Battle To Save Social Security Is Joined-- Republicans Making Their Move To Gut The Most Popular And Successful Government Program In History
After 8 years of Bush-Republican rule, there was certainly a lot in this country that needed Change. That has a great deal to do with why Obama is president and McCain isn't. Many people agree with the teabaggers that Change is still needed-- especially after a year of Wall Street hack Rahm Emanuel steering the Good Ship Lollipop-- but, clearly, the manipulation from above that marks American teabaggery is not the Change that those who elected Obama, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate had in mind. And the latest from the Wall Street special interests-- ostensibly from the lips of two of their favorite congressional puppets, Paul Ryan (R-WI-$1,726,095) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX-$2,440,100), but not anathema to just-as-favored Wall Street shills from the other side of the aisle like Rahm Emanuel (Beltway/Wall Street-$2,900,813) and Harold Ford (TN/Wall Street-$3,682,599)-- is to privatize (i.e.- gut, destroy, end) Social Security and Medicare.
One of the first Democratic candidates for Congress to have alerted me to this was Marcy Winograd, an intrepid challenger to reactionary Blue Dog Jane Harman here in California. Although Harman was not a co-sponsor of a resolution protecting Social Security from Wall Street predators and their Republican handmaidens, offered yesterday by fellow southern California colleague Linda Sánchez, within hours of her hearing about Winograd's response she will run around like a chicken without a head trying to sign on. (It happens with every issue Winograd leads on.) Marcy's reaction yesterday to the latest attempts to gut Social Security went right to the point:
Republican politicians anxious to privatize Social Security are free to invest their Social Security income in the stock market. Leave the rest of America alone, still able to enjoy the sunset years with a regular check earned over a lifetime of toil. You'd think GOP de-regulation fervor would have subsided with the sub-prime meltdown and its ripple effects on states and municipalities highly leveraged in bad securities, but apparently that's not the case. All this talk about Social Security going bankrupt ignores the fact that we have a Social Security Trust Fund with surplus dollars. If, as some contend, there's a problem 30 or 40 years down the road, then our children can raise the threshold for taxable social security income, which now tops out at a little over one-hundred thousand dollars per year. Democrats should steer clear of any commission to study Social Security. Another word for "study" is cut or privatize. In Congress, I will defend Social Security from efforts, be they Republican or Blue Dog Democrat, to jeopardize the greatest safety net to emerge from the New Deal-- Social Security.
This is hardly the first time the powers behind the status quo and their Republican puppets have been on the warpath against Social Security. When FDR signed the Social Security Act in 1935, a cornerstone of the New Deal which has served as a safety net for the elderly, it was being demonized by the far right in the exact same terms as it is today. Even when it passed, at the height of the Republican caused Great Depression, a third of GOP senators voted against it-- part of the reason why the Republican caucus in the Senate dropped from 25 to a nadir of 17. The same year the Republican rump in the House fell from 103 to 88 (20.2% of that body).
One of the reasons Bush lost the trust of the American people was his decision to use what he called his "political capital" to privatize Social Security. It was a bad bet and Bush became widely known as the worst president in American history. That didn't stop the GOP. Just last month their budget spokesperson, Wall Street's favorite shill, Paul Ryan, introduced an alternative budget proposal that sought to eliminate Medicare and privatize Social Security. In introducing her resolution, along with John Larson (D-CT), Congresswoman Sánchez pointed out what is obvious to most Americans whose brains haven't been rotted by too much Limbaugh and Fox News:
When the stock market crashed in 2008, it was apparent that the Republican’s push to privatize Social Security was a bad idea. Americans have not forgotten the dangers of tying their retirement security to the whims of Wall Street. It was a bad idea then, and it is a bad idea now. This resolution supports Americans who contribute all their working life to a retirement and want income security in their golden years.
Needless to say, not a single Republican has offered to co-sponsor the resolution which concludes: "Resolved, That the Congress should stand with the American people to reject severe changes to Social Security, including any and all attempts to privatize Social Security, and instead should commit to work bipartisanly to make common-sense adjustments to Social Security to strengthen it for future generations while preserving its guarantees of secure income and family protection in the event of a worker’s death, retirement, or severe disability."
No Republicans support it, of course, but the congressional candidates Blue America has been talking to see eye-to-eye with Sánchez and Larson on this. Here in southern California, almost as fast as Marcy Winograd, Bill Hedrick and Francine Busby were quick to weigh in. Busby pointed out starkly that "if the implosion of the banks and financial institutions taught us one thing, it's that we can never trust for-profit financiers with our national retirement security savings-- Social Security." Her opponent, Brian Bilbray, a former DC lobbyist himself, is eager to privatize Social Security so that his Wall Street buddies will be able to rake off billions of dollars in commissions. Similarly, Bill Hedrick-- who is running against another privatizer, Ken Calvert, asks the question, "What part of 'security' do Republicans not understand? Rep. Ryan's plan to dismantle this vital safety net for working families will meet a buzzsaw of opposition from Americans." And one of those opponents is across the desert in Arizona. John Thrasher is taking on anti-family fanatic Trent Franks, who opposes Social Security and Medicare at every opportunity. Thrasher says Americans aren't dumb enough to accept the new/old GOP platform.
The economic disaster in 2008 was the worst since the Republican Depression made disaster by Hoover in 1929. Bush saw his opportunity to create another planned disaster, taking only eight years to accomplish a Republican Recession, following the Reagan, GHW Bush policies. Let the corporations control us and in 2008, we see the results-- the greatest loss of jobs and homes and family security ever. The final dagger in the back of Americans was to 'trick' hard working families into Privatizing Social Security, therefore completing both GHW and GW Bush's idea to end America as we know it. The privatization Bill did not succeed, Thanks Be to God.
