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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/23/10

The Drive to Eliminate Social Security Accelerates

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Message shamus cooke
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Each new day in Washington brings a fresh call to "reform entitlement programs" -- Social Security, Medicare, etc. (in Congress, the word "reform" now means to eliminate, or drastically reduce). Tackling Social Security has been on the to-do list of the corporate elite for years, and they're not waiting any longer. After years of promoting this cause, conservative think tanks have now garnered solid support from the political establishment as a whole, which includes the Republican and Democratic parties.

The newest liberal recruit to the destruction of Social Security is Thomas Friedman, the influential columnist for The New York Times, who wrote recently:

"The president needs to persuade the country to invest in the future and pay for the past... We have to pay for more new schools and infrastructure than ever, while accepting more entitlement cuts than ever [Social Security, Medicare, etc.] when public trust in government is lower than ever." (February 20, 2010).

The nonchalance which Friedman calls for cutting Social Security is indicative of the climate in Washington, where the last remnants of liberalism have been suffocated under the heavy demands of profit-hungry corporations, especially financial institutions and big banks. For political hacks like Friedman -- and there are thousands of them -- the ONLY solution to curing the U.S. deficit is cutting social services in general, while specifically targeting Social Security and Medicare.

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But President Obama revealed these assertions to be lies, when he recently announced, "fixing Social Security would be simple." The Associated Press explains:

"The system is funded with a tax on earnings, up to $109,000 a year. Obama says lifting that cap to tax a larger share of income would be one way to extend the system of monthly payments for retirees. It also would be unpopular with some." (February 19, 2010).

This idea is indeed very unpopular with the very rich, who enjoy the privilege of paying no Social Security tax after the $109,000 threshold. Obama let an unpopular truth out of the bag when he brought up this fact; but conveniently for him, many mainstream news outlets decided not to amplify the President's voice.

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Obama, however, is unlikely to promote this "radical" idea much further, since he's already decided on a method to undermine Social Security. Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is a bi-partisan group that is set to attack Social Security in a way where, in the end, both political parties will be blamed, so that neither party is overburdened with guilt. The Republicans -- having made their contempt for Obama more than known -- are salivating at the chance to cooperate.

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.
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