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Telling it Like it Is on Medicare

Medicare has become the pivotal political issue in Washington, not just in the deficit debate, but in the Republican 2012 election as well. GOP primary candidate Newt Gingrich has spent his week furiously backpedalling from his observation on Meet the Press last weekend that Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan amounts to “right wing social engineering.” The incident shows that a willingness to gut Medicare has become the price of acceptance into the Republican Party.

Finally, however, Democrats look to be stepping up to the plate to match Republicans’ fury to gut Medicare with an equal fury to save it, a position likely to have far more sway with the 84 percent of voters who oppose changes to the program. This afternoon, Nancy Pelosi drew the line in the sand the left has been clamoring for, promising “no benefit cuts.” Democrats have also enlisted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to spread the message on Capitol Hill today that proposals within Ryan’s plan will cut the benefits of current seniors, despite the fact that full Medicare privatization only begins in 2022. For instance, by undoing the prescription doughnut hole benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the plan would leave seniors to cover a huge tab on their medication. For the 150,000 seniors in Rhode Island, this would amount to an additional $9.5 million annually.

May 19, 2011 | Continue Reading

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Budgeting For America’s Middle Class: A Report Card Comparing Federal Budget  Proposals

Average American families are losing jobs, benefits, income and wealth, and for the first time, the majority of Americans believe their children will not be better off than them. The debate over our fiscal future provides an opportunity to chart a new course, one that will reverse the decline of the middle class.

It is against this backdrop that Demos has measured the comparative effectiveness of five leading fiscal proposals. We evaluate the plans in eight categories: jobs and public investment; health care affordability; Social Security income; education; defense policy; fair and adequate revenues; and long-term debt reduction.

May 5, 2011 | Read More

Giving Meaning To Taxes

Over the last week the media—from blogs to major news outlets—have commiserated with all of us who must complete our tax returns by midnight tonight. They have run commentary and analyses on who pays how much in taxes. They speak of billions and trillions. They mention loop-holes and population quartiles. They lament how complicated the tax structure is. They feature high-profile spokespeople for whom tax season is the perfect opportunity to fan the anti-tax and anti-government flames.

In most of this coverage, Americans are cast as victims. We are taxpayers bearing up under the obligation to pay into federal and state coffers. Some are stoic in the face of the inevitability of “death and taxes,” while others burn with resentment. We dread the task of hauling out that folder of receipts and calculating just how much of our income we have to hand over to Uncle Sam.

All of these stories reflect aspects of tax season reality for Americans. What is missing from this picture is any sense of a larger meaning in the act of paying taxes. Most other things that require effort and sacrifice—family, service, charity, and volunteerism—have virtuous, or at least redeeming, meaning associated with them. That meaning helps us face life’s challenges with a sense of a larger purpose that makes these acts worth the sacrifice.

April 18, 2011 | Read More

The True Meaning Of Tax Cuts

Imagine if Tea Party activists waved posters proclaiming their demands to “Shutter Our Schools” or “Pollute Our Air” or “Let Children Go Hungry.”

Those messages would have relegated them to the margins of our political space – and then quickly to the dustbin of history — rather than defining them as the politically potent force they’ve become.

Yet, is calling for “Zero Taxes” or to “Stop Taxing Us” so different?  Does that not also demand that we ultimately abandon the very core of what has made America the land of opportunity, freedom and security? The problem is, without the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, America as we know and love it would cease to exist.

April 11, 2011 | Read More

2012 House Republican Budget Released

Washington DC—Partners at Our Fiscal Security responded today to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal. Demos Vice President of Policy & Programs Tamara Draut wrote “Seniors and working families, don’t be fooled. In a predictable and dangerous formula Republicans call ‘courageous,’ tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will be protected at the expense of the American middle class.”

Economic Policy Institute’s John Irons wrote “This budget is impressive in its ability to not only inflict maximum harm on the economy, but to concentrate that harm on those most in need. This will not only cost the economy hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of jobs over the next five years, it will also destroy the social safety net and undermine policies that support the middle class.”

April 5, 2011 | Read More

Our Fiscal Security On Television 3/2011

Demos Vice President of Policy and Programs Tamara Draut takes to FOX’s Neil Cavuto a new proposal for direct job creation that could put millions of Americans back to work. The proposal can be found in the newly published report “Back To Work: A Public Jobs Proposal For Economic Recovery,” authored by Philip Harvey.

