Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Social Security-- Still A Target For Conservative Predators


Conservatives have never been boosters of Social Security. Republicans and right-wing Democrats decried it as socialism back in the 1930s. Disgracefully, Southern "Democrats" only agreed to support it at all when they were able to exclude most African-Americans. The legislation was immensely popular among the voting public and after delaying it and watering it down as best they could, dozens of Republicans in fear of the electorate went along and voted for it in the end. The Social Security Act of 1935 passed in the House on April 19, 1935 by a vote of 372-33 (+ 2 Members voting "present"). Those who voted to scuttle it included 15 Republicans and 15 "Democrats." It passed the Senate June 19, 77-6, with a dozen senators ducking out of the vote entirely). Only one "Democrat" voted NO-- although 8 of the non-voters were Dems-- and 5 Republican senators-- the Ted Cruzes, Ted Lees, Rand Pauls and Marco Rubios of the day-- voted to kill Social Security outright. 

Conservatives have never stopped trying to undermine it in ways big and small. Bush ruined his presidency by trying to privatize it, and Paul Ryan and most of his GOP colleagues are still trying to cut benefits and tighten eligibility to exclude as many people as possible, despite Social Security being the most popular government program in history.

When Republicans sense they should support it, the big money behind the GOP flips out. Recently we saw that happen when extreme social conservative Mike Huckabee defended Social Security. He's now under attack from the party's dominant Daddy Warbucks wing.
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Sunday reaffirmed his stance that Social Security needs to be preserved, a viewpoint that sets him apart from some of his GOP rivals.

Huckabee included Social Security in his platform of priorities when he announced his candidacy on Tuesday in Hope, Arkansas. CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer commented that the position made Huckabee sound a bit like a Democrat.

"Well, I think I sounded more like an American," Huckabee said. "I sounded like an American who understands that people have been paying in in my case since I was 14 years old when I got my first job, people pay into a system for 50 years."

..."About the only way we can really make these reforms is to hurt somebody," Huckabee said. "I don't think Americans believe that after having paid in all these years, again, not a choice, wasn't voluntary, it was forced out of their checks that somehow, the government who didn't take good care of business can come in and say, 'Yep, we're gonna make you end up paying for our sins.'"

Many of Huckabee's competitors and potential competitors have already come out in support for changes to Social Security. Last month, possible candidate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie unveiled a suite of reforms the would campaign on, including reducing Social Security payouts for senior citizens earning more than $80,000 a year and cutting them off entirely for those earning more than $200,000. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, another possible candidate, also signaled that he would support reforms in a statement to Talking Points Memo. Potential candidate Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida last month advocated for gradually raising the retirement age. Florida Senator Marco Ruibio, a candidate, has called for the same in the past.
Although Huckabee once thought there was political capital to be made backing GOP schemes to diminish Social Security, today he's attacking Chris Christie for advocating the same unpopular GOP snake oil in regard to it.

Over the weekend, Christie was in New Hampshire-- Christie is always in New Hampshire these days-- fighting with a GOP talk show host, Howie Carr, about Social Security. Carr sounds like he's buying in to Huckabee's (new) perspective.
"I'm older than you are. I'm 63. I started paying into this program when Lyndon Johnson was president, right? Nobody said anything about means-testing," Carr told Christie during the Thursday evening exchange on the air. "You're proposing what amounts to a bait-and-switch, aren't you? I mean, what's the difference between this and Bernie Madoff?"

"There's a big difference, Howie. Because if what you want is to have a massive Social Security tax increase and you want to pay that, then vote for a Democrat," Christie responded. "I don't believe that's what the American people need or want."

