Daily Digest: Social Security, prisoners in Iran, city budgets

by Taryn Wobbema

Happy Monday morning! Here’s your Daily Digest for Sept. 13, 2010:

The White House has established an 18-member panel to find ways to make Social Security ready to handle the increase in adults entering retirement age. According to the New York Times, House minority leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio has suggested raising the retirement age as high as 70 in the next 20 years. Many Democrats have endorsed similar plans, the Times wrote. One expert said people are living longer, so providing benefits when they’re still young and healthy means “less [money is] available to them when they are older and frailer.” However, a study at the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that one in three American workers 58 years or older are working physically demanding jobs, “including hammering nails, bending under sinks, lifting baggage.” For those counting on Social Security once they hit 66 years, “raising the retirement age may mean squeezing more out of a declining body.” The panel will report by Dec. 1.  

Arrested more than a year ago, Sarah Shourd could be released from Iran within the next few days pending $500,000 bail. The Associated Press reported one of the three hikers who were arrested in July last year will be released due to health reasons. The two men – one of which is Shane Bauer, a Minnesotan – will remain in prison. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “personally promised” Shourd’s release over the weekend. Shourd was supposed to be released Saturday, but the country’s judiciary “rebuked” the president and set conditions for her release, including the bail amount. The three Americans are accused of illegally crossing the border and spying. Their families have been outspoken about their innocence, saying they were just hiking and must have crossed into Iran unwittingly.

According to the Star Tribune, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman are relying on the state to contribute the full amount of local government aid for their 2011 city budgets. Other cities, like Minnetonka, officials are expecting only a fraction or none at all. The state has cut funding from LGA the last three years. Under the LGA formula, Rybak expects $87.5 million and Coleman expects $62.2 million. If the state cuts again, based on last year’s actual figure, Minneapolis would face a $23 million shortfall. According to the article, the mayors may have done this for a couple reasons: to reinforce their expectations and to show citizens that it is the state’s fault when cuts are levied.