Something to look forward to


Geraldine Sealey
January 5, 2005 3:04AM (UTC)

The Washington Post front page today lays out the Bush administration's plans to cut promised Social Security benefits by almost a third in the coming decades. The toughest cuts wouldn't come til mid-century, but if Bush's plan actually gets enacted, the consequence is clear: This won't be your grandfather's Social Security. To make up the difference of what retirees won't get every month, the Bush proposal would rely on personal investment accounts. But of course, that's just a hope. Will the federal government give Investing 101 classes to those who need it? It pays for marriage classes, after all.

The Bush administration's logic for gutting Social Security leans heavily on the myth that the program is near the brink of bankruptcy to the tune of $10 trillion. It will shock few of our readers that this is a complete falsehood, as the New York Times points out in a well-done editorial yesterday. Paul Krugman also took up the Social Security crisis myth today. "A general fiscal crisis, on the other hand, is a real possibility -- but not because of Social Security," Krugman writes. "In fact, the Bush administration's scaremongering over Social Security is in large part an effort to distract the public from the real fiscal danger." One of those real fiscal dangers, Krugman points out, "is the fact that the general fund has already plunged deeply into deficit." This is something more people should be talking about (screaming about, actually), especially Democrats and the media. In order to push a privatization plan, the Bush White House bogusly asserts the Social Security program is in crisis, as his tax cuts coupled with growing expenses like the Iraq war, which could soon exceed $200 billion, are the real threats to our fiscal future. Will Bush get away with it? The Social Security debate will intensify this winter and spring as Bush finalizes his proposal -- and Democrats had better be ready.

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Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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