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How House of Cards May be Helping to Undermine Social Security

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.

I'm not asking or even suggesting but if you think you would like to help the NCPSSM continue its good work, you could do that here and here.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: Want Appa Duce


Excellent message this morning.......informative, provocative. We have to continue to elect people like Elizabeth Warren, & of course Bernie Sanders. It's outrageous what is happening in congress, but to hear about this event is most hopeful. Thanks again Ronni for keeping us informed. Dee :)

While I have no problem with reform (the Social Security system is ripe with mismanagement), I am against changing the rules in the middle of the game. I, and millions of my fellow retiree's, worked our whole lives just so we can get that very meager check every month. For many of us, it's the only thing that keeps us from living on the streets or starving. Look, most of us recipients will be dead in 10, 20 or 30 years. Save your reforms until then and get your hands out of pocket.

I stuck with Francis (HOC)to the bitter end (Spoiler alert) and in the final episode the idiot voters elected him again; just like in real life.

Words do have meaning, even in a made for TV movie and I, too, was struck by the injection of Social Security into a popular series.

"Keep your hands off my Medicare" has been the repeated phrase of liberals to illustrate the abysmal ignorance of the Republican voters.

If only the public were forced to study history they would soon learn that it has been in plain sight that the one big goal of the Republican party has always been to kill Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They have made no secret of it, but the average voter blissfully continue to watch drivel like "Survivor" instead of CSPAN and do not know the real platform of the Republican party. Fox viewers have been proven to be less informed that a person who never watches any news. I have lost most hope for democracy surviving the Luddites.

Social Security is an earned benefit and it works like a life insurance program. My husband paid into the system all his working life and never collected a dime in benefits because he died one year before being eligible. While it's true that I am collecting a percentage of his benefit my monthly check was paid for long ago by both of us.

At my age I suspect someone else is now paying for my check as I have probably lived up all the money my husband and I contributed. But there are those that died like my husband, having never collected a dime after paying into the system. That's how it works..

Like a life insurance policy, it spreads the cost and the benefits among everyone and is profitable and self sustaining with a few tweaks here and there.

I want Social Security to be there for my grandchildren and for their children. Why not, since it is a self sustaining program? I think the measure of our success at being an elder should be the legacy we leave for others.

I have not seen even one episode of House of Cards, so I may not know what i am talking about.

However, could this new year be beginning on a sour note for those who view from a (what I like to call) reality perspective regarding our politics, but the years worth have a different outcome?

The reality is that SS, Medicare, Medicaid are all being placed on agendas of our political parties.

There was almost a sigh of relief in the Republican wing of our government when Ted Kennedy died.
He was said to be the last bastion of protection from the one's who wanted to cut SS, Medicare, Medicaid.

I guess, after seeing Kevin Spacey on Letterman last night and hearing the issues of real heart that he gives his personal time and famed-name to, I suspect the intent of the HOC is to show us–and especially those who vote against their on best interest–the probable result of such political chicanery.

I can only hope that is the case, and that those who will most benefit from seeing the reality of the debacle that may ensue will have access to watch and learn.

That, coming from one who has never been known as an optimist, but does think of herself as a realist.

It saddens me to watch the slow winding down of our country from all that it was.

If we could have just kept our eye on the importance of maintaining a middle class, instead of profit, as the end result, we would still be the envy of the world.

This week I attended an economic lecture given by an economist professor at U of Arizona and was horrified at the extreme right wing gospel he was offering us.

This is what our young are hearing and no wonder things are going as they are. It is your fault if you don't make it --- Obamacare is evil --- social security must be gotten rid of and the rich would step in and share if they saw a need. He know lots of good christians who give to charity.

I was beside myself --- and sad ---as the class applauded at the end of the lecture. He was so glib and sounded so sure of what he said and only answered what he wanted of comments from the audience.

I have three more lectures to attend with him helping us understand the enemy of today.

Too funny that--- Somehow the "help us understand the economy of the day" at the end of my comment was mistakenly entered as "enemy of the day".

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?

Actually there is one small piece to refute this by Heather Dunbar, the character who challenges Underwood for the Presidency when they debate each other in Episode 11 of season 3 (Chapter 37) about 21 minutes into the episode calling Underwood’s “America Works” program an “ultra-conservative agenda that’s been around for decades. Dismantle the safety net and hang people out to dry” she tells the audience.

Sadly however this is all that gets put up in defense of Social Security and Medicare. In earlier episodes Underwood has repeatedly claimed that the entitlement programs are dragging this country down and increasing the debt while ignoring the impact of defense spending and how tax cuts for the wealthiest and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have ballooned the debt. All without anyone to refute him

It was always hard accepting the Underwood character as a traditional Democrat. My assumptions were borne out in season 3. Clearly he represents the more contemporary neo-liberal type who believes, like libertarians do, that the free markets will ensure that a rising tide lifts all boats.

I sincerely hope that the creators of the House of Cards have an inauspicious ending for Frank and his equally conniving wife when they choose to end this series.

Like the Walter White character in "Breaking Bad" the only acceptable ending for a self-serving asshole is that they reap what they sow.

You have to remember back in th 80's that the Republicans and Alan Greenspan TOOK the billions in the SOCSEC trust and spent it and replaced the money with Treasury Bills now known as the Trust Fund. There is NO there there.

I "loaned" a third of my paycheck all my working life to the government, and, by God, they'd better make good on their promise to pay me back.

I believed in our government's promise to pay me, starting when I turned 62 (at a reduced rate)and if it changes its mind and gets rid of the program, there is no telling what I will do in retaliation.

Everyone knows that HOC portrays the evil underbelly of politics and everything Frank says and does is to be considered dark and devious and not to be emulated, right? Or do you think the conservative right is completely misinterpreting the writer's intent? Huh. Wouldn't at all be surprised if that's exactly the case.

It will not be "clear" to call for protecting Social Security, which has always been paid for by the workers themselves, by proposing to "scrap the cap"... that is, make the rich pay for it.

The workers can continue to pay for it themselves by raising their own tax about eighty cents per week per year until the demographic/economic picture stabilizes. It is well worth the cost.

And no, today's young are not paying for the old folks SS. The old folks paid for their SS while they were working. Today's young are paying for their future benefits now, while they are working. That's how it works. The "extra" money comes from the growth in the economy... just the way the interest and dividends come in the private sector.

If you can understand this and tell everyone, you should be able to stop the Big Liars from stealing your children's Social Security. Your children don't know enough to stop them.

We need Congress to get off its behind and make those "minor adjustments" to shore up Social Security. This has been discussed for years. The longer the adjustments wait, the bigger the changes will have to be. This is how any sort of insurance program works.

Wisconsin is now a right to work to death state because of that ass of a governor Walker! Our union pension is at risk of being wiped out, we live on the west coast and we get these long papers telling us we could be getting the pension from the place that drastically reduces our pension. Gee thanks you gutless politicians you will be getting your fat paychecks and your pensions, but you sure and hell don't want anyone who slaved for 30 plus years to get a damn dime do you you cowards! Wisconsin is like Washington state only in its green grasses and rolling hills no mountains like out here noting more, we have unions and strong in the seattle area, we live near Oregon where 2 out of 3 kids are starving and old people 4 out of 5 starving, but we both worked and got our pensions now we get huge long papers a Philadelphia lawyer needs to read and understand..we get a retired CPS and attorney to tell us whats up, we know we need to watch and be vigilant..We watched the first episode and second episode of House of Cards I thought it crap, our only child works in Film and she sent us the first 2 seasons they just sit on a shelf..We get out we are having global warming since last year no moisture, no snowpack nothing but high temps and high clouds and sunshine and blue skies, we are in for a big hot as hell summer so we go to the shore with another couple we have known since kindergarten in a tiny prius the cabin is huge and many have motorhomes they live in all year thru, childhood friends with good govt. pensions and state pensions from Oregon and Washington, the only clink in the whole damn thing is the over $3.00 a gallon of gasoline, thanks to god for Prius cars and tiny cars, we cram ourselves into them and off we go we pay for one way the couple who owns the car pays for the backto home ride, it ain't much..ONE fellow got a Tesla wow whee, he actually got it used it runs like a drum, or clock, wow whee, he loves it and we have been in it, of course he and his wife never had any kids and saved like misers, they own a house at the shore and we go sometimes there..it is lovely..well we can't have heaven on earth one has to be brave and cautious to get old in our country, many in my neighbor hood are in their near 90's and two in their 90's 93 and 92 they are not with their husband and wives outlived them by many years but happy to be alive..Social security worked for them many many years and good pensions..One can only hope the yawwwhoos who run states and the govt. don't get OLD too damn fast...ciao!

I binged-watched "House of Cards" last weekend while I was home will the latest illness going around school.

Even though it is presented as "fiction", watching the bashing of Social Security, Medicare was a real "wtf?" moment for me, pardon my French.

That said, I HIGHLY recommend watching Gary Trudeau's "Alpha House" on amazon; and SOON, because parts of it will become dated very quickly. (I'm watching it while my son has a trial prime membership) It is hilarious, and though it is too naughty, wish it was required watching for high school civics classes.
(Is civics still taught in high school?)

I just returned home from two days of meetings in Kansas City MO at which a friend asked if I watch HOC. When I told her "no", she launched off about the evil president in the program! (And she doesn't read Ronni's blog - more's the pity!)

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