Friday, March 25, 2005

Pulling the Feeding Tube From Social Security 

Now they're making a big to-do over "progressive indexation", the most exciting new way of screwing the public since "personal accounts". I'm sick of this:
"Progressive indexation involves reducing the growth in benefits for people with middle and higher incomes, but letting the benefits keep rising for low-income retirees in future generations."
Sounds fair at first, no? But as is usually the case in infomercial con jobs, there's more! In this latest scheme, people in the lowest 30% of income earners would get slighly higher benefits than they would as SS stands today, but would be tied to rises in prices instead of wages, making a decline in one's standard of living likely.
"People in the middle third of incomes would see the combined benefits from Social Security and their private accounts slip to about 80 percent of the amounts promised today.
For people who earn more than $90,000 a year in today's dollars, the estimated benefits would be reduced by about one-third."
Do you hear a death-knell? Poor Social Security, it sure was good to know ya:
"Critics say the plan would gradually hurt public support for Social Security because it would cut into benefits for middle-income workers without reducing their taxes.
Jason Furman, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said high-income workers who contribute more in payroll taxes would eventually receive no more in Social Security benefits than workers at the bottom.
"This raises the question of whether broad political support for Social Security can be sustained if workers pay very different amounts of payroll taxes but most workers receive the same level of benefits," Mr. Furman wrote in a research note on Monday."
And it wouldn't eliminate the anticipated shortfall anymore than converting to "personal accounts" will, a fact readily admitted by Bush and the Republicans, so we'll still have that to deal with.

Can things become any plainer than this? For those who've kept their eyes and ears open, like William Greider of The Nation, the whole Social Security fluff-up has been nothing more than the assault to dismantle the program that has been planned and promised for years. SS was never meant to be anything but an insurance policy, guaranteeing a minimum level of income to keep people out of poverty, and conceived as a way for each generation to support the next. In that way, it has been one of the few ideas to come out of the founding of the republic that actually recognized the impact of the present on the far future, and took seriously the debt each preceding generation owes to the one that came before it. Any argument about its fate that digresses from this fact threatens to dissolve into the putrid river of disingenuous excuses the administration keeps spewing forth to drown the truth.

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