Christie's plan calls for an income cap for Social Security benefits. The Republican governor proposed phasing out Social Security payments for people making more than $80,000 in additional income and eliminating the benefits altogether for people making more than $200,000 or more a year.
For as long as the Republican Party is going to be fully dependent on the wealthy to finance their candidates, they will always support the special interests against the needs of their constituents. Last week Americans for Tax Fairness analyzed the budget plan the GOP passed-- a plan that every single Democrat (+ 14 Republicans) opposed in the House and that every single Democrat (+2 Republicans) opposed in the Senate.
Instead of asking the wealthy and corporations to pay one additional cent in taxes-- in fact it would cut their taxes-- the plan aims to balance the budget in 10 years by cutting more than $5 trillion from vital services for low-and middle-income Americans and by disinvesting in America’s future by slashing funding for infrastructure, research and education. These draconian cuts come on top of the across-the- board sequester cuts that will return in full force in 2016, subjecting basic non-defense discretionary programs to an additional $37 billion in annual cuts.

With the devastating cuts proposed in this budget blueprint, looming sequester cuts, the deadline to raise the debt ceiling and the new fiscal year beginning October 1st, the stage is set for a major debate this summer and fall over tax and spending priorities.

...The budget proposes broad and deep cuts to critical services that everyday Americans rely on. As the Washington Post recently editorialized, “the ideology embodied in the GOP blueprint would lay waste to so much of the federal government that even many Republicans might recoil from enacting it during the appropriations process this year.”
 The budget claims to balance the federal budget in 10 years through budget cuts alone. It cuts spending by about $5 trillion outside of military spending, which is actually increased. At least 63% of the plan’s non-defense cuts come from services that benefit low- and moderate-income people, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, even though these programs account for less than one-fourth of federal spending.

 The budget makes no new investments. Instead, it slashes $496 billion from non-defense discretionary programs that fund infrastructure, scientific and medical research, education, energy development and conservation, child care and other investments that would strengthen our economic future. These cuts come on top of the annual $37 billion in cuts starting in 2016 mandated by the budget sequester. A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute found that we need to increase federal spending on investments by $150 billion a year to get back to the 1980 level.

 The budget slashes services relied on by seniors, children and the disabled. It cuts $4.2 trillion in non-discretionary programs over 10 years, according to the New York Times. This includes $431 billion from Medicare and $500 billion from Medicaid, according to an analysis from House Democrats. (This does not count $800 billion in Medicaid cuts from repealing the Affordable Care Act.) It also slashes $300 billion from the budget category that is dominated by food stamps, and cuts $85 billion from Pell Grants, which help needy students pay for college.

 The budget foolishly makes cuts that end up costing taxpayers more. For example, it is likely to further defund the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has already been decimated by previous budget agreements and the sequester, resulting in less help for taxpayers filing returns and less ability to catch tax cheats even though every dollar in tax enforcement yields $6 in additional revenue from collecting taxes owed. As IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “It’s a classic example of being penny wise and pound foolish.”
These huge spending cuts would be added to about $4.4 trillion in deficit-reduction savings expected over the next 10 years due to budget deals enacted since 2010, according to Senate Budget Committee Democrats. Federal spending is now projected to be $2.6 trillion less than the levels recommended from 2011 to 2020 by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission, according to the Center for American Progress.

Most of the reductions in the FY2016 budget plan-- nearly $2.7 trillion-- come from spending cuts. Interest savings from the reduced debt totals $940 billion. Just $836 billion of this deficit reduction has come from increased revenue-- primarily from ending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 1% in 2013. That means there has been $4 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue that Congress has raised to reduce the deficit. Under the new budget, that imbalance would get far worse, and corporations would continue to not make any contribution to deficit reduction.

...The budget framework makes deep cuts to services and benefits instead of asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. It further solidifies the notion held by most Americans that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful interests, and that the economy is not working for everyone.

In recent years, corporations have not contributed a dime in new taxes to reduce the deficit or to finance new investments. The wealthy contributed $620 billion toward deficit reduction when Congress ended the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% in 2013, but they can certainly afford to do much more. America’s families and communities have contributed a lot through trillions of dollars in budget cuts in recent years.
Instead, Congress should be investing in America, stopping the automatic spending cuts of the budget sequester, and paying for all of it by making sure that the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Sounds a lot like Bernie Sanders' platform. If you want to help him change the arc of American history... we have a page for that.

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At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until only 1 "conservative" has all the money, anything anyone else has will be target #1.


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