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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

February 12, 2010


Natl Comm to Preserve Social Security & Medicare - This week the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, reintroduced his "Roadmap for America's Future".

It is a budget plan which decimates Social Security and Medicare in the name of deficit reduction. The only thing new about this strategy, is the fact that Rep. Ryan isn't shy about acknowledging that he believes seniors should foot the bill for our current economic nightmare.

Ezra Klein described the plan this way:

"To move us to surpluses, Ryan's budget proposes reforms that are nothing short of violent. Medicare is privatized. Seniors get a voucher to buy private insurance, and the voucher's growth is far slower than the expected growth of health-care costs. Medicaid is also privatized. The employer tax exclusion is fully eliminated, replaced by a tax credit that grows more slowly than medical costs. And beyond health care, Social Security gets guaranteed, private accounts that CBO says will actually cost more than the present arrangement, further underscoring how ancillary the program is to our budget problem."

Seniors have to find private insurers who will accept their vouchers which will by definition cover less and less of what health care actually costs.

The CBO said this about the Ryan plan:

"Both the level of expected federal spending on Medicare and the uncertainty surrounding that spending would decline, but enrollees' spending for health care and the uncertainty surrounding that spending would increase."

As for Social Security, the GOP Roadmap leads to the same privatization dead-end for seniors, who are already reeling from Wall Street excesses and collapse which have decimated their nest-eggs. Once again, just as we saw in President Bush's failed privatization plan, long-term solvency isn't the goal. The goal is to turn Social Security over to Wall Street through the creation of Social Security private accounts.

Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling describes it as a little "re-engineering" of the social contract. That "re-engineering" would put your Social Security in the hands of the same Wall Street money managers the federal government just bailed out.

As the Cunning Realist pointed out, failed investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were both "blue chips, the sort of companies that proponents of private accounts insisted any new system would be limited to." Can you imagine the mess that would have occurred - and the leverage those companies would have held - had not only the financial system's health, but the retirement accounts of untold seniors, been tied up in them?

The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that, "as a result of the collapse of the housing bubble, the vast majority of baby boomers will be approaching retirement with little wealth outside of Social Security." Privatization proponents would have had seniors sacrifice that safety net as well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the republicans eliminate Social Security, will they also eliminate the Social Security tax?

My big fear is that the benefits will disappear but the tax will remain, and the revenues the tax generates diverted to other pet projects like those in Afghanistan and Iraq.

February 12, 2010 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take that, 'greatest generation'.

February 12, 2010 11:13 PM  

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