Although I am a big fan of the first two seasons of House of Cards on Netflix, as I mentioned last week, I was bored silly with the third season and watched only the first two episodes.
That doesn't mean I didn't pay close attention to one terrible part.
The centerpiece of the second episode, in a public speech President Frank Underwood repeats his diatribe to his staff about a bill titled America Works that he wants to be his legacy. It contains a series of familiar falsehoods about Social Security.
Real-life conservatives and Congressional Republicans must be wetting their pants in joy as they realize that Underwood's purpose is exactly what theirs has been for decades – to kill off Social Security.
That it may be but apparently it is also much more. Before I go into that, take a look:
Perhaps you recognized the talking points of the rightwing attack on Social Security since its beginnings in 1935, such as using the word “entitlement” to make it seem that Social Security is a giveaway, a handout, a freebie.
Certainly you know that it is not. Everyone pays into Social Security all their working lives. It is an “earned benefit.” Remember that, repeat that, every time you hear someone say the word entitlement.
You might think that killing Social Security, along with Medicare and Medicaid, in a TV series is nothing more than a plot point for a delightfully diabolical character with whom millions of viewers have developed a love/hate relationship; it just proves how evil he is, right?
Reminiscent of President George W. Bush's failed attempt to privatize Social Security ten years ago, President Underwood says we cannot afford Social Security. As you well know, the truth is otherwise. There is 2.8 billion in the trust fund and it will take only a few minor tweaks ensure the program for decades to come.
So Underwood's fictional proposal is built on real-world lies we hear again and again from Republicans and there is no one in the cast to refute him. Is this deliberate, do you think?
Richard Eskow, a senior fellow with Campaign for America's Future, seems to have found a crucial connection between this fictional television program and real-life lobbyists for killing Social Socurity:
”Episode One’s credits list Jim Kessler as a consultant. Kessler is, as his IMDB biography notes, the co-founder of Third Way. That’s a Wall Street-funded, so-called 'centrist' Democratic organization with a mission: to promote neoliberal economics and make the world safe (at least financially) for its wealthy patrons.
“Third Way has consistently misrepresented the financial condition of Social Security, misdirected the public debate about Medicare, and generally promoted the socially liberal but fiscally conservative worldview of its patrons.
[Ronni here: I can confirm that: I've been watching Third Way closely since they hit me up for a donation when the organization was first founded.]
”Kessler and co-founder Jon Cowan,” continues Eskow, “carefully tiptoed their way through the minefield of public opinion for years, pretending to be technocrats rather than de facto lobbyists for powerful interests.
"They finally lost their balance last year. When confronted with the rise of Elizabeth Warren and the populist wing of the Democratic Party, they lashed out at Sen. Warren with an intemperate Wall Street Journal op-ed."
But they did get their agenda written into this wildly popular television drama.
You should read Eskow's piece in its entirety. It is enlightening.
Meanwhile, The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) will tomorrow, Thursday, deliver 2 million petition signatures “urging Congress to reject attempts to target Social Security and Medicare benefits for cuts” and instead strengthen it.
As NCPSSM president and CEO notes,
“The House GOP leadership targeted Social Security on day one of the new Congress. So-called fiscal hawks also propose cutting Social Security & Medicare to pay for even higher defense spending...it’s clear that workers’ hard earned benefits in Social Security continue to be the go-to political pawn for conservatives in Congress.
"Americans of all ages and political persuasions support common-sense proposals, like lifting the payroll tax cap and reversing income inequality, to improve benefits in Social Security. They will continue to deliver that message loudly and clearly to Congress in every way they can...”
The delivery of the petitions will take place tomorrow 12 March at 10:30AM EDT in Room 215 of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. In attendance, among others, will be Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
The NCPSSM works hard all year round to educate voters and members of Congress about the success and importance of Social Security and Medicare.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: Want Appa Duce