Privatizing Social Security: Reason #6,467,982 not to vote McCain
The very first blog post I ever wrote was a screed dressing down George W. Bush for even thinking about privatizing Social Security, and now we have John McCain endorsing the same policy.
Privatizing Social Security is the very worst idea the Republicans have ever brought forth. It’s nothing more than a money grab intended to take away what few retirement benefits are available to lower and middle class workers.
Consider this: If George W. Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security had been passed, every American within 15 years of retirement could have lost over 50% of their retirement accounts in the last 8 years as a result of market fluctuation, malfeasance (think “subprime mortgage crisis”), and fees.
All it should take to convince anyone to back away from privatized Social Security is an understanding of where the money goes. Right now, Social Security is backed by the full force and guarantee of the federal government. That’s how it must remain. Privatizing it, even a portion of it, means sending money to the very same Wall Street investment banks that the federal government just bailed out.
It means the possibility of your retirement dollars invested abroad. It means there are no longer any guarantees.
When John McCain says he doesn’t understand economics, he tells the truth. He also doesn’t understand how pensions and Social Security work.
Privatizing Social Security means only one thing: The government wants to shirk the responsibility to pay guaranteed pensions to citizens who have paid into the system for their entire working lives, not to mention their employers, who match the employee contribution. Among the Republican proposals, this one is the most insidious and yes, even criminal. They lie and say they’re empowering citizens, when they’re robbing them.
McCain has walked back his statements, just a little. But not enough. Here’s what he says today:
John McCain supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts–but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept. John McCain will reach across the aisle, but if the Democrats do not act, he will. No problem is in more need of honesty than the looming financial challenges of entitlement programs. Americans have the right to know the truth and John McCain will not leave office without fixing the problems that threatens our future prosperity and power.
Here’s what he said in 2004:
Q: Will privatizing Social Security be a priority for you going forward?
McCAIN: Without privatization, I don’t see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits.
In addition to the veiled contradiction, his current position is dishonest. Exposing the lies:
- Social Security is not an “entitlement program“. Social Security is paid for by employees and employers, as is Medicare. The benefits provided by Social Security are earned, not given.
- Social Security can ALREADY be supplemented with personal accounts. That’s what IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k) plans and employer Profit Sharing plans are. Of all the lies, this one is the most offensive. While Republicans claim that Democrats support big government and spending out of one side of their mouths, they advocate for a mandated retirement savings program that shifts the burden of providing guaranteed and earned benefits from the government to the individual. Should every individual be saving for their retirement? Absolutely, without question. But the mechanisms are already in place for that to happen. The suggestion that a mandate will stabilize Social Security is just specious, and smacks of Big Brother intervention.
- Finally, what does he mean by “If the Democrats do not act, he will.” Will he simply bypass the Congress and will of the people with an executive order abolishing Social Security?
Here’s a hint to John McCain and the Republicans: After 8 years of seeing what little financial security they had ripped away by investment bankers’ malfeasance and Republican greed, Americans are not going to take kindly to your efforts to shear away what little tiny bit of security they might have for retirement. This is particularly true of those of us who fall into the Baby Boomer generation, who have seen Republicans slide their retirement dates from 65 to 70 over the past 10 years.
Leave Social Security alone. Shore it up, quit using it as a credit card to bury war costs into the budget. And above all, do not let John McCain and the Republicans take your retirement dollars and hand them to liars, thieves and Wall Street greed.