FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Here Come the "Bankrupted Social Security" Scamsters, Again

“[Comptroller general David] Walker is heading a group of analysts from the political left and right on a nationwide ‘Fiscal Wake-Up Tour,’ speaking to dozens of Rotary clubs and newspaper editorial boards. Pollsters are holding focus groups in which citizens, once informed of the nation’s fiscal future, usually say they’ll accept tax increases or cuts in benefits.”

USA Today, 10/9/07

The game continues. In the aftermath of World War II, when it looked like the New Deal would be continued and completed with universal health care and greater democratization of the economy, elites set out on a sort of long march. Their aim was to “re-conquer” the ideological and political ground they had lost to the majority in the 30s and 40s. Through propaganda, subversion, and the agency of a perpetual warfare state their aims are lately, perhaps, within reach. There’s a grotesque and embarrassing bipartisan consensus now that economic and social rights should only be available to those who can purchase them. No Child Left Behind (at the federal level) and “school consolidation” (in my home state) have painted a target on the back of public education. And finally, the ground is being prepared for the final assault: What Reagan’s budget guy David Stockman called, “storming the twin citadels of the welfare state–Social Security and Medicare … ”

Last time out, under Clinton, the “final assaulters” (FAs) got pretty close. William C. had his minions working out the numbering system for the so-called “private accounts” which WOULD HAVE bankrupted Social Security. Luckily for the public, Monica Lewinsky and her oval office Johnson worship saved the day. Rather than raid the public’s retirement fund William was forced to bomb a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and kill some Iraqis in order to engorge his softening political capital.

Before Monica killed their buzz, the FAs had been saturating the media with scare stories about a “Demographic Tidal Wave” of greedy geezers soon to make landfall and drown society in fiscal red ink. As the baby boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) all got old and retired, society was supposedly doomed economically. The FAs brandished Social Security Trustee annual reports, newly laden with grim and frankly a-historical projections. Most interesting of all their suicidally depressed assumptions, the Trustees foresaw a 75 year planning period characterized by near-recession level economic growth. Even given their assumptions of a highly sedated economy the “problem” was still decades out. (2046 according to the GAO.)

No matter. The FAs roamed the country, with traveling road shows like the Pew Charitable Trust’s “Americans Discuss Social Security.” To get on the panel of experts featured in this snake-oil sales event one had to have drunk the Kool Aid and swallowed the dishonest “looming bankruptcy” story.

Back then, I attended Pew’s South Portland event. Dissent was not easily tolerated. It was considered very bad form to remind people that the baby boomer retirement had long ago (1983) been foreseen and dealt with. The Trustee report of 1983 stated that the system would “be able to pay benefits on time for the next 75 years under all but the most pessimistic of the various sets of assumptions … ” (The darkest assumptions? — A post-2000 growth rate of 2 percent or less, persistent unemployment numbers over 6 percent, and interest rates never getting below 6.6 percent). In 1983 the system had been retooled under recommendations of Reagan’s “Greenspan Commission.” Social Security was now to be “advance funded” with a huge trust fund surplus in the trillions earning interest and awaiting the pay out to boomers and beyond.

Even under the still darker scenarios in more recent trustee reports, the trust fund has the money to pay all claims on time for almost 4 decades — that’s three decades after Hillary / Rudy leaves office and just before US mercenaries begin to trickle out of Iraq.

But as the first of the boomers reach retirement age and with elites hungry for fresh meat, the FAs are readying another assault. USA Today’s October 9 front page screamed, “Social Security hits first wave of boomers: Drain on the system picks up in Jan., when millions born in ’46 start taking benefits.” The piece features a picture of “the first boomer,” Kathleen Casey-Kirschling (born, Jan. 1, 1946 at 12:00:01 AM) sitting on the stern of her rather upscale boat/yacht. In keeping with the conventional story line, “McPaper” defines her signing up for early (75%)retirement benefits as “a symbolic jump toward the retirement system’s looming bankruptcy.” Using terms like “deluge” the story features only Kool Aid sippers and FAs like the paleo-conservative Heritage Foundation’s Brian Riedl. He calls cutting oldsters’ meager checks, “the single greatest economic challenge of our era.”

The shell game is again presented as a bipartisanly inevitable. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) furthers the drowning metaphor with, “Partisanship on this issue is as foolish as a food fight on the Titanic.”

Get it? That mad captain FDR set us steaming too fast among those pre-climate change icebergs. Now we’ve come to ruin with a gash in our economic hull and, food fights aside, we must rationally and cooly decide who gets the boats and who gets the briny deep.

To aid in the process, we’re to be guided by something called the “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.” USA Today calls this PR push “a group of analysts from the political left and right … ” As usual of course, there will be nobody passingly leftish in this crew. It’s headed up by the right-wing Concord Coalition’s Robert L. Bixby, who, prior to the New Hampshire whistle-stop told “PR Newswire” that this supposedly imminent mass drowning is ” One thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.” It will, he warns, “require hard choices, ” but should be seen it as an “opportunity.”

“Who for?” you might ask.

The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour’s Manchester event was to be held at “The Derryfield Country Club, 625 Mammoth Rd.”

The Class War Open, featuring a killer water hazard. Tee it up.

Again.

RICHARD RHAMES is a dirt-farmer in Biddeford, Maine whose place is just north of the Kennebunkport town line. Since 1990, Rhames has been the chair of the Biddeford Democratic City Committee, an organization charged with “promoting the ideals of the Party.” He can be reached at: rrhames@xpressamerica.net

 

 

More articles by:

RICHARD RHAMES is a dirt-farmer in Biddeford, Maine (just north of the Kennebunkport town line). He can be reached at: rrhames@xpressamerica.net

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail