Friday, August 13, 2010

After 75 Years, Social Security Still Threatened by Republicans

The Democrats are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Social Security. At a time when Republicans are doing their best to kill pensions for workers, social security is more important than ever for widows, the elderly and the disabled. These are the hidden citizens of America, most of whom have worked hard all their lives. These are the people Republicans would like to forget. Democrats know better. Here's the story from The Boston Globe:
“Social security was something that my grandfather viewed as a key part of his legacy, just as universal health care is going to be a key part of President Obama’s legacy,” said [James] Roosevelt in a conference call Friday afternoon with reporters and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine.

Roosevelt and Kaine pledged to protect Social Security as a public program, especially in light of cries for privatization this election season from Republicans like Sharron Angle of Nevada and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

As far as I can tell, the primary reason Republican politicians are pushing for the privatization of social security is that they want campaign contributions from conservative stock brokers who would obviously have a piece of the action. This, of course, is not about helping the American people. This is about raw politics, power and greed. Nothing more.

I have no idea what to make of people like Sharon Angle. Here's an AP article where she's peddling Republican talking points:
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle says the nation's Social Security system needs to be privatized, and that it was done before in the South American country of Chile.

What does Sharon Angle know about Social Security? Does she know the history of workers in our country? How do people like Sharon Angle get nominated? She has repeatedly said things in the past few months that reveal a lack of knowledge across a wide area of subjects. So obviously, after a series of blunders, she's now being stage-managed by her Republican advisers at this point. Who's advising her? At two or three removes, I suspect sociopaths like Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich are peddling this stuff. If the word, 'sociopath,' seems strong, note that Gingrich's ex-wife quotes Gingrich's staff as saying "he's a sociopath, but he's our sociopath" (It's not the only time the word has been tied to Gingrich). Is that what people want? Republican puppets who spew all the talking points without having the foggiest idea what they're talking about?

I hate to be harsh but I recently had to read a paper by a young person who got bamboozled by a lot of nonsense being posted on the Internet. This person has no stake in the social security 'debate' and simply used the Internet for research. If one simply Googles the words, 'is social security bankrupt,' the problem quickly becomes apparent. The sky is falling crowd of Republicans has dozens of papers attempting to scare people into believing that social security will go bankrupt in 2010, 2012 or 2016. Again, I would prefer to take a more thoughtful approach, but when you read the stuff, it's just fraud, lies and nonsense.

One could argue that the Great Recession that was brought to us by George W. Bush might have been deep enough to damage Social Security. But in fact Social Security has weathered the crisis fairly well. Here's a story from the Los Angeles Times about the recently released annual report of the Social Security Trustees:
In recent years, during which conservatives have intensified their efforts to destroy one of the few U.S. government programs that actually works as intended, the report's publication has become an occasion for hand-wringing and crocodile tears over the (supposedly) parlous state of the system's finances.

This year's report, which came out Thursday, is no exception. Within minutes of its release, some analysts were claiming that it projected a "shortfall" for Social Security this year of $41 billion.

(snip)

Before we get to the bogus math behind that statement — which doesn't actually appear in the report — let's look at the encouraging findings by the agency's trustees, who include the secretaries of Labor, the Treasury, and Health and Human Services.

The trustees indicated that the program has made it through the worst economic downturn in its life span essentially unscathed. In fact, by at least one measure it's fiscally stronger than a year ago: Its projected actuarial deficit over the next 75 years (a measurement required by law) is smaller now than a year ago.

When one sees crocodile tears from Republicans, be sure to look closely for the dollar signs in their eyes. They keep thinking of the hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of dollars that might flow in from those stock brokers wanting to cash in on the privatization of social security.

Now these guys won't set up those private accounts for free (why do you think they're salivating?). But they were certainly ready to charge their fees back in 2005—except that Bush wasn't able to pass social security privatization. Too bad. Think of all that money investors might have made between late 2007 and early 2009 during the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. Those are funny folks who run the Republican Party these days.

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