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  • Tuesday, April 05, 2005


    Social Security Reform: A Bit of History

    Jim Hightower has a long column on Neutering Social Security chock full of history and Geo. W's rhetoric over twenty-five years on the subject. Worth reading.

    Extremist, right-wing ideology and the insatiable corporate grab for money are the two forces behind Bush's push not merely to neuter this enormously popular and effective retirement program ... but ultimately to kill it. As reported in last month's Lowdown, step one is to portray Social Security as fatally flawed. The promised benefits are a "hoax," the taxes paid into the trust fund are "wasted" rather than invested for maximum return, and "the so-called reserve fund ... is no reserve at all."

    Interestingly, these are quotes not from today's alarmist Bushites but from the lips of Alf Landon and the pages of his party's platform when he was the Republican candidate for president way back in 1936! Note that the first Social Security check was not mailed until 1937, so the ideologues and big money interests were predicting doom and gloom and trying to undermine the program even before it started.

    Indeed, dismantling Social Security has been a central tenet of the right wing for nearly 70 years, and it's been an increasingly serious goal of GOP presidential politics since the hardcore right made its grab for the reins of the party's national leadership with Barry Goldwater's 1964 run. Nothing that Bush is saying today is new. Just as George is now doing, Goldwater painted a picture of a collapsing system 40 years ago, declaring that "it is not actuarially sound" and contending that he merely wanted "to make Social Security solvent, to improve it." Likewise, Ronnie Reagan called for the same sort of privatization approach now touted by Bush. "Can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen to do better on his own?" the Gipper asked.

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