DO WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE SAME DEBATE AGAIN?…. I assumed incorrectly that the conservative drive to privatize Social Security would go away for a long while. We had a nice, big debate over this in 2005, and the right lost.
Indeed, conservatives didn’t just lose; they failed spectacularly. Americans hated the idea; the effort started George W. Bush’s presidency into a decline from which it would not recover; and the entire debate was a reminder that there is no Social Security crisis, and Americans are not willing to do away with an effective status quo.
And yet, just five years later, the appetite on the far-right for Social Security privatization seems to have increased.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, released a budget blueprint that called for the privatization of Social Security. In Kentucky, Senate candidate Rand Paul (R) wants the same thing. In Nevada, Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) wants to “phase out” Social Security altogether, replacing it with “personalized” accounts that would replace the current system.
Now, a certain former half-term governor is on board with the same right-wing plan.
Though Palin misspelled Angle’s first name, she offered words of encouragement on Sunday for the candidate who has weathered heavy criticism for her controversial opinions.
“Sharon Angle’s right: new workers should get to invest some Social Security withholdings in their own savings accounts & Washington cont. to pay promised benefits to older workers,” Palin tweeted, referring to Angle’s belief that individuals should be able to invest part of their own Social Security funds.
“What part of ‘The System is Going Bankrupt’ don’t you understand, Mr. Reid?”
Obviously, fact-checking Palin is a fool’s errand, though I should note for anyone who’s forgotten that Social Security isn’t going bankrupt.
I’m also curious to hear some of these far-right policy visionaries do what Bush couldn’t — explain how this new system would work. If younger workers take their money out of the Social Security system — and it’s a pay-as-you-go system, in which younger workers pay the money that’s used for benefits older retirees — where will the money come from to “pay the promised benefits to older workers”?
But putting all of that aside, it’s the politics of this that really impresses. Social Security is arguably the most popular and successful domestic policy program of the last century, and a growing number of high-profile Republicans — shortly before a major election, no less — are boasting of their desire to destroy it.
If Democrats fail to take advantage of this, they’re missing a huge opportunity.