Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Behind the Attack on Social Security

The threat to Social Security is real. Economist Dean Barker today, writing at TPM gives us some insight into why we should be very frightened:

This effort is being led by billionaire investment banker Peter Peterson. Mr. Peterson has personally profited to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from the "fund managers' tax subsidy," an obscure provision of the tax code that allows billionaires to pay a lower tax rate than schoolteachers and firefighters. However, Peterson believes in giving back. He has committed $1 billion to an effort that is intended to take away the Social Security benefits that people have worked and paid for.

As part of this effort, Peterson set up a whole new foundation, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. He and/or his foundation created a "news service," the Fiscal Times, which is intended to promote the view that we have no choice but to cut Social Security. The Fiscal Times has entered into agreements with the Washington Post and other credible newspapers to provide material.

Peterson is also funding the creation of a high school curriculum which is intended to tell our children that the in the future the country will be too poor to finance Social Security. He funded a silly exercise called "America Speaks," which was supposed to convince an assembly of selected participants that we must cut Social Security after a daylong immersion in Peterson-style propaganda. (The people didn't buy it.) And now his crew is spending $20 million on an ad campaign to convince people the world will end if we don't cut Social Security.

Peterson's started his own media propaganda outlet, and is actively involved in brainwashing high school students - all aimed at destroying Social Security. He's got more money than he could ever spend in his life, but he wants to make sure YOUR retirement is spent living in a cardboard box.

Not only is this a perversion of the American social contract and the American dream, it's also a slap in the collective faces of we the taxpayers who bailed these miserable greedsuckers out with TARP.

cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org


Jill Shaffer said...

And let's be sure to look at the taxing structure that underlies Social Security.

We pay two kinds of personal income tax in this country:

A) the flat-rate, from-dollar-one, Social Security tax --7.5% employee/same from employer, or if you're self-employed like me, all 15% of it-- that we've all been contributing to since our first job in high school;
B) graduated income tax, with all kinds of personal deductions, mortgage deductions, etc. Many at the lower end pay none of this kind of tax, or even get an earned-income tax credit. But the rate goes up the more you make, and rich folks pay more.

So guess which tax got the Bush tax cuts, and which tax fund they borrowed from to pay for the tax cuts, two wars, and an unfunded drug benefit?

Now they (ie, Peterson and his ilk) have the gall to come and say we can't afford the entitlements (SS, Medicare, etc.--all that stuff supported by payroll taxes). Well, this is the main reason to kill off the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and get funding for SS guaranteed solid. The rich used those tax breaks to "invest" in money chasing money, not building a strong economy, and drove us over a cliff.

It's OUR money -- the wages and salaries of working people -- that funds Social Security, and provides a secure floor under us in our old age. And it WORKS!

susanthe said...

Jill - thank you so much for this very clear explanation. Everyone needs to see and understand this.


DissedBelief said...

ThinkProgress currently has an article regarding our war spending machine which is abhorrant. There are plenty of garbage barrel programs to cut without touching any social programs. Defense would be one. Now it appears Obama has lied about pulling out of Afghanistan and will allow Gates et al to decide when they should do so. I was under the impression that the Republicans were heavily supported by Medicare/SS recipients? If their rug is pulled from under them, will we see Presidential elections run the way GW's was the first time? In order words, our votes are purely token and really not required.