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Dec 23, 2008

AFL-CIO Calls For More Funding For Social Security

The Obama transition is posting documents and position papers it receives from organizations. The AFL-CIO has submitted a paper dealing with Social Security. They recommend a higher "replacement rate" for Social Security, that is higher Social Security benefits. That is unlikely to happen, but the AFL-CIO's justification is not without merit. Traditional pensions are disappearing. Most employer-based retirement plans now are defined contribution plans, such as 401Ks. Such plans do not guarantee retirement income in the way that traditional pensions do. Social Security benefits are more important than ever.

Of more immediate interest, AFL-CIO recommends higher funding for the Social Security Administration. It recommends achieving this by taking Social Security's administrative expenses "off-budget," so the agency's operating budget does not count against the unified federal budget. My guess, or perhaps hope, is that a number of other groups may recommend the same thing. AFL-CIO advises that Social Security's "focus on electronic filings and new requirements that claimants perform functions formerly provided by SSA staff should be reversed."

Somewhat embarrassingly, AFL-CIO told the transition team that "An immediate decision for the next President will be who should lead the Social Security Administration." Actually, no. While the new President can appoint a new Deputy Commissioner for Social Security, Michael Astrue can stay on as Commissioner of Social Security for another four years and, apparently, plans to do so.

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