Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Save Social Security from the muggers

Our friends at the Strengthen Social Security campaign say they were pleased with President Obama's State of the Union speech last night. Here's what Obama said:
To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

TeamsterNation believes that words matter, but in Washington, not so much. As a critic pointed out, Obama promised to close Guantanamo in one year.

Here are some words about Social Security by the incomparable Bob Herbert. They matter because they should inspire people to head toward the barricades in defense of Social Security.
If there’s a better government program than Social Security, I’d like to know what it is.
It has gone a long way toward eliminating poverty among the elderly. Great numbers of them used to live and die in ghastly, Dickensian conditions of extreme want. Without Social Security today, nearly half of all Americans aged 65 or older would be poor. With it, fewer than 10 percent live in poverty.
But Herbert was only warming up:
When you see surveillance videos of some creep mugging an elderly person in an elevator or apartment lobby, the universal reaction is outrage. But when the fat cats and the ideologues want to hack away at the lifeline of Social Security, they are treated somehow as respectable, even enlightened members of the society. We need a reality check. Attacking Social Security is both cruel and unnecessary. It needs to stop.
He notes that there is no Social Security crisis. Potential long-term problems could be fixed easily by raising the cap on payroll taxes so rich people share more of the burden. (Yeah, like that happens in America these days.)  And he points out what needs to be repeated again and again and again:
The folks who want to raise the retirement age and hack away at benefits for ordinary working Americans are inevitably those who have not the least worry about their own retirement. The haves so often get a perverse kick out of bullying the have-nots.
Read the whole thing here.