Does The Social Security Administration Need To Be Reformed?

New analysis shows that the amount seniors are paying out of pocket is much more than Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment, which is supposed to rise in proportion to inflation. 2021’s adjustment was only 1.3 percent — and that’s a big problem considering the financial and economic instability of the last year and a half. The SSA’s estimated benefit increase was only a measly $20 for most people. 

But The Senior Citizens League recently conducted an analysis based on Consumer Price Index information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and found that expenses are rising out of line with that adjustment. 

For example, car and truck rental costs increased an awe-inspiring 31.2 percent from March 2020 to March 2021. Laundry equipment rose 24.2 percent, gasoline rose 22.2 percent, and home heating rose 20.2 percent. These are only a few costs that affect senior citizens more than the average Joe. If all these costs are rising so dramatically, 1.3 percent doesn’t cut it for most people.

A social security attorney can often help applicants reduce the amount of wait time — which is often compounded whenever social security administration officials find a mistake in the application filed.

Social Security and Medicare policy analyst Mary Johnson said, “With inflation rising so fast, what’s going on right now is an erosion in buying power.” She added, “If we see a continuation, we may see the highest COLA since 2008.”

That year, cost of living was adjusted a whopping 5.8 percent because of the Great Recession. But the average cost of living adjustment is only 1.4 percent.

The aforementioned issue was most important. It’s great that cost of living is tied to inflation in general — but maybe the SSA needs to reform to tie cost of living increases to the inflated costs of expenditures that actually matter to seniors. We won’t know how much this year’s adjustment will be until around October. 

The majority of seniors believe that the SSA should provide minimum benefit increases each year, even if inflation would have resulted in a lower adjustment, according to a new poll. 

The league wants Congress to reform the SSA to add one of these guaranteed increases annually, and use the Consumer Price Index for the elderly instead of the general population.

More seniors than ever before are deciding whether or not to retire early and claim social security before the maximum benefit is achieved. And the SSA doesn’t make claiming the biggest benefit easy. Claimants need to properly strategize before making the decision.

How Is Kamala Harris Approaching The Office Of The Vice President?

The role of the vice president in any new administration is often a question mark at the end of a successful campaign. The office of vice president has few formal obligations, and many vice presidents have gone down in history as little more than figureheads. What legacy will Kamala Harris preserve? That remains to be seen, but President Biden has assigned Harris to manage the border crisis down south. Here’s how she’s doing so far.

This was not an easy assignment to receive, and political analysts have already suggested that it was like being handed a “political grenade.”

Advisers have suggested that balancing priorities will showcase the difficulties of the job, which include political negotiations with Central American leaders — who she needs to work with without seeming to the American public that she wants to work with them.

President of Migration Policy Institute Andrew Selee said, “The tone issue looks at how do you both recognize the need to work with the people in the region and at the same time call attention to some of the real deficits of governance in these countries.”

Harris has agreed to work with members of the Cabinet and special envoy to the Northern Triangle Ricardo Zuniga in order to facilitate progress.

She told reporters, “When we’re looking at my focus, which is a diplomatic focus on the Northern Triangle, it is about bringing together…the members of the Cabinet.”

Guatemala is proving a difficult obstacle for Harris. Lawmakers in the country refused to put an anti-corruption judge on the bench after U.S. officials suggested it would greatly benefit future negotiations. Guatemala also wants to purchase COVID vaccines from the United States, but it wasn’t immediately apparent whether or not the U.S. planned to make any deals.

Co-director of Latin America Working Group Lisa Haugaard said, “[Harris] must keep a distance from the Honduran government right now.”

Will Biden Support Social Security Disability?

Biden has implemented a number of legislative plans that showcase his strong support for American families. That’s a good thing, because families have been struggling the most over the past year and a half, and they need yet more help to keep food on the table. Biden’s success on these issues is hardly a foregone conclusion, and it could be that several of the issues he believes are most important might be pushed until after the midterm elections — and only if Democrats increase their current majorities.

The question of whether or not Biden will boost support and funding for social security disability is unanswered, though.

Recently, a number of lawmakers banded together to push increased support for social security benefits in Biden’s American Families Plan that was recently unveiled.

United States Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), and 47 other members of Congress wrote, “People with disabilities and older adults receiving SSI represent some of the most marginalized members of our society. History will not forgive us if we fail to address their needs in the recovery effort.”

They noted that eight million Americans receive SSI benefits, and many of those have disabilities but did not qualify or were not accepted into the SSDI program. SSI only allows individuals to receive $794 per month, and SSI benefits only remain applicable to those with a couple thousand dollars or less to their names.

