3c23278u Let's finish what FDR started! by Children's Bureau Centennial
Say: "Make Social Security Fair."
by Susan C. Strong
Although many have bitterly protested the President's proposal to substitute a new-fangled "chained consumer price index" for normal methods of calculating cost of living increases for Social Security, we need to say a lot more than "no" or "don't do it."
"Chained?" Sounds like a chain gang, doesn't it. Or at least something to do with crime or slavery. In fact, many knowledgeable critics have said that the "chained CPI" will harm our seniors and disabled folks, the very people Social Security was designed to help. Unlike younger, more able citizens, they cannot easily choose cheaper products or services, given their special needs. In short, they will become the de facto "slaves" of today's misguided budget cutters.
But it looks like those same deficit hawks are themselves the dupes of what has been recently revealed to be nothing but a form of "junk economics." New research has found important errors in the economic model on which all the debt hysteria is based. (1) The original Reinhart-Rogoff study on the effect of government debt on economic growth has been shown to be full of Excel errors. Their results could not be replicated in some separate independent economic research. It may sound harsh to accuse the authors of the original study of "junk economics." But when Excel errors are taken for gospel truth, it's time to get tough with our framing. Real people and economies are getting hurt everywhere, not just here at home.
Of course, we know that the G.O.P. won't admit
the mistake. They will just go on screaming about the deficit and the debt,
because it serves the ultimate goal of their corporate masters. They want to drown our government (and the
American people) in a bathtub of human misery. They aim to see the American
public reduced to such desperation that big corporations can get away with
anything and everything they wish. They are just fine with cutting jobs everywhere
and watching the
comes to the Social Security issue, the best defense is also a good offense.
That's why I favor the idea that we should issue a call to "make Social Security fair" instead of just saying "no" to the
chained CPI. How to make it fair? Say: "Dump the income cap." (I know that
"scrap the cap" is out there, but we need to specify what the "cap" is.
We need to get Social Security
back to being the dangerous to touch "third rail" of American politics. If the
G.O.P. screams that getting rid of the income cap is a tax increase, let them.
That should be our opening gambit, not the chained CPI. Democratic politicians,
including the President, need to learn that we aren't going to just say
"no." We need to invoke the same sense
of drastic unfairness that is
driving such dramatic reform in the fields of gay rights and immigrant
rights. Senior rights and disabled rights are at stake in this fight. Ira Chernus, Professor of Religious Studies at
Susan C. Strong, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of The Metaphor Project,
l. Annie Lowrey, "A Study That Set the Tone for Austerity is Challenged," Economix Blog, http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/flaws-are-cited-in-a-landmark-study-on-debt-and-growth/ , The New York Times, 4.16.2013, and Paul Krugman, "The 1 Percent's Solution," The New York Times, 4.25.13, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/opinion/krugman-the-one-percents-solution.html?ref=paulkrugman&_r=0
2. Robert Reich, "Why This Is the Worst Recovery on Record," Robert Reich's blog, http://robertreich.org/post/48047982332 , 4.16.13.
3. Ira Chernus, "Social Security Cuts: More Than Money At Stake," Mythic America, http://hnn.us/blogs/social-security-cuts-more-money-stake , 4.08.2013.