Looks like it’s finally happening:
The Bush administration has signaled that it will propose changing the formula that sets initial Social Security benefit levels, cutting promised benefits by nearly a third in the coming decades, according to several Republicans close to the White House.
Under the proposal, the first-year benefits for retirees would be calculated using inflation rates rather than the rise in wages over a worker’s lifetime. Because wages tend to rise considerably faster than inflation, the new formula would stunt the growth of benefits, slowly at first but more quickly by the middle of the century. The White House hopes that some, if not all, of those benefit cuts would be made up by gains in newly created personal investment accounts that would harness returns on stocks and bonds.
This could well be the issue, the Big Issue, that rolls right through the ’06 and ’08 elections. Even for a river boat gambler of a president like this one, aiming to reform social security in any shape or form could be like trying to roll a snake eyes while being held at full-nelson by angry bears. For that, Bush deserves a degree of credit.
However, I see this maneuver as nothing short of the continuation of an eight-year project to “Starve the Beast.” For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically akin to shrinking federal revenues generated by taxes (see = a consistent pre-9/11, post-9/11, recession-long, war-time call for tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts) then crying that we must cut federal expenditures because… there simply isn’t enough money.
So, the tax cuts went mostly to the rich, and now the Bush Administration is looking to bilk seniors out of one-third of their promised benefits. It’s dishonest and it could be devastating to millions of seniors.
The good news, if there is any, is that it looks as though we’ll be in for a bloodbath of conflict in Washington unseen since Russell Crowe took out the Germanic tribes single-handedly in Gladiator. Republicans could be ripping their own party apart before the Dems even get a swipe in.
Post-election blues political junkies may now feel free to fire up the C-SPAN and get that popcorn poppin’.
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