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Hostility to Tradition

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:35
In the 90s, the Clinton Administration formed a bipartisan coalition to pass the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. Nineteen states followed suit. The legislation came in response to a Supreme Court decision that had seen an American Indian suffer legally for having used a drug during a well-established American-Indian religious ceremony. 2015-01-30T00:01:00-05:00 2015-01-31T04:35:05Z Erick Erickson

Are You Still Charlie?

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:35
Mark Zuckerberg isnt. Heck, even Charlie Hebdo isnt still Charlie. 2015-01-30T00:01:00-05:00 2015-01-31T04:35:05Z Charlotte Hays

'Occupying the White Male Syllabus' at Berkeley

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:35
Upon witnessing the trials of Nazi war criminals in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt remarked that they shared in common one salient feature: it was not stupidity, she said, but a curious, quite authentic inability to think. 2015-01-30T00:01:00-05:00 2015-01-31T04:35:05Z Jack Kerwick

The Price is Right; Budget Director Should Be Sent Packing

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:35
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) is by profession a physician, and a quiet and thoughtful man. For years he has led his colleagues in developing Republican policy in the House, and while he would appear to be a bit like the policy wonk, he has an ability to turn into a "superman" when it comes to taking strong conservative positions. 2015-01-30T00:01:00-05:00 2015-01-31T04:35:05Z Matt Towery

Michelle Obama defends 'American Sniper' at veterans event

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 20:39
First lady Michelle Obama urged Hollywood to give a more accurate portrayal of veterans and defended the Oscar-nominated "American Sniper," which has received criticism for its depiction of war.

Juan Williams on Romney’s decision not to run in 2016: “Mitt, your time has passed”

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 20:14
Juan Williams, Fox News contributor and columnist with The Hill, said Friday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney took the hint some donors in his party were sending when he announced he would not run for the nation’s highest office in 2016.

ISIS chemical weapons expert killed in airstrike, US officials say

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 19:55
An Islamic State chemical weapons expert was killed last week in a coalition airstrike in Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday.

1,000 'criminal aliens' released by ICE committed new crimes, Grassley says

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 19:22
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Friday that 1,000 of the more than 36,000 "criminal aliens" released by federal immigration authorities in 2013 have been convicted of new crimes.

Romney exit resets 2016 field, gives boost to Bush

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 18:11
Mitt Romney’s announcement Friday that he will not run for president a third time has reset the budding 2016 field – with political strategists saying his exit could position Jeb Bush as establishment favorite while helping him assemble a campaign team in key early-voting states.

Why I Hate Taxes and Tax Collectors

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 16:35
We constantly hear about the need for tax reform but never really get it. The U.S. Tax Code gets more complex every year, whether its a Republican or Democrat in office. 2015-01-30T00:01:00-05:00 2015-01-30T21:35:05Z Mark Skousen

Social Security Isn't Going Away -- But It Is Going to Get Worse

Cato Recent Op Eds - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 16:33

Michael D. Tanner

Seventy-five years ago, Ida Mae Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont received the first American Social Security check. Ida, who lived to be 100, ultimately collected $22,888 in benefits. Because she had paid only $24.75 in Social Security taxes, the national retirement program turned out to be a very good deal for her.

Unfortunately, it’s not such a good deal for today’s young workers. Thirty year olds now will be lucky to receive a 1.5 percent return on what they pay into the system, far below what they could earn from investing that money privately. In fact, many will die before they get back what they paid in, let alone collect any extra return.

“To pay all the benefits promised in the future, Social Security would have to increase the payroll tax by as much as half, or slash benefits by 23 percent.”

That’s because Social Security operates very much like a pyramid scheme. When you pay your Social Security taxes, none of that money is saved for your retirement or invested. Instead, every cent you pay in is used to provide the benefits to those who are already collecting. When you finally retire, your benefits will come from the taxes paid by the next generation of workers — your children and grandchildren.

Like any pyramid scheme, Social Security was able to deliver a windfall to early recipients like Ida Mae, who received their benefits when there were lots of workers and only a few retirees. Today, however, Americans are living longer and not having as many babies, meaning there are more retirees and fewer workers to support them. In 1950, there were 16.5 workers supporting every retiree. Today, there are 2.8. And by the time today’s young workers retire, there will be just over two.

