Hope Fades Away
Elder Inflation

Obama's Stealth Attack on Social Security

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Please read the post below and then come back to read this update.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) tells me that time is of the essence on this proposal as Congressional members try to get out of Washington for the holidays. In an email, the NCPSSM said,

Flooding members' offices is what is absolutely needed...House members have been far more vocal in their opposition to this deal than we’ve seen in the Senate but it’s vital that seniors and their families contact their representatives in both.

"Far too many in Washington don’t understand the fundamental threat of what’s being proposed and they need to hear from seniors.”

At their website, the NCPSSM has set up Payroll Tax Letter to legislators that is similar to what you can do at congress.org. Here are instructions:

  1. Follow this link
  2. Under “Elected Officials,” enter your Zip Code and press Go
  3. At the top of the next page, select “Issues”
  4. At the top of the page, select “Tax Holiday is no holiday at all”

Separate letters to the House and to the Senate will appear. Feel free to personalize them. Fill in the required information, press “send message” and you're done.

PLEASE DO THIS in addition to calling and emailing individual lawmakers. And please don't put it off for later. Time is short and the future of Social Security is at stake.

Also, feel free to copy any or all of this post and use it at your blogs. Attribution to TGB is not necessary.

category_bug_politics.gif Yesterday, Crabby Old Lady told you why President Obama's agreement with Congressional Republicans to extend unemployment benefits while retaining the Bush-era tax cuts is a bad idea. She intended to let me move on to some lighter material today, but further digging show that the deal is much worse than a giveaway to rich people.

Included in the proposal is a temporary “payroll tax holiday” - that is, a two percent cut in the FICA (Social Security) deduction for workers although not employers. The duration of this holiday is so far unspecified, but for one year, it would cost $120 billion which would be made up, says President Obama, from the general fund.

This is a DISASTER for Social Security – and no one in Washington is talking about it.

Don't take my word for it. Take the word of Bruce Bartlett, an economics expert, former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan and treasury official during the George H.W. Bush administration writing in November (please read this carefully; emphasis is mine):

”What are the odds that Republicans will ever allow this one-year tax holiday to expire?...My point is that if allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire is the biggest tax increase in history, one that Republicans claim would decimate a still-fragile economy, then surely expiration of a payroll tax holiday would also constitute a massive tax increase on the working people of America.

“And what are the odds that the economy won't still be fragile a year from now? Zero, I would say.

“...a payroll tax holiday is Pandora's Box and best left unopened. Republicans would prefer to destroy Social Security's finances or permanently fund it with general revenues than allow a once-suspended payroll tax to be reimposed.

“Arch Social Security hater Peter Ferrara once told me that funding it with general revenues was part of his plan to destroy it by converting Social Security into a welfare program, rather than an earned benefit. He was right.”

At Hullabaloo yesterday digby, who titled her post, One More Nail in the Social Security Coffin, correctly identifies the ultimate outcome of a payroll tax holiday (again, my emphasis):

“The 2012 election is looking like its going to be about taxes and deficits (as a proxy for fixing the economy, since everything else is off the table.) And from what I can see, the president is going to be competing with the Republicans on who will lower both of them the most. Social Security is in maximum danger in that environment.”

Nancy Altman at FireDogLake makes a point that has been bothering me for a long time – that so many in Congress, and the president too, do not grasp the crucially important nature of Social Security's self-funding by American workers (my emphasis agaiin):

“Today’s Democrats fail to understand the program, and so are not only blind to subtle assaults against it, but seem to conspire in those assaults. All I can say is that with the Republicans and the Democratic President, perhaps unwittingly, conspiring to destroy Social Security, the American people don’t stand a chance.”

masslib, who also writes at FireDogLake, is as suspicious as I am:

”...something doesn’t smell right here. We have a presidential deficit commission that just proposed cutting social security benefits and essentially means testing it into a welfare program, and now we have Republicans and the President agreeing to an employee Social Security payroll tax to be paid from the general fund. Well, what could possibly go wrong...”

Go wrong. Go wrong...

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) issued a press release yesterday saying, "There is no such thing as a 'temporary' tax cut." Further,

"This 2% payroll tax cut is the beginning of the end of Social Security as we know it...Proposals like this threaten the program’s independence, forcing Social Security to compete for limited federal dollars."

Not to put too fine a point on all the above: if the payroll tax holiday were to become permanent - and it will if it passes Congress with this current proposal - it will force massive cuts to Social Security.

It is a stealth attack on the program.

It will destroy the system.

Which is what the Republicans have been trying to do for decades.

Not one journalist at President Obama's press conference yesterday raised this issue. They are blind to it while they rattle on about whether the president is flip-flopping on campaign promises rather than dealing with the substance.

