Carly Fiorina misses a golden opportunity and doesn’t understand the Social Security shortfall

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Carly Fiorina misses a golden opportunity and doesn't understand the Social Security shortfall

DSC01862

By Tim­o­thy Imholt PhD

Carly Fio­r­ina recently had a chance to put all the repub­li­can can­di­dates on the defen­sive and missed it. She struck out.

How did this happen?

I was recently in the audi­ence at an event hosted by Scott Brown with Carly Fio­r­ina address­ing a crowd of a few hun­dred indi­vid­u­als, some sup­port­ers, as well as some poten­tial sup­port­ers, all hop­ing to be able to see her talk and per­haps ask a ques­tion or two of their own.

One of the hard­est, so far undDSC01864iscussed prob­lems, the next Pres­i­dent will face is what to do about Social Secu­rity. I know the old joke, give it to old peo­ple. Ok, yes, let’s do that. Here is the prob­lem. There never has been a social secu­rity trust fund. That thing is a myth.

The way the sys­tem works is that today’s retirees are paid by today’s work­ers. I do not begrudge peo­ple this pro­gram, as they paid into it when they worked. So please don’t say I’m against it. I think it is there, it exists, and as such we need to pay atten­tion to the thing to make sure it is functional.

Here is the issue. The deduc­tions com­ing off of every work­ing American’s check going into the pro­gram fall around 10% short of what is cur­rently being paid out. That is as of late 2015. That num­ber, accord­ing to CBO pro­jec­tions, only gets worse every year from this point for­ward into the fore­see­able future.

She got the ques­tion from an elderly gen­tle­man who was con­cerned that the check may get cut, stop com­ing, or annual increases could become a thing of the past.

Admit­tedly this is a very hard prob­lem to solve, but Carly had no idea what to do. It was like she didn’t see this one com­ing, although it has been in the news for a long time.

Her answer (I will para­phrase) ram­bled around and become a polit­i­cal non-​answer. It was also strange to lis­ten to it at some­thing called the DSC01857No B.S. Back­yard BBQ, but we will let that go.

She started by say­ing that American’s by a large mar­gin now think that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt. That per­cent­age is so large she said that we can’t even start to dig into that prob­lem until American’s faith is repaired.

Hey Carly, how about fix­ing prob­lems as a way to restore that faith…just a thought.

Sec­ond, she said that she would sit down with American’s of all ages to see what they want and expect out of that program.

Ok, sure, that’s a nice way of say­ing some­thing peo­ple want to hear while you fig­ure out where to go next.

The final part of this answer was that there are a lot of pro­posed solu­tions out there about the Social Secu­rity short­fall fill­ing these huge binders. She said that after restor­ing American’s faith in gov­ern­ment, and ask­ing them how much they want to get paid from the Social Secu­rity pro­gram (ok those were my words, she said ask American’s what they want out of the pro­gram, which in my mind amounts to how much do you expect to get paid.) Then she will sit down and fig­ure out which of those plans best solves the problems.

Hey Carly, if those plans worked, and Con­gress would pass them, they would be in place. Also, ask Mitt Rom­ney how well com­ments about binders full of some­thing goes over with the vot­ing public.

The remain­der of this answer was some men­tion of zero based bud­get­ing (which I think is a good idea). How­ever, div­ing into a talk about the main gov­ern­men­tal bud­get when talk­ing about Social Secu­rity also seems like a bit of a ram­ble, but we shall leave that alone.

The only con­clu­sion I can draw from these ram­bling answer is that Carly has no idea what to do about the short­fall in this pro­gram or any other for that mat­ter. She couldn’t bring her­self to say we need to cut this, or cut some other pro­gram and beef this one up. The only other option is rais­ing taxes or the retire­ment age. But she avoided say­ing any­thing bad opt­ing for a ram­bling non-​answer.

Now, I will be the first to admit that a fix to this par­tic­u­lar prob­lem is not easy or pain­less. Men­tion­ing that the fix will cause pain to vot­ers will not make her pop­u­lar so per­haps it was best to dodge the ques­tion I would have pre­ferred some­one who used to be a CEO to put it on the line. Say we have four poten­tial things (maybe there are more these are just examples):

  • raise the retire­ment age
  • increase SSN taxes
  • means test­ing for payees
  • raise the retire­ment age

Let her, or any other can­di­date, come out and say some com­bi­na­tion of those things will have to hap­pen and then let the other pri­mary can­di­dates answer the “hey Carly Fio­r­ina said” ques­tion from the press. Instead a golden oppor­tu­nity was missed and we are still not talk­ing about one of the larger prob­lems fac­ing the aging population.

