Yesterday, the June 7, 2010 issue of Nation magazine arrived with THIS alarming lead paragraph:
In setting up his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Barack Obama is again playing coy in public, but his intentions are widely understood among Washington insiders. The president intends to offer Social Security as a sacrificial lamb to entice conservative deficit hawks into a grand bipartisan compromise in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security benefits for future retirees while Republicans accede to significant tax increases to reduce government red ink.The author, William Greider, goes on to discuss the commission, its purpose, and its membership, noting, "The people, once again, are kept in the dark." Greider's "excellent take on Social Security" also appears in an article by Trudy Lieberman in the May 25 issue of Columbia Journalism Review.
Greider goes on, "What's extraordinary about this assault on Social Security is that a Democratic president is leading it. Obama is arm in arm with GOP conservatives like Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson, who for decades has demonized Social Security as a grave threat to the Republic and has spread some $12 million among economists, think tanks, foundations and assorted front groups to sell his case."
Here's another paragraph in the Nation article (emphasis mine), about half way through the article:
Obama's initiative rests on two falsehoods spread by Peterson's propaganda—the notion that Social Security somehow contributes to the swollen federal deficits and that cutting benefits will address this problem. Obama and his advisers do not say this in so many words, but their rhetoric implies that Social Security is a big source of the deficit problem. Major media promote the same falsehoods. Here is what the media don't tell you: Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus—$2.5 trillion now, rising to $4.3 trillion by 2023. This vast wealth was collected over many years from workers under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) to pay in advance for baby boom retirements. The money will cover all benefits until the 2040s—unless Congress double-crosses workers by changing the rules. This nest egg does not belong to the government; it belongs to the people who paid for it. FICA is not a tax but involuntary savings.
Can us old folks do anything at all about this? Can we at least get the President and his Commission to say what they're up to BEFORE the elections later this year? Greider says,
Citizens can win this fight if they mobilize smartly. We can do this by arousing public alarm
right now, while members of Congress face a treacherous election and before Obama can
work out his deal. Some liberal groups are discussing a "take the pledge" campaign that
demands senators and representatives sign commitments to keep Hands Off Social Security
Benefits. If politicians refuse to sign, put them on the target list for November. Barack
Obama is standing on the third rail of politics—let's give him a warning jolt.