The lawmakers who penned the letter to Biden requested an SSI raise of 100 percent of the federal poverty line, after which the cap would be tied to inflation. The letter said, “Because this limit is not indexed to inflation, it grows steadily more draconian each year. Lifting this asset cap is long overdue.”

The lawmakers also pointed out that Biden favored making changes to Social Security when he ran for the presidency. Now that he’s won the office, they want him to follow through on his promises. 

The letter added, “These reforms are not only consistent with the imperatives of disability and economic equality. They would also advance racial justice. Nearly 1 in 4 Black and Hispanic Americans receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits also receive SSI payments, due to the low level of their disability insurance awards. By strengthening the SSI program, you will be taking strong and necessary steps to alleviate poverty that disproportionately impacts disabled people of color.”

It was an important caveat, because much of Biden’s legacy will be dependent on how he handles race relations in a country where civil rights and criminal reform issues are rising to the top of the pool. Similar requests have asked Biden to reclassify marijuana to legalize the drug everywhere instead of waiting for states to do it themselves. This would reduce the disparity in marijuana-related arrests, since African Americans are incarcerated much more often than Caucasians — even though both groups use the drug at similar rates.

Could President Biden Be Excommunicated From The Catholic Church?

It might sound like an absurd question considering the good work that Biden is doing to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, bolster the economy, and lift families out of poverty through increased government spending — but Biden supports abortion rights as a Democrat, and the Catholic faith frowns upon those who do just that. They will now be forced to decide whether or not to tell the president he is not welcome to receive Communion. 

The United States Catholic bishops will decide whether or not to make this unusual political statement during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. This is rarely a topic for discussion since Biden is only the country’s second Catholic president.

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann said that Biden’s public stance is a “grave moral evil.” He added, “Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us. It can create confusion. … How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?”

The conference’s decision might send a clear message to public figures who are Catholic that they are not welcome to take Communion. However, the decision whether or not to provide Communion to Biden will still be left to those lower on the the Catholic hierarchical ladder, Bishop W. Francis Malooly in Wilmington, Delaware and Cardinal Wilton Gregory in D.C. Both figures have already said that Biden is welcome to receive Communion at their churches, so it remains a question whether or not they will change their minds should the conference decide to put a foot down.

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky believes that the point will eventually be made. He said, “If a politician is targeted as a negative example by his own church, that sets a sad context in which the church can deal with this Catholic president. It contributes to the polarization of the church and of society.”

The Politics Of Personal Injury Inflamed In California

California is a big state when millions of people — and happens to be the sixth largest economy in the world, which makes it a political behemoth when it comes to getting things done. Even though the state largely leans left, all that does is inflame the right. And the right rarely agrees with the priorities of the left. Right now, the state is suffering from severe drought, a public outrage at the DDT Dump Site off the coast, and the recall of a governor after a Tea Party official managed to collect the required signatures to force a new election, likely later this year.

Socal Injury Lawyers describe this sequence of events as business as usual, but recognize that each new emergency will likely result in fresh legislation — and that means new lawsuits and legal battles with corporate empires. 

Governor Gavin Newsom — who will face significant battles ahead after his recall — declared a state of emergency due to the drought, but failed to put into place water conservation measures. Residents of Sonoma and Mendocino counties are suffering the most. And both regions are home to popular wineries, which means businesses could be stuck in a financial hole too, should the emergency continue. 

The controversies in leadership — and pushback from people in his own party — could result in lawsuits against government figures who didn’t do everything they could have done to prevent the emergency from getting worse.

Republican State Senator Scott Wilk said, “While the overwhelming majority of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions, Governor Newsom has chosen to only serve his French Laundry wine and cheese crowd.”

Newsom defended his decision not to mandate conservation by pointing out the reduction in overall water use by Californians when compared to the last major drought, which occurred back in 2012. 

The recently discovered dump site might mean new trouble for DDT. Reporter Demarco Morgan said, “Stunning result of a recent survey of the seafloor near Catalina Island, scientists say an underwater DDT dump is much bigger than they anticipated. Scientists used two deep sea robots to map the sea floor off the coast of LA for two weeks. Sonar images and computer analysis from 3,000 feet below show over 100,000 objects on the sea floor.”

Morgan continued, “Of those objects, 27,000 were classified as barrel-like. The concern is the barrels contained DDT and insecticide that was banned back in the 1970s. Scientists said they will need to take samples and do chemical analysis to see what was inside the barrels.”

Companies that are found to have dumped the chemicals will likely face steep fines and additional legal damages for this illegal activity. Democrats will likely seek to drop the hammer, but Republicans tend to prefer capping damages that exceed specific thresholds to reduce the impact to businesses. 

