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Robert Bennett: U.S. needs entitlement restructuring

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  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Jan. 10, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    Steelhead | 5:41 p.m. Jan. 9, 2012
    Mike Richards | 5:54 p.m. Jan. 9, 2012

    The problem is that in order to pay your benefits; they take the money from other Americans.
    The government does not know how to save, they only spend, spend, spend.
    Yes, it is unfair that you paid into something that is now bankrupt.
    Just like all those who invested with Madoff and other ponzi scheme/cons.
    However, the government is not stepping in, and forcing other working people to pay those who lost money in the schemes, like they are with social security.
    How fair is it to take money from poor families with children, and give the money to millionaires?
    I am sure that many people who lost money in other schemes would like to be paid back. Many of them would not even care where the money came from, just like those who are receiving social security and Medicare; they do not care that they money is being forcible taken from other Americans; all they care about is that they get their entitlements-benefits.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Jan. 10, 2012 6:46 a.m.

    Is Bob Bennett really claiming that retired persons contribute nothing to society?

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2012 12:01 a.m.

    My only question Mr. Bennett is why when the Republican party was in the majority and held the Presidency did you not lead the way for this change?

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 9:23 p.m.

    Why do conservative columnists continually harp on Social Security rather than Medicare, when it is Medicare that is the real problem?
    Simply remove the contribution cap (currently at $108,500 I believe) and the Social Securty shortfall is solved. Oprah will be paying in more and the program will be solvent.
    At a minimum Mr.'s Bennett, Krauthammer and Williams should explain why a total "restruturing" of entitilements is better than simply lifting the Social Security contribution cap if they want us to seriously consider their arguments as more than poorly-reasoned conservative chatter.

  • red state pride Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 8:27 p.m.

    I agreed with Sen Bennett's column for a change. We all know why the Country is bankrupt. Go ahead- cut Medicare and Social Security for those who don't need it- but let's call it what it is: a tax. Six percent for you and six percent for your employer. If you make fifty thousand dollars every year that's six thousand dollars that you may or may not get back.
    I think all political persuasions should agree on some things. At one time there was a significant problem in America with the number indigent elderly. Also at one time not so long ago the word "retirement" was not part of the national lexicon. People worked until they died or were incapable of working and I have no problem assisting people who are incapable of either working or supporting themselves (even though I would prefer that their families support them)
    Just as a heads up though: go check out which zip code has the highest number of per capita SSDI recipients. Hint: it's not part of the fifty stars and bars.

  • homebrew South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 6:28 p.m.

    Mr Bennett, would you like your lucrative retirement program and healthcare benefits restructured. Would you settle for the measly social security checks in stead of your government retirement that you think your entitled to. Social security taxes cease after income of 100,000 dollars, therefore payments should cease if you make more than 100,000 in your retirement years. What do you say Bob, Do you just want to take from the little people, or are you willing to put your money where your mouth is??

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2012 5:54 p.m.

    Means testing has nothing to do with the Social Security program. We were PROMISED a good retirement if we allowed the Government to take our money all during our working life. They took our money whether we made a few thousand a year or whether we made much more. They didn't tell us: "You make enough to provide for yourself, so you're exempt from SS taxes". They taxed everyone who had income.

    Now they want to cut their losses, caused by mismanagement of that fund. They mixed the SS fund with the general fund and spent all of the money!

  • Steelhead JACKSON, MI
    Jan. 9, 2012 5:41 p.m.

    Entitlement? If I invested 7% of my pre tax income and my employer contributed a like amount to a fund (a Roth IRA or similar), why would the available funds be considered an entitlement. Looks like my money was taken and spent by someone---Congress--and now it's gone. I'm sorry; I paid into Social Security for the last 40 years so I'm not entitled I'M OWED!!!! I'm owed the principal and the accumulated interest; so where is it? THERE IS NO MONEY!!!!! Why??? Congress spent it and kicked the can down the road. Now it's Congress's problem to fix; FIX IT!!!!! Madoff tried the same thing on a smaller scale and he went to prison.

    Want to fix SS? Tax ALL income at 7.62%, tax all employers 7.62%; everyone, no exceptions and no income limits. Set an upper limit on the amount to be withdrawn; sorry about being rich but someone has to feed the system in order for underfunder to draw a check. Besides, what does a multi millionaire need with SS anyway?

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 5:32 p.m.

