Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Setting the Stage to Kill Social Security
Congress is in recess for a couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean they, along with their corporate and media handmaidens, aren't busy cooking up ways to kill everything that benefits people who are not rich - old ones like you and me included, of course.
On Monday, it was Robert Samuelson in his Washington Post column trying to make readers believe that if President Franklin D. Roosevelt were alive today, he would oppose Social Security:
“It has become,” wrote Samuelson, “what was then called 'the dole' and is now known as 'welfare.”
Of course, Social Security is NOT welfare. I'm pretty sure Samuelson knows that and is being disingenuous because he wants to kill Social Security.
“Millions of Americans believe (falsely),” he continues, “that their payroll taxes have been segregated to pay for their benefits and that, therefore, they 'earned' these benefits. To reduce them would be to take something that is rightfully theirs."
Thank god for Dean Baker writing at Center for Economic and Policy Research, in refutation of Samuelson's idiocy:
”Of course Samuelson is 100 percent wrong here. Payroll taxes have been segregated. That is the point of the Social Security trust fund and the Social Security trustees report. These institutions would make no sense if the funds were not segregated.:
Later in his story, Samuelson asserts that anyone retiring today will receive Social Security benefits in excess of the taxes they have paid:
”A two-earner couple with average wages retiring in 2010 would receive lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits worth $906,000 compared with taxes [paid] of $704,000, estimate Steuerle and Rennane.”
Once again, Dean Baker to the rescue to make a gigantically important point that went right by me when I was reading through Samuelson the first time:
”Okay, this is a really nice trick,” says Baker. “Remember we were talking about Social Security? Note that Samuelson refers to 'lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits.' It wasn't an accident that he brought Medicare into this discussion.
“That is because Steuerle and Rennane's calculations show that this average earning couple would get back less in Social Security benefits than what they paid in taxes. That would not fit well with Samuelson's story, so he brings in Medicare (remember this is the Washington Post).”
Samuelson finishes off his dubious assertions by demanding that Social Security be cut.
Paul Krugman, jumping into this fray on his blog, reveals Samuelson's argument for what it really is:
”...the dire fate we’re supposed to fear is that future benefits won’t be as high as scheduled; and in order to avert that fate we must, um, guarantee through immediate action that future benefits won’t be as high as scheduled.”
The danger for everyone is that stories like Samuelson's set the stage to kill Social Security (and Medicare). Not many voters care enough or have the time to read carefully, follow up and determine who is lying and who is telling the truth.
And there are so many of these stories in so many media. It becomes the age-old problem of repeating a lie often enough so people come to believe it. That is one reason we need The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to speak for those programs and for us.
The NCPSSM recently posted a nifty list of 10 Things to Love About Social Security and Medicare. Among them:
Social Security benefits are guaranteed. Unlike savings and investments, you can’t outlive your benefits.
Social Security benefits are protected from inflation. Social Security is one of the few retirement programs that provide an automatic annual cost-of-living adjustment.
Social Security’s administrative costs are low. Less than 1% of Social Security’s budget goes to administrative costs.
You can read the additional seven things to love about Social Security and Medicare at the NCPSSM website. And while you're there, if you can afford it, you might join by giving them a few dollars.
Unlike some other lobby organizations representing elders to Congress, the NCPSSM has acted in our best interests for more than a quarter of a century, and they continue working hard to do so. We really need them.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lia Hirtz: The Road Trip