Now that the healthcare wars in DC are settling down, the pols and bankers have to find something else to make into a “crisis”. Of course, they could (theoretically) actually address the true, real crises we’re facing: unconscionably high unemployment, industries/markets that have become enormously uncompetitive and oligopolistic, and a banking sector that’s threatening to grow even larger and more reckless than 2 years ago. But those addressing those crises would help ordinary people. That’s not attractive to the Wall St-DC set.
So they look for a new monster to slay (that would also allow Wall St lots of profits). The new monster is called “DEFICIT” and “PUBLIC DEBT”. We’re all supposed to quake in our shoes at the mere mention. We’re supposed to be so afraid of these mythical beasts that we all line up to surrender our social security benefits and ask to be taxed even more. Never mind that Social Security is actually quite sound financially. Or that a sovereign nation with a floating fiat currency need never default unless it chooses to. Oh well.
The fix appears to be in. The President’s new “Debt Commission” is loaded with folks that have already made up their mind: you giving up your social security benefits is a sacrifice they’re willing to make. Looks like there will be lots to blog about SS this year as the topic heats up.
A decade of wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the fallout from Wall Street’s housing bubble have almost tripled U.S. public debt since 2001, from $5 trillion to $14 trillion. Big, scary numbers like this, along with carefully timed downgrade warnings from Wall Street’s obedient rating agencies and continuing worries about the financial collapse of Greece, Portugal and other nations have changed the political climate in Washington, breathing new life into decades-old schemes to slash Social Security and Medicare entitlements.
And defending Social Security does indeed sound like yesterday’s issue — a fight the people won when they defeated Bush’s attempt to privatize the system in 2005. Our Social Security program is currently solvent through 2037, while millions of Americans are unemployed, millions more are losing their homes, and still millions more are struggling to meet soaring health insurance costs after watching their retirement accounts dwindle in the financial collapse. Would the entitlement wolves — primarily Wall Street executives who stand to reap billions from Social Security privatization — really have the gall to go after Social Security now? In a word, yes.