    Pete1215 | 4:22 p.m. Jan. 9, 2012

    Thanks, Pete. There are many off topic, irrelevant diatribes posted that will not address the budget crisis. No wonder things don't move forward.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 5:28 p.m.

    I think a means test is a pretty good start. Eliminate the oprahs. But that won't save much. How about eliminating medicare and health insurance and creating health care?

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Jan. 9, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    We are 15,000,000,000,000 dollars in debt and shooting for 20. This mathematical insanity must stop. We need our politicians to map out an actual path to sanity. Then we need to follow that course. Or we will be subject to the results of not managing this mess.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 4:16 p.m.

    **'Bush signs $700 billion bailout bill' - AP - Published by Denver Post - By Tom Raum - 10/03/08

    WASHINGTON President Bush quickly signed into law a far-reaching $700 billion bill to bail out the nation's tottering financial industry, calling it "essential to helping America's economy" weather the storm.

    Auto bailout:

    **'Bush signs $17.4 billion auto industry bailout package' - By Nelson Ireson - Motor Authority - 12/19/08

  • David G. Pace SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 3:37 p.m.

    I think Bennett is very sensible in this article, not to mention his clear description, in clear language about the predicament. I do, however, object to the term "entitlement" when referring to Social Security. I think it's better to call this program "earned benefits." I paid into that fund. "Entitlement" has a derogatory ring to it, and more to the point, it isn't accurate.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 3:14 p.m.

    Start with reducing the pension and benefits to Senators that were supposedly on duty durning the financial meltdown.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 3:08 p.m.

    "howmany children did your grandfather have"
    Three.

    ", and where is he living currently. "

    With his ex-wife.

    "Why is it that your aunts and uncles are unwilling to dip into their own savings to help?"

    They aren't wealthy at all and hardly have any savings of their own. My mom is teetering close to having her home foreclosed on. My uncle has spent thousands and thousands of hours providing care to his father.

    "Why are you not willing to help where you can? "

    I'm a college student in Utah getting an education. Penn State tuition made me poor and I'm 2000 miles away from him. There's not really much of anything I can do.

    Though it's nice to see your first reaction is to blame others than to accept the notion that your plan does not work in some cases.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    Jan. 9, 2012 2:08 p.m.

    All we need to do to extend Social Security's life is raise/eliminate the income cap as Reagan did. This is preferable to means testing, which hurts people at the margin and those who live in states with high cost-of-living.

    The real monster we need to focus on is medical costs and the future of Medicare.

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 2:04 p.m.

    Good points Bob but you missed the real issue- it is all Pres. Obama's fault- see when he was born he tipped the scales and now all this imbalance has occured- clearly the next Pres. will be able to solve all of this because he will convince each gneration to give up what it has paid into and all of this without taxing anyone one cent more (ohh I forgot Pres. Obama has reduced taxes since elected as well- looks like cuts alone will solve our problems) see I knew you were wrong Bob- how silly of you to be rational in all of this

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 2:00 p.m.

    Ending benefits for legislators may satisfy the needed to punish, but it won't solve the budget crisis. Actuarial calculations can't be ignored regarding level of benefits, life expectancy and retirement age. It's time for rational action.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 1:38 p.m.

    entitlement restructuring??? Wait - I thought we had plenty of money for entitlements after all we just passed Obamacare - the biggest entitlement since social security. According to Obama all we need to do is increase taxes and problem solved. Pretty simple. Those pesky Republicans are always trying to pay as we go and that just doesn't work in the socialist model. As former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said "socialism is great until you run out of other peoples money". Well the money hole has dried up and reality is finally starting to set it..even for some of the Obama Zombie crowd.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 12:40 p.m.

    To "Irony Guy | 10:33 a.m." yes lets look at Dickens. Lets use A Christmas Carol to see the difference between letting the government take care of people vs. doing it our selves.

    When scrooge is confronted to personally help the poor, he asks if the poor houses can take care of them (this is the government). He was like many liberals, not willing to commit himself personally to helping the poor because the government did that for him.

    Then, once he realized that he needed to personally become involved, he took it upon himself to help Tiny Tim, and ensure that his medical problems were resolved. He also personally paid for the Christmas meal he took to the Cratchets. Once he became personally involved, he was happy and helped to lift the people around him out of poverty.

    To "atl134 | 11:14 a.m." and howmany children did your grandfather have, and where is he living currently. Why is it that your aunts and uncles are unwilling to dip into their own savings to help? Why are you not willing to help where you can?

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 12:20 p.m.

