Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Watch the Other Hand

Just like a magician distracts you with one hand while doing the trick with the other the Bush gang is doing the same with Social Security. This has been dawning on me for a couple of weeks but something that Big Media Matt said yesterday while guest hosting TPM distilled the vague uneasiness I have been feeling

Once a program becomes the narrow concern of a minority of the population -- and not just any minority, but a minority that can't afford lobbysists, doesn't enjoy access to the media, is socially isolated from the American elite, etc. -- it gets squeezed out in favor of programs whose constituents do enjoy those things. There's no flailing here.
-- Matthew Yglesias

If you believe Bush and company are trying to save Social Security you are a fool. They are trying to set it up to be dismantled, not necessarily by them, but by some future administration. This latest shift to indexing is basically an attempt to turn it into a welfare program where only the lowest income folks get full benefits. This is very subtle but today Social Security is recognized and accepted as a social insurance program where you pay in expecting to reap the benefit in your retirement. There is no stigma of welfare or of a "dole". If they succeed in changing it into a welfare like program it will be set for some later administration to present the old "welfare queen and Cadillac" argument and down it goes. The people depending on it will not have the power or resources to fight back. The GOP will have finally succeeded in destroying FDR's greatest legacy, which they have been trying to do ever since it was created. No one seems to be focusing on the fact that by reducing the benefit of the less needy you reduce their overall concern for the program as it means less to their overall retirement security. They aren't going to be nearly as upset if just a small percentage of their potential retirement is threatened. It is only the small, powerless and voiceless minority for whom Social Security will be their only source of income when they retire that will suffer. It is a very subtle but vilely cruel game they play and if we let them get away with it we should all be ashamed. If you think I am mistaken reflect a moment on the outrage you have heard surrounding the giant cuts in Medicaid and food stamps in the latest Federal Budget.

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