Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

CBO report: Social Security to be bankrupt by 2030

From Investors Business Daily.

Full text, because this matters:

The $2.8 trillion Social Security Trust Fund is on track to be totally spent by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

That’s one year earlier than projected in 2013 and a decade earlier than the CBO estimated as recently as 2011.

The CBO delivered the warning in a gloomy long-term budget outlook that shows federal debt reaching 106% of GDP in 25 years, up from 74% now.

The rising debt would come despite revenue rising by 1.8 percent as share of GDP (from 17.6% to 19.4%)from 2014 to 2039 and despite spending other than health entitlements, Social Security and debt service shrinking by 2.5% of GDP (9.3% to 6.8%).

The challenge: Health care spending will rise by 3.1 percent of GDP (4.9% to 8%) and Social Security 1.4 points of GDP (4.9% to 6.3%), which will in turn push interest on the debt up to 4.7% of GDP from 1.3%.

Social Security’s cliff, now just 16 years away, is one that Washington would be crazy to approach. At that point, incoming revenue would be enough to pay less than 75% of scheduled benefits for all beneficiaries, whether just reaching retirement or 100 years old.

Up until the point of exhaustion, the trust fund provides legal authority — though no resources — for the government to pay all benefits despite Social Security’s burgeoning cash-flow deficit, which the CBO expects to reach $320 billion in 2024 alone.

The rapid deterioration in Social Security’s finances has a number of contributing factors. The drawn-out recovery from the deep recession and the extended period of low interest rates have sapped revenue and lowered the interest that Treasury pays to the trust fund based on program surpluses from 1984 to 2009.

On top of that, the CBO expects the underinvestment and long-term unemployment associated with the less-than-stellar recovery to have a lasting impact, boosting the natural rate of unemployment.

In February, the CBO significantly reined in its economic optimism, slashing its projection of the total amount of wages and salaries over the 2015-2023 period by about $3.2 trillion, or 3.6%.

Among the factors that the budget scorekeeper cited was ObamaCare’s work-diminishing effect, which the CBO now estimates to be three times as large as it supposed in 2010.

The CBO said that ObamaCare would reduce employment by 2 million full-time-equivalent workers in 2017, rising to 2.5 million in 2014.

This reduction would result in a decline in aggregate employee compensation averaging 1% from 2017 through 2024, or $1.05 trillion.

An IBD analysis pegged the revenue hit to Social Security from ObamaCare work disincentives at about $120 billion through 2024.

The reduced payroll-tax contributions into Social Security would, over time, result in modestly lower benefits for those who choose less work, but the cost savings from reduced benefits would offset only a portion of the lost revenue.

The nature of Affordable Care Act subsidies — they rise as income falls and decline as income rises — will make work “less attractive” by “creating an implicit tax on additional earnings,” the CBO said.

The work disincentive will lead some people to choose to work less, in part because subsidized health care will enable them to get by with less work.

In addition, the CBO expects ObamaCare to depress wages for lower earners when employers, over time, pass along the cost of the law’s employer-insurance mandate by holding back on wage increases. Lower wages, in turn, will provide another reason for some people to opt for less work, the CBO says.

While the CBO expects compensation to be lower “almost entirely” because people will choose to supply less work, the CBO also expects that some employers “will respond to the penalty by hiring fewer people at or just above the minimum wage.”

Another important factor clouding Social Security’s future: A greater share of earnings goes to those with income above the maximum subject to payroll taxes ($117,000 in 2014).

As a result, while rising longevity and the retirement of baby boomers will make benefits grow faster than the economy, Social Security’s tax revenue is expected only to keep pace with economic growth.

Look. I think there’s practical wisdom in this CBO report for Christians. We have to take into account data like this when making our life plans. And it’s not only Social Security we need to be scared of, Medicare is even MORE insolvent than Social Security. If you are under 40, these programs are not going to be there for you. You have to make other plans. You can’t be running your life plan as if these threats do not exist, because they do. Now I want to talk about how a defensive plan can be better than an offensive plan.

