Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Social Security: Bush's other guerilla war

Guardian Unlimited: Bush Plan Would Cut Survivor Benefits

One of the very few battles reality has won against the Bush juggernaut was on Social Security. Bush's attempt to effectivey dismantle this strong and vital program last year were effectively stymied by the complete lack of rational basis for their approach.

A significant part of that argument has been the simple fact that Bush's assertions about how Social Security was a bad deal for minorities because of their shorter lifespans were just pain wrong. The reason they were wrong is because death and survivor benefits under the program more than compensated.

They lost the last round. But they are not giving up. Lying didn't work for the Bush administration, so now they are trying to change the facts on the ground to screw the worst off among us instead:

If President Bush gets his way, the venerable $255 Social Security death benefit will fade into history. And 16- and 17-year-old high school dropouts will lose their monthly survivor payments.

Not, however, if Democrats get their way.

"The Republican Congress has given a whole new meaning to the term 'women and children first,'" Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee, said Tuesday.

"There they go again," said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who heads the part budget that Bush submitted to Congress on Tuesday and estimated to trim costs by $3.4 billion over the next decade.
Mark Lassiter, a spokesman at the Social Security Administration, said the benefit "bears no relation to what a person's funeral expenses are or to any of workers' earnings levels. We believe that eliminating it is not going to cause an appreciable financial hardship to a survivor."

Lassiter said the benefit is paid in cases in which a surviving spouse was living with the deceased at the time of his or her death. It is also available in some cases for a surviving spouse who lived apart and for some surviving children.

You have to give them credit for supreme chutzpah. By eliminating the benefits that level the actuarial playing field for the disadvantaged, they eliminate one more argument in favor of preserving this important insurance policy for all workers. If they make this minor, incremental change stick now, you can take to the bank the promise that next time they try to kill the program through privatization, it will come back to haunt us.


Post a Comment

<< Home

see web stats