    Redshirt.

    1. Actually, I said: It just might be promoting the general welfare if we prevent people from making decisions that will harm themselves.

    Meaning that the government would force people to provide for their retirement. Meaning that the decision for a person to not provide for retirement could harm that person himself.

    2. Cannibalism has occurred in such cases.

    3. I do not agree, in the context where it is used, it is not limited.

    3. It is the failure of private enterprise to serve the needs and wants of society that might bring a socialist state, or even possibly a dictatorial government.

    4. I believe that the purpose of government is to protect the people, mostly from each other. I dont think it needs to use force for the most part, but the merely the influence of unpleasant consequences.

    4 Yes, I DO NOT believe that people are inherently good and would take care of their neighbors.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 11:28 a.m.

    I agree that senators and congressman should not have the perk retirement that they have; however the reason that they have what they have, is because they have not messed with social security and Medicare.
    Those currently retired will keep them in, as long as they continue to pretend that the emperor is wearing clothes
    We have known since the 80s the social security and Medicare was doomed.
    There are too many people retiring, and not enough putting money in.
    It has been known that anyone born after the 1960s were not going to receive benefits, unless some things were changed.
    Nothing has been done to fix the problem; everyone has passed the problem on.
    Everytime a politician has brought up changing, or reducing benefits, they are quickly silenced.
    It is immoral to require young workers to continue to pay into a system that is collapsing.
    When social security was created the elderly were the poorest in our society, they are now the richest.
    Why do we take the richest group in our society, and give them money from poor workers?

  • UT Brit London, England
    Jan. 9, 2012 11:21 a.m.

    @banderson

    "except the opportunity to correct them as we do"

    Please do explain further, how much time have you spent in Europe exactly and in which countries?

    "morals and wealth creation"

    Again after outlining some pretty damning points about the state of US morals you bring it up again, those in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks. I am also curious about the wealth creation bit considering there are countries in Western Europe that trounce the US when it comes to GDP and debt levels.

    You lost me after the choice bit, I will agree with you there. There are some in the States who love to portray the countries in Europe as some sort of den of iniquity. When factual, hard evidence shows the exact opposite they like to sweep it under the rug.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 11:17 a.m.

    Somehow most of my first comment got lost. Anyway I have a 3 point plan to keep social security balanced
    -means testing so that those that made over 1 million the current year don't get social security that year, >250k gets half the normal amount
    -increasing the payroll tax cap so that 90% of income each year is subject to it (this is how it was done before but since then it's slipped to lower percentages subject to it)
    -reducing benefits 2% and then using normal annual increases from those reduced benefit levels, an amount that isn't too harmful, but also saves about 10-15 billion a year each year

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 11:14 a.m.

    @Redshirt
    My grandfather is not wealthy, they got by and weren't living an extravagant lifestyle or anything close to it, and didn't have a large retirement fund as a result. He suffers from Parkinson's which over the past... goodness, 15 years, has required ever-increasing amounts of care and of course is advanced enough that it has been at least a dozen years since it would even be reasonable to think of him being able to have a job. His children are all lower middle class so it's not like they have the ability to pay for his care without gov't help. So do you think it's okay for my grandfather to die due to a lack of ability to afford access to care?

    I don't understand conservatives sometimes. You trumpet the "right to life" when talking about the unborn but not after.

    "You do not believe that people are inherantly good and would take care of their neighbors. "

    They have their own problems they'd have to deal with under your system, saving money in case they get expensive diseases. Also, your plan only gets money to those with personal connections to funding which leaves people behind.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 11:08 a.m.

    I'll agree to entitlement restructuring only when repubs agree to eliminating tax loopholes, getting rid of tax cuts for corporations, eliminating subsidies to big oil and big agriculture, bringing tax rates back up to the 90s, NO MORE BAILOUTS, getting rid of ALL foreign aid, and when we cut defense spending to half of what it is today.

    Until then, sorry!

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 11:06 a.m.

    "...They have given up the ship of morals creation...".

    What exactly is the ship of morals creation?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 11:02 a.m.

    There should be some sort of reasonable means testing. Like say if you make over a million dollars in any sort of income during the current year, you don't need social security, >250k but

  • Lowonoil Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 10:50 a.m.

    I realized as a young worker in the Eighties that Social Security was unsustainable and destined to end badly. I started then to plan for a secure retirement even if I was not able to recover a single cent of the countless thousands I would pay into the system over my career. Now when I retire in five or ten more years, I will be entitled to a check I really don't need and would really rather see the money spent on those workers who were never paid enough to be able to retire without Social Security.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 10:40 a.m.

