Morning Report 3/29/05: Antisocial Security
Which geezer do you trust? Above is a '30s poster featuring a smiling gramps celebrating the birth of Social Security. Below is a Zero Decade photo of a smiling gramps promoting the death of Social Security. (Library of Congress, White House photos)
NO ONE CAN say that Dick Cheney doesn't have a sense of humor. He stopped in Reno, Nevada, on March 22 for a "town hall" meeting to tell Americans to gamble with their Social Security money.
The only surprise was that he didn't double down in the gambling town by bringing along the Bush regime's bookie of virtue, William Bennett.
But Cheney really hit the jackpot with his opening remarks. Eschewing his usual bilge about how he met his wife, the most powerful vice president in the history of the country remarked:
- My paycheck actually comes from the Senate.
What Cheney didn't tell the carefully selected crowd was that he also gets a paycheck from Halliburton.
The point of Grandpa Cheney's 911 call in Reno was that Social Security was in trouble:
- "We've got to do something about all that red ink that's [out there] if we want to make certain that my kids and grandkids and your kids and grandkids are going to have the kind of confidence that, in fact, that basic floor of retirement security will be there for you when you need it."
He's concerned about red ink? While we're spending almost $6 billion a month in Iraq and after tax cuts for the wealthy have turned future generations of middle-class Americans into permanent debtors? We were warned on the very first day of 2005 about this propaganda campaign. As I noted in mid-January, the Washington Post's Jim VandeHei rang in the New Year with this loud noise:
- President Bush's allies are raising millions of dollars for an election-style campaign to promote private Social Security accounts, as Democrats and Republicans prepare for what they predict will be the most expensive and extensive public policy debate since the 1993 fight over the Clinton administration's failed health care plan.
For some more perspective, consult Paying the Price, the newly updated fact sheet produced by the Institute for Policy Studies on the mounting costs of the war. Print out this neat two-page PDF file and stick it on your refrigerator as a kitchen counterpropaganda tool. Here's an excerpt:
- Estimated cost of war to date to every U.S. household: $2,000
Average monthly cost of the Vietnam War, adjusted for inflation: $5.2 billion
Average monthly cost of the Iraq War: $5.8 billion
Amount contractor Halliburton is alleged to have charged for meals never served to troops and for cost overruns on fuel deliveries: $221 million
Kickbacks received by Halliburton employees from subcontractors: $6 million
Remember that while you're bombarded with White House propaganda images (willingly reproduced by the establishment media) like this one from Reno of Cheney gambling with your children's money:
And once again we point to the hard-working people at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who noted at the beginning of this debate:
- It is certainly true that the federal government will face serious fiscal problems by the 2020s. But those problems will be in the federal budget as a whole, and their two main causes will be: (1) the cost of the Administration's tax cuts, if they are extended permanently, and (2) growing Medicare costs, which are being driven primarily by rising health care costs throughout the economy.
Over the next 75 years, the combined cost of the tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefitthe President's two principal domestic priorities during his first termwill be at least five times as large as the Social Security shortfall.
I can't imagine how cranky I'm going to be in 2080.