Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking.
-Steve McCroskey, AIRPLANE (1980)
I have shared this sentiment on a daily basis during this absolutely absurd electoral circus year, particularly when engaging with lesser-evil Clinton boosters who seem to have come upon the finest batch of hallucinogenic mushrooms this side of the Rio Grande. These people, many of whom are pleading for a Clinton vote on the basis of the idea that a President Trump would ravage what remains of the social safety net, are simply refusing to accept or alternatively do no believe that the Democrats are aiming to privatize Social Security right now and have been for years.
Those who doubt this should do themselves a favor and examine the record. First, read through the excellent Counterpunch essay by historian Robin Blackburn, How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security, which explains how the neoliberal Democratic Party agenda regarding Social Security started to be rolled out by Bill Clinton when his intern forced him to pivot to the left in order to shore up his base as a defensive posture against the inquiries of Ken Starr.
This has been an agenda item for decades that can be traced back to the minds of the fiscal brain trust of Larry Summers and Robert Rubin. Both men have played major roles in Obama’s political career dating back to his early days as a “community organizer”, which was in fact a gentrification project done on behalf of the Chicago FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) sector. When Clinton was administering Rubin/Summers policies to benefit the FIRE sector, Obama was working on the ground in the Windy City as a foot soldier for this agenda.
Truth is the enemy of the state, and always has been. But today the Western populations live in a world of total lies. Try to think of anything that the government has told you the truth about. “Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction,” “Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” “Russian invasion of Ukraine” are not the only lies. Everything the government says is a lie. The unemployment rate. The GDP growth rate. The inflation rate. Payroll jobs. 9/11. Tonkin Gulf. Boston Marathon Bombing. Paris attacks.
Consider the taxation of Social Security benefits. Social Security existed for 49 years, from 1935 to 1984 without the benefits being taxed. Wall Street, David Stockman, Alan Greenspan, and the Republican establishment are responsible for breaking the promise to the American people and subjecting Social Security benefits to income taxation. When the Supply-Side economic policy led to the collapse of inflation far quicker than Stockman’s budget prediction had taken into account, federal budget deficits appeared that Stockman and Wall Street blamed on Reagan’s economic program. In those days the only economics the Republican establishment knew was fear of budget deficits. The fools actually thought that a budget deficit caused by the unanticipated collapse in inflation was going to cause inflation.
Any conversation about tackling poverty in the United States should include protecting and expanding Social Security. The reason is pretty straightforward: Social Security is the most powerful tool available to lift people out of poverty. Nearly two-thirds of seniors depend on Social Security for the majority of their income, and millions more children and adults depend upon survivors and disability benefits. According to Center for Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of Census data, Social Security kept 21 million Americans out of poverty in the last year alone. All told, that’s more people than any other government program.
Social Security works. No one runs out of benefits, and payments don’t rise and fall with the stock market. Despite scare tactics from Republicans in Congress, the facts are clear. Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus. If we do nothing, Social Security will be safe for the next 18 years, and after that will continue to pay three-quarters of benefits through the end of the century.