    On one side of the fence are those who work; on the other, those who are retired. Workers both produce and consume goods and services, and when the level of production is greater than the level of consumption, wealth is created. Retirees only consume, so on their side of the fence, wealth is used up.
    QUOTE

    The whole premise is a lie.

    Actually if there is a fence it is between the non-productive and the productive but this does not translate to those working and those retired.

    The line, the fence, is actually and really between those who work unproductively or counter-productively and those who live off their current earnings or their investments (including the massive 12.8% per paycheck forced investment of social security).

    This produces an entirely different and an accurate dichotomy:

    On one side of the fence are those employed in parasitic occupations, bureaucrats, politicians etc, including Bennett, and on the other side those employed in productive occupations and those retired on their savings, investments, and insurance including the mandated Social Security payments adjusted for inflation.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2012 10:33 a.m.

    Again, I encourage Red Shirt to read Dickens and find out what the world used to look like when "inherantly (sic) good people took care of their neighbors."
    Or not.
    Interesting how my loudly right-wing uncle stopped complaining about entitlements for lazy people when he had a heart attack and Medicare paid his $100,000 hospital bill...

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 10:27 a.m.

    Ut. Brit: Oh, wait a minute. You about had us fooled. We just about took the bait! Yes, America has many of the problems that you outlined, and a lot more. All that is the result of choice. Yes, America has all been about choice. You make bad choices, you get a bad result. You make good choices, you get a good result. Europe has all the problems we have and many more, except the opportunity to correct them as we do. They have given up the ship of morals and wealth creation, something that America hasn't completely done,except for those who no longer believe in choice and want government to make those choices for them. No thanks. Liberty is still the best hope for a bright future.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 10:22 a.m.

    To "Ultra Bob | 10:08 a.m." so what you are saying is that I have no need to actually plan for retirement, and that you (or your children) will take care of me through the force of law.

    So you think that retirees will resort to cannibalism if we phased out Social Security and Medicare? Isn't that a scare tactic?

    FYI, the general welfare clause only referrs to those specific duties of congress as outlined in the constitution. Otherwise, it could be used to establish a socialist state all under the name "general welfare".

    But to summarize your statements, you would use force to ensure that everybody is taken care of. You do not believe that people are inherantly good and would take care of their neighbors.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 10:08 a.m.

    RedShirt.

    If you phase out all the entitlements of our government, our government would no longer exist.

    And even adults have been known to resort to killing and eating each other to avoid the consequence of starving. So do you take away their freedom when young to spend or take away their freedom to kill people when they are starving.

    Force.

    The only things we are forced to do is those things that alleviate pain or uncontrollable desire in our own physical body, and also the natural processes of birth. Eating is one of those things.

    Everything else that we do, we do voluntarily as the result of choosing between consequences.

    Consequences are mostly peculiar to ourselves. In our own mind, we decide the weight and importance of different consequences. Even though the value of different consequences may be different for different people, that particular person makes their own choice.

    It just might be promoting the general welfare if we prevent people from making decisions that will harm themselves.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Jan. 9, 2012 9:52 a.m.

    I would suggest anyone commenting about Congress' benefits to first inform themselves.

    Suggested reading at senate gov: "CRS Report for Congress Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress."

  • UT Brit London, England
    Jan. 9, 2012 9:42 a.m.

    @bandersen

    Yes those filthy European morals, European countries have the highest:

    Divorce rate
    Teenage pregnancy
    2nd highest number of abortions
    Largest producers and consumers of porn
    DUI's
    Rate of STD's
    Largest prison population in the world

    Oh wait a minute.......America has all those prodigious titles!!! What was that about morals again?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 9:15 a.m.

    FDR fan: So, what is it about the European financial crisis, not to mention the morals, and socialistic ideas do you like? America has succeeded beyond any historical marker anywhere and yet there are those who refuse to acknowledge how that came about!

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    Hey Bob, how about we phase out the entitlements, and let people be responsible for their own lives?

    If people don't want to save for their retirement, that is ok, they are adults and are capable of dealing with the consequences.

    It will take a generation to get this country back on course, but we can't do it with people looking to the government to solve their personal problems or to bail them out.

    Freedom is not just measured in what we are allowed to do, but it is also measured on what consequences we are allowed to suffer when we fail to plan.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 8:31 a.m.

