Shock Therapy: The Big Lie

Part 3

So new tax cuts were passed by a bipartisan Congress in 2001, and once again, the main beneficiaries were — you guessed it — the filthy rich. The top 1% of wage earners, those making 500K and up, saved 70 billion in 2006 alone. Enough to fund the Department of Education with change to spare.

Over the ten years 2001-2010, the top 5%, those making 191K and up, will save about 920 billion dollars. That’s 48.3% of all Bush’s tax cuts.1

Incidentally, that’s about half of what’s in the Social Security Trust Fund right now, built up over 24 years on wages under 97K.

But the Trust Fund debt, some say, is “just IOUs”. You’ve heard the spiel. Here’s Bush in 2005:

Now, let me tell you something about the Social Security system. It’s not a trust. A lot of people think, well, we’re collecting your money and we’re holding it for you, and then when you retire, we’re going to give it back to you. That’s not the way it works. We’re collecting your money, and if we’ve got money left over — in other words, if the — if there’s more money than the benefits promised to be paid in our hands, we’re spending it and leaving behind an IOU. That’s how it works. It’s called a pay-as-you-go system. You pay, we go ahead and spend it. (Laughter.)2

Isn’t he cute? Here he is again, same year:

“We take your payroll taxes, we pay out the benefits to current retirees, and with the money left over, we pay…for other programs. And there’s nothing left but file cabinets with IOUs. And that’s how it works.”3

Let’s not ignore his second-in-command. Here’s Cheney on the mission:

“Now, about 1.7 trillion of that is in the so-called Trust Fund: that is, money – that’s money that’s been collected that’s not there as cash at this point.”4

They don’t sound very encouraging, do they?

The cost of the war in Iraq, waged over imaginary WMDs, is approaching 200 billion a year.5 Nine billion of that has simply disappeared6, and unknown millions have gone into the pockets of corporations with ties to Cheneys and Bushes.789

Apparently it’s easy to find 200 billion a year to kill people, even while cutting 70 billion from millionaires’ tax bills — but impossible to come up with 60 billion or so a year to redeem the Trust Fund.10

Those IOUs are implied to be “worthless” only because they’re owed to ordinary working people: sheep to be sheared, rubes to be conned, like the rubes dying in Iraq.

Greenspan’s no better. In 2004, he urged the House Budget Committee to “deal with the country’s escalating budget deficit by cutting benefits for future Social Security retirees.”11

There. Did you watch his hands? Same old three-card monte shuffle.

Thanks to Bush’s “No Billionaire Left Behind” tax policy and Iraq, there’s a growing deficit in the general budget — so Greenspan wants to cut Social Security benefits. That’s the kind of rigorous logic that earns you the title of “Wizard” in ruling circles.

Social Security was set up as a self-funding program. It’s currently running multi-billion-dollar surpluses. Its finances and benefits have nothing to do with the general budget, or didn’t, until Alan stuck his paws in. Is he senile? Doesn’t he remember what he did and said in 1983?

If deficits are bad, why in 1983 did he recommend the deliberate creation of a deficit — the debt now owed to the Social Security Trust Fund?

And if the extra money we’ve been sending Social Security for 24 years is just creating debt and “worthless IOUs,” how come Alan never suggests we stop making those excess payments?

Because he’s senile like a fox.

And neither will you hear our brave party leaders suggesting we stop paying the extra freight. Instead, Republicans cheer-lead for private accounts, and Democrats push for benefit cuts and payroll tax increases. To save us from crisis, they say. They’re picking our pockets, and they offer us every solution but the obvious one: remove their thieving hands.

They’re lying. They’ve always been lying.

“…the great masses of the people… more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big. Such a falsehood will never enter their heads and they will not be able to believe in the possibility of such monstrous effrontery and infamous misrepresentation in others…”
— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Chapter 10

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

  1. Citizens for Tax Justice, “The Bush Tax Cuts: The Latest CTJ Data,” 3/07. []
  2. President Participates in Social Security Conversation in Arizona,” 3/21/2005. []
  3. President Participates in Social Security Roundtable in Texas,” 4/26/2005. []
  4. Vice President’s Remarks at Town Hall Meeting on Social Security,” 3/22/05. []
  5. Iraq War Budget Jumps for 2008,” LA Times, 10/11/07, ret. 10/11/07. []
  6. Audit: US Lost Track of Nine Billion in Iraq Funds,” CNN 9/05, retrieved 10/07. []
  7. Cheney’s Multi-Million Dollar Revolving Door,” Mother Jones 8/2/00. []
  8. The Perpetual War Portfolio,” Rational Enquirer. []
  9. Big Contracts Went to Big Donors,” CBS News, 10/30/03. []
  10. Ignoring the complication of interest, it would cost about 63 billion/year to pay off 2 trillion dollars over 32 years. []
  11. To Trim Deficits, Bush Recommends Social Security and Medicare Cuts,” New York Times 2/28/2004; “Greenspan Urges Future Social Security Cuts,” MSNBC 2/25/04. []
Hannah B. is from the Pacific Northwest and works in healthcare. She can be reached at: bbhannahb@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Hannah, or visit Hannah's website.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hannah said on November 10th, 2007 at 4:08pm #

    Correction: The link for reference 6. was inadvertently duplicated at reference 9. The correct link for reference 9 is:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/30/iraq/main580998.shtml

  2. Deadbeat said on November 11th, 2007 at 10:23pm #

    Social Security was set up as a self-funding program. It’s currently running multi-billion-dollar surpluses. Its finances and benefits have nothing to do with the general budget, or didn’t, until Alan stuck his paws in. Is he senile? Doesn’t he remember what he did and said in 1983?

    Actually it was LBJ that “unified” the budget in 1969. Prior to 1969, Social Security was not considered part of the general fund. In order to understate spending on the Vietnam War, the Democrats put forth a scheme to “unify” the budget. The pie chart that is published by the government makes it appears that “social spending” is 1/2 of all government spending. This is a sham and a charade designed to deceive the public.

    Therefore while there is a lot of writers focus on Bush and the Republicans there needs to be an analysis of the role the Democrats are playing. In fact in 1994, Robert Reich, as head of the Labor Dept under Bill Clinton, projected that Social Security was headed for bankruptcy. He projected that over the next 75 years the U.S economy was going to grow at a rate of 1.5%/year. A rate that was 0.4% below the Great Depression rate of 1.9%/year. The average of the previous 75 years was 2.5%/year. Even at a modest growth rate of 2.2%/year, Social Security is fiscally sound.

    This was exposed by Doug Henwood of Left Business Observer at the time however the media and many Democrats still claim that Social Security is in “crisis” or going bankrupt.

    Both parties has designs on screwing the working class out of the Social Security.

  3. AJ Nasreddin said on November 12th, 2007 at 8:46am #

    I got a letter from the folks at Social Security some years back. It seems that because I moved abroad and was out of the system, they wanted to inform me that if I didn’t work and contribute for 30 years, I wouldn’t qualify to recieve payments from them in the future! What social security is that? Imagine some poor dude who only worked for 29 years – he basically looses anything he put in and will probably retire to the street.