Legal help for poor stretched thin

Staff and wire reports ALBUQUERQUE — One of New Mexico’s largest organizations for getting legal help to the poor plans to lay off up to a fifth of its work force because of budget cuts or shortfalls. Legal Aid of New Mexico has announced it will lay off at least 10 and perhaps as many […]

United Airlines should face up to its mistakes

Freedom Newspapers One of the core foundations of the free market system is the idea that businesses should be able to fail. If a company makes poor choices, poor investments or offers poor services or products, it will not make money and will, ultimately, shut its doors. Like almost all airlines, United Airlines was hurt […]

Bush needs more than showmanship to meet term goals

Freedom Newspapers It is odd, in a way, for the media to deal with events such as President Bush’s news conference Thursday evening like theatrical performances. The AP story, for example, noted “At times, he twisted the toe of his shoe on the carpeted riser.” Perhaps such reviews are appropriate, however. Like most presidential appearances, […]

4/12 Letters to the editor

Investing could save Social Security For those who don’t know, Social Security is financed mostly by a “pay-as-you-go” program. Most of the payroll taxes collected from workers is used to pay the benefits of those who are currently retired. Social Security was enacted in 1935. The life expectancy then was only 63 years of age […]

Social Security needs debate, not demagogy

Freedom Newspapers Despite the rhetorical drubbing President George W. Bush has taken from Democrats and others opposed to his plans to reform Social Security, the president actually might still have the upper hand. The system’s trustees reported last month that the date of doom — the year Social Security pays out more than it takes […]

Officers oppose two-tiered death benefits

Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist The vice chiefs of armed forces gave a frosty reception to a Defense Department plan that would raise the military’s $12,400 death gratuity to $100,000 but only for survivors of service members who die in combat areas. In testimony last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the second-highest ranking officers […]

Views of Social Security wildly different

By Steve Chapman Listening to liberals and conservatives bicker about Social Security is like hearing someone talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Their perceptions are so different that it’s hard to remember they are both talking about the same thing. Liberals see it as a sacred social welfare program that shields the elderly and […]

Wal-Mart makes efforts to sway public opinion

CNJ staff After winning the war for the public’s dollars, Wal-Mart has launched a battle for public opinion. And after years of simply rolling with the punches of those who’ve been warning the retail giant is destroying everything from our neighborhoods to the nation’s economy, it’s about time. In full-page newspaper ads, Wal-Mart President and […]

Increase in death benefits on the table

By Tom Philpott Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Defense Department officials have negotiated a proposed increase in military death benefits that would boost total payments to survivors of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by $238,000. The higher payments would be made retroactive to the start of the war in Afghanistan, in the fall […]

Privatization is independence for our future

CNJ staff Part of President Bush’s recent economic summit involved a possible overhaul of Social Security. Long considered untouchable for politicians who hoped to be re-elected, Social Security is approaching insolvency in the foreseeable future, prompting Bush and others to take another look at the program. Although Social Security has enough to pay benefits now, […]

Year ends with pay and benefit gains

by Tom Philpott A lame-duck and bitterly divided Congress found comity enough in mid-November to pass three bills that will raise veterans’ benefits, improve pay for VA doctors and strengthen veterans’ legal rights. The bills cap another year of solid pay and benefit gains for a military community that lawmakers recognize is under enormous strain. […]

Social Security needs to be fixed now

by John Bussian, Guest Columnist Were the country not at war, easily the biggest issue in the presidential campaign would be President Bush’s plan to save Social Security benefits for younger workers. The issue isn’t just a curiosity, to see if the plan would work. It is a necessity if workers below the age of […]

Recent benefits update was needed

by Tom Philpott Military survivor benefits for 270,000 elderly recipients, and the future value of the Survivor Benefit Plan for all beneficiaries, will begin to rise next October when the first of four special pay hikes takes effect. When the last one occurs, in April 2008, SBP annuities for older beneficiaries will have returned to […]

Plan’s changes don’t benefit spouses

By John Fondrick All the hoopla over the military’s Survivor Benefit Plan breaks down to political votes and whose pocket it will come out of. This is do-nothing, feel-good legislation so politicians can say “Look what I did for the veterans. Vote for me.” In reality, plans that call for increasing SBP benefits from 35 […]

Pentagon considers SBP reform options

By om Philpott: Military Update As House-Senate conferees prepare to deliberate differences in their separate plans for phasing out a sharp drop in military survivor benefits that occurs at age 62, the Bush administration says it has some “better alternatives” to improving the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Rather than phase out the age-62 drop in […]

Struggling Social Security program hurts golden years

CNJ Editorial It seems Americans have caught a break on Social Security. According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, the program isn’t going broke as fast as people thought. CBO estimates the so-called trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2052. That’s a decade beyond the estimates of Social Security trustees. Unfortunately, the most likely […]

DOD: Survivor Benefit Plan is costly

By Philpott: Military Update Defense officials, in a late-hour attempt to persuade senators not to join the House in voting to raise military survivor benefits, said the case for doing so has been built on a series of “mistaken assertions.” They also cautioned senators about the cost of enhancing the Survivor Benefit Plan’s $5 billion […]

County officials ask for dismissal of CNJ lawsuit

By Jack King: CNJ STAFF WRITER Curry County officials have filed two motions asking the court to dismiss the Clovis News Journal’s lawsuit against the county. The motions claim procedural errors were made when the newspaper asked for information about county employees’ wages and benefits. News Journal attorney Max Best said the issues covered in […]

New funds could reduce tax on benefits

Tom Philpott: Military update Using money unspent from a controversial Air Force tanker program, the House Armed Services Committee has voted for a speedier phase out of a sharp drop in survivor benefits for military widows and widowers at age 62. What lawmakers call the “widow’s tax” feature of the military Survivor Benefit Plan has […]

TRICARE contract plus for Standard users

Tom Philpott Military healthcare beneficiaries will be mailed information packets this year, explaining benefits under TRICARE, the triple-option health plan. The mailing will coincide with the June-through-November phase-in of new TRICARE support contracts, which will merge 11 stateside TRICARE regions into three, require all contractors to operate under the same rules and set contractor performance […]