Robert Kuttner reiterated many of the same points he made in his article at the Huffington Post last week on this weekend’s edition of Your Money on CNN. Businesses are not going to start hiring American workers until our politicians start to care more about protecting American jobs than their corporate campaign donors.

March 8, 2011 | Watch More Videos

Our Fiscal Security Analyzes Pres. Obama’s 2012 Budget Proposal

Washington DC — The FY 2012 budget request submitted by President Obama reflects many of the ideals and priorities he laid out in his State of the Union address. While Obama’s speech provided the rhetoric behind his vision, his budget request delivers the details. In short, Obama’s budget attempts to balance deficit reductions with priority investments. The budget contains funding in areas such as research and development, high-speed rail, and biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, but it also engages in a series of tough, and in some instances damaging, budget cuts.

See also:

An analysis of the budget cuts

An analysis of the public investments

An analysis of tax policies

February 16, 2011 | Read More

Poll: Voters Overwhelmingly Oppose Cuts To Social Security

Washington DC — At a press briefing convened by The Century Foundation, the Economic Policy Institute, and Demos, pollsters conveyed that the public is decisively opposed to all form of Social Security benefit cuts.

January 21, 2011 | Read More

Robert Kuttner on GRITtv: Recovery Now, Deficits Later

Kuttner joins Laura in studio to discuss the wrong-headedness of the deficit commission, the ongoing jobs crisis, and why Democrats might have to find a progressive primary challenger for Obama in 2012.

December 8, 2010 | Read More

Fiscal Commission “Ignores Real Needs of American Families; Would Ensure Our Greatest Days Are Behind Us”

Washington, DC—The need for our nation to rebuild the middle class-the real engine of our economy-was completely overlooked in the new job-killing recommendations from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform earlier today. Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Programs at Demos responded with the following statement.

“The final recommendations released today illustrate how out of touch many on the Fiscal Commission, and many of those wielding influence in the Beltway, are with the everyday economic concerns and fears of Americans everywhere. This plan ignores the need for immediate public investments to spur job creation, relies too heavily on discretionary spending cuts, and slashes Social Security at a time when fewer Americans can count on a secure retirement.”

December 1, 2010 | Read More

Our Fiscal Security On Television

Demos DC Director Heather McGhee, on Fox’s “Your World With Cavuto”, discusses Our Fiscal Security Project’s plan to cut the deficit: get Americans back to work.

December, 1 2010 | Read More

Demos Responds: Bipartisan Policy Center Plan Fails To Address Declining Middle Class

Washington, DC— Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Programs at Demos responded to the Bi-Partisan Policy Center’s report released today: “The BPC’s report is a significant contribution, and includes many well-reasoned proposals. Nevertheless, it shares a fundamental flaw with the more radical Bowles-Simpson proposal. Neither plan recognizes that America needs recovery and prosperity, not austerity. Growing the economy again through public investment is the fastest, fairest way to address our fiscal challenges.”

November 17, 2010 | Read More

Pew-Peterson Report: Debt Target Misguided, Dangerous

The report addresses the long-term budget outlook, which poses real challenges to American economic security, and stabilizing the public debt at a reasonable level is necessary. However, the parameters of the Pew-Peterson fiscal target are neither reasonable nor desirable.

November 10, 2010 | Read More

Experts, Policymakers
Discuss Nation’s Fiscal Priorities

Prominent economists and budget experts, including Paul Krugman, MartinFeldstein, Robert Reischauer, David Walker and others participated in America’s Fiscal Choices, a important and timely discussion on U.S. budget priorities.

October 5, 2010 | Read More

Demos and the American Prospect Special Report: Recovery Not Austerity

Obessive concern about the deficits is dominating political discussion in Congress and in the media—at the expense of the more urgent issue of pursuing economic recovery and rebuilding the middle class.

 October 11, 2010 | Read More

From the Blog

Five Social Security Non-Myths

Eric Schurenberg, the editor-in-chief of BNET and, is a good friend of mine going back to the 1980s, when we worked together at Money magazine. We generally get along great — as long as we stay away from the subject of Social Security. But since Eric has just written a piece for The Fiscal Times describing five purported myths about the program that are actually facts, and since Eric and I both started as fact-checkers, I have little choice but to set the record straight.

February 17, 2011 | Read More