Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Protect Social Security (March 2011)

It's too bad a model program keeps on getting attacked, but it does. If you haven't called your senators yet, please do so this Wednesday. From Strengthen Social Security:

We need you to call your Senators and demand that they vote for the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment.

Senator Sanders and Majority Leader Reid are leading the fight in the Senate to protect Social Security from drastic cuts.

Their amendment simply says:

Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries should not be cut and Social Security should not be privatized as part of any legislation to reduce the Federal deficit.

Call your Senators RIGHT NOW at 1-866-251-4044. You’ll be given a choice of which of your state’s two senators to be connected with. Call BOTH if you have the time. It only takes a minute each.

Tell the person who answers the phone:

I am a voter/constituent living in [your state]. I am calling to tell the Senator:

I oppose all cuts to Social Security and I urge them to vote yes on the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment.

Please take the time for this very important effort today. This is for all of us who depend on Social Security.

Call Today: 1-866-251-4044.

I believe the 866 number keys off your area code, so you've moved to another state, it might prompt the wrong pair of senators.

Out here in California, we've got Senators Feinstein and Boxer. I'm not crazy about Diane Feinstein's proposal on Social Security, which seems to play into the lies that the program is in dire straits. (Medicare does need some help, but passing universal health care would lower medical costs more than anything else.) Barbara Boxer's statement on Social Security was far more encouraging:

(In my case, the 866 number only prompted me to call Feinstein, I assume because Boxer was already onboard. I called her office anyway to say thanks, because the majority of calls staffers receive tend to be negative, and that can wear ya down.)

The Campaign for America's Future crew (Dave Johnson in particular) do a nice job of covering Social Security issues if you want more information. They're particularly good about rounding up debunks of the latest dissembling op-eds.

If you like number-crunching analysis, check out the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, especially their pieces on conservative Paul Ryan's dishonest "roadmap." a piece exposing the hypocrisy of the conservatives seeking to cut Social Security (Megan McArdle tried to disprove this, with predictably pathetic results), and "Top Ten Facts about Social Security on the Program's 75th Anniversary." The Social Security category at Angry Bear is also good on the numbers front.

This Crooked Timber post is helpful on the subject, and don't miss William Greider's scathing analysis in this Columbia Journalism Review interview:

Trudy Lieberman: Let’s go back and put all this in the context of the press coverage of Social Security. What should the press be reporting that they haven’t been?

William Greider: Opponents of Social Security are deliberately confusing Social Security with Medicare; they are distorting reality. There are simple facts that should be reported: 1) Social Security never contributed a dime to the deficit; 2) Social Security softened the impact of the Reagan deficits by building up a surplus; 3) the federal government borrowed the money and spent it on other things; 4) the federal government has to pay this money back because it really belongs to the working people who paid their FICA deductions every pay day. The elites in both parties know the day is approaching when the federal government has to come up with the trillions it borrowed from the workers. That is the crisis the politicians don’t want to deal with, so they create a phony argument that slyly blames working people for their problem. That’s the propaganda they want the public to believe.

TL: What are the facts about Medicare that they should be reporting?

WG: Medicare is separate and in serious financial trouble for two basic reasons driving up costs. First, thanks to medical advances and the effective public health system, our aging population gets to live steadily longer. That ought to be understood as good news for people and society, but instead elite opinion laments it. Second, the private health-care system is still centered on the profit motive, and that gives virtually every health care provider from doctors to drug companies strong incentive to keep raising the costs. That debate has also been grossly distorted in media coverage that typically dismisses alternatives as socialist—and that ends the discussion.

TL: Who is representing the public in this debate?

WG: The same people who rallied the public against Social Security privatization in the Bush administration. They have organized again. Some are the same players. Labor is on the barricades. Some righteous members of Congress. But in general the mass media don’t go to those dissenting voices. Instead, they are reporting factual errors as correct opinion.

TL: What do you want the press to do?

WG: I am daring reporters to go and find out the truth about this and report it. I’m not asking them to draw big conclusions or to assert their opinions. Just be honest reporters. It’s so frustrating to see the coverage. I’m not asking reporters to change any minds. I’m just asking them to do some real reporting. I mean, go to the facts—the actuarial records—and talk to a variety of experts. Reporters ring up the same sources and ask them how to think about Social Security.

Grieder's on fire in this one. Check it out. And call your senator if you haven't!

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