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Budget Crisis Commission: Coming for Your Social Security and Medicare

February 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Economics, Politics

In Washington today, a whole hall full of white-shirts and rimless glasses sat at attention while the gurus of fiscal policy told us that we need to cut our biggest areas of expenditure—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—in order to save us from disaster that they make sound worse than the Spanish Inquisition.

The Peterson-Pew Budget Commission meeting is quick to tell us that our country, our lives, our children and our very Democracy are in great jeopardy, worse than any Hollywood disaster scenario of falling buildings and oceans swamping our cities could envision.

This is…well…how should we describe this…ah, let’s see…Bullshit!

They are not coming to get the excess money of the rich. They are not coming to raise taxes on Halliburton. They are not going to put an excess profits tax on a movie that costs $50 million and makes $500 million. They are not going to tax the pure 100% profit the oil companies make, in the hundreds of billions…out of your pocket…every time they raise gas prices over $3.00 per gallon.

They are, in fact, coming for your slim Social Security payments and for more money from you in Medicare co-payments and premiums. That is how Pete Peterson’s crisis in entitlements will be solved.

The Peterson-Pew Budget Commission has been heavily involved in spreading its message that our national debt is ruining us, which is partly true. Debt is bad and thrift is hard to argue against. But this commission is unfortunately merely a stalking horse for a vast array of organizations who want to impoverish the middle class, cut their meager retirement benefits, both financial and medical. Their message is that the government cannot sustain the enormous and growing national debt. But you will not hear anything about taxing the rich or corporations. That is a little strange, don’t you think? After all if you need money, go where the money is.

Before you swallow all the various complicated economic dialogues, ask yourself if you think it is fair that you will have your benefits cut. These are benefits which you have been paying for all your life. It is your money. Do you want it cut so that people who make more than $300,000 per year and don’t need any help, will probably never need either Social Security or Medicare, can have another tax cut or give campaign contributions to Representatives who will grant hugely profitable—and unnecessary—contracts for Halliburton while cutting your benefits. Is that fair?

It was not you who caused the problem. You were paying your taxes and doing your daily work and contributing to Katrina and Haiti and the American Cancer Society and the PTA and your children’s college or your parents’ survival. But if you stop being what the media would like to call “impartial” you do know who it was. Don’t be impartial or “fair” or “politically correct.” Just be honest.

It was the Republicans…Reagan and Bush II (not so much Bush I) and certainly not Clinton who caused all our problems. The national debt was $800 billion when Reagan took over and was only that high because of some adjustments in the economy resulting from problems in the Middle East and hangovers from the Viet Nam war.

During Reagan and Bush II’s administrations, when they largely had complaint Congresses, they raised the national Debt by a net of about $7 trillion. The remainder, under Bush I and under Clinton occurred because of the inability of those two to stop the losses, although Clinton, through a monumental effort and a good economy was able to do so. Reagan cut taxes in half and increased the military budget by four times what it had been. For no reason. The Russians were already in free-fall. He simply took credit for it and used his huge military contracting as a rationale. It was a scam.

The Republicans railed against taxes on the rich or on corporations who were taking government contracts at huge profits and then paying almost no taxes on the exorbitant profits from the contracts the citizens were paying for. This has been the problem.

Americans have not been able to break free of the propaganda by the Republicans who continue to parade the idea that all this is bi-partisan. But it isn’t. It has been almost all Republican spending, on wars, on military contracts on highly profitable deals to everyone from government cleaning contracts to jet engines. To say “a pox on both their houses” does not help because it tars the reformers and the whistleblowers at the same time as those doing the damage.

So here are the people who need to be tarred and feathered. Reagan, Bush II, the entire Republican Congress, including all…all…Republican Senators, including especially Mitch McConnell, Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Orrin Hatch, and names like Conrad, Craig, Borasso, Sessions, Shelby, and so many more. They are all at fault. They vote in a block.

Congressmen like Tom DeLay, Denny Hastert, John Boehner, Roy Blunt, Eric Cantor…and many, many others, like Burton of Indiana and King of Iowa and others who stole the money and ran, like the atrocious Bill Thomas of California, and “Duke” Cunningham who thankfully was jailed for his transgressions. He wasn’t the only one who should have been jailed…not by a long shot.

Let’s be clear. They stole your Social Security, the money you paid in, and they spent it on military hardware made by their Republican campaign contributors. They took the reserves that we should have had for the increases

Entitlements are not the “heart of the problem.” They are not a problem at all. We all voted for these policies and now the Republicans—who spent the money on wars while enriching their campaign contributors who then hire the Neocons at high salaries. The Republicans do not want their constituents, who are not the voters but the rich and the big corporations, to pay back the money they borrowed to create wars and create enormous tax breaks. They do not want the pals they helped to enrich to now or later be asked to pay their fair share. It is that simple.

Pete Peterson, the “Peterson” in the Peterson-Pew Budget Commission is a very bright Nebraskan, who like a lot of guys got scholarships and grants and used that education to get positions in which they did well and some, like Peterson, got rich. By the way, Peterson’s family is originally Greek, but they abbreviated and changed it to “Peterson.” In Nebraska, which seems as though it is 90% Swedish and Norwegian a name like Peterson works much better. (A man named Swanson was once elected to state office and it was then discovered that he did not exist.)