The neutral zone trap

Think of ice hockey and the neutral zone trap defense:

The defending team sets up so four players-usually both wings and both defense-remain in the neutral zone, while the center forechecks into the offensive zone. The center’s job is to block the passing lanes from the puck carrier, forcing him to carry the puck forward into the neutral zone. Once the puck carrier reaches the neutral zone, the center stays toward the center of the ice, forcing the puck carrier along the boards. Two of the other defending team’s players collapse in on the puck carrier, forcing him to dump the puck into their zone, forcing a turnover.

This plan allowed the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup against the high-powered Detroit Red Wings in 1995:

The following season, shortened by 34 games because of a lockout ordered by NHL owners, the Devils entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the conference, with only a 22-18-8 record. In the West, the Detroit Red Wings looked invincible, cruising to the Stanley Cup Finals behind a galaxy of offensive stars.

But that’s when Lemaire went to work, putting his Devils through daily lessons in the trap, preaching constantly about being in the right defensive position at all times. It was hard, but it worked. The Devils upset three higher seeded Eastern teams to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, but remained prohibitive underdogs against the Red Wings.

Many predicted a sweep – and that’s what happened. What nobody predicted was that it would be the Devils who did the sweeping, thanks to a stifling trap that limited Detroit to seven goals in four games.

“They frustrated the heck out of us,” former Red Wings defenseman Mike Ramsey told the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. “You weren’t trying to beat one guy. You were trying to beat four. They had enough talent and size where they didn’t have to play that way. But they knew what they were doing. Every player was on the same page.”

When coaches across the NHL saw how Lemaire was able to totally shut down such a great offensive team, the trap began to be copied by almost everyone. Roger Neilson had implemented a form of the trap with the expansion Florida Panthers from 1993-95, and his successor, Doug MacLean, took it even further. The neutral zone became almost impossible to navigate against the Panthers in the 1996 playoffs, and Florida suddenly found itself in the Stanley Cup Finals against the offensive-minded Avalanche. Criticized by the media about the trap, MacLean responded, “I like boring”.

Yes, and he likes winning,too. Sometimes people who appear to be risk-averse seem “scared” to others… but what matters is the scoreboard.

I hate to see young people making life plans while ignoring real life obstacles. The national debt, the demographic crisis, fertility (for women), etc. are real problems. Let’s take these threats into account when we are planning our lives. It’s just unwise to think that we can do whatever we want and then count on God to bail us out. We need to be practical. We live in challenging times, and we need to have prosperity and stability in order to protect our faith from external threats which are so often the root of despair and apostasy. The score on the scoreboard is not related to who took the biggest chances and felt the most excitement, it’s related to who actually scored. I feel excited when I win.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Millenials voted for Obama and now they’ll have to live with less than their parents

Moderate conservative George Will writes about in Investors Business Daily. This is a good review of what’s happening in the economy.

Excerpt:

The reason why unemployment fell by four-tenths of a point (to 6.3%) in April while growth stalled is that 806,000 people left the labor force.

The labor-force participation rate fell by four-tenths of a point to a level reached in 1978, which was during the Carter-era stagflation and early in the surge of women into the workforce.

There are about 14.5 million more Americans than before the recession but nearly 300,000 fewer jobs, and household income remains below the pre-recession peak.

[...]The more than $1.1 trillion of student loan debt — the fastest-growing debt category, larger than credit-card or auto-loan debt — is restraining consumption, as is the retirement of baby boomers. In 2012, more than 70% of college graduates had student loan debts averaging about $30,000.

This commencement season’s diploma recipients enter an economy where more than 40% of recent graduates are either unemployed or in jobs that do not require a college degree. This is understandable, given that 44% of the job growth since the recession ended has been in food services, retail clerking or other low-wage jobs.

In April, the number of persons under 25 in the workforce declined by 484,000. Unsurprisingly, almost one in three (31%) persons 18 to 34 are living with their parents, including 25% who have jobs.

[...]There is, however, something new under the sun. The Pew Research Center reports that Americans 25 to 32 — “millennials” — constitute the first age cohort since World War II with higher unemployment or a greater portion living in poverty than their parents at this age.

