Back in 2005, President George W. Bush tried to sell Americans on the privatization of Social Security with a lie – that it was broke. Fortunately, most of the country knew better and the ploy failed. Nevertheless, it left many, particularly young people, believing the program will not be there when they retire.
Now, thanks to Republican hypocrisy, Democratic ignorance, presidential capitulation or all of the above in their various configurations, those young people may be proved correct after all. The so-called middle-class tax cut that is expected to pass in the Senate today includes a two percent payroll tax holiday for employees that is the first inroad to the long-term Republican desire to destroy Social Security.
“They make the claim that Social Security is in trouble despite the fact that the payroll tax has produced surpluses in 26 of the past 27 years — when it didn’t add a penny to the deficit,” writes Joshua Holland at Alternet.
“But if that 16-percent cut in payroll taxes remains the law of the land over the longer term, the program’s fiscal picture changes dramatically, and the argument that Social Security is in trouble becomes fact rather than fiction. From there, the claim that we have to cut benefits becomes much easier to make, and far more difficult to refute.”
Exactly. Further, two years from now, with the 2012 election cycle nearing its conclusion, the president and everyone in Congress (except Bernie Sanders) will be too frightened to let the payroll tax holiday expire as legislated when the Republicans are promoting the expiration as a tax increase. Holland again:
“[T]he best-case estimates for the jobs picture in 2012 is an unemployment rate of about 8.5 percent, and raising taxes on working people at that time is going to be a potentially insurmountable political challenge.
“For the next two years, the cut in payroll taxes would be made up out of general revenues - from deficit spending - and the Social Security system will be protected.
“But with a bipartisan fetish surrounding the federal deficit, it’s not hard to see that payroll tax reduction being baked into the long-term projections of the system’s finances in short order.”
There are many other things to dislike about the tax cut bill the Senate votes on today, but it will pass by a large majority. It then goes to the House which will undoubtedly cave on their earlier objections and the bill - adding almost $1 trillion to the deficit - will be the law of the land before Christmas.
Happy Holidays, everyone. For elders – you and me and young people who will, in due course, become elders – it is disaster.
Here is Senator Bernie Sanders on The Ed Show Monday:
As a result of having this blog, I am occasionally asked for an interview. The downside is how often there are questions I struggle to answer - things I haven't considered before, haven't thought through or just plain don't know.
The upside, is that sometimes it becomes much more than a Q&A.
A couple of months ago, a lovely, smart, engaging young woman named Julia Valentine asked for an interview. She runs a company and website for and about elders, Joy Compass, which grew out of the profound differences in circumstances she witnessed as a child between her two sets of grandparents – one pair who suffered greatly as they got older and the other who accepted the changes that came with age and lived a happier elderhood.
If my memory hasn't failed me, Julia said the interview would take about 30 minutes. We were still talking 90 minutes later mainly because Julia is a gifted interviewer and turned what is usually a formal question and answer session into a conversation.
The results of our time together has now been published at Joy Compass. You can read the transcript or listen to the iTunes podcast there.
Thank you, Julia, for a wonderful time together.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dolores Banerd: Telling Your Travel Stories