December 2, 2009
-- by Dave Johnson
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein has joined a group of Senators threatening to allow the nation to default on its debt unless a commission to "fast track" cuts to Social Security is created.
Talking Points Memo describes what is going on,
Moderate and conservative Democrats want to empower an outside entitlement commission to reshape major domestic spending programs like Medicare and Social Security, and they're threatening a truly nuclear option to get their way. If Congress does not create this commission, they say, they will vote against must-pass legislation to raise the nation's debt ceiling, which would trigger a default, and, perhaps, economic calamity.
"I will not vote for raising the debt limit without a vehicle to handle this," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told McClatchy. "This is our moment."
About this commission,
As proposed, it would hand a significant amount of Congressional authority over entitlement programs to an outside body. That body would make recommendations that Congress would have to vote on, up or down--no filibusters.
That's a bridge way too far for liberals, who see the commission as a backdoor approach to gutting Social Security.
Here's the problem. Many people believe that there is a problem with Social Security - that it is "going broke." But the fact is that Social Security has a huge reserve in the bank. Social Security runs a huge surplus, and that surplus has been added to this reserve every year for decades. Social Security will continue running a surplus until at least 2017, and can then draw on that trust fund to make up any shortfalls for at least the next 30-40 years.
Ah, but where is that trust fund? According to a recent Washington Post story,
The Treasury Department has for decades borrowed money from the Social Security trust fund to finance government operations. If it is no longer able to do so, it could be forced to borrow an additional $700 billion over the next decade from China, Japan and other investors. And at some point, perhaps as early as 2017, according to the CBO, the Treasury would have to start repaying the billions it has borrowed from the trust fund over the past 25 years, driving the nation further into debt or forcing Congress to raise taxes.
So there is the problem in a nutshell. They spent it. They spent it on tax cuts for the rich, and now that people are retiring and want that money, Senator Feinstein and the others don't want to raise taxes on the rich to pay back what was borrowed from the nation's retirement account.
This is the same as the situation in California. They cut taxes and made up the shortfall with various gimmicks, until the gimmicks ran out. So now that the bill is due the protectors of the wealthiest talk about "spending" - which is government coming through for the people - as the area to cut, instead of turning to the people who received all the benefits of the earlier actions.
Senator Feinstein, keep your hands off of my -- and everyone else's -- retirement account. You borrowed that money, now pay it back. Don't think you can solve this problem by asking me to accept less than what I was promised because you handed that money out to the wealthy. The people who got it should be the ones paying it back, not the people it was taken from. You already took money from the taxpayers to bail out the wealthiest, don't do it again.
Posted by Dave Johnson at December 2, 2009 3:25 PM
Seems to me it is the same thing again and again. Money is taken from those who can't afford it to fund activities for those that can.
Many will ask why they should fund the poor but right now the poor are funding everyone else.
I don't think anyone will pay any attention to us, but it's important that we call their bluff. If they do go through with it and disallow the debt ceiling, it will eliminate any further borrowing, but it won't cause default on the current debt. See the first independent clause of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment.
And of course, we always have to hammer away that Social Security has no problems -- it is well-funded for the next half-century. (The same clause of the 14th Amendment also prohibits default of the Social Security bonds.)
Challengers have to challenge those senators and representatives in the primaries. Why are they betraying us and behaving and talking like Republicans?
Posted by: John M 307 at December 5, 2009 9:37 PM
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