Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The S.S. Social Security takes a shot below the waterline II

And the saddest Spotty™ ever awarded

The original post with this title is here.

More commentary, this time in the Strib this morning, that our president has taken a historic step in insuring the demise of Social Security. Here’s the lede from David Morris’ op-ed, both a history lesson and a warning:

Today, 75 years and four months since Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, a Democratic president has abandoned FDR's strategy for protecting the program from shifting political winds. If congressional Democrats go along with Obama on this, it could mark the beginning of the end of Social Security as we have known it.

I would put it a little stronger: it does mark the beginning of the end. Here’s Morris describing FDR’s thinking about how to fund Social Security and protect it from predation:

One reason Social Security has proven so enduring and substantial is because of the financing strategy chosen, a payroll tax.

Many of FDR's advisers wanted financing to come out of general appropriations. They counseled, using an argument eerily similar to that offered today, that in 1935 the economy was still emerging from a deep depression and a payroll tax would have a detrimental impact.

FDR understood the argument. But he believed it far more important to adopt a funding mechanism that would protect Social Security from the depredations of future politicians.

Morris continues:

But Obama's tax deal will cut the payroll tax by 2 percentage points, reducing payments into the Social Security trust fund by $120 billion a year. Not to worry, says the White House.

The $120 billion will come from the general fund. Social Security revenues would remain intact. And the payroll tax reduction, they insist, will disappear in two years.

Well, if anyone believes that in two years the Republicans will agree to raise payroll taxes or that the Democrats will insist on it, I have a bridge to sell you.

The payroll tax cut will be permanent. The elderly and disabled will have to compete for $120 billion a year against all other claimants on the federal budget -- the Pentagon, Medicaid, education, environment. Or, the payroll tax will become a bargaining chip for a Republican demand that Social Security benefits be reduced.

This is a genuine scandal. Senator Go-Along to Get-Along Klobuchar voted for the bill, of course; sadly, Al Franken did, too, but at least he seems to recognize that there’s poison in the vote.

Let’s see, FDR was elected president four times. Who thinks that Obama will get two? Personally, I think he’s a long shot. And every congressional Dem who votes for this treacherous stinker (the bill) will have a lot of explaining to do.

the_spottyBut now, on the formal part of the program. For his excellent op-ed, David Morris wins the coveted Spotty™. Remember, boys and girls, a Spotty™ is awarded to a the author of an op-ed piece, a letter to the editor, a blog post, or a blog comment that Spot wishes he had written himself.


blogspotdog said...

And the funny thing about Franken is that I thought he was a much better historian than that.

blogspotdog said...

You can take all the other errors Obama has made as president - and there are plenty of them: escalating an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, DADT, choosing Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, dithering over health care, half measures on economic stimulus and financial reform, freezing federal employee wages for two years, sigh, the list goes on - but all rolled together they aren't as bad as what Obama has done to Social Security.

I spend precious little time here talking about myself, because frankly, I'm not that interesting. (That's a trait I share with most bloggers, some of whom could use a little more self-awareness of that fact, but that's for another post!). I am going to make an exception today.

I started contributing to Social Security about forty-five years ago. First as a part time and summer job teenager, then as an employee, and then as a self-employed person and employer. In the '80s, Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan said to my generation that we'd have to pony up more to put the system on a sounder financial footing; we did.

When I look back at all the contributions made by working people in my generation, and their employers, over the years, it fills me with outrage to consider that the Social Security system is now further imperilled by our foolish Democratic president.

I have to wonder if this craven act wasn't undertaken in the hope that it might provide some economic stimulus - which renewing the tax cuts to the wealthy will not - and give Obama a shot at a second term if the economy improves, even just a little.

That would be the ultimate betrayal, of course, but I suspect that's what's at work here.

blogspotdog said...

Either David Schultz is reading my mind, or I his. You, boys and girls, must decide which.

Tom said...

Somehow, after 75 years, I'm not surprised that the Social Security program might need a change or two.  Change is what voters wanted is it not?