Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Social Security's burning Bush


Our dollars and sense-challenged president is running hot and cold on a good many things in his second flustered and notably more flummoxed term. This is especially true when it comes to that big bear in the entitlements lock box, social security, pride of FDR's New Deal, scourge of the Corporate Country Clubbers' Raw Deal (the new "CCC" being the antithesis of FDR's CCC).

Boys and girls, can you say "fiscally unsophisticated"? SURE you can....

But no, the new CCC Neocon Posse is not really so unsophisticated. They are sophisticated enough to know that a strange brew of fear and fiscal smoke and mirrors might could fool most of the people enough of the time.

Mr. Bush would like to make that trust fund less secure and less-trustworthy, and he's catching both hot vibes and cold shoulders all around. As with his messy nominations for judgeships, he's making such a mess of things he'll have to start looking over his shoulder. Even some of the bluest blooded Republicans are boiling a bit and in a few short years will probably be glad to see Mr. Bush packing his bags for Crawford.

True Majority (.org) has just posted an easily downloadable 90 second animated clip that explains the social security debacle in one fell swoop. It just goes to show how far not only President Bush but also many in Congress (and many more outside those hallowed halls) will go to scrap popular federal programs, all with the intention of making the federal government seem more and more useless, more and more inept, more and more at odds with the woefully un- and underinformed American "on the street," voter or not.

We don't need any miracles or even an overhaul. Social security needs just one thing - an end to the $90,000 cap on earnings that apply to each citizen's contribution.

As True Majority's animation shows, all those millionaires and billionaires contribute exactly the same amount as those who make $90,000. What a crock. Of course the rich don't want this to change because social security is one tax from which you can't shelter yourself, no matter how highly paid your accountant, no matter how tricky your stock trades, loopy investment scams and foreign accounts.

Switzerland or Swaziland, the rich can invest, divest, launder, run guns and rum and just run and hide in the bushes behind the White House and, as it is, not worry a fig about social security - a drop in their buckets. Why not have those making more than $90,000 contribute at the same rate? This is nuts. Problem solved. Case closed.

Don't you believe otherwise, that it'll take more than this, the simple raising of the cap. Fair is fair.

I've just picked up a copy of Cass Sunstein's book, "The Second Bill of Rights." Subtitle: "FDR's unfinished revolution and why we need it more than ever." Sunstein's book revolves around President Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union address, in which he proposed new rights for all American citizens - the right to a decent home, the right to a good education, the right to adequate medical care, the right to a decent job at a livable wage, the right to fair trade and, overall, the right to social and civil security.

FDR understood that it was government's job to help make the playing field more fair for opportunity - opportunity and stability being necessary ingredients of any real security, at home and around the world. Now there was a rich man looking out for those in trouble and having trouble, not like today's bloodless (or is it bloodthirsty?) crop of Cash Cow Cowboys rootin' tootin' 'round the globe in the name of God-Fearin' American Jingo-Brand Freedom.

FDR's revolution is unfinished but no less needed. Indeed we do need it more than ever - in a world more intent on fairness than even that elusive and amorphous carrot of freedom. And one way to keep that people's revolution alive is to make social security work the way it should - as a stable safety net. It's not a government giveaway, and it shouldn't be a government gamble, either. The stakes are too high for those who need help - and that's NOT those making over a few hundred thousand a year. Why not share the burden, rich friends?

So please, don't be spoiled, and don't continue to spoil the spoiled. Move the ceiling for social security earnings up to the CEOs' income levels, and let's be done with this fake crisis and point to the propagandists trying to get us burned.


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