Keeping Social Security up front and center

KEEPING SOCIAL SECURITY UP FRONT AND CENTER…. Democratic leaders vowed this week to do their level best to make Social Security a campaign issue. That certainly makes sense — it’s a winning issue for Dems.

With that in mind President Obama devoted his weekly address to not only celebrating the 75th anniversary of Social Security becoming law — FDR signed the legislation on August 14, 1935 — but to vowing to fight Republican plans to undermine, if not eliminate, the bedrock American program.

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.”

What’s the Republicans’ defense? That Social Security isn’t really on their to-do list: “A spokesman for House Republican leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) accused Obama and the Democrats of dredging up old issues that are no longer valid.”

That’d be more persuasive if so many Republicans weren’t so anxious to gut Social Security. The leading GOP lawmaker on the House Budget Committee wants to privatize Social Security, and his idea has been endorsed by a wide variety of Republican officials and candidates. In Nevada, Sharron Angle has called for eliminating Social Security altogether, and her position has not be denounced by party leaders.

One high-profile House Republican recently called for the government to “wean everybody” off Social Security. A day later, another House Republican endorsed Social Security privatization. Two days later, yet another House Republican endorsed Social Security privatization.

This isn’t ancient history — it’s all happened in 2010.

If Dems were just pointing to a straw man, I’d agree that it wouldn’t be fair to make this a campaign issue. But Republicans are the ones actively pushing the notion that Social Security should be gutted and handed over to Wall Street. It seems like the kind of thing voters should be aware of.