Now it’s not just that the young people are having trouble paying off their loans and leaving the nest, it’s that they also are going to inherit a debit that has more than doubled since they elected Obama the first time. This is serious, now. If you are a young person, you’d better have a plan to be borrowing as little as possible, working as much as possible, saving as much as possible, and studying only what can get you a job. Things have changed since the time of your parents. You will have to work harder to achieve less. You voted for it.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law gets $737M of taxpayers’ money to build solar plant

From the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal.

The massive loan agreement is raising new concerns about the use of taxpayers’ money as vast sums are invested in technology similar to that of the doomed energy project.

The investment has intensified the debate over the effectiveness of solar energy as a major power source.

The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader’s brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command.

PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC is listed as one of the investors in the project that has been given the staggering loan, which even dwarfs that given to failed company Solyndra.

Other investors include one of the major investors in Solyndra, which is run by one of the directors of Solyndra.

Steve Mitchell, who served on the board of directors at the bankrupt energy company, is also managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, which has invested in the latest project.

Since Solyndra has filed for bankruptcy has been asked to testify about the goings on at the firm by two members of the House and ‘asked to provide documents to Congress’.

[...]The project approval came as part of $1 billion in new loans to green energy companies yesterday.

Did they learn anything from Solyndra? No:

‘The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialised, and now the Department of Energy is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire — that’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalised until the deadline,’ said Florida representative Cliff Stearns, who is chairman of the investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Since Nancy Pelosi took over federal spending in January 2007, the national debt has increased from $8.5 trillion to about $17.5 trillion. That’s NINE TRILLION dollars in new spending. And much of it just handed off to the people and groups who got the Democrats elected 2008 and 2012.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Conservative Party of Canada on track to deliver budget surplus in 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative Party)

Story from Yahoo News about the results delivered by the Conservative Party of Canada.

Note: To understand the numbers in the article, simply multiple the numbers by 10 to compare with American numbers – Canada’s economy is about 1/10 the size of ours. For example, our GDP is $15.7 trillion and theirs is $1.8 trillion. Our national debt is $17 trillion, while their’s is $1.2 trillion.

Excerpt:

Canada’s Conservative government looks set to comfortably balance its books in 2015 or even sooner, its latest budget showed on Tuesday, with cuts in spending on the public service more than offsetting a series of modest new expenditures.

The low-key spending plan leaves Prime Minister Stephen Harper well-positioned to offer tax breaks and other initiatives in the runup to an election scheduled for October next year.

“Some people will say this budget is boring,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters ahead of the budget speech. “Boring is good.”

The budget shows a deficit of C$2.9 billion ($2.63 billion)in the 2014-15 fiscal year, up from the previous estimate of C$5.5 billion. That balance includes a C$3 billion contingency fund, which in fact reveals an underlying surplus that year.

Flaherty acknowledged the budget would be narrowly balanced this coming year without the contingency fund, but said he preferred to have a “nice clean surplus next year”.

The government estimates a bigger-than-expected C$6.4 billion surplus in 2015-16. In the year ending March 31 of this year, the deficit is pegged at C$16.6 billion.

[...]Flaherty, who is 64 and battling a rare skin disease, has staked his reputation on eliminating Canada’ small deficit, equivalent to about 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and restoring the reputation the country had before the global financial crisis as having the strongest fiscal record in the Group of Seven major economies.

Germany is currently the only G7 country running a surplus, but Canada’s ratio of debt to GDP is substantially less and it is one of a handful of countries with a triple-A rating from rating agencies.

Canada is beating us in debt to GDP:

G7 Debt to GDP as of 2013

G7 % Debt to GDP as of 2012 (lower is better)

Canada is beating us in economic growth:

G7 GDP growth for 2013

G7 % GDP growth from 2007 to 2012 (higher is better)

Source: BBC Business

The next Canadian election is in 2015. I know that the Liberal Party is currently leading in the polls, but I found some good news. The Canadians just redistricted after their census, and there are 30 new electoral districts. If the same turnout occurs in 2015 which occurred in the 2011 election, then the Conservative Party of Canada would get 22 out of 30 of those new seats. However, I am concerned. I want Harper to keep his majority, as he and Tony Abbott (Australia) are two bright conservative stars who show people what conservatives can do. 

