Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's ba-ack ...

Every time I think I might be able to delete this blog, there's a new reminder of why I shouldn't. The GOP is at it again, as Michael Hiltzik explains:
Like a zombie tromping through a Hollywood gorefest, the idea of privatizing Social Security still walks among us.

The last promoter of the idea that people should personally invest their Social Security assets in the stock market was President George W. Bush, in 2001. With the dot-com crash still ringing in people's memories, the idea died in 2005.

The market hasn't yet recovered from its most recent crash, but the monster unaccountably is back on its feet. This time it comes dressed up as part of the "Roadmap for America’s Future" recently unfurled by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking GOP member of the House Budget Committee.

The Roadmap is a retort to the charge that the Republican Party contributes no ideas to the national debate on fiscal issues, only "no" votes in Congress. It's a road map to the dismantling of federal social programs under the guise of making them fiscally sound, while cutting taxes for the rich. (The plan eliminates taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.)

Social Security comes in for particular abuse. Ryan states that "Social Security's shrinking value and fragile condition pose a serious problem. . . . To maintain the program's significant role as a part of the retirement security safety net, Social Security's mission must be fulfilled . . . without bankrupting future workers."

One doesn't want to be picky about an elected congressman's words, but with all due respect, these words are pure bilge. They come straight from the talking points of Social Security's historical enemies: conservatives who have never believed that the government should play such an important role in people's retirement planning, and mutual fund and insurance companies that hanker for the business generated by millions of Americans looking for a profitable place to park their retirement assets.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Social Security isn't broken; don't "fix" it.

LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik observes that if there's a silver lining to our current economic situation, it's that the strength and value of our current Social Security system:

They say that even the worst tragedies harbor the seed of something good. So here's something positive in the stock market's gruesome behavior over the last year: It may finally have driven a stake through the heart of the campaign to "fix" Social Security.

Let's be plain about one thing: This campaign, cooked up mostly by Wall Street investment houses and conservative Republicans,was always about “fixing” Social Security the way one "fixes" a cat. (...)

With any luck, the 2008 stock market crash will permanently restore Social Security's luster. Indeed, the program looks so solid and reliable compared with every other source of retirement income -- your pension, your portfolio, your house -- that people ought to respond well to the idea of expanding it, in part by permitting them to put more money into their Social Security accounts to obtain better benefits.

In fact, he suggests that it should be expanded by adding the ability to make voluntary contributions.

Labels: ,