Repealing the New Dealposted by Ron Beasley at 2/02/2005 10:13:00 AM
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Tonight the president of the United States will come before Congress and call for the repeal of the New Deal.And this attack is nothing new and infact is as old as Social Security itself.
Not frontally, of course. Indeed, George W. Bush has taken to invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt as a fellow experimenter-in-arms. That's true as far as it goes, but the goal of Bush's experiment is to negate Roosevelt's.
The roots of Bush's speech tonight go back almost as far as the New Deal itself. Social Security was enacted in 1935, and in 1936 Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon questioned its solvency.Bush is on the wrong side of the ideological argument against Social Security and he knows it. He will once again try to convince the people of the US that it is bankrupt.
Since Landon (who carried two states against Roosevelt's 46), right-wing attacks on Social Security have proceeded along two lines: those that doubted its solvency and those that disparaged its ideology.
And so we will hear tonight that Social Security may be doing fine today, but it will be a toothless geezer of a program by the time today's young people hit 65. There will be so many retirees living so long that only by redirecting young people's money out of the program and into the market will we preserve the solvency of the old.Keep in mind what you hear from Bush tonight on Social Security is a lie. He can't sell his plan to destroy it based on ideology so he will lie about it's solvency. I think we have learned by now that the "morale values" of George W. Bush don't include telling the truth.
All this is nonsense, of course. According to the system's actuaries, if we do nothing at all, the system will remain in the black, paying out full benefits, straight through 2042. Beyond then, its liabilities will amount to just a fraction of 1 percent of the national income. The program, like all programs, could use some modest fixes over time, and by such measures as raising revenue through a hike on the employer's payroll tax (by eliminating the cap on taxable employee income), it can be fixed.
But Bush is not seeking to strengthen a strong system; he's seeking to dismantle it. The private (or "personal," in poll-tested Bushese) accounts we'll hear so much about tonight provide the pretext for slashing benefits to future retirees by as much as 40 percent. As with that village in Vietnam, it's become necessary to destroy Social Security in order to save it.
Tonight, we'll hear that a great system is in trouble. It is, but only because the people who run the government wish it ill.