Does that mean Social Security won’t be there when they’re ready to collect? No. As long as there are people paying into the program, retirees will be able to take benefits out. Unlike a pyramid scheme, Social Security cannot go broke as long as the government can make future generations pay taxes.

But if fewer young workers are there to support each retiree, one of two things will have to happen: Either those young workers will have to pay more (tax increases) or retirees will have to get less (benefit cuts).

To pay all the benefits promised in the future, Social Security would have to increase the payroll tax by as much as half, or slash benefits by 23 percent.

The government has already raised Social Security taxes more than 40 times since the program began. Initially, the maximum tax anyone had to pay was $60, or 2 percent of the first $3,000 in wages paid by both the employer and employee. Today, people pay 12.4 percent of their first $118,500 in wages. Even after inflation, that’s a roughly 1,490 percent increase.

To pay all the benefits promised in the future, Social Security would have to increase the payroll tax by as much as half, or find that revenue elsewhere. The government can always cut benefits, but without a tax increase those benefits would have to eventually be slashed by 23 percent. That would be very hard for seniors who depend on the program to get by.

Until recently Social Security ran a surplus, taking in more in taxes than it paid out in benefits. That extra money was used to purchase government bonds, which became so-called Trust Funds to pay future benefits. Of course, once a bond was purchased, the money used to buy it became general revenue and was spent by the government. So the Trust Funds are simply an accounting measure of how much money the Social Security system is owed by the federal government. The bonds are basically IOUs.

That’s not to say that the government won’t make good on that debt. It always has and likely always will. But the money needed to redeem the $2.8 trillion in bonds currently in the Trust Funds comes from the government’s general revenue — that is, the taxes being paid by today’s workers. There’s no free lunch.

The Trust Funds will be empty by 2033. That’s the point at which Social Security will either have to make that 23 percent cut to benefits, or raise taxes by about half.

There is only one other answer to Social Security’s growing crisis: Let young workers who wish to get out of this pyramid scheme to do so, and save a portion of their taxes for their own retirement through personal accounts. Allow that money to be invested in assets that earn a return, such as stocks, bonds, annuities, and so forth. The average annual return on US capital investment over the last century has been roughly 7.28 percent after adjusting for inflation, far better than what young people can expect from Social Security.

The program will have to change in the future. But as we debate Social Security, it is vital that young people be involved. They have the most at stake.

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Federal judge expresses skepticism about constitutionality of no-fly list

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 16:08
A federal judge expressed skepticism Friday about the constitutionality of the government's no-fly list, suggesting that those who find themselves on it ought to be allowed a meaningful opportunity to clear their names.

Oregon governor deflects questions over fiancee's consulting payments

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:47
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber on Friday deflected mounting ethics questions swirling around him and fiancee Cylvia Hayes over newly disclosed, six-figure consulting payments she received from a clean energy group -- while she was advising the governor on similar issues.

Republicans fume over ex-Gitmo inmate’s Taliban outreach, WH says no regrets

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 14:11
Outraged Republicans pointed to claims that one of five former Guantanamo prisoners traded for American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl tried to contact the Taliban as further evidence that the Obama administration made a "bad deal."

School Choice: An American Value

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 13:35
What could be more American than letting moms and dads decide where their kids go to school? 2015-01-30T00:01:00-05:00 2015-01-30T18:35:04Z Rob Schwarzwalder

Dalai Lama, Obama reportedly to appear together in public for first time

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:22
President Obama reportedly will appear publicly with the Dalai Lama for the first time next week at the National Prayer Breakfast, in a move sure to anger China.

David Duke considers run against Scalise

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:10
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke says he may run for Congress against the No. 3 House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

An Open Letter To the Supreme Leader of Iran

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:35
Although I am no longer an American youth (I turn 60 in March), I am an American, and on behalf of others in my country, I would like to respond to your open letter to Western youth. 2015-01-30T00:01:00-05:00 2015-01-30T15:35:03Z Michael Brown

Romney announces he will not run for president in 2016

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:10
Mitt Romney announced Friday he will not run for president in 2016, after briefly flirting with a third White House run -- a decision that only slightly narrows the crowded field of potential Republican candidates.

US economy slows to 2.6 percent growth in fourth quarter

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 01/30/2015 - 09:40
The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of 2014 as a big burst in consumer spending was offset by weakness in other areas.

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