Digby blogged yesterday about President Obama's six principles for reforming Social Security which were included in the president's budget proposal.
• Any reform should strengthen Social Security for future generations and restore long-term solvency.
• The Administration will oppose any measures that privatize or weaken the Social Security system.
• While all measures to strengthen solvency should be on the table, the Administration will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.
• No current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced.
• Reform should strengthen retirement security for the most
vulnerable, including low-income seniors.
• Reform should maintain robust disability and survivors’ benefits.
No privatizing, no slashes in benefits for current or future retirees, no elimination or reduction of survivor's benefits or those on disability.
I may have been too quick in pre-emptively criticizing Obama for wanting to cut Social Security. He's the guy, however, who single handedly appointed the Deficit Commission after Congress told him to take a hike. The dynamic duo of Erskine Bowles and Alan "Tits" Simpson were very clear in their consensus desire to cut, cut, cut Social Security. Simpson, the very serious guy that he is, said seniors should take cuts because....well....they drive Cadillacs down to Denny's for the senior special.....or something.
But according to yesterday's Obama-budget release.....cuts to SS ain't happening.
As I read between the lines of the 6 principles......all I can deduce is that the cap on Social Security wages should be raised, and possibly.....because of the line that states, "Reform should strengthen retirement security for the most vulnerable, including low-income seniors"....some means testing, or taxing, of affluent senior's SS.
This is as it should be. Social Security does not add to the deficit nor the debt, is flush until 2037 at the earliest, and would provide 80% of benefits promised after that.....IF NOTHING EVER CHANGED.
It is absolutely not true, and never has been true, that Social Security is going bankrupt or that there won't be any money in Social Security for future generations of retirees. Yet Americans think this.....
Seventy-seven percent of likely voters believe Social Security is in trouble, while just 15 percent believe the program is financially sound.
Americans think this way because they have been propagandized to think this way. Just like with Iraq and WMD....if it's said enough times, people believe it, whether it's true or not. If there is one topic on which the bloated, stench-filled Village of media and political analyst-whores agree on......it's that "entitlements" like Social Security need cutting. The truth of the matter be damned.
Now.....why is this the case? Why are conservatives, Republicans, some Democrats and the Village so keen on slashing a social program which doesn't add to the debt or deficit?
One reason is political. Social Secuity came out of the New Deal. It is the product of Democrats. People love the Social Security program. If conservatives and Republicans could damage, or roll back SS in some significant way....then they think they could put a dent in the Democratic base of voters.
The other reason is good old greed. In today's declining America, the wealthy are entitled to all they can possibly get....all, of course, subject to historically low tax rates. As we've seen in the Corrupt-o-thon Compromise at the end of December.....nothing really matters to those on the right except tax cuts, and specifically tax cuts on the wealthiest.
Because both parties, over decades, have borrowed from surplus SS funds to make it look like deficits were lower than they were, and because both parties continued to overspend (to be fair, Republicans more than Democrats).....government must pay back those borrowed SS funds to honor it's obligations the next 30 years to retiring boomers.
When conservatives and everyone at Fox, etc....wax all excitedly about cutting SS....they're telling their audiences that they do not want to pay back the SS fund, they want to renege on their obligations to pay back what was taken out of SS.
Why? Because honoring SS obligations down the road will most likely include raising the SS cap.....affecting those who make more than $106K per year....and.....honoring our obligations to SS would mean that income and other tax rates would have to be raised on the wealthy to honor those obligations. All that borrowed money has to be repaid somehow. Without raising tax revenues, the SS fund can't be repaid, as it were.
Republicans and conservatives don't want to repay the funds borrowed from SS.....and so they misinform Americans by telling us that those T-bills which stand in as promissory notes of our intent to repay SS.....are worhtless IOU's. If they say it enough....and they have.....then, eventually, 77% of Americans believe the lie.
But it's still a lie. Good on Obama for not caving to the lie....at least, not yet.
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