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UK survey: nearly 60% of working moms would cut their work hours if they could afford to

Dina tweeted this UK Daily Mail article that made me think about how women vote.

Excerpt:

More than a third of working mothers would like to give up their jobs completely and stay at home with their children, a major Government survey has found.

It showed that millions of mothers of young children who go out to work do so only because they need to work to pay the bills.

The research for the Department for Education found that, far from being anxious to get out of their homes and into employment, the great majority of mothers are only reluctant workers.

Nearly six out of ten of all working mothers would cut down their hours to spend more time with their families if they could afford to, it said.

The yearning among mothers to leave their jobs and look after their children instead is even more pronounced among the highest achieving women, the  survey indicated.

More than two-thirds of those in senior and middle management roles would spend fewer hours in the office and devote more time to their children if they had enough money, it said.

[...]Yesterday’s survey also undermines the claims that prejudice and discrimination against women in male-dominated companies is the reason why women are heavily outnumbered in the boardroom.

Rather, it suggests that many women who could get to the top in business choose instead to put their children before their careers.

The problem is that when government gives people free stuff, people who work have to work more to pay for it. And the strangest thing is that even though women seem to want to stay home with their kids (which is good), when it comes time to vote, they actually vote NOT to stay home with their kids. How? By growing the size of government, which results in higher taxes. To find out what women really think about staying home with their kids, we can look at how they vote. 

Women voted 55 to 44 for Obama

Women voted 56-44 for more government spending in 2012

CNN reports on how women voted in the 2012 election:

According to CNN’s exit polls, 55% of women and 45% of men voted for Obama and 44% of women and 52% of men voted for Romney. That level of female support for the president made an especially big impact in swing states like Ohio where the gender breakdown mirrored the national figures.

[...]There are some indications that social issues directly impacting women might have helped sway votes in some states.

Tuesday’s early exit polls showed 51% of Missouri voters said they believed abortion should be legal all or most of the time. Of those voters, exit polls showed 76% supported Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, who won Tuesday night, while 19% voted for Akin.

Forty-seven percent of Missouri’s voters said abortion should be illegal. Exit polls showed Akin netted 67% of this group’s votes while 27% of people who think abortion should be illegal supported McCaskill.

But much more than social issues, pocketbook economic issues most concerned women voters, exit polling showed.

“Women like all voters felt the economics were most important,” Swers said. “Women tend to be more supportive of government spending… than men are … so they were less responsive to Romney in that way and more responsive to Obama’s message on empathy and helping the middle class.”

Gallup reported that the gender gap in the 2012 election was actually 20 points. That was the largest ever measured in a Presidential election. The actual vote for Obama among women, according to Gallup, was 56-44.

More government means higher taxes

Women are also more pro-abortion more than men

Here is a peer-reviewed research paper that shows the problem that we need to warn women about, so that they vote smarter.

The abstract reads:

This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote. Using cross‐sectional time‐series data for 1870–1940, we examine state government expenditures and revenue as well as voting by U.S. House and Senate state delegations and the passage of a wide range of different state laws. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise. Contrary to many recent suggestions, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s, and it helps explain why American government started growing when it did.

When people vote for government to do more for everyone else, then men who work have to pay more in taxes.

Women for bigger government, higher taxes

Women vote for higher taxes, so they have to work more

If women want to stay home with their children more, then they need to vote for their husbands (present or future) to pay less in taxes when they work. That means voting for smaller government, more liberty and more personal responsibility. Until women get to the point of connecting their future plans (marriage and parenting) for their lives with their current voting, this situation is not going to change. Marriages run on money. It’s no good to urge men to “man-up” and then take away their ability to provide by taxing more of their earnings to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills and abortions. Keep the money in the family, and then you can stay home with the kids more.

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