Hey Carly (and every­one else in the field on both sides of the polit­i­cal spec­trum), lead­ers have to face uncom­fort­able ques­tions. Be a leader, get a plan on this sub­ject, put it out and make it part of the dis­cus­sion. Amer­i­cans like lead­ers. The way you answered this ques­tion did not say much in my mind to your lead­er­ship skills when it comes to the dif­fi­cult to cope with solu­tions. Not all answers will be pop­u­lar if you are a good leader, that is just part of the deal. All can­di­dates must under­stand that sit­u­a­tion, and you as well as most of the oth­ers, so far are avoid­ing the tough­est ones.

DSC01862

By Timothy Imholt PhD

Carly Fiorina recently had a chance to put all the republican candidates on the defensive and missed it. She struck out.

How did this happen?

I was recently in the audience at an event hosted by Scott Brown with Carly Fiorina addressing a crowd of a few hundred individuals, some supporters, as well as some potential supporters, all hoping to be able to see her talk and perhaps ask a question or two of their own.

One of the hardest, so far undDSC01864iscussed problems, the next President will face is what to do about Social Security. I know the old joke, give it to old people. Ok, yes, let’s do that. Here is the problem. There never has been a social security trust fund. That thing is a myth.

The way the system works is that today’s retirees are paid by today’s workers. I do not begrudge people this program, as they paid into it when they worked. So please don’t say I’m against it. I think it is there, it exists, and as such we need to pay attention to the thing to make sure it is functional.

Here is the issue. The deductions coming off of every working American’s check going into the program fall around 10% short of what is currently being paid out. That is as of late 2015. That number, according to CBO projections, only gets worse every year from this point forward into the foreseeable future.

She got the question from an elderly gentleman who was concerned that the check may get cut, stop coming, or annual increases could become a thing of the past.

Admittedly this is a very hard problem to solve, but Carly had no idea what to do. It was like she didn’t see this one coming, although it has been in the news for a long time.

Her answer (I will paraphrase) rambled around and become a political non-answer. It was also strange to listen to it at something called the DSC01857No B.S. Backyard BBQ, but we will let that go.

She started by saying that American’s by a large margin now think that the Federal Government is corrupt. That percentage is so large she said that we can’t even start to dig into that problem until American’s faith is repaired.

Hey Carly, how about fixing problems as a way to restore that faith…just a thought.

Second, she said that she would sit down with American’s of all ages to see what they want and expect out of that program.

Ok, sure, that’s a nice way of saying something people want to hear while you figure out where to go next.

The final part of this answer was that there are a lot of proposed solutions out there about the Social Security shortfall filling these huge binders. She said that after restoring American’s faith in government, and asking them how much they want to get paid from the Social Security program (ok those were my words, she said ask American’s what they want out of the program, which in my mind amounts to how much do you expect to get paid.) Then she will sit down and figure out which of those plans best solves the problems.

Hey Carly, if those plans worked, and Congress would pass them, they would be in place. Also, ask Mitt Romney how well comments about binders full of something goes over with the voting public.

The remainder of this answer was some mention of zero based budgeting (which I think is a good idea). However, diving into a talk about the main governmental budget when talking about Social Security also seems like a bit of a ramble, but we shall leave that alone.

The only conclusion I can draw from these rambling answer is that Carly has no idea what to do about the shortfall in this program or any other for that matter. She couldn’t bring herself to say we need to cut this, or cut some other program and beef this one up. The only other option is raising taxes or the retirement age. But she avoided saying anything bad opting for a rambling non-answer.

Now, I will be the first to admit that a fix to this particular problem is not easy or painless. Mentioning that the fix will cause pain to voters will not make her popular so perhaps it was best to dodge the question I would have preferred someone who used to be a CEO to put it on the line. Say we have four potential things (maybe there are more these are just examples):

  • raise the retirement age
  • increase SSN taxes
  • means testing for payees
  • raise the retirement age

Let her, or any other candidate, come out and say some combination of those things will have to happen and then let the other primary candidates answer the “hey Carly Fiorina said” question from the press. Instead a golden opportunity was missed and we are still not talking about one of the larger problems facing the aging population.

Hey Carly (and everyone else in the field on both sides of the political spectrum), leaders have to face uncomfortable questions. Be a leader, get a plan on this subject, put it out and make it part of the discussion. Americans like leaders. The way you answered this question did not say much in my mind to your leadership skills when it comes to the difficult to cope with solutions. Not all answers will be popular if you are a good leader, that is just part of the deal. All candidates must understand that situation, and you as well as most of the others, so far are avoiding the toughest ones.