Thursday, September 08, 2011

Finessing Social Security

If Texas Governor Rick Perry became the next Repub nominee for President, his selection would be virtually useless. Perry nearly accomplished this by insisting at the GOP debate (transcript here) in California that Social Security is the Ponzi scheme he had claimed in his memoir it to be . Asked for his response, Mitt Romney adroitly replied

Well, the issue is not the funding of Social Security. We all agree and have for years that the funding program of Social Security is not working, and Congress has been raiding the dollars from Social Security to pay for annual government expenditures. That`s wrong. The funding, however, is not the issue.

The issue in the book "Fed Up," Governor, is you say that by any measure, Social Security is a failure. You can`t say that to tens of millions of Americans who live on Social Security and those who have lived on it.

The governor says look, states ought to be able to opt out of Social Security. Our nominee has to be someone who isn`t committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving Social Security.

We have always had, at the heart of our party, a recognition that we want to care for those in need, and our seniors have the need of Social Security. I will make sure that we keep the program and we make it financially secure. We save Social Security.

And under no circumstances would I ever say by any measure it`s a failure. It is working for millions of Americans, and I`ll keep it working for millions of Americans. And we`ve got to do that as a party.

That sound you hear is of hearts dropping at Organizing for America. The former governor of Massachusetts, running far behind Perry in national polls of Republicans, evidently is interested not only in being nominated, but also in being elected.

When was the last time a Republican gave a (somewhat) ringing endorsement of the most popular government program in American history? For that matter- when was the last time President Obama gave a ringing endorsement of Social Security?

To be sure, Romney is no fan of insurance for the elderly. He dishonestly stated "the funding for Social Security is not working" and "saving Social Security" is code for reducing benefits. On his website, Romney similarly pledges "to ensure the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security," the Establishment's diplomatic way of advocating cuts. The candidate "believes that these changes should not reduce benefits for current seniors or break the promises they have relied upon for their economic security in retirement." This has become the tactful- and politically adroit- way of warning that if you're currently under age 65, you better hold on to your wallet.

And politically savvy it is. Just as the it has been widely believed throughout the mainstream media for over a decade that Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet, so, too, has the Establishment decided (falsely) that Social Security is fiscally unsustainable. That, combined with his reluctance to admit that he wants to turn the system over to Wall Street, conveniently places Mitt Romney squarely where the media likes its candidates. And that should make the Davids Axelrod and Plouffe very nervous.

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