Had this been approved by Congress, millions of people that had earned their social security, fought our wars, and raised families and businesses to build America again, would have lost their minimal sustaining income. World crisis and famine would now be in effect. Stop and think of what is in the plans, who would do this to us!
Privatization means what was yours, is now mine, so tough luck when it fails. America is waking up with President Obama and his open dialogue to warn all Americans, disaster is lurking unless we support working families, rebuilding jobs and the fixing the economy and health care, keeping schools strong and leaving a better America for our future children and grandchildren. How will the rich eat, if the working class can't farm; how will the super rich buy products when there aren't any? How much will water cost when there isn't any? Privatization only supports China, not America and it is your choice.
Up the coast we heard much the same thing from the progressive Democrat running for Congress in WA-3, Washington state Senator Craig Pridemore: "If you like what mortgage backed securities did to our national economy you'll love what privately invested Social Security will do to our national savings." And on the East Coast we had similar responses from Doug Tudor in Florida and Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire. Doug, who's running against an extremely conservative Blue Dog who shows every indication of voting with the GOP if she ever gets into Congress-- her Blue Dog sponsor, in fact, is Allen Boyd, the only Democrat to co-sponsor Bush's failed bill to gut Social Security-- goes right to the bottom line: "A country funds its priorities. If we truly value the wellbeing of our seniors, then there is no question that we should fund Social Security in a robust manner. Paul Ryan and the “Party of No” simply don’t get it. As the Republican-engineered economic collapse of 2008 clarified, Wall Street cannot be trusted with our country’s economic wellbeing. Certainly, the meager entitlement generated for individuals under the Social Security system cannot be trusted to corporate fatcats. As it currently stands, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is the only thing keeping millions upon millions of Americans from facing incredible hardships in their twilight years. I believe it is just and fair to deny Republicans in particular, and Conservatives in general, from having a seat at the table as America discusses how to dig out from the disastrous policies of nearly 30 years of Reaganomics. America cannot afford to allow their supposed 'fiscal conservatism' to further wreck our country."
Kuster has two conservative opponents, one in the primary (Joe Lieberman's former campaign chair Katrina Swett) and one in the general, defeated reactionary Charlie Bass. On Wednesday Bass penned an OpEd for the über right-wing Union Leader pushing the Paul Ryan line: "[W]e must take a hard look at entitlement reform. Entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, currently make up more than 50% of our federal budget. No one can seriously say they are interested in reigning in our deficits and debt without tacking entitlements." That's Wall Street talk for... well, you know... what conservatives dream about doing to the elderly and indigent. It's completely contrary to everything Ann stands for. “It boggles the mind to think about disconnected some politicians must be with their constituents to suggest privatizing Social Security just a year after the worst market crash of our lifetimes," she told us. "Sadly, this is the same kind of thinking that is coming from the RNC Chair when he said today that 'after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money.' Privatization was a bad idea in 2005 when George Bush failed to push it through Congress, and it is a worse idea today. In fact, the lessons of the market crash of 2008 are exactly the opposite: not only should we be preserving Social Security against the risks of the stock market, we also need to be tightening our oversight on Wall Street and passing new reforms to ensure that we have a healthy, stable investment climate that can fuel new job growth.”
If you want fewer Paul Ryans and Charlie Basses and Jane Harmen in Congress and more men and women like these, please consider making even a modest contribution to their campaigns at the ActBlue page, Sending the Democrats A Message They Can Understand. (Sorry, but the Republicans are beyond ever understanding anything.)
UPDATE: No Sympathy For Paul Ryan's Anti-Social Security Jihad
People who smile knowingly when RNC Chairman Michael Steele laments, "Trust me, after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money," have nothing but contempt for working families and nothing but contempt for Social Security. Neither Michael Steele nor any other Inside-the-Beltway GOP hack-- from Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling to Jim DeMint and John McCain (all four of whom favor dismantling Social Security and Medicare)-- is likely to even imagine the difference Social Security and Medicare have made in the lives of America's senior citizens. Gerald McEntee, president of AFSCME addressed it head on today:
“The Republicans may be morphing from the Party of ‘No’ to the Party of ‘You Gotta Be Kidding Me.’ They’re seriously talking about risking millions of Americans’ retirement security in the same market that nearly collapsed our economy last year. Rep. Ryan’s alternative budget proposal is exactly what Americans overwhelmingly rejected in 2006. Gambling away Social Security in the stock market is a plan only Wall Street honchos, and their pet Congressman, can love. It didn’t work four years ago, and it’s not going to work now."
Paul Partyka is primarying one of the most conservative and backward members of the House Democratic caucus, Suzanne Kosmas in a district primarily just to the east of Orlando. Kosmas has been one of the most consistent aisle crossers since being elected to Congress and was one of the handful of Democrats to oppose healthcare reform. She has become notorious among her colleagues for skipping important House business to send her time with the sleaziest and most corrupt lobbyists in Washington. Paul was attracted to the race to stand up for Florida families Kosmas has been ignoring since she was elected. "It is disturbing," he told us, "that people are trying to privatize Social Security or eliminate Medicare... two areas that serve as the financial and health care foundation for many of our senior citizens. Rather they should be focusing all of their energy on ideas to stimulate the economy to create jobs, helping small businesses with a better credit market, create better retraining opportunities for the unemployed... all to jumpstart the economy while insuring the future of both Social Security and Medicare!"