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November 11, 2007

Senator Obama, Please Stop Echoing Right-Wing Lies About Social Security!

-- by Dave Johnson

Barack Obama is echoing the right's destructive narrative about Social Security being in crisis. The crisis is that Reagan and then Bush took all the money from the Social Security Trust Fund to use for tax cuts for the rich. (Clinton's surpluses were paying it back, Bush reversed that.) And now the Trust Fund is going to need some of that money back

The right's line is that this means Social Security is in crisis, is "not going to be there" for the next generation, and "tough choices" are required. The audacity -- they took the money, and now they say this is Social Security's problem, and that we have to fix Social Security! They say this to distract the public from asking for the money back, and to get them to support efforts to privatize the program.

And Barack Obama has joined them in this! Recently an Obama ad reinforced the right's bamboozlement that Social Security is running out of money. speaking on Meet the Press:

Now, we’ve got 78 million baby boomers that are going to be retiring, and every expert that looks at this problem says “There’s going to be a gap, and we’re going to have more money going out than we have coming in unless we make some adjustments now.” ... I want to make sure that it’s there not just for this generation, but for next generations. So that means that we’re going to have to make some decisions...

Paul Krugman pleads with him to stop. A few years ago the right tried to go after Social Security and there was

... a determined defense by progressives in the media, on the blogs, and in Congress beat back one spurious argument after another, while the American people made it clear that they really want a program that guarantees a basic retirement income that doesn't depend on the Dow. And Social Security survived.

All of which makes it just incredible that Barack Obama would make obeisance to fashionable but misguided Social Security crisis-mongering a centerpiece of his campaign.

Barack Obama, please realize that you are assisting the right's efforts to get rid of Social Security. Their strategy is to make the public think that the program is in trouble and then sweep in with their "solution." (This is called "disaster capitalism.") The other day I wrote,
I know that Senator Obama's heart is in the right place and he has no intention of harming Social Security. But this ad is a mistake that could backfire. Please stop running this ad and please change the language. Instead of reinforcing the right's lie that Social Security has a problem, let people know that the conservatives took their money from Social Security and gave it out as tax cuts to the rich and THAT is the problem!
IS your heart in the right place? Social Security is not in trouble. Stop saying it is.

Posted by Dave Johnson at November 11, 2007 8:19 PM

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Comments

The full retirement age is based on maintaining a 50% death rate, so the government does not have to pay any paid for benefits but to half of the investors. The government gets 15% of all wages in America and is so incompetent as an investment manager, if we could we would have fired them, they do not invest our money and grow the funds. The problem with Social Security is totally caused by government. No, matter your political party affiliation, and setting aside your thoughts on issues. We all need to remember what it is to be an American Citizen. We need to make sure our elected representatives obey their Oath of Office and keep their Oath of Allegiance. See http://tinyurl.com/2znnvl Know whom you are voting for.

Posted by: Dr Coles [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 12, 2007 11:00 AM

The previous comment is an example of right-wing ideological nonsense.

First, "the government" is us. People who complain about "the government" are complaining about democracy.

Second, there is no "problem" with social Security. The PROBLEM is that Reagan and Bush gave tax cuts to the rich and started borrowing so much money. Now the money has to be paid back -- to Social Security, for example.

The government doesn't "manage" Social Security funds as an investment, it buys treasury bills with the money.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 12, 2007 11:25 AM

Dave, every time you say this, you are just wrong:

First, "the government" is us. People who complain about "the government" are complaining about democracy.

The problem is that the United States is a republic. It is not a direct democracy where the majority always wins. This is a very important concept to understand because it has to do with protecting minority rights and preventing "tyranny of the majority."

Just because 50% of the public wants something, does not mean it becomes a law. Any federal law must be authorized by the U.S. Constitution. If you read it, you will see that it doesn't authorize many things at all. The reason for this is the protection of minority rights.

I am not the government. I don't want to be associated with most of the policies of the US Government, be they the Iraq war or Social Security. But, I believe in republican democracy (note the lack of capitalization).

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 12, 2007 8:31 PM

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