increase the deficit. Pine away, but it’s all talk and no action.

      • Anonymous

        The SS tax is capped at about $106,000 of income. RIDICULOUS ! Just RAISE THE CAP and for goodness sake make the rich PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE since they haven’t had to sacrifice a darn thing in the recession. They will still be rich. Same with Medicare. Look, the REAL problem is that the wealth of the nation has shifted dramatically to the rich and the richest of the rich while the middle class has collapsed all through offshoring manufacturing and getting trapped in a failed theory that just cutting taxes for the rich will help everyone. IT DOES NOT WORK AND NEVER HAS. We have got to get taxation and wealth distribution back to sanity and fairness and get capitalism working the way it is supposed to work once again.

        • Anonymous

          And when you raise the cap are you also going to increase the payments made to those people when they retire?

          After all, it is insurance and if they pay in more they are ENTITLED to get more when they retire. Right….

          • Anonymous

            SS benefits already increase for a beneficiary as the taxes paid increase. As the rich live longer, they also have those benefits paid over a longer time.

          • Anonymous

            The benefits are dependent on the number of quarters paid, not dirfectly the money paid in. If the cap were rasied, the fund would be better off.

        • Anonymous

          Right now, SS only pays out slightly more than it takes in. I agree with raising the cap to account for a growing deficit, though.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. Romney and Wall Street bankers feel entitled to pay a tax rate half of what I pay.

  • kcjonez

    Bill Ward–Great Letter. It is impossible to disagree with your argument that the republican party has moved from a citizen-centric to a big money-centric position over the past 20-30 years but…….it is disingenuous to leave the democratic party free of guilt at the same time. Evidence can be seen in much of Obama’s legacy–his signature health care bill is a giveaway to insurance companies, his drone program continues our aggressive anti-democratic foreign policy, his steadfast refusal to prosecute the Wall Street casino bankers that crashed our economy…….these and many more examples show that the democrats also support corporations more than people.

    And now he is compromising away the pillars of our middle class society to appease republican intransigence–social security and medicare. We the voters are going to have to do better in the future–a tall order with the virtual hammerlock that the plutocrats have on our election system.

    • Anonymous

      The world of politics and business has always been “money centric’ since the first American voters were landowners only. Nothing new here.

      • kcjonez

        Yes, I agree, but never before has capital been the recipient of so much government largesse and labor been so maligned.

        • Anonymous

          It can’t have been maligned very effectively, Labor (speaking generally here) beat the crap out of us in the last election.
          The reality makes that statement sound hollow.

          • Anonymous

            Unfortunately organized labor is at an all time low, but the average citizen is starting to awaken. You got the crap beat out of you by the common man.

          • Anonymous

            “labor generally speaking”

          • Anonymous

            They didn’t beat you enough, there are still a sizeable number of Tea Party hacks in Congress.

  • Anonymous

    Entitlements are things you are due for your years of contributions. Perhaps you are confusing them with the new mantra of people demanding goods and services they did not contribute to but however feel “entitled” to.
    These are two very different things.

    Real entitlements that people like you are indeed entitled to however do need to be reformed, Hardly anyone disagrees. At some point the math will not work as the number of young supporting these programs will be outnumbered by the people they need to support. It is not fair to sacrifice the younger generations future by avoiding correcting some things now.

    • kcjonez

      And why is this so?
      It is because we have squandered our commons supporting global colonialism and drained our treasury giving tax breaks to those who need them the least.
      Without changing this new paradigm for something more workable, there will soon be no government for anything except war.

      • Anonymous

        No, The reason these things (Social Security & Medicare entitlements) need to be reformed is the funding mechanism. The declining birth rate being the main culprit. Fewer workers supporting more retirees. It is simple math.

        Here is a chart showing the ratio.

        http://www.justsayno.50megs.com/wr_ratio.html

        “Global colonialism draining the treasury” has Zero to do with it.

        • Anonymous

          Perhaps if we started to cut our protection of industries that leave for cheap labor and no environmental regulations over seas, the number of those contributing would be increasedd.

          • Anonymous

            The thing about business is that if you punish it… a way will be found around the punishment. That’s what business does instinctively in my opinion. Better to incentivize. But that’s just me.

          • Anonymous

            The thing about populace that are being taken advantage of is that they sometimes revolt.

