Friday, February 12, 2010

Leave Social Security Aloooonnne!!!

Digby goes into one of her periodic rants about the looting of Social Security in the name of Deficit Reduction, actually praising Larry Summers (Larry Summers??!! God Damn, Digs) for "defending" the program against the sadists who would destroy it.

Will this ridiculousness never end? Larry Summers will be right there in the vanguard dismantling Social Security with Pete Peterson and His Serenity Barack Obama when the moment is right. Make no mistake. Of course. It's become one of the administration's goals as plain as day.

Medicare and Social Security are on the chopping block. Even more so than they were when the Busheviks went after them.

That's not the strange thing. What's strange is that there is not a peep of countervailing pressure from any quarter at all, certainly not from the so-called "left."

No, the best that anyone can come up with -- and Digby has been one of the most outspoken, while Josh Marshall (who was so determined to prevent the Busheviks from privatizing Social Security back in the day) has been completely silent -- is "Leave Social Security alone. Please. If you would. Thanks."

Not gonna work. No, it concedes the field before the game is played. It's very much like the general Democratic Party response to any initiative from the raving wingnuts. Grouse, then go along.

Keep things as they are, preserve the status quo, and if they can't do that, then mitigate some of the worst aspects of the wingnut plan around the edges. That's it.

There is no vision from the "left" of anything better than we have now, let alone better than the wingnuts are offering. No vision at all.

Where is the countering Vision?

Look at the situation right now. Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, and many of them are never going back to a job again. Many young people will never be employed at all if something isn't done, and not only is nothing being done, nothing is planned on to ensure something close to full employment in this country ever again.

An era has ended, and nothing at all except making it worse, "sadistically" as is suggested in the Digby piece linked above, is even under discussion.

Why is that?

Let's allow as how the economy is being structurally reorganized, fundamentally changed, and then let's think about how Social Security and a number of other programs -- that either exist or should exist -- should be integrated into that changed economic reality.

If we accept the notion that many of those who are unemployed now will never return to work, or in the case of the young, may never be employed at all, how might Social Security enter the picture? For one thing, imagine this:

    Retirement age lowered to 55 and lowest tier SS payments raised -- at least doubled and potentially tripled.

    The benefit is that older workers are enabled to leave the labor market -- if they choose -- potentially opening jobs for younger workers.

    Medicare eligibility lowered to 55 for retirees, Medicare buy in available to everyone who wants it at any age, pegged to the lowest private health care insurance premium.

    The benefit is that potentially everyone is covered for health care expenses, and essentially everyone is contributing to the system, and neither health care nor contributions would be tied to employment (which, as we know, is not coming back for many).

The Pete Petersons of the world have told us, in essence, that they refuse to allow their taxes to be raised even a penny to make good on the Treasury Bonds that stand in for the Social Security Trust Fund. In other words, they will let those bonds go into default before they will allow their taxes to be raised, and the only solution to the dilemma they will countenance is the reduction in benefits for Social Security recipients, together with the reduction in Medicare benefits, together with increasing (rather than lowering) the retirement age, all in preparation for the eventual complete privatization of both programs.

That's it. That's all they will discuss.

And the whole Palace Establishment (including the White House) is right there with them.

And there is no widely recognized alternative, anywhere. No, the "alternative" is to leave things alone.

Well, I say it is time for confiscatory taxation of the Petersons and their ilk, and for lowering the retirement age and for raising SS benefits, and for extending Medicare for All, and not backing down on any of it.


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