In fact, at this moment as I write, CNN is insulting my intelligence (for the zillionth time) by reporting that the payroll tax holiday would be a big help for Americans because it would put more money in their pockets. The reporter, apparently, is ignorant of the consequences to Social Security and old people. Bah!

Many sources have reported that the number of calls objecting to the entire proposal crashed the White House phone system yesterday. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said his office received more than 900 calls from his tiny state. Let's keep it up.

Certainly you should call if you prefer, but congress.org says lawmakers prefer to email and it is a better choice than the telephone to be sure to get through and to be able to clearly explain your position.

At congress.org, you can simultaneously send the same email to all three of your representatives and the president, but you must be registered. You can do that here. It is a quick, easy registration and you can immediately write your message.

Yesterday, President Obama defended his agreement with Congressional Republicans as “a good deal for Americans.” I vehemently disagree and it is particularly not so for old people.

If you agree, please email the president and all your representatives now to tell them this is a disaster and unacceptable. Be sure to mention the Social Security issue as well as the tax cuts for the rich that are getting all the attention.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Weed


This is scaring me to death. I'm so glad you and others are writing about it.


I was shocked by President Obama's lack of will to fight the Republicans. Thanks for writing about this. Sven heard on the news this morning that the Republicans are going after Medicare next with a 25 % cut. I haven't confirmed this news yet, but it's astounding what is going on. I'm sending my emails. Called Kerry's office yesterday to ask him to oppose.

I'm heart sick! What is he, our president, thinking? I'm linking this blog to all my friends. And I think it's time for our elder walk on Washington!Dee

That elder walk on Washington to protest cutting social security? Schedule it and I'll show up.

Ronni, thanks for this. I was wondering if I was crazy. I can't find articles about "the payroll tax cut". I'm sure 95% of us don't know that means our social security contribution - the one part of our tax $$$ that's designated to go to the American people.

I am linking this post, too. My husband got the 25% cut info wrong, since he was half asleep. It's a cut to what doctors get paid, so they will then drop Medicare patients, which isn't much better. On NPR's Morning Edition this morning.

When I heard the "temporary" cut on Social Security taxes yesterday, I could hear bells tolling.

Yes -- this is the core of this fight. The President's Organizing For America (email list) put out a call for comments to volunteers and donors yesterday. I blistered them about Social Security as I hope many others did.

To win this, elders need to work to make sure that younger people disappointed in Obama understand the logic of why the framework will trash Social Security -- for them and for all of us. That educational work is worthwhile at this time.

I saw this also and wrote about it in my political blog. Obama is such a disappointment. I called him a Trojan Horse. We were so deceived on him.

I had to laugh when you wrote of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, "a giveaway to rich people."

The money in question BELONGS TO THOSE WHO EARNED IT. It is not the property of the US Govt until they take it away from those who created and earned that wealth.

A more accurate description would be "letting small businesses keep and reinvest their hard earned profits." Instead of letting the govt squander their dollars in Afghanistan on Obama's rather pointless adventure there.

As for cuts to Medicare, what about the HALF TRILLION dollar cut Mr. Obama imposed upon an irate public with "Obamacare" ?? It was rammed down our throats !

I hope in 2012 the Democrats are able to find a candidate that better suits their, and the country's, urgent needs.

I am so disappointed, Obama has turned out to be the cuckoo's egg in our nest. Thanks for the action oriented information Ronni.

Thanks for the pointers and lucid instructions, Ronni!

Thank you for making this so much easier for me to be active on this. I enrolled in the CongressDotOrg site and even posted my picture so when they come after me they will be sure to arrest the correct person as I added the following to the letters:

"I need to write you and tell you that I find this latest idea posed by the President in handling the Social Security issue embarrassing and short-sighted. I am embarrassed because I believed that our President had leadership skills enough to begin to lead the American people into an era of positive change. I feel as though I just found him in the oval office distracted and scrolling through a cheap e-trade site while disenfranchised elders who have worked all their lives are scrambling over how to afford their heart medications! The politicians should, if they cannot find the energy to be respectful, be wary of an elder betrayed in this way."

It is a sad day when I resort to posturing but I am so angry!

Thank you Ronnie for making responding/fighting back easier to navigate. People are angry, but some how I don't think Obama is listening. However, it sounds like the Democratic legislators are. I hope they listen to all the phone calls and read all the emails and fight against this with all they have.

I cannot understand why many Republicans dislike social security so much.
I wish there were really a lock box.

How do I get the elected officials website?

Thank you for spreading the word about this issue. I sent off my objection. You are doing a great service to seniors by keeping us informed with the high-jinks of our govt. -- barbara

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