          • Anonymous

            Yep that’ll teach em… If they won’t take our punishment, we will do ourselves an injury.

          • Anonymous

            Manufacturers enjoyed the benefits of a safe haven in the USA. They were secure in the fact that we have a somewhat stable goveernment and secure borders that allowed them to build their plants. They, post WWII, pretty much had a monopoly on production for a while as our infrastructure hadn’t been destroyed by war.

            It seems that our military might has stabilized a lot of the 3rd world and made the security of much of the world safer while they rebuilt from the destruction of WWII. Former enemyies are free to develop industrial might without the expense of maintaining a huge military.
            At some point, we are going to either going to have to tax the world to maintain this huge military or reduce it and put our tax dollars to work modernizing our infrastructure to be more competitive with Asia and Europe.
            In the mean time these manufacturers that built their fortunes here and have since abandoned their base, much like slash and burn farmers should be prepared to finance the protection of their facilities themselves.

        • maineiac123

          You may be right about SS and Medicare not being sustainable in the future but they have no real impact on the deficit that the repugs are always screaming about. They talk about cutting “entitlements” and SS and Medicare are usually mentioned. What they don’t mention is that at the present time and for at least the next 10 years from all indications, both SS and Medicare take in more than they pay out. If the talk were of ending corporate entitlements, agricultural entitlements, defense entitlements then we might actually be getting somewhere in reducing the deficit. Obviously making ALL earned income subject to SS rather than cutting it off at around $106,000 would certainly help.

          • Anonymous

            Actually 2010 was the last year that SS took in more than it spent. That is projected to grow into the future.

          • maineiac123

            The last report that I saw says that after we return to 12.4% of income and get out of this financial mess we once again will be collecting more than paying out. I’m not suggesting that SS and Medicare don’t need overhauls, they do. The first thing so far as I”m concerned is to eliminate ACA and install a real health care system for everyone that does not involve the use of extremely high cost health insurance (a system similar to Australia) as well as making all earned income taxable. This $106,000 cut-off always has been absurd. SS is the most regressive tax we have. I”m not suggesting making it progressive, simply equal.

    • Anonymous

      What isn’t fair is pretending that entitlements are what wrecked the economy or that they caused the deficit.

      • maineiac123

        You are so right but “entitlements” ie, the poor and elderly are easy scapegoats. Better them then the wealthy.

    • Anonymous

      Way back in the late sixties, I beleive it was shortly after the birth of our first son, I recieved a phone call from a Mass Mutual agent who offered a free baby book. He asked if he could come by to deliver it and tell us about a savings plan his company was promoting. A few days later he arrived, presented us with the baby book and gave us a sales presentation about what he called “a dollar a day savings plan”. it was really a sales presentation for whole life insurance. We bought it. Every month we received a “premium ” notice from Mass Mutual and sent in the payment. I have to admit that some months it wasn’t easy. After turning 65 my wife and I decided to use the funds accumulated in that “savings plan” as part of our retirement income. Mass Mutual makes a deposit into our bank account every month. How does that differ from Social Security and Medicare. We had money taken from our paychecks every week to pay for both Social Security and Medicare just like we paid the premium every month to Mass Mutual. I paid for both but now politicians and those on the right are screaming that somehow Social Security and Medicare have gone from being a benefit that I paid for to an “entitlement”. For those who insist on calling these benefits “entitlements” I have only one thing to say. Keep your hands off my Social Security and Medicare. I paid for those benefits.

      • Anonymous

        Except that you are indeed entitled to those benefits. I never said you weren’t. The problem of course is hows its funded. Primarily “not from savings” but from current workers social security contributions. The money you “saved” with the government is long gone. People will fool you into thinking it exists but it doesn’t. A smarter system was the one you did with Mass Mutual. That money still exists.

        No one (I know of) wants to deprive you of your SS. In fact there has been no plan offered that would change things for anyone older than 55.

        You are in. But to keep the plan for future generations that has fewer contributors than in the past changes need to be made.

        • Anonymous

          Hit the nail on the head. Mass Mutual actually has their money. The government spent the Social Security contributions. They have a name for schemes where withdrawals from the “investment” are funded by new contributions…

          And I agree as well with you about making good on promises, but we have to have a careful, honest look on how it is financed as our demographics make it increasingly difficult.

