Barack Obama is echoing the right’s destructive narrative about Social Security being in crisis. The crisis is that Reagan and then Bush took all the money from the Social Security Trust Fund to use for tax cuts for the rich. (Clinton’s surpluses were paying it back, Bush reversed that.) And now the Trust Fund is going to need some of that money back
The right’s line is that this means Social Security is in crisis, is “not going to be there” for the next generation, and “tough choices” are required. The audacity — they took the money, and now they say this is Social Security’s problem, and that we have to fix Social Security! They say this to distract the public from asking for the money back, and to get them to support efforts to privatize the program.
And Barack Obama has joined them in this! Recently an Obama ad reinforced the right’s bamboozlement that Social Security is running out of money. speaking on Meet the Press:
Now, we’ve got 78 million baby boomers that are going to be retiring, and every expert that looks at this problem says “There’s going to be a gap, and we’re going to have more money going out than we have coming in unless we make some adjustments now.” … I want to make sure that it’s there not just for this generation, but for next generations. So that means that we’re going to have to make some decisions…
Paul Krugman pleads with him to stop. A few years ago the right tried to go after Social Security and there was
… a determined defense by progressives in the media, on the blogs, and in Congress beat back one spurious argument after another, while the American people made it clear that they really want a program that guarantees a basic retirement income that doesn’t depend on the Dow. And Social Security survived.
All of which makes it just incredible that Barack Obama would make obeisance to fashionable but misguided Social Security crisis-mongering a centerpiece of his campaign.
Barack Obama, please realize that you are assisting the right’s efforts to get rid of Social Security. Their strategy is to make the public think that the program is in trouble and then sweep in with their “solution.” (This is called “disaster capitalism.”) The other day I wrote,
I know that Senator Obama’s heart is in the right place and he has no intention of harming Social Security. But this ad is a mistake that could backfire. Please stop running this ad and please change the language. Instead of reinforcing the right’s lie that Social Security has a problem, let people know that the conservatives took their money from Social Security and gave it out as tax cuts to the rich and THAT is the problem!
IS your heart in the right place? Social Security is not in trouble. Stop saying it is.