The Democratic majority and Social Security: Watch what the party says and does
By Seth Sandronsky
Journal Contributing Writer
Dec 20, 2006, 03:01
Democrat Nancy Pelosi is set to be the first female speaker
of the House of Representatives in U.S. history. Among other domestic policies
of the new Democratic majority under her lead, she has vowed to �preserve�
Social Security. The popular federal program pays benefits to nearly one of
every six Americans.
The Democratic majority is arriving in the wake of President
George W. Bush�s failed attempt last year to change Social Security with
private savings accounts for younger workers. He claimed that his plan would
keep the program solvent for their future. One of the underreported stories of
2005 was the U.S. public�s successful opposition to Bush�s plan.
Against this backdrop, the 2004 Social Security Trustees
Report projects the year 2042 as the depletion date of the Social Security
trust fund. By design of the 1983 Greenspan Commission, the trust fund is
running a surplus of Social Security payroll taxes from employees, employers
and the self-employed. Even if the trust fund is depleted in 2042, Social
Security�s tax revenues alone will fund 75 percent of the benefits due to
recipients, writes Doug Orr, a professor of economics at Eastern Washington
University, in the summer 2006 Review of Radical Political Economics.
And what does the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office�s
forecast for Social Security? The CBO projects that Social Security is fully
funded to pay disability, retirement and survivor benefits for the next 40
years. This is with no funding changes to the popular program.
Meanwhile, the securities and investment industry
contributed a total of $48,276,563 to federal candidates and parties in the
2006 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Democrats
got $24,878,830 of the total versus the GOP�s $22,538,828. Firms such as
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch lead the way with these
bipartisan campaign contributions.
The securities and investment industry has been leading the
charge to privatize Social Security, speaking through the American Enterprise
Institute, Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation. Why? For starters, there are
hefty fees to collect for setting up and overseeing millions of private savings
Representative Pelosi promised to �guarantee a dignified
retirement by preserving Social Security� on December 14. How the Pelosi-led
party plans to do that is the political question.
Will the Democratic majority be able to stand up for the
American public against the securities and investment industry? Only if Main
Street, USA, thinks and acts on what the Democrats say and do concerning the
preservation of Social Security. As is, the program is solvent for the
Sandronsky is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-editor of Because People Matter, Sacramento's
progressive paper. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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