...on the backs of elders. So what else is new.
In a speech last Friday at a gathering of the Koch brothers' organization, Americans for Prosperity, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney laid out his plan to cut government spending and reduce the federal deficit.
Romney's is very much like the draconian Paul Ryan plan from last year with a tweak or two. In fact, it is so close to Ryan's that Ryan himself is ecstatic, according to a Washington Post reporter:
"...Ryan was downright effusive about the contents of the plan. Ryan told me, 'Look at what he put out! This is a great development. It shows that the elusive adult conversation is taking place, but all on one side.'"
One of the reasons conservatives keep winning the war of words over the direction of the nation is that they relentlessly repeat the same talking points until, like repetitive advertising, it comes to seem to be the truth and then they repeat them some more.
A big one that seems to be winning no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, is that cutting Social Security and Medicare will solve all the debt and deficit problems – if you believe there are any. (You can read the plan at Romney's website.)
Although there are the usual Republican talking points contained in Romney's Medicare proposals (less coverage; higher price), today, let's concentrate on the other one – Social Security – that is crucial to elders:
• Raise the Social Security retirement age to reflect increases in longevity.
Don't any of these Republicans so eager for elders to work longer know that the age for full benefits is already being raised to 67? For example, I was not eligible for full benefits until I was 65 and ten months. Romney does not say how much more he wants to raise the Social Security retirement age.
Secondly, increase in longevity is due almost entirely to improved infant mortality over the past hundred years. We don't live much longer than those of our parents' and grandparents' generations who survived infancy; the statistic increases because fewer babies die in infancy and childhood now.
Both points leave one to wonder if Romney and other conservatives who spout this nonsense are stupid or if they think we are.
Like every other conservative whose usually unstated, long-term goal is to privatize or eliminate Social Security, Mr. Romney states that “tax hikes cannot be on the table” and that no one currently retired or near retirement will be affected by the changes he wants to make.
The nasty assumption in that final point from Romney gives me major heartburn every time I hear it (and they all use it) from Republicans. These people think you and I are willing to throw our children and grandchildren under the bus as long as our benefit is untouched. Personally, I think that says more about their values than ours.
Last week, reporter Lori Montgomery raised a storm among liberals and progressives when, in the Washington Post, she concocted a phony Social Security crisis by erroneously reporting that the program has gone “cash negative” and is “sucking money from the treasury.”
More rational and informed writers all over the media set the record straight (although the WaPo ombudsman continued to support her false contention). But the best response came from Gene Lyons of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, writing in Salon.
Lyons clearly and succinctly explains the Social Security trust fund. It is inexplicable that no one on the political right understands this:
"Again, this is the beneficiaries’ money, invested by the Social Security trustees in U.S. Treasury bonds drawn upon 'the full faith and credit of the United States.'
“Far from being 'meaningless IOUs' as right-wing cant has it, they represent the same legally binding promise between the U.S. government and its people that it makes with Wall Street banks and the Chinese government, which also hold Treasury Bonds.”
It is that simple and anyone who says otherwise is stupid or lying.
So many of you sent me the link to Lyons' column that I can't list you all. Everyone else: be sure to read it and keep it close for future reference. It's gonna be a hard fight to keep those conservatives from slashing Social Security. This would be ho-hum stuff except that they never, ever let up and so neither can we.
I can't resist mentioning that later today, a gigantic asteroid will pass closer to Earth than even the moon does. The experts, who are excited to have the chance to see a heavenly body – named YU 55 - so up close and personal, say there is no chance it will collide with either Earth or the moon.
The closest encounter of the asteroid will take place at 6:28PM eastern U.S. time today. You'll need a fairly good telescope to see it, but I'll bet there will be plenty of photos online tomorrow. You can read more here.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Roses