SOCIAL SECURITY DISTORTIONS ARE ONLY BU.S.H'S LATEST
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- There he goes again. Our President, the one who most notably brought us invisible Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, who recently claimed to have a sparkling clean bill of health as the press buzzed about his new defibrillator, who claimed he was a "uniter instead of a divider" and a "compassionate conservative" and then bombed innocent Iraqis while half of the world took to the streets against him, is at it once more.
Now he's saying that Social Security - a truly compassionate government program, the only one currently running a surplus, the one that helps the elderly, the widowed and the infirm to survive in a cold, cruel world, the fund that Bush's own government reports will be healthy for the next 40 or 50 years, (the fund that many presidents and Congress have dipped into to cover their overspending) - is bankrupt.
It's a bald-faced lie, of course. But Karl Rove has taught President George W. Bush that if you say something over and over again, people will start believing that it is true.
Social Security is far from bankrupt. Here are some facts from a telephone press conference held Tuesday by Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and others knowledgeable about the fund:
Social Security is an ingenious program. Each generation pays into the fund so that the generations ahead can retire. This frees up jobs and at the same time secures the futures of everyone's elderly parents and grandparents. Every working American pays into the system, so, essentially, it's our money, not the government's.
Social Security gives options to people who can no longer work. Older folks can stay in their homes and pay some of their bills with their monthly checks. It's what newspapers call "living on a fixed income." It's never a large check - remember the scandal a few years back when we learned that older people were forced to lace their Hamburger Helper with Alpo?
Why is the President lying? Why does he hate such an innocuous, supportive, helpful program? It's a pathology that goes back to the Depression. Back then, wealthy conservatives hated President Roosevelt and called him "a traitor to his class" for helping the poor, the starving, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the aged, the crippled, the men who were down on their luck but were willing to work. "Communism!" screamed the fat cats back then, after their greed had bankrupted the country.
They scorned these so-called "entitlements" and passed their hatred down through generations - to Vice-President Dick Cheney and President Bush and their ilk. Destroying Social Security - and, finally, sticking it to FDR - became their highest goal.
To accomplish the destruction, the President plans to end the all-for-one-and-one-for-all ethos that has served our country so well. His "retirement funds" for younger workers pulls the rug out from under the many people already working - those who have paid in for some time and are counting on Social Security to be part of their retirement - as well as from the many generations to come. Essentially, it destroys the program.
Wall Street might profit from these retirement funds - it paid good money to buy President Bush a second term - but managing millions of tiny retirement accounts might also bankrupt it. And how many of us trust the stock market to care for us in our old age? The AARP nailed it when, in Sunday newspaper ads, it said, "If we feel like gambling, we'll play the slots."
We know that the President lies, and we know that he and the Vice Prwesident are bullies. If we've learned nothing else in the past four years, it is that bullies often back down when challenged.
Take President Bush and the recent tsunami debacle. After two days of ignoring the disaster, he offered $15 million in relief funding. When the laughter, finger-pointing and cries of "cheapskate" became too much, he raised it to $35 million. Then, as poorer countries offered, proportionally, so much more, he assigned his father and a person he hates, former President Bill Clinton, to raise more cash.
You see? Challenge him and he'll back down.
In another recent example, President Bush nominated Bernard Kerik to be head of Homeland Security, saying his "broad practical hands-on experience makes [him] superbly qualified." Then we learned of Kerik's wild sex life and his many blatant conflicts of interest. Challenged, Kerik was forced to withdraw.
Challenge the President's "the sky is falling" now and he'll back down.
Whether we are red-staters or blue-staters, most of us have relatives dependent on Social Security - if we are not dependent on it ourselves. Call 1-800-307-8525, the AARP hotline. It will connect you to your senators and congressmen. Write every senator and representative in Congress. Remind them that we can vote the whole lot of them out of office if choose.
And if you don't call or write, I hope you have a spare room in your house. Because if President Bush gets his way, your grandmother may be out on the street - or coming to live with you.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics and economics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.