The history of credit probably goes back to the first concept of ownership that led to the practice of borrowing and lending. In the modern era, there are few instances of people making large purchases that do not require borrowing money and making installment payments over a long period of time and without credit, purchasing a home or an automobile would be nearly impossible. America’s deficit is one area the so-called Super Committee is working to reduce and it is unfortunate that they are considering cutting Social Security and Medicare as a means of deficit reduction because their decision will impact millions of Americans.
There is one specific issue the Super Committee, and indeed, all Republicans must come to grips with and it is that Social Security does not add one penny to the nation’s deficit. It is related to the deficit, but intrinsically the benefits paid out to retirees, families, children and the disabled are paid for by faithful contributions of workers and their employers; Americans do not impact the amount of money America owes. Republicans (and many Democrats) know the Social Security Trust does not impact the national debt, but the characterization of Social Security as an entitlement by Republicans has given the illusion to brain-dead Americans that cutting or privatizing it will reduce the deficit.
Social Security’s relationship to the nation’s deficit is that the Bush Administration borrowed heavily from the Trust to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. The Bush-Republicans borrowed from the Trust to conceal the fact that federal taxes were not bringing in enough revenue to pay for the wars and the wealthy’s tax cuts. Even so, the Social Security Trust is sitting on $2.6 trillion in reserves that belong to the American people who paid into it their entire working lives. As it stands now, Social Security has enough money in surplus to pay existing and new benefits in full for another 25 years. It is also not well-known that Social Security’s administrative costs of less than one percent do not contribute to the deficit because the trust cannot borrow money from the government to fund its operations. Republicans though, have perpetuated the myth that the Social Security Trust is going broke and unless they drastically cut benefits, Americans dependent on the system will be in trouble.
There is one overriding reason Republicans want to privatize Social Security and it is to give more of American workers’ money to Wall Street so they can squander it away in the next market crash. Wall Street and corporate banks crashed the economy in the 2007-2008 that also nearly ruined the economies of every country on Earth. Bush increased the nation’s debt when he forced the American people to bail out the financial sector, and now his lackeys in Congress want to raid the Trust because the American people’s largesse was not enough to satisfy the greed inherent to investment banks and stock brokers. So, how much more money do the American people have to pay Wall Street to satisfy Republicans and their greedy corporate donors? Approximately $2.6 trillion plus all the American people’s future contributions to Social Security into perpetuity.
There is another reason Republicans want Social Security finished off once and for all, and it is their hatred for FDR’s belief that all Americans deserve security in their retirement years. Republicans detest any social program that helps hard-working Americans, but they also hate that they cannot take more money from the American people to give to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts. Willard Romney’s grand economic plan for America includes $6.5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, and his first step to pay help pay for the wealthy’s entitlements is privatizing Medicare. Not only will the wealthy reap the savings of a privatization scam, but Willard can reward the insurance industry by forcing Americans to purchase expensive coverage with reduced Medicare vouchers.
The Super Committee is struggling to find ways to reduce the deficit that does not include increasing revenue, but slashing Social Security will not help unless they empty the $2.6 trillion in surplus even though their goal is cutting the deficit by $1.5 trillion. Republicans will never go along with any plans to raise taxes on the wealthy to help reduce the deficit their tax cuts helped increase, so their plan is cutting Social Security benefits and take the savings to apply to the deficit as well as fund the perpetual tax cuts for the richest Americans. If Republicans are really interested in making Social Security solvent permanently, there is an easy fix that will not include cutting benefits or privatizing the system. The Republicans will never consider the easiest fix because it impacts the wealthy at the same level as the rest of the population, and Republicans will never hold the richest Americans to the same standards as the rest of the country.
As it stands now every working American makes Social Security contributions on the first $106,800 they earn, which means most people make Social Security contributions on their whole paycheck. The median income in America is $49,450. But since $106,800 is the cap, 6% of Americans who earn more than $106,800 do not contribute to Social Security on all of their wages, and Americans who are extremely wealthy pay a minuscule percentage of their income compared to 98% of the American people. If Congress or the Super Committee would lift the cap entirely, then Social Security would be solvent for eternity. Of course, Republicans will never hold the wealthy or the extremely wealthy to the same standards as working-class Americans who are the backbone of this country.
Republicans and their Wall Street donors cannot convince Americans that Social Security is a pariah because there is overwhelming support for the system that has provided retirement, death, and disability benefits for Americans for 75 years. Wall Street lobbyists and their conservative pundits have committed hundreds-of-millions of dollars and scare tactics to portray Social Security as the reason the nation’s deficit is as high as it is now. They have also attempted to tie job creation to deficit reduction and there are ignorant Americans who have bought into the fallacy that if America’s deficit is reduced, jobs will magically appear out of nowhere.
The assault on Social Security is an assault on the American people who fund the system as their sole source of income in their retirement. Republicans’ tactic of making Social Security the cause of the nation’s deficit distracts attention from the deficits real causes; Bush’s two unnecessary and unfunded wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, bailouts for Wall Street and banks, and other costs of the economic crisis are the reason the deficit continues growing, but Republicans blame President Obama and Social Security. Democrats have an opportunity to expose the real reason Republicans want to cut Social Security that are concealing the deficit’s causes from scrutiny and eliminating Social Security and its benefits to send retired people’s money to Wall Street.
The Occupy movement should take advantage of their position of power and “encourage” Democrats to stand strong and expose the Republicans’ lies about Social Security as well as remove the cap on earnings so every American pays the same percentage of income into the system. The American people overwhelmingly support strengthening Social Security and if they knew the truth about why conservatives want to dismantle the program, the opposition to Republicans would dwarf the Occupy movement. Republicans are intent on enriching Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans and they are not above stealing from the middle class; the only thing keeping them from taking American’s retirement contributions is that Social Security is a Trust that cannot be raided.
The American people have given enough to Wall Street, banks, the wealthy, and corporations, but it is not enough for Republicans. They will not be satisfied until they have stolen every last penny from every last American regardless of age and given it all to the wealthy and their corporations. However, there are stupid Americans who fall for the ridiculous notion that Social Security has increased the deficit and within the group of idiots are Democrats, President Obama, and every Republican who has mislabeled Social Security an entitlement. If they stop using that one word and lift the cap on earnings, 97% of Americans would oppose any Republican effort at eliminating Social Security to decrease the nation’s deficit. Unfortunately, the president and nearly every Democrat have fallen into the Republican trap and will be complicit in damaging Social Security because they consciously relate it to entitlements and the nation’s deficit. It is the most disappointing thing Democrats have done since Obama was elected and they should be acutely ashamed.
Decent Americans deserve so much more and instead of courage and change, Democrats have become cowards and easily manipulated dolts who will complete conservative’s 75-year mission to destroy a popular, sustainable social program. FDR would be ashamed that Democrats have embraced and joined in conservative’s decade’s long goal to finally eliminate Social Security. The American people are going to end up paying the cost of Democrats who have moved so far right to appease Republicans and their corporate masters on Wall Street that it is easily their greatest failure in decades and it is all because of a lie and inability to level the playing field. Good Job!