Sunday, August 15, 2010

Social Security and the Relabeling of George W. Bush

Republicans have a bad product but they can't sell it. They believe the product is just a matter of labeling and that labeling for eight years was George W. Bush. Without a doubt, George W. Bush is one of the worst presidents in our nation's history. Bush is responsible for two wars, the fiasco at Katrina and the economic meltdown that began in 2007 and became increasingly dramatic in the late summer of 2008. Republicans, seeing disaster in the 2008 elections, did their best to distance themselves from George W. Bush. Never mind that they voted for everything Bush wanted and blocked every effort by Democrats for more responsible legislation. They think they can sell the same bad product simply by removing "George W. Bush" from the label.

It should be understood that the economic meltdown of 2008 was the proof that Republicans don't know much these days about economics. They think cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, hiring crooked corporations like Halliburton to build things in Iraq, privatizing the military and FEMA, giving their friends sweetheart no-bid contracts, killing corporate reform (while pretending to pass reform), sending jobs overseas, buying fossil fuels from OPEC and fueling an essentially crooked real estate boom as far as the eye could see was somehow going to be good for America.

When it all came crashing down, the Republicans in Congress denied they had anything to do with the mess. In fact, they're now selling the same garbage that got us into trouble by pretending that because George W. Bush is no longer president, that changes everything. Except that the Republicans are still peddling the same nonsense. It just no longer has George W. Bush's name attached to the same agenda.

An example is Social Security. Republicans are still pushing the privatization of Social Security, just as George W. Bush pushed the same nonsense. Oh, they like to change the name in one breath, deny it's privatization in the next breath, and sweet talk conservative brokers into making huge campaign contributions so they can dig into all that potential privatization money in the final breath.

I can't put it more plainly than this: privatization is privatization is privatization, no matter what you call it. If you like privatization, you must think crooked corporations like Halliburton are the best thing that's ever happened to America.

What gives the Republicans away is that instead of saying that Social Security will go bankrupt in twenty years (which it won't), they now claim Social Security will be broke in 2010, 2012, or 2016 (which is ludicruous). Everything, so Republicans say, has to be fixed in a hurry and by golly they got just the deal for you. So you hear scary language followed by the same scam that George W. Bush tried to peddle. Republican politicians aren't talking about Social Security because they care about the American people—they're talking about Social Security so they can reap all those campaign contributions (and potential sweetheart deals) from the stock brokers (many of whom are the same folks who almost brought down the economy in 2008).

Here's what President Obama had to say on Saturday (via The Washington Monthly):
After noting the privatization debate of 2005, the president said, "I'd have thought that debate would've been put to rest once and for all by the financial crisis we've just experienced. I'd have thought, after being reminded how quickly the stock market can tumble, after seeing the wealth people worked a lifetime to earn wiped out in a matter of days, that no one would want to place bets with Social Security on Wall Street; that everyone would understand why we need to be prudent about investing the retirement money of tens of millions of Americans.

"But some Republican leaders in Congress don't seem to have learned any lessons from the past few years. They're pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall. It's right up there on their to-do list with repealing some of the Medicare benefits and reforms that are adding at least a dozen years to the fiscal health of Medicare -- the single longest extension in history.

"That agenda is wrong for seniors, it's wrong for America, and I won't let it happen. Not while I'm President. I'll fight with everything I've got to stop those who would gamble your Social Security on Wall Street."

Let's hope Obama comes out fighting in the next week or two, and fights all the way to November. For eight years, Republicans were a disaster for America. We're still paying the price, particularly homeowners and laid-off workers from coast to coast, from Corpus Christi to Portland, Maine. Ever since pragmatism went awol in the Republican Party, a large majority of Americans have been paying the price. Until the Republicans reform their party and shed themselves of the lunatic fringe, what makes anyone think they'll do better the next time?

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