Pete Peterson is on your side. He has in fact donated $1 billion of his approximately $3 billion personal wealth to charity. That, like Rush Limbaugh’s donating to the widows of police officers, should prove to you that he is sincere. He is a long time Republican. He did work for Richard Nixon.

He is an author. You might like one of his books: “On Borrowed Time: How the Growth in Entitlement Spending Threatens America’s Future” You’ll notice it wasn’t “On Borrowed Time: How the Reagan tax cuts and the Bush tax cuts lowered America’s revenues to the lowest level since 1950, when we had only 125 million people rather than the 300 million we have now!” Don’t wait around for that book to come out.

A Presidential commission with Douglas Holtz-Eakin is like having a commission on eliminating bank robbing headed by Willie Sutton. Certainly Holtz-Eakin can be impartial, if by impartial you mean that he lines his pockets while sewing yours shut.

People like Eakin and David Walker talk about tough choices. Walker is the former chief accountant for the U.S. who has long been rallying support, just as your accountant would do to you, for cutting spending. They talk about tough choices. But they don’t talk about tough choices for the rich. They don’t talk about taxing corporations. They talk about cutting social Security and Medicare.

Washington is now rampant with people who have really good jobs analyzing why others who have jobs are spending so much of our tax money on things that have nothing to do with creating jobs. In other words, our economic problems are creating jobs for the people who created the problems in the first place.

It is pure bull shit!

The premise is that we are so much in debt that we can never get out and we have to do some very drastic things with our government expenditures in order to “save Social Security and Medicare.” Most of the solutions offered by these geniuses, people like Pete Peterson, one of the richest men in the country, who we can be assured is paying no more than 23% of his income in taxes. He would say that rich men contribute so much to the economy, create so many jobs, that they should not pay millions of dollars in taxes, even if it is only 23% or less of their gross. Probably less.

And that is….pure bull shit!

The people who have become rich in this country since Ronald Reagan have paid fewer taxes than anyone since the period of the Great Moguls at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th Century. David Walker Pres and CEO of Peterson was former head accountant of the U.S. former head of the General Accounting Office. His moral comment is that it is immoral for us to pass on our debt to the next generation. What about the immorality of taking your Social Security payments and spending that money on tax breaks for the rich and for wars in Iraq?

They discuss “structural deficits.” That simply means that we don’t have enough taxes to pay the bills. Raise the damned taxes back to what they were before we cut them in half to make the rich richer. Less than 40% of the budget is discretionary spending, they say. Then simply raise taxes to cover the difference. Part of that expenditure is a military budget that is greater than the military budgets of all the other countries combined, including China and Russia.

And what about the millions and billions of dollars in CEO salaries that are 500 times what the average worker makes, plus the hundreds of millions spent on lobbying, which actually makes government less efficient. This is all money which, when untaxed, goes to put the special interests ahead of the needs of the people. .

90% of our debt has come since Ronald Reagan said that he was here to help. He helped spend $12 trillion more of taxpayer money than we had in the Treasury. His administration and subsequent Republican Administrations spent like drunken sailors while continuing to cut taxes on the wealthy.

Of course the typical analogy with the Roman Empire comes up and no one knows enough about it to challenge the assertion that our times and their times were similar. There are very few similarities. The Roman Empire collapsed basically because of the waves of Barbarians, not other empires more sophisticated or because they were some kind of degenerate society. They were extended all around the world and what collapsed was simply Rome in 410, not the entire Empire, which in many parts lived to the 12th Century. The U.S. does not have conquered territories with our own regional administrators. We are not, in fact, an empire. It is a simplistic analogy.

As far as the commissions who want a “bi-partisan” approach to balancing our budget and eliminating the national debt…beware. The two groups at odds are not the Republicans and the Democrats but the rich and the middle class. Beware of the brutes who want to bully you.

This country does not need a statutory commission. Let the people vote directly on whether they want their Social Security and Medicare cut. Don’t’ set up a “commission” with someone like David Walker who is now enriching himself over this issue, helping Slick Pete Peterson keep his taxes low. A statutory commission will hammer anyone under $300,000 per year and rule—without any question—that Social Security benefits must be cut and Medicare fees increased. The goal of any commission is to make the Middle Class believe that there is an impartial process taking place. Does anyone believe that ANY NEOCON will vote to raise taxes on either the rich or the big corporations?

Right now, today, the lobbyists spend…get this…$32,000 PER DAY for every single member of Congress, both House and Senate! Do you think that they spend this kind of money to let their clients have their taxes raised when they can simply con you into allowing them to cut your benefits? Have you been following the Republican votes on health care reform? Zero Republican votes for any kind of health care reform.

People like Maya McGuinas, head of Citizens for a Responsible Budget are wasting their time getting these people together. The whole point of any commission made of people like Douglas Holtz-Eakin or Pete Peterson or David Walker is to push the cost of balancing the budget off onto the Middle Class, simply by reducing their standard of living.

When the Carlyle Group was formed to invest in war machines, like jets and Bradley armored personnel carriers those involved were from both Parties. But they were all rich. There were no poor guys invited into that group. You will not see a lot of poor guys, or guys from the assembly line or guys who deliver the mail or load luggage onto a plane or run a florist shop on those commissions. Just the Neocons who have brought us the mess that they now proposed to solve.

And that is…..bull shit!

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