It’s about time somebody punched holes in the idea that the Social Security tax cut agreement is a big triumph. Sure, it’s a cheap, political win for Obama. But as former Iowa senator Tom Harkin pointed out, it’s a disaster for the concept of Social Security in the long run.
FDR installed the radically socialistic government welfare give-away to the elderly that Tea Party-ers love and live on by making it a pay-as-you-go system built on tax revenues separate from the federal budget. Despite the wildly successful media panic campaign by the rich and their lackeys about the fund’s alleged insolvency, Social Security has plenty of money and would be in fine shape if its tax base were left alone or the law tweaked to add higher earners to the paying-in pool.
But now Obama has offered to undermine it by using payroll tax cuts to boost aggregate demand in these tough times, thereby setting the stage for a permanent crippling of the system’s finances. By allowing 160 million working Americans to pay 2 percent less into the fund, Obama has set the stage for fulfilling the false prophecy that there won’t be enough money to sustain the baby-boomer elderly. When times are better, how many Republicans will he or any other president get to agree to put the taxes back up to where they were?
So instead of taking a real stand in defense of the New Deal legacy, Obama and his Democratic go-alongs, convinced of their sneaky cleverness, elevate and defend a GOP concept and turn it into their goal. The wacko brigades immediately oppose it, and when they finally give in—whether from incompetence or Tar Baby-reluctance—Obama is declared the ‘winner’.
We, sadly, are the losers.
A lot more of this twisted thinking will be on display for the next six months, which is why I will be spending much of it with a blanket over my head. For example, stalwart liberals like Truthdig’s Bill Boyarsky are already twitting us for criticizing heroic Barack in these terms: ‘Haven’t they noticed that the Republicans want to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the rest of the economic protections for the poor and the middle class?’
Yes, Bill, some of us have indeed noticed that Republicans want to do that. But we also recall that W tried it and failed, that Republicans alone can’t pull it off. Only Democrats can actually bamboozle us into accepting that the remains of the New Deal should be chipped away, that it’s the best we can expect, and that we should be glad we’re being f***** by our friends rather than by our enemies.