      • Anonymous

        The supreme court has ruled that you have no “rights” on the money paid into social security. You were lied to by politicians. They can cut benefits or even end the entire program with a simple 1 line bill. It is a tax and has always been a tax.

      • Anonymous

        My problem is not with those who have worked their entire life and are now receiving what they deserve, it is with the layabouts, illegal aliens, phony disabilities, and illegitimate baby making machines that are receiving “entitlements”. I was on my way to a job site on MDI this week and saw a sign at one of the lobster pounds advertising that they now accept EBT. This country really is effed.

    • Anonymous

      Social Security has built up an enormous surplus as a result of Reagan increasing the Social Security taxes while he lowered income taxes on the wealthy. Now, the Republicans wish to break that promise to beneficiaries. Medicare needs better cost controls and an expansion of its tax to capital gains and solvency will be assured. A cut in benefits is a wrong-headed drive to austerity which will only hurt this economy.

      • Anonymous

        It is my understanding that the money gained from the capital gains surcharge is for Obamacare & medicaid not medicare. Do you have different data? If so please provide a link.

        • Anonymous

          It is. I am suggesting a further surcharge. This income is taxed at a considerably lower rate than ordinary earned income. Additionally, none if it is subject to Social Security taxes.

          • Anonymous

            It is my understanding that Capital gains are likely to change dramatically anyway. For the highest tax rate in excess of 50% state & federal including surcharges. Is it your intention to add more?

          • Anonymous

            The likely change is from 15% to 25%. Adding a 1.45% more will not be a problem.

          • Anonymous

            The number for surcharges is 3.8% not 1.45%. unless I misread something. Then there are state taxes which you failed to add in. In some states that takes you over 50%.

            Edit: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/12/10/peter_schiff_majority_doesnt_have_a_right_to_steal_my_money_just_because_they_voted_for_it.html

          • Anonymous

            I am talking about applying the current Medicare tax to capital gains, not the Obamacare tax.

          • Anonymous

            Ok I misunderstood.

    • Anonymous

      I believe that SS benefits being handed to someone who never worked for a living could be called an entitlement. However someone who worked all their lives and contributed to SS all their working life and started collecting at their proper retirement age should not be considered an entitlement. That is an earned benefit.

      • Anonymous

        That’s what earned benefits are. Entitlements. You contributed therefore you are entitled. That’s what it means… Like the letterwriter above you have been taught to conflate earned benefits with unearned benefits. Therefore the confusion.

  • Anonymous

    For local and state government positions there should be preference for people who live in the state or attended higher education in the state if they are qualified. Obviously if a candidate is from another state and is the best candidate than by all means they should be hired.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Porter, were Governor LePage not so photogenic, no one would follow him with a camera.
    As we have televised coverage of Congress and will soon have televised coverage of the Maine House and Senate, why not have televised coverage of the Governor? Why do the Republicans wish to hide him from our view? Are they embarrassed?

  • Anonymous

    I’m no big fan of trackers, but it is NO excuse for LeBUFFOON to act like a whining baby and refuse to meet with the new Democratic leadership. He is acting like a BUFFOON once again. If he has a beef, take it up with the party office. Eves and Alfond have nothing to do with trackers. He’s acting like a CHILD.

    Of course we should keep two Senators per state though there are some concerns about the electoral college system for electing Presidents in the modern era.

    Collins should be ASHAMED for toeing the right wing line and LIES over Susan Rice. It is nothing but a typical right wing witch hunt with no witch to hunt. It is NONSENSE.

    To maintain SS, Medicare, and Medicaid, just raise the cap on taxable income for those programs. DONE. SS contributions are capped on the first $106,000 of income. That is an OUTRAGE. The rich are not even close to paying their fair share. They are the only ones who haven’t had to sacrifice a darn thing in the recession, and now we are talking about cutting benefits and raising eligibility ages when the rich have made out like bandits once again??? This is what happens when you offshore your manufacturing base, gut tax rates for the rich and richest of the rich all after having swallowed the LIE and PROPAGANDA that doing that helps the rest of us. NO ! It doesn’t work and has NEVER worked. Trickle down must GO, and the corrupt TeaPublican corporate toadie party along with it once and for all. We need to make capitalism work the way it is supposed to work once again and rebuild the middle class that has been decimated by FAILED and CORRUPT trickle down economics.

  • Anonymous

    C. Gater, B. Ward, C. Lee; good letters.

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