Thursday, February 19, 2009

The continuing conservative jihad against Social Security

What do you mean by "retire", dude? You don't look like a Bush or a Vanderbilt to me!

A "fiscal responsibility" summit featuring President Obama, Vice President Biden and billionaire anti-Social-Security ideologue Peter Peterson is scheduled for next Monday, Feb. 23.

The idea behind the summit scam was to ram Social Security cuts down the throats of the public. Or, as the headline on a Firedoglake post of 02/19/09 by Jane Hamsher puts it, Hedge Fund Billionaire Pete Peterson Key Speaker At Obama "Fiscal Responsibility Summit," Will Tell Us All Why Little Old Ladies Must Eat Cat Food.

For whatever reason, the Obama administration decided to cooperate with what was effectively a well-planned stealth attack on Social Security benefits.

Republicans - and Blue Dog Democrats - are well-practiced at blowing smoke in our eyes on these issue. On Social Security, the basic issue is one and only one thing: Republicans want to cut benefits and that's a bad, bad, bad thing. Democrats, working people, heck, anyone who's not a trust-fund baby or Ayn Rand ideologue has very good reasons to oppose it.

As Jane explains in that post, the anti-Social-Security jihadists had planned to use a favorite conservative device to give reactionary proposal a veneer of "moderation" and insulate their implementation from the democratic process.

The idea was to have commissions who would come up with proposals to slash social programs and then have Congress do an up-or-down vote on them with no amendments. For all Harry Reid's problems as Majority Leader, though, he had enough moxie to join together with Nancy Pelosi to tell the President to forget, there weren't going to be any up-or-down votes on some rightwing proposal to slash Social Security.

On the Social Security aspect of this fight, here are some of the main things I try to keep in mind:

The immediate issue is that Republicans want to cut Social Security benefits and that's a bad, bad, bad thing.

Any time someone lumps Social Security in with Medicare and Medicaid as part of an "entitlements crisis" or "entitlement funding problem" or the like, they're trying to scam us.

Social Security's finances are in excellent shape.

The Social Security Trust Fund has lent hundreds of billions to the US Government General Fund. The repayment obligation is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. When the anti-Social-Security zealots says that the Social Security money "has already been spent", they are lying.

The real retirement crisis in the United States right now consists of two things: an inadequate health insurance system, and the radically reduced availability of adequate private pensions.

Obama and Biden were elected to defend Social Security against blithering reactionary billionaires like Pete Peterson.

If the Democratic Party can't defend Social Security effectively, is there a point in having such a Partyat all? If the public wanted Republican wreckers to get their policies passed for another four or eight years, they would have elected John McCain, Sarah Palin and Republicans majorities in the House and Senate.

The fact that our Pod Pundits think that cutting Social Security benefits and postponing retirement age is not only necessary but a fine example of nonpartisan virtue tells us basically nothing except how little most of the care about what people actually need in public services.

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