The scandals, Russian collusion investigation, self-dealing financial transactions, mismanagement, insults to women and people of color, are all trademarks of the Trump administration as they inflame sections of the electorate.
But, the one thing that crosses all social-economic and political boundaries is a 83-year-old benefit that is now under attack by the Republicans and has never failed to deliver on its promise: Social Security.
This makes Social Security the common political thread that provides a financial benefit, and in many cases, an essential economic lifeline to millions of Americans regardless of party, race, age, income or social status.
The indisputable thing about Social Security is that is a paid-in benefit, meaning people pay into this economic common pool and then at retirement or if they become disabled, can withdraw a percentage of their own contributions over time. The system works democratically because people are taking out what they contributed over time. Even better, and while it is rarely discussed, the administration of this retirement income benefit is done by federal workers at a cost that is well beneath anything in size and scope that can be administered by the private sector.
Still, that has not prevented the financial services industry from spending millions in lobbying money to dismantle the Social Security system and privatize it for the sole benefit of extracting large fees and having more money under management.
This is why we do not see one financial services firm running ads that encourage elected officials to protect this essential retirement benefit, even though every financial professional knows that without Social Security millions would be pushed into poverty in their old age.
It has been his way since the Social Security benefit was introduced in 1935 by the progressive democratic administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the profoundly populist New Deal set of policies that helped lift the U.S. out of the Great Depression and its economic aftermath (1929 to 1941.) These policies made the country financial secure enough to allow it to reach unprecedented levels of industrial productivity to defeat the Axis in World War II.
So with all this, it is astounding that the Republicans in 2018 have again re-launched their attacks on Social Security benefits, calling them “entitlements,” as a way of diverting attention from the grossly inequitable $1.5 trillion (yes, trillion) tax benefits disproportionately directed towards the top 1% of the richest people in the nation.
The Old Smear Campaign Against Social Security
According to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said entitlement programs (that he expanded to include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) have to be reduced in order to balance a budget that went into the red to finance the tax cuts for the wealthy.
This is an old canard from the Republican playbook, one that wants to erase all programs that stem from the New Deal. But given the partisan gains experienced by the Republicans in recent weeks, it is surprising why McConnell and his party want to publicly attack these popular medical and financial benefits programs weeks before a crucial mid-term election that will determine who controls Congress.
Even Ronald Reagan, the neo-conservative who was once a Roosevelt Democrat and saw the ravages of the Great Depression and who later wanted to privatize many federal programs, said in 1994: “Social Security, let’s lay it to rest once and for all, has nothing to do with the deficit. It’s totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security that money should not go into the general fund, that money should go into the general fund or reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security Trust Fund. So Social Security has nothing to with balancing a budget or lowering the deficit.”
So given the long history of post-Reagan Republican attempts to privatize or reduce Social Security, it’s boggling that Democrats have not leaped on this cross-political issue as a means of building support for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Even the most rabid Tea Party members say they hate the government, but don’t want their Social Security or Medicare benefits cut by one cent.
So where are the Dems and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on this issue?
Are they going to miss any other huge political opportunity?
And what about Republicans who say they hate the government, but still insist on getting federal benefits in the form of Medicare, public highways, subsidized drug development, air traffic control and hurricane emergency relief? You cannot both hate the government and take what it delivers. Society has never worked that way.
If you can find the answers to these modern political problems, let us know.
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