Monday, September 24, 2012

Saving Social Security From Rep. Privatizing Ryan


Herbert Hoover (r) & Calvin Coolidge (center), 2 of the worst presidents in history

On Saturday, while looking at the reasons why elderly AARP delegates who continuously and vehemently booed Wall Street's vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, we referenced some advice from Alan Grayson on the old tropes the Republican Party has rolled out again about Social Security:

(1) Don't believe them.

(2) Defeat them.

He pointed out that his opponent, Paul Ryan wannabe Todd Long, "doesn't want to save Social Security; he wants to destroy it... He says that Social Security is unconstitutional, simply because it meets 'individual needs'... He evidently thinks that Social Security, like Medicare, is 'one generation rob[bing] from the next'." In his now infamous speech to an Ayn Rand admiration club, Ryan. winking and nodding his way through a plan to privatize Social Security to his adoring fans, called it "a collectivist system. It's a welfare transfer system." Republicans have always opposed Social Security. Since it was first proposed they called it a "Ponzi scheme," and a "slush fund" and a way of making Americans weak and dependent. They've tried to clock it, weaken it, destroy it and privatize it for a full century. And they still are. Grayson gets that better than most weak, careerist Beltway Democrats ever will. He followed up on his advice from Saturday the next day:
Yesterday, I wrote that all the crocodile tears that the Right Wing sheds for the supposed insolvency of Social Security are just a cover story for what they really want to do, i.e., destroy Social Security. My Tea Party opponent is a perfect example of this: he calls Social Security a "Ponzi scheme"; he calls Social Security and Medicare "robbery"; he calls them unconstitutional; and somehow we're supposed to believe that he's the one to save them.

So it has ever been. So it will ever be.

Germany introduced Social Security in 1889. It came to America "only" 46 years later, in 1935. When the Social Security program was introduced here, one of its most vociferous critics was former Republican President Herbert Hoover. Having led America into the Great Depression, Hoover wanted to make sure that no one led it out. (Does that ring a bell?)

According to an Associated Press report on May 6, 1935, and a New York Times report on May 22, 1938 (sorry, no NYT link), Hoover attacked Social Security in apocalyptic terms. Regarding the security for seniors that the program would provide, Hoover said that "we can find [the same economic stability] in our jails. The slaves had it [too]." Hoover said that programs like Social Security would put Americans in cages: "Our people are not ready to be turned into a national zoo."

It's odd that Sarah Palin hasn't deployed the same metaphors. Yet.

Hoover said that rather than indulging in programs like Social Security, Americans should "cling to their family life, to their homes, to their individual self-respect, to their rights, to their individual liberties." He urged that we must not shift "from the self-made man to the government-coddled man."

I know that this sounds just like Paul Ryan, but it was Herbert Hoover. Really.

Hoover added that the way to achieve genuine "social security" was not through government handouts, but by "saving pennies and producing more."

Yes, those pennies sure add up, don't they? Save five of them, and you've got a nickel. Or, in Mitt Romney's case, a quarter.

Hoover said that he believed in private charity, not government handouts. He predicted that government programs like Social Security would destroy private charity, "one of the most fundamental of inspirations in the spiritual growth of the family or individual."

Now you know from whom Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum got their ideas.

With unemployment in America approaching 25%, Hoover said that social programs like Social Security simply weren't needed to feed, house and clothe people. "We could do that by the simple methods of bread lines, barracks and dungarees." The government could do nothing to ameliorate these problems; the only answer was "courage and vision in adversity."

This sounds like something that Mitt Romney would say, right? Either that, or something equally vacuous.

Herbert Hoover led the Republican effort to strangle Social Security in its crib. And now, 77 years later, Republicans are trying to suffocate Social Security as it lies in bed.

At least they're consistent.

When a right-wing Republican talks about how to "save" Social Security, I don't know whether to laugh or (like John Boehner) cry. Republicans have as much interest in saving Social Security as they do in saving the whales. Or the rainforest. Or the Queen. Or the last dance. Meaning none.

Grayson's opponent is so embarrassingly extremist that even Paul Ryan, his idol, has asked him to stay away from campaign events. It must have broken Todd Long's tiny heart when the he was dis-invited to Ryan's big campaign event in Orlando over the weekend. Long was so excited that on Saturday he put up an announcement on his Facebook page-- all caps, of course-- "BREAKING NEWS: I WILL BE SPEAKING AT THE PAUL RYAN TOWN HALL." He didn't speak at the event and he wasn't introduced at the event and after the event, he went home, humiliated, and mournfully deleted the post. It was not unlike the message Romney/Ryan has sent to Rep. David Rivera: keep away from our campaign. Of course, Rivera's an insane criminal under investigation by the FBI and state and local authorities for an actual crime spree. Long is, as far as we know, just insane. 
Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has kept its distance from the congressman. Rivera is the only one of Miami’s three Republican congressmen who has been consistently absent from Romney campaign events, such as a Univision forum in Coral Gables and a Miami rally on Thursday. Until recently Rivera had been publicly stumping for Romney, even rallying listeners on Spanish radio to join him in supporting Romney.
Romney and Ryan have enough problems of their own with albatross like David Garcia and Todd Long hung around their necks. Todd Jurkowski, spokesman for Grayson's campaign said he wasn't surprised that Ryan and other Republicans didn't want Long around. "Todd Long wants to raise the retirement age to 72, hand our Social Security over to Wall Street speculators, freeze Medicare, and then turn Medicare into 'VoucherCare'." Long may have gotten all those ideas from Ryan himself but Ryan is trying to soft-peddle them, especially in swing states like Florida. And Ryan may also be angry because Long has vowed to vote against Boehner and Cantor for House Leadership positions if he's elected. These two are Ryan's closest cronies in Congress and he isn't buying into Long's psychotic ravings that they're "too liberal." Boehner raised him up from the backbenches and made him Budget Committee Chairman and Ryan and Cantor run the Young Guns PAC together, which is seeking to remake the House caucus in their own 100% Wall Street shill image.

If saving Social Security from conservatives is what motivates you-- or even partially what motivates you-- it's important to help elect candidates who think the same way... so NO Republicans and no ConservaDems. I'd suggest that you can't go wrong by supporting progressives who are backing Jacob Hacker's Prosperity Economics thesis (and plan of action), like these 16 men and women.

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At 6:29 PM, Anonymous me said...

Hey, your font got all screwed up. Can you fix it?


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