What Did Biden Achieve In His First 100 Days?

President Biden hasn’t exactly stood still during his first 100 days in office. He got off to a running start, eager to show contrast with his predecessor, and has shown no signs of slowing down. But what about Biden’s promises to heal the divides in this country between left and right? Has he gained any ground? …Will he?

The crowning moments of his presidency so far included quick passage of a COVID-19 relief bill and keeping his promises on vaccinating the country. Ending the pandemic is still a huge obstacle, especially when vaccinations are slowing down in many areas of the country due to the hesitancy in deciding whether or not to receive them. It’s very likely that many people will decide to never take the vaccine, especially if they believe that the pandemic will end on its own.

University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Kyle Kondik said, “Biden was a focused candidate in that regard. He talked about the pandemic a lot, talked about the economy a lot.”

Meanwhile, Biden’s decisions regarding asylum-seeking migrants at the southern border have angered many Democrats and especially progressives who don’t understand why he would so severely limit how many people to let in.

Professor of politics James Thurber at the American University in Washington DC said, “Biden had a clear strategy, theme and message. But it’s not necessarily how a president will be remembered.”

That’s why so many analysts are worried that Democratic majorities will diminish in the 2022 midterm elections, and that Biden’s ability to get anything done will significantly decline or disappear.

Biden has been very successful economically. Unemployment is down, the stock market is booming, and the economy is growing at an impressive five percent to start off the year. If Biden can keep the momentum, he could potentially hold onto power — or even make significant gains — in 2022, which would be disastrous for Republicans, and certainly do nothing to help them acquire power in the future.

What’s In Biden’s $1.8 Trillion “Families Plan?”

President Biden is showing no sign of slowing down in implementing his gargantuan, transformative agenda. His new $1.8 trillion “families plan” pairs with the previously unveiled infrastructure plan, both of which invest huge amounts of money — by taxing the richest American citizens — into the country’s future by providing tax credits to those in greatest need. Biden also wants to make two-year community colleges free and boost daycare worker pay to $15 an hour.

White House senior adviser Anita Dunn wrote, “The president has been clear that our tax system is broken when a hedge fund manager making hundreds of millions of dollars is paying taxes at a lower rate than the janitor working in his office or the housekeeper at his mansion. And he’s going to take steps — steps which are supported by the American public — to address the fairness in the tax code.”

And bad news for Republicans: Americans are broadly supportive of these huge expenditures, most of which help those who are hurting the most. According to a recent Monmouth national poll, 2 in 3 people support Biden’s spending — which faces significant hurdles in Congress. Right now, Biden’s overall approval rating sits at around 53 percent.

Visit here for more information on the new plan’s expenditures, which would make the previously expanded earned income tax credit permanent, which should help around 66 million children and their families.

Biden would pay for the spending by increasing corporate tax rates and increasing the tax rate for the richest individuals back to 39.6 percent. Capital gains would also be transformed to eliminate a “carried interest” provision that allows the wealthy to keep lower tax rates on investment income. The president also wants to funnel money into the IRS so they have the ability to make more audits on the wealthiest taxpayers.

The two bills on infrastructure and family have a long way to go to make it through the House and especially the Senate, where Democrats have a margin of only one vote: Vice President Kamala Harris’s. And they can only pass legislation by majority vote through a process called reconciliation, which isn’t also applicable. It’s a tough call whether or not moderate Democrats or Independents will support Biden’s plans without significant revisions.

Kamin said, “There is very good evidence, at this point, that policies like the child tax credit end up in better outcomes for kids. You can look at it in terms of test scores, in terms of future earnings. So, these are important ways of helping families right now, but they’re also key to the future.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the two proposals a “liberal wish list,” and has already described plans to obstruct most any Democratic-written legislation.

Progressives might also be a problem. They like the legislation, but they don’t think Biden is going far enough. They want lower healthcare costs, including lower costs for prescription drugs — the price of which has been ballooning out of control for years, costing lives.

Ted Cruz Harassed Over Recent Court Packing Tweet

Senator Ted Cruz is many things, and a brilliant wordsmith isn’t one of them. He recently tweeted, “You didn’t see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court.” He was taken to task pretty much immediately by everyone who remembers that, yes, they sort of did try to rig the game when they were in control of the Senate.

Cruz also said, “They’re behaving like corrupt politicians. And, by the way, just a few years ago, Republicans were in the same position — 2017, all of us were here, we had a Republican president, a Republican Senate, a Republican House. We didn’t do this. We could have.”

But again, they did exactly that. 

