Voice of the People: Voting To Send A Message

by James J. Devine

America’s seniors have always contributed their wisdom, experience, and courage to move our community forward. Our seniors deserve the fulfilling, prosperous life they bestowed upon their children. While they may not always be highly partisan, it is becoming clear that they need to use this election to send Republicans this message: Hands Off Social Security & Medicare!

Here’s why this is so important.

Republicans plan to replace the original Medicare with a voucher program that would force seniors to pay private, for-profit insurance companies to provide coverage. Even if they call the new scheme ‘Medicare’ it would be an end to Medicare as we know it and experts say the Republican plan would cost seniors an average of $6,000 more a year.

Back in the 1990s, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich embraced the same type of approach as a way to put traditional Medicare on the path to extinction — or as he put it to “wither on the vine and die.” Republicans have always opposed Medicare and they have tried to impose cuts and changes at every turn since it was enacted back in 1965.

Social Security is also on the chopping block even though Social Security benefits make up roughly 82 percent of yearly income for 40 percent of the seniors living barely above the poverty line.

Although there is at least $4 trillion in its Trust Fund, Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry says that Social Security is a “monstrous lie” and a “Ponzi scheme”

Mitt Romney predicted “the looming bankruptcy of Social Security” and compared the program to a criminal enterprise in his book, which was published last year. More recently, Romney outlined a plan that would roll back Social Security benefits through a mix of cuts and raising the retirement age, instead of imposing payroll taxes on high-earners who stop contributing after they reach $110,000 of income.

Social Security is projected to be fully solvent until 2037 without any changes and after that, the program could pay out roughly seventy five percent of benefits so anyone who says it is ‘bankrupt’ or ‘broke’ is telling lies.

Social Security will continue positive cash flow for the next 25 years but Republicans will not be satisfied while American democracy is working for people.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann would eviscerate government, leaving millions of Americans to fend for themselves when we should be working together.

Republican claims about safeguarding seniors are a total lie based on a right-wing fantasy that ignores how much people rely on Medicare and Social Security.

As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are close to having a crazy person running our nation. I sit in front of the television and shudder at the thought of one of these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, Social-Security-cutting, clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.

The Obama administration may not have finished cleaning up the mess left by George Bush, but it was still the Republicans who created these problems. I just hope all Americans recognize the difference between a disappointing friend and a deadly enemy.

Republican policies can impoverish and even kill elderly Americans, so we must act to prevent them from winning another election. Be sure to vote Democratic on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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2 comments for “Voice of the People: Voting To Send A Message

  1. allenwsmithphd
    October 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm


    LIE 1. Social Security has no financial problems. With no government action of any kind, Social Security can pay full benefits until 2036.

    LIE 2. Social Security, in its current form, is unsustainable. It is going broke, or it will go broke.

    THE TRUTH: All of the $2.6 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue generated by the 1983 payroll tax hike, that was supposed to be saved and invested in public-issue marketable U.S. Treasury bonds, was instead spent by the government, as it came in, for tax cuts, wars, and other government programs. The year 2009 was the last year in which the Social Security budget ran a surplus. Beginning in 2010, Social Security began running annual budget deficits. In 2011, and all future years, the cost of Social Security benefits will exceed the payroll tax revenue, and the government will have to dig into the general fund in order to pay full benefits

    If the $2.6 trillion had not been spent on other things, or if the $2.6 trillion is repaid, then Social Security could pay full benefits until 2036. Social Security could be made fully solvent for decades beyond 2036 with a single legislative act. If the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax, which is currently $106,800, were removed so that all taxpayers would pay payroll taxes on 100 percent of their earnings just as they already do with the income tax, Social Security would be fully solvent for at least another 75 years.

    I have devoted the past decade to researching and writing about Social Security funding, and during the entire period I have been trying to expose “the great Social Security theft.” For the past 25 years, our government (both Democrats and Republicans) have been using the Social Security surplus revenue from the 1983 payroll tax hike, that was specifically earmarked to be saved and invested for the baby boomers, to fund tax cuts, wars, and other government programs. None of the money was saved or invested in anything. The IOUs in the trust fund are not marketable and cannot be used to pay benefits. All members of Congress and five presidents have participated in this fraud against the American people. Yet the mainstream media, the AARP, and other senior organizations continue to participate in the cover up. The American people deserve to be told the truth about the IOUs in the trust fund.

    Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.
    Professor of Economics, Emeritus
    Eastern Illinois University

  2. allenwsmithphd
    October 21, 2011 at 1:12 am

    On April 20, 1983, one of the most significant developments in the history of Social Security legislation took place with great fanfare. It was the signing ceremony for the Social Security Amendments of 1983, which President Ronald Reagan called landmark legislation. This legislation laid the foundation for what would become one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the American people by their government. Yet, today, in the midst of one of the most heated national debates on Social Security in the history of the program, almost nobody knows about the 1983 legislation. The news media carries article after article about the status of Social Security without ever mentioning that the “baby-boomer problem” was supposed to have been “fixed” by that 1983 legislation. During the debate for the 1983 legislation, the baby boomers were vilified as the ones who were threatening the future solvency of Social Security. They were hit with a hefty payroll tax hike to prepay the cost of their own benefits. The 1983 legislation, which hit the boomers so hard, is now forgotten, and the baby boomers are once again popular scapegoats.

    Below are excerpts from remarks made by President Ronald Reagan just before he signed the legislation into law.

    “This bill demonstrates for all time our nation’s ironclad commitment to social security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have our pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire… .

    …Political leaders of both parties set aside their passions and joined in that search. The result of these labors in the Commission and the Congress are now before us, ready to be signed into law, a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people.

    Today, all of us can look each other square in the eye and say, “We kept our promises.” We promised that we would protect the financial integrity of social security. We have. We promised that we would protect beneficiaries against any loss in current benefits. We have…

    …So, today we see an issue that once divided and frightened so many people now uniting us. Our elderly need no longer fear that the checks they depend on will be stopped or reduced. These amendments protect them.

    These amendments reaffirm the commitment of our government to the performance and stability of social security.–President Ronald Reagan on signing the Social Security Amendments of 1983 on April 20,

    Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.

    “Congresses under both Republican and Democrat control, both Republican and Democrat presidents, have stolen money from social security and spent it. The money’s gone. It’s been used for another purpose.”– Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), Senate speech, March 16, 2011.

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