Back in March, Rick Ungar over at Forbes.com published the slightly provocative and thoroughly depressing piece “How The Wealthy Plan to Finance The American Aristocracy With Middle Class Dollars”. In it he outlined a systematic approach by the very rich to bootstrap, permanently, the American middle class with the taxes required to subsidize the private sector. It’s a familiar equation: socialize loss while privatizing gains and, as Ungar’s piece points out, it’s working.
The thought that such a warning appeared in Forbes of all places is startling enough, but the reality that the warning has failed to get picked up anywhere else in mainstream media is terrifying.
If you think Ungar’s piece is hyperbole, consider this. In addition to the Ryan plan to eradicate Medicare, House Republicans have also resurrected plans to privatize Social Security.
Last Friday Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, along with a handful of other Republicans, introduced the Savings Account for Every American (SAFE) Act. Under the bill, American workers would immediately have 6.2 percent of their wages sent to a “SAFE” account in lieu of the 6.2 percent of their wages that currently go to Social Security.
Under Sessions’s bill, employers would continue to match that 6.2% to Social Security, but after 15 years, send that amount to the employee’s SAFE account, rather than into their Social Security earnings.
It’s a “transition” plan or a phase-out plan that will, as it gets rolled out, be spun as a choice for the American worker. It’s essentially the same plan Republicans proposed in 2005 and Americans uniformly rejected before the start of the Great Recession and the banking scandals of the Bush years.
Investment choices for American workers already exist. Social Security was never intended to be a choice in as much as it was intended to be a guarantee that American workers would not be left penniless and unable to work should Wall Street abscond with their savings. Which Wall Street has done, time and time again.
photo courtesy of smemon87 via Flickr
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