One of the attacks on the Middle Class being undertaken skillfully by the Koch Brothers and the Phil Anschutzes and the Rush Limbaughs and the Rupert Murdochs of the world and carried out by their lackeys, Eric Cantor and Mitch McCullough is on Social Security. So let’s take a look at how this organized process is being done.
First of all, let’s explain why it is being done. Social Security provides around a thousand dollars a month to millions of retired Americans, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. It is enough to keep most people in their homes or in an apartment, enough to buy food and supplemented by a little more money or food stamps helps them pay for Medicare and an occasional beer. It does not make anyone rich, wealthy, affluent, or well-off.
If you are rich, wealthy, affluent or well-off from investments or a pension or savings, so much the better. But Social Security–make no mistake about it–keeps many people from walking the streets or begging for help. Even some who get it have difficulty surviving with it.
So why do the aforementioned super-rich, Right Wing Republicans want to destroy Social Security in order to “save it?” The answer is that they don’t want to save it. These are people who pay tens of millions of dollars in taxes every year and have incomes, annual incomes, in the hundreds of millions. They are tired of paying tens of millions, even though they cannot even spend–as hard as they try–the hundreds of millions they are left after taxes.
The answer is that they simply want more. If we can eliminate Social Security, now that the budget has been shredded by the Neocon Republicans, they won’t have to pay back the hundreds of millions that they and their friends borrowed from it to fund their tax cuts and their weapons and munitions for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
They have spent so much that we now have to raise their taxes, along with everyone else’s taxes as long as we have to pay back all our debts. One of the debts, just like the debt to China, is the debt the government owes to the Social Security Administration. We have borrowed billions from Social Security–your payments into the fund–to pay government debts. Even then it was not enough. We borrowed more from China.
The Neocon Republicans have hit on the terms “certainty.” They want to persuade you that they, who supported completely doing away with Social Security under Bush, want to provide the “certainty” that Social Security will be there for you. Even though these were the same people, the Republican Party, that was run out of town in the 2006 election for that very reason. The Democrats believe that Social Security is essential and want to protect Social Security pretty much as it is.
The Paul Ryan Budget Plan…which every single Republican voted for…does away with Social Security and replaces it with a dubious proposal to privatize part of Social Security even though it is said to “guarantee” certain minimum benefits. So the privatized part would be something like a personal 401K where the individual would have actual equity of a certain amount which could be passed on to family members after the person has passed on.
But the idea of doing all this as we try to cut the national debt makes it sound as if Social Security is a negative thing. It makes it sound as if Social Security has been and continues to be a drag on the economy. It is exactly the opposite. The 155 million people who now pay into Social Security now provide and have provided a buffer in many cases between the revenue shortfalls and the Republican’s proclivity to finance wars and tax cuts and earmarks and oil company tax breaks without the revenues in the Treasury to do so.
The simple fact is that Social Security has never added a penny to the national debt…ever. But the Republicans have repeatedly borrowed from the Social Security funds that all of us have paid in. Now…in one of the most , outrageous efforts ever conducted by even the most reprehensible crooks to occupy seats of power in Washington, the Republicans want to cut Social Security benefits for seniors, even as they cut taxes for the richest Americans, kept billions in tax breaks for polluting oil companies and allow corporations to move to the Bahamas to avoid paying corporate taxes.
Not even Henry VIII, Louis XVI, Stalin or Saddam Hussein was any bolder and more outrageous than this. Persecute an entire large segment of the population, the white-haired old men, the old women, bent over, dressed all in black…it is the Republican elite trying to create a Medieval scene in the midst of a land of plenty.
Take their money to fund spoils for the rich, for war for the benefit of the noblemen, the oligarchs…then blame them falsely and steal their money once again. Insult to injury then more injury.
Today Social Security has over $2.6 trillion in its trust fund. This is money you have paid in that is more than has gone out. Social Security has enough money to pay full benefits to Seniors for the next twenty five years and 75% of benefits to Seniors after that. What the Republicans say is this: you did have this money but we needed it for tax cuts and for corporate tax breaks and for two wars that we did not want to raise taxes to fund. Therefore, since the government now has a deficit of $14 trillion, we need to cut your benefits to help pay for these deficits. (And by the way, we just gave away another $800 billion in tax cuts to the rich this year that could have gone into a trust fund to repay some of the $2.6 trillion that you should have…but we, Republicans, borrowed…or stole.)
After 2036, because of the Baby Boomers and the way that increase in population plays out, the Social Security trust fund will require some money over and above current amounts being paid in. We will have to raise the Social Security rates and raise the income ceiling, now $104,000, that Social Security has imposed. If we raised the income ceiling to $250,000 we would have no problem at all. After the wave of Baby Boomers passes, Social Security actually gets better.
The situation is urgent. About 6 out of 10 Social Security recipients receive over half their retirement income from Social Security, which averages about $14,000 per year. Fully one third of Seniors–and this is very important–have no other retirement income and depend on their Social Security check for all their expenses. Compare that to a millionaire, who…if he or she is still working…if making $1,000,000 per year and paid full income tax of 35% top rate for all income instead of just the top portion,(which of course they do not–not even close) would still have $54,000 per month, to spend after taxes. A family can survive and thrive pretty easily on this.
Paul Ryan wants to privatize Social Security. Eric Cantor and his Republican allies, have proposed new legislation to fast-track cuts in Social Security which could cost current recipients about $3,400 and move the age of eligibility to 70 years old. The Republicans say that we now must borrow the $3 trillion to pay future benefits because we are broke. But U.S. citizens can, just as the Chinese can, rely on the government to raise taxes and cut spending to pay them the money that they have saved for retirement, just as the Chinese and the Japanese and U.S. bondholders can rely on the U.S. government to pay them the interest on their investments in the U.S. federal government.
But it may not be so if we continue to elect Republicans. In fact, if you are concerned about Social Security, you should not be voting Republican at all. The current Republican House of Representatives, and specifically Rep. Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Representative Dan Burton of Indiana, Representative Randy Neugebauer of Texas, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas and Representative Terry Lee of Nebraska…all have introduced House bill 2109.
This bill would allow Americans to begin to opt out of Social Security. The idea is that each person would have a private, non-taxable savings account that they could use for retirement. Not only can you do that now…it’s called an IRA or a Roth IRA, or a 401K program…in addition to Social Security…which is the only way you can afford to retire on it…it would take almost a million dollars to do it the way these crooked Republican legislators would like you to do it….but you now have a full Social Security program that you paid into.
HR 2109 is very simply an attempt by some people, the anti-Social Security people we discussed above…the Kochs and the other paid billionaires and the corporations…and all the people who want to avoid paying Social Security to the Baby Boomers when they retire. Remember, we now borrow 40 cents of every dollar that we use to run government. These people simply refuse to pay one dollar more in taxes.
Let’s remember that they now pay an average of 23 cents on every dollar in taxes. If they paid 30 cents on every dollar, if corporations paid only 10% of GDP in income instead of avoiding taxes and hiding in the Bahamas, if we closed tax loopholes on oil companies and on giant agricultural firms for farm subsidies that go now directly into the pockets of the CEOs of big international food corporations…if we did just these things, we would be solvent, and we could pay back Social Security and balance the budget.
So there you have it. Not only are the Republicans trying to shut you down, they are trying to steal your Social Security. Don’t vote Republican. Don’t allow anyone you can influence to vote Republican. They are Fascists, which means that, once elected, they must follow the Republican Party line. All the Republican Senators vote the same every single time. And they are voting to destroy you. Why should you or anyone you know vote to elect people who want to destroy you?