    The majority of our long term deficits are produced by ever rising health care costs. A much better way to reduce entitlement spending would be to get our health care costs down to the level of the rest of the developed world.

    Just getting our per-capita costs down to the level of Switzerland, which spends the second highest amount after us, would be the equivalent of getting all our defense spending for free.

  • FDRfan safety dictates, ID
    Jan. 9, 2012 8:13 a.m.

    No, I'm not buying this cavalier patronistic explanation from the former Senator. Are you?

    Yes I am. It is alarming that this type of sane reasoning has been replaced in Washington.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    Here is the truth of the matter: Explanations of why one shouldn't be crossing a raging river do little good for the person in the middle of the river. Congress, of which Senator Bennett and a whole host of other representatives, did little about our current problem except wave a hand, collect a check, and moved on to another "partisan" issue, without returning to fundamental principles to set our nation on a different course. Those fundamental principles, Constitutional principles, would have made a difference. Government should never have been into socialistic ideas from the start. I am no leader, but I expect those who want to lead to do so. No, I'm not buying this cavalier patronistic explanation from the former Senator. Are you?

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    Jan. 9, 2012 7:30 a.m.

    Robert Bennett thinks "U.S. needs entitlement restructuring?." But that's not telling us this. In todays real world, it's about these cafeteria style Constitutionalist that uses their political theories if and when it fits them and when it effects them alone, with a no waiting staff table service, their private Patroit restaurant or within an institution of the Tea Party. That's what they think is their "Constitutionalist Platform" is to spout off about. But here's what's really wrong. They never discuss ways to work together to restore our Constitutional Republic. Then a Revolution consisting of mainly middle-class urbanites, liberals, and intellectuals stand up and say "HEY", the rich get richer, we get poorer. Congress wants their votes, and they can't think beyond their nose. If a Bank loans you money, you have to pay it back, NOW, if the same bank loans K Street, Wall Street money, GOP deregulations says it's ok, keep it, get filthy rich off of it, stuff it in off shore tax safe havens, don't use it to create jobs, we want Obama to fail, and they go along with the Koch Brother's wishes, that feeds them, and don't pay it back. Congress restructuring?.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 7:22 a.m.

    Lets start by restructuring the Health and Retirement entitlements of our Congressmen/women and Senators.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 6:38 a.m.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Bennett's assessment. The problem now becomes where do you draw that line as to who receives and who does not receive. What politician is going to say to that person who has contributed mightily to their reelection campaign "Hey Bob, don't forget me when you draw that line. Draw it so that I am just under it."

  • md Cache, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 6:24 a.m.

    Senator Bennett,
    Another way to decrease spending is to eliminate all benefits that we pay to former congressmen. I believe that we are paying too many federal employees pensions that "statesmen" like Ben Franklin felt they shouldn't be paid. Why is it fair for people who pay into the system to not have a return on their investment? Regardless of their wealth, this is another way our government is penalizing success. I don't like Oprah, but I believe she deserves the option of receiving her SS money when she is eligible. The government can't continue to give so many entitlements. This is what is ruining our country.
    Term limits.
    Flat tax.
    Simplify and reduce the IRS.
    Reward success.
    Penalize laziness.
    Simple.

  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 5:44 a.m.

    The same logic should apply to our State Legislature.

    Have our local representatives voted themselfs benefits more luxurious than that of the people they represent?

    Can any one tell me how many years do our State Senators and State Representatives need to be in the legislature to get State Health insurance for themselves and their families for life when they are no longer in the legislature?

    It seems to me other state employees do not have this benefit nor does private industry.

    You do not have that benefit Oh that's to bad. But you voted them in office didn't you?

  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2012 5:29 a.m.

    I have a simple solution to the problems of Medicare and Social Security.

    Require Senators and Congressmen to be covered only by Medicare and Social
    Security!

    Some how I think they might find a way to fund both of these programs.

    Rather than give money away over seas or being the world's policeman and fighting preemptive wars (Iraq or Iran) they might be more included to fully fund their own health care and retirement payments.

    As it stands now they are insulated from any of the cuts they propose.
    They easily yield to most of the pressure groups who want special treatment or federal money. Most pride them selves with their ability to earmark funds for special interests.

    Each new candidate should be asked to sign a pledge stating that he or she supports this idea that along with term limitations should handle this problem.

    It is doubtful that this will originate with them it needs to be forced on them.