So I was in a debate against my Republican opponent Todd Long a few days ago, and the subject of Social Security came up. He spat out the usual buzzwords about how Social Security is broke, how the Democrats stole all the money from it, etc., etc. I said that he sounded like Chicken Little, but he kept right on going, and then imparted his “solutions.”
By way of background, my opponent paid to publish a book that brings together, in one place, all of his bizarre misconceptions and crackpot schemes. Sort of like “The Thoughts of Chairman Todd.” In his vanity book, on page 136, he histrionically announces that: “Projections indicate that by 2037, the Trust Fund will be exhausted.”
What that actually means is that if absolutely nothing changes for the next 25 years, then we may reach a point when we will have to pay Social Security benefits out of tax revenue or borrowing – the exact same way that we pay for every other federal program – rather than by withdrawals from the Social Security Trust Fund. And if absolutely nothing changes in the next 25 years, and if we don’t raise Social Security taxes at that time, and if we don’t borrow the money, then Social Security benefits – 25 years from now – may drop by 10 or 15 percent. In any event, the revenue generated under current law will be enough to pay for 85 to 90 percent of the benefits under current law. We’re talking about 25 years from now, when I will be 79 years old, if I live that long.
See what I meant by “Chicken Little”? Right now, we have almost 25 million Americans who can’t find full-time work, we have almost 50 million Americans who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, and he wants us just to forget all about that and concentrate on the year 2037.
But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that every one of his so-called “solutions” actually would make the problem worse. He wants to raise the age of Social Security eligibility to 72. That’s a 100% benefit cut for people between the ages of 65 and 71. And in his “privatization” scheme, he wants to take away tax revenue for Social Security, and dump it on Wall Street. That really would make it impossible to maintain the current level of benefits. And in his “government guarantee” scheme, he wants the federal government to insure these Wall Street accounts against losses – Wall Street losses that totaled $7 trillion after the 2008 crash.
Listening to all this ridiculous nonsense, I sort of scratched my head, wondering how anyone could think that this would “save” Social Security. And then I realized what was really going on:
He doesn’t want to save Social Security. He wants to destroy it.
My opponent (like Gov. Rick Perry) calls Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” (p. 134). Is that something that he would want to save? He says that Social Security is unconstitutional, simply because it meets “individual needs” (p. 96). Is that something that he would want to save? He evidently thinks that Social Security, like Medicare, is “one generation rob[bing] from the next” (p. 141). Is that something that he would want to save?
Answer: No. He doesn’t want to save Social Security; he wants to destroy it. That was my small epiphany at the debate, and that’s what I said. (In candidate debates, a little bit of truth goes a long way.)
And at the same time, I came upon another modest insight: he’s not the only one. In fact, there are huge numbers of Fox-fed, Rove-raised, Koch-coddled candidates and elected officials all over the country, just like him. They think that if they beat their chests and scream loud enough about how they must save Social Security, then they can kill it. It’s perhaps the Biggest Lie of all the Big Lies in American politics today.
My advice to America:
(1) Don’t believe them.
(2) Defeat them.