Social Security Works, June 1, 2010
Save Social Security
Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist
WASHINGTON — Say it isn’t so, Mr. President. You surely are not going to make a deal with Republicans to cut Social Security benefits, are you?
Here’s word from The Nation Magazine: “The President intends to offer Social Security as a sacrificial lamb to entice conservative deficit hawks into a grand bipartisan compromise in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security benefits while Republicans accede to significant tax increases to reduce government red ink.”
The grand compromise would form the crux of the recommendations by the new 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility that was set up to find ways to reduce the federal budget deficit. Commission co-chairs are former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff in the Clinton White House.
The panel’s recommendations are scheduled to be announced in December, safely after the November elections. A recommendation requires a minimum of 14 votes among the commissioners. If Obama agrees to ask Congress to cut Social Security benefits, it would amount to a sellout by a president of the same Democratic Party that embraced Franklin D. Roosevelt, the father of Social Security, back in 1935.
Social Security is not a charity. It is a trust fund created by contributions paid by workers and their employers, designed to assure a future livelihood, first for the elderly, then orphans, then the disabled. It’s a retirement savings plan — not a handout.
Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, headed a Social Security Commission in 1982 under the Reagan administration that recommended a modest increase in taxes which resolved worries that the New Deal program might go broke.
If Obama is worried about the federal budget deficit, he shouldn’t turn to Social Security. The solution to the deficit is staring him right in the face: Obama should cut our human and money losses by getting out of the impossible — and costly — wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Of course, we do have plans to leave Iraq this summer — if leaving 50,000 occupation troops there is really leaving. Why are we doing that? This was the war of choice — not of necessity — that former President George W. Bush got us into, based on wrong information. Our continuing occupation of Iraq merely compounds our tragic mistake of invading in the first place.
Somehow I doubt that the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission will have the courage to tell the president about a very cool way to cut federal spending: Get American troops out of wars where we have no business.
Get real, Mr. President, cutting Social Security would be a break of trust with the American people. Millions of Americans cannot live without their Social Security stipends. So don’t tamper with those monthly checks.
Social Security is so deeply rooted in our society that the American people protested loudly when Bush came up with a half-baked plan to privatize Social Security. Fortunately, American voters saw to it that his Wall Street boondoggle went nowhere.
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