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was responsible for holding up hundreds of federal court seats that needed to be filled when President Obama was in office. And in 2017 specifically, it would have been difficult for Trump to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with anyone who isn’t moderate because they didn’t have a big enough majority to overcome the filibuster. Remember what happened? They eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court vacancies, and we have three very conservative justices instead of moderates that everyone could hate equally.

And don’t forget — that’s after they blocked Obama’s nomination for an entire year. Whether they like it or not, they decided to reduce the number of justices when it benefited them. That’s the exact same thing that Cruz is accusing the Democrats of doing.

Many people believe that the southern senators are already working the rigged game simply by having equal power and equal say when compared to states with bigger populations. Democrats speak for 40 million more people than Republicans, and yet Republicans are granted equal power. Many want that to change to ensure that the minority can never control the majority.

And in the House, Republicans control more seats than they should by gerrymandering populations that don’t vote for them — mostly minorities. If that isn’t rigging the game, then what is?

Should We Expect Former President Trump To Be Arrested?

To describe former president Trump’s one-term administration as erratic and corrupt would be an enormous understatement — but only depending on who you talk to. The country remains split down the middle on the subject. Half of our citizens believe he did the best job ever, while the other half (rightly) believes that he belongs in handcuffs. Will he ever be arrested? Some scholars say it’s looking like that will be the case.

More than a month ago, former Watergate lawyer John Dean wrote, “From personal experience as a key witness I assure you that you do not visit a prosecutor’s office 7 times if they are not planning to indict those about whom you have knowledge. It is only a matter of how many days until DA Vance indicts Donald & Co.”

Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance is investigating whether or not Trump committed crimes related to tax and finance while residing in New York. Dean was referring to the fact that Vance was visited seven times by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. To date, Trump has not been charged or arrested. And importantly, current president Biden has shown little interest in hunting him down or starting new investigations. Those that are ongoing are state initiatives that have nothing to do with the federal government.

Trump currently faces dozens of lawsuits from every corner of the country and no fewer than three criminal investigations, all of which are expected to bear (rotten) fruit.

Vance recently requested and received a mountain of documentation from former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. In other words, don’t assume that the investigation is going nowhere simply because of how long it’s taking — it might just be that Vance is dotting every I and crossing every T.

The Daily News recently reported: “…Asked about the time [Weisselberg] found himself ‘eavesdropping’ on a discussion among Trump lawyers about the alleged illegality of marketing Trump’s for-profit school as a ‘university’ in New York, Weisselberg said he didn’t delve deeper.”

Will Biden Erase The National Debt?

There is a distinction between national debt and deficit. For example, the United States had an awe-inspiring $26.70 trillion in debt as of August 31, 2020. But that doesn’t account for budget deficit, which changes with each new budget that passes through the U.S. Congress. Debt is how much the United States owes to lenders. Deficit is the net “income” of our country. It’s usually in the negative numbers. That means we’re not making more money than we spend, which is why the national debt continues to grow.

To answer the obvious question: no, President Biden will not “erase” the national debt. It’s impossible. The best any president can hope for right now is to ease the increasing budget deficits and right this ship before it sinks any further.

It’s not like the United States government can hire a debt settlement lawyer to wipe the slate clean. And our national debt is projected to continue growing. Is anyone worried about it? These days, only the party opposition — and then once the tables turn and the opposition is in power, they seem less inclined to care. This trend could result in a number of doomsday scenarios.

Right now, borrowing money from other countries — like, say, China — isn’t as big a problem because interest rates are historically low. But the real worry of growing debt is that sooner or later the United States could default on a payment, lowering our credit rating in the eyes of the world, and making it harder or impossible to secure future borrowing. And you never really know when we might need to borrow.

Another obvious scenario results from foreseeable events. The less money the country has onhand, the more difficult it is to fling it around. And why would we need to “fling it around?” Because man-made climate change will result in rising tides, populations shifting, erratic weather, natural disasters, and perhaps more frequent pandemics — and we don’t need more of those. With less money, we can expect a reduced response.

The CBO also warns: “If the federal debt stayed at its current percentage of GDP or increased further, the government would find it more difficult to undertake similar policies [another stimulus] under similar conditions in the future. As a result, future recessions and financial crises could have larger negative effects on the economy and on people’s well-being. Moreover, the reduced financial flexibility and increased dependence on foreign investors that accompany high and rising debt could weaken U.S. leadership in the international arena.”

The CBO added, “That increase in interest rates would reduce the market value of outstanding government bonds, causing losses for investors and perhaps precipitating a broader financial crisis by creating losses for mutual funds, pension funds insurance companies, banks, and other holders of government debt — losses that might be large enough to cause some financial institutions to fall.”