As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, December 10, 2004

Bait And Switch

I remember a lot of talk about the Social Security lockbox and the competing views on privatization during the election... during the 2000 election, that is. You know, the one Bush lost. During this election cycle, there was almost no discussion of Social Security. I'll bet those security moms and fundamentalist gay-marriage haters will be surprised to know what's number one on the President's agenda, then:

In the next few weeks, White House officials, including Rove, are planning to meet with Republican activists outside of the White House to launch a national campaign to create private Social Security accounts for younger Americans. GOP sources say several groups are raising money for an ad campaign that will likely be carried out by some of the same "527" groups active in the presidential campaign.

Surprise! We're going to privatize (that should read drown in a bathtub) Social Security! And how will we pay for moving all this money from younger workers' payroll taxes into private accounts while maintaining the payouts to the retired? Faith, my dear boy, faith!

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Thursday flatly rejected a payroll tax increase to shore up Social Security, narrowing the range of options available to lawmakers to address the retirement system's long-term financial needs.

"We will not raise payroll taxes to solve this problem," Bush told reporters following a meeting at the White House with Social Security trustees.

It also made it more likely that any measure Bush signed into law would rely on borrowed money and reductions in promised benefits for future retirees to finance the creation of private investment accounts and make the system financially sound.

So Social Security is going bankrupt (actually, it isn't, but I'll go by the prevailing logic), so in order to save it, we'll... borrow money! That's what every idiot with a credit card would do, after all! That's why every idiot isn't in charge of the federal budget. If you want a sure way to destroy the economy, try to squeeze more blood from the stone that is China and Japan. How long can it be until they realize that they don't HAVE to buy US Treasury bonds, that they don't have to prop up this faith-based economy. And what about when we have to pay them back? I'm sorry, I'm thinking more than one step ahead. That's not how this government works.

The sad thing is that raising the ceiling on payroll taxes (currently at $87,900) would have bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) proposed raising the limit to $200,000, and a couple Representatives in the House set it at $132,000. Sure, there's a gap there, but it'd be the beginning of a dialogue, and a way to make Social Security more solvent through the Baby Boom maturation. But the anathema of raising taxes in any form is just impossible for Republican ideologues to swallow. Taxes pay for things. They're not inherently bad. I'd rather pay for someone to build roads than go out in the street and build it myself. I like libraries and post offices and public parks and clean conservation areas. Taxes are services, OK? Social Security may have started for different reasons, it may be a giant Ponzi scheme. But at least it retains a smidgen of the social contract that all citizens are worthy of being cared for in their old age. By saving it through borrowing, it continues the "pass the buck," be-all-things-to-all-people nonsense that may win elections in the short term, but destroys the very fabric of the nation eventually.