Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Place your bets
- About that Social Security increase
- Debate chatter
Pop your popcorn and grab your computer
Go to newsday.com/debatechat Wednesday night to watch the presidential debate with columnists Lane Filler, William F. B. O’Reilly, Mike Vogel and Cathy Young. You can view the live commentary and analysis on your cellphone, tablet or computer. We also made a debate bingo game to play — with a twist.
Social Security math
The Social Security cost-of-living increase next year will be only 0.3 percent, or an average of $3.92 per month. In those 30 days, that will allow the recipient to buy one Lipitor pill, two small coffees at Starbucks (not a big frothy drink) or eight first-class postage stamps.
Unfortunately, though, the vast majority of recipients won’t net a penny more. The $3.92 increase will be eaten up by increases in the cost of Medicare Part B plans, which most recipients have deducted directly from their monthly checks. Thanks to the “hold harmless” law passed in 1988, recipients will not see their net go down because of a Medicare Part B increase.
If you’re still working, low inflation doesn’t mean the bite out of your paycheck will stay steady in 2017. The current income cap of $118,500 for payroll deductions will rise 7.3 percent to $127,200. Employees earning more than $127,200 will contribute an extra $539.40, as will their employers.
Rules on the income contribution cap are complex, but this much is simple: The cap was $102,000 when the recession hit in 2008. Had the cap followed the same rules as Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, the income cap would be only $115,000 next year.
Off to the races
Money talks, so as the final presidential debate approaches Wednesday night in Las Vegas, the world’s wagering capital, it seems only reasonable that we’d check in with the predictive gambling markets.
In the past few days, the wager pricing on the presidential race has stabilized, with most of the big sites offering the same spread.
Hillary Clinton is a 4-1 favorite to win the election. At PredictIt, a political prediction website, “shares” of Clinton can be purchased for 82 cents, while those for Donald Trump can be gotten for 20 cents. After the election, winners would be paid $1 for each share bought. In football parlance, that makes Trump about a 12-point underdog to Clinton.
All that money is saying that Republicans will keep the House of Representatives. A bet that Democrats will take the gavel will pay about 4-1.
Republicans’ odds on keeping the Senate are pretty poor. Those who want to bet on GOP control can buy a share with a $1 payoff for 28 cents. Those wagering that Democrats will take the chamber must pay 72 cents in the hope of cashing for $1.