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.

We are Women, not Wedges

The New York Times has an article today about the strategy the Obama campaign intends to employ going forward, particularly with efforts to turn states that traditionally vote Republican blue. The first steps are putting a full-court press on states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio.

All in all, an excellent strategy. However, this leaves me cold:

Recognizing the extent to which Republicans view Michelle Obama’s strong views and personality as a potential liability for her husband, Mr. Obama’s aides said they were preparing to bring aboard senior operatives from previous Democratic presidential campaigns to work with her, a clear departure from the typical way the spouse of a candidate is staffed. Mrs. Obama’s operation would include senior aides devoted to responding to attacks and challenges to her, particularly if she continues to campaign as much as she has so far.

Anyone old enough to remember back to 1992 can’t miss the irony here, particularly if they supported Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the nomination. Hillary Clinton was shredded in the first years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and mostly because she dared to actively participate in his presidency. She was criticized for everything from her hairstyle to her infamous “baking cookies” comment. Nothing she said or did was good enough, and she didn’t accept the criticisms without pushing back hard.

Michelle Obama is a strong, intelligent, thinking woman who expects to use her abilities to help elect her husband. I would be disappointed if she didn’t. She is an asset, not a liability. As John McCain works to woo Clinton voters into his camp, I would encourage women to stop and consider what they are planning to do to Mrs. Obama and reconsider. Do they really want to align themselves with a party that sees a woman unafraid to speak her mind as a liability? Do they want to support a party that would attack Michelle Obama for daring to have strong views and the courage to speak them? Hillary Clinton’s candidacy was for ALL women, not just white women, or older white women. It was for all of us. Right?

Don’t we then, as Democrats, owe it to Hillary Clinton to stop this kind of sexist message from seeping into the campaign? Make no mistake, the Republicans are really, really good at creating these sorts of wedges. They want you to be afraid of Michelle Obama because she is a woman who dares to stand equal with her husband. If Hillary Clinton really pioneered a trail, evidence of it will include willingness on the part of women to set aside their resentment about her candidacy, support Michelle Obama’s efforts to work toward her husband’s election and vigorously reject ANY effort to paint Mrs. Obama into a box.

Larry Johnson’s ugly, smarmy efforts to smear her by rumor are just the first salvo. Just tonight, he revealed his true self in his post today when he declared his support for Bob Barr — possibly the most extreme, radical right conservative alive — a man who spent his time in the Congress laboring tirelessly to bring down Bill Clinton. As I suspected, Johnson was never a supporter of Hillary Clinton. What he is: An ugly little man at a computer using words, Memeorandum, and blog traffic to divert attention and support toward Hillary Clinton so he could work with his other Republican operatives to smear her if she won the nomination.

Now that Hillary Clinton has suspended her campaign, he will concentrate his efforts on Michelle Obama, as he has been doing in recent days. Each and every woman out there ought to be outraged about it, and join in collective unity to push back on the efforts of the Republicans to use women as a wedge to win the White House.

We are women, not wedges. We do not exist to be viewed as liabilities for our husbands. We have our own identities, and our own voices. If we take anything at all away from Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House, let it be the ability to be recognized as individuals, with our own opinions and identity. We should not, and will not, be censored because Republicans don’t like it. It’s time for them to hear things they don’t like, and deal with it, because they have some ‘splainin’ to do about the $4.59/gallon gas price I paid today, the $4.39/gallon milk price I paid, my veteran son who lives with us because there are no jobs that will pay him enough to remain independent, the 4,000+ dead in Iraq, the deterioration of Afghanistan, and the futures of our sons and daughters, which hangs in a very delicate and precarious balance.

Whether you supported Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, the attitude that women should all behave like Cindy McCain is one that we should credit Hillary Clinton for shattering. She didn’t just put cracks in that ceiling; she shattered it.

Don’t let them win this. They will use bitter, hard feelings to drive it in as a wedge. We are women. We know how to build bridges and we teach our children to use their words to say “I’m sorry”, and forgive. Let’s be the women that lead by example and move past the primaries into an understanding that whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama, no woman should be subjected to the abuse being used against Michelle.

Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for enduring the abuse heaped on you and overcoming it. May we all be a credit to a better future, where such behavior is not only unacceptable, it is unheard of.

Tom Delay Hardly “Knows” Obama

That’s probably because Barack Obama doesn’t speak the language of liars and thieves, Tom. Only out of the mouth of an accused money-launderer could an accusation like this be spoken:

“And if McCain does not define him as what he is — hey, I have said publicly, and I will again, that unless he proves me wrong, he is a Marxist,

In the same interview, he says “nobody knows him.” I guess Tom doesn’t read either.

Aside from the fact that Delay is even more irrelevant than Hannity, it’s a point of amazement to me that pronouncements like his can be made without reading a book or two. Maybe he’d consider picking this one up.

Gosh, there’s a Leader We Can Believe In. Nice friends you’ve got there, John McCain.

I’m shocked — SHOCKED– that Republicans lie

What Obama said:

JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?

BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I’m not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that’s the safest ground politically.

I want to solve the problem, and so my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we’re going to be stuck in the same status quo that we’ve been stuck in for decades now, and that won’t lift that existential dread that David Grossman described in your article.

The notion that a vibrant, successful society with incredible economic growth and incredible cultural vitality is still plagued by this notion that this could all end at any moment — you know, I don’t know what that feels like, but I can use my imagination to understand it. I would not want to raise my children in those circumstances. I want to make sure that the people of Israel, when they kiss their kids and put them on that bus, feel at least no more existential dread than any parent does whenever their kids leave their sight. So that then becomes the question: is settlement policy conducive to relieving that over the long term, or is it just making the situation worse? That’s the question that has to be asked.

How House Republican Leader (architect of the anti-mothers vote last week, BTW) John Boehner lied:

“It is truly disappointing that Senator Obama called Israel a ‘constant wound,’ ‘constant sore,’ and that it ‘infect[s] all of our foreign policy.’ These sorts of words and characterizations are the words of a politician with a deep misunderstanding of the Middle East and an innate distrust of Israel”

Boehner was spurred along by the Republican Jewish Coalition:

“Once again, Senator Obama demonstrates his questionable grasp of America’s foreign policy. Senator Obama manages to excuse the inexcusable actions of anti-American militant jihadists by putting the blame for their actions on America’s foreign policy. America stands with Israel because it is one of our strongest allies and the only democracy in the Middle East. Senator Obama naively believes that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will solve the global scourge of radical Islamic extremism. Yet Senator Obama never says how he will reign in Hamas’ daily onslaught on Israel or Iran’s scurrilous condemnations of Israel. Is it any wonder Hamas has endorsed him for president?”

And so, the Nixonizing now moves to a new arena. John McCain and his surrogate Republican in Democrat’s clothing calling himself independent Joe Lieberman, have already begun the memeorizing of the “Hamas endorsement”. But Boehner and the GOP Jewish Coalition have now just lied. Flat-out lied.

This isn’t even twisting. It’s a lie. Read it for yourself. In context.

I really hope all the voters think in this election. This is not an election that can be punditized. As Obama said, politics doesn’t do nuance well, but voters can.
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Mr Comey’s Testimony

I believe every single word this man says. He was obviously caught in a crisis. If you’re not convinced that Gonzales and Card are slimeballs by his testimony, you will be by the end — the last 50 seconds or so are very telling. The classified program is the warrantless wiretap program. Read more here.

In related news, it appears as though the DOJ can only locate one email with Karl Rove. According to them, his attorneys must have the rest. Who wants to call bullshit first?

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