Tag Archive: Social Security

Christie, Walker, and the GOP: Turning Americans against Each Other

   Once you get past the screaming coming from the GOP as they blame the economic woes of our country on the little guy instead of the corporate fat cats, the truth is the Republicans have no policy agenda or constructive ideas about the future of America. All they have is a divide and conquer strategy intended to pit Americans against each other.

  Complicit in this divide and conquer strategy is the likes of Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Fox News as they demonize public workers, especially teachers and cops. Attacking the little guy has become the favorite pastime of the corporate right as they pit the “small people” against one another while the rich get richer at the expense of our middle class.  The Republicans can only survive by inciting a sense of grievance about what someone has taken away from me. We saw this strategy play out at the notorious town hall meetings touting the idea that by attempting to bring health care insurance to 30 or 40 million  Americans our Socialist, Kenyan-born, President was somehow taking ‘something” away from them; but what exactly was that?

  In all probability the biggest Republican lie intended to drive a wedge between young and old is that Social Security is “going broke”. Social Security can’t go broke, it’s not a pension fund that you put money in and then draw it out when you are old. Social Security is an immediate transfer from workers today to retirees today. It has always been that way and it will continue to work unless we make the colossal mistake of privatizing the system.  The only thing the Republicans are trying to do is pit young workers against the older retirees.  Pitting Americans against each other has become the primary GOP survival tool.

  For more than 30 years the financial investment firms have peddled this same lie. The truth is that the Bernie Madoff-like investment firms want to get their greedy hands on that money flowing into the Social Security System by privatizing the system. Do you really think your money is safer with people like Bernie Madoff?

 Social Security could face a short-fall in about 25 years but the fix is simple. Under the current system any wages over the first $106,800 are exempt from Social Security withholding; if we close this loophole the shortfall would be avoided. By removing this exemption for the 6% of Americans in this income category we ensure that the other 94% will have retirement security for decades to come. Although, Republicans would rather force Americans to work until they die by dismantling Social Security.

  Pitting public workers against private workers, young against old, the middle class against the poor, it’s all part of the GOP divide and conquer strategy and everyone should know that. Not once do we hear the GOP mention that while the little guy struggles to pay his taxes and send his children to college the big corporations are paying little or no income tax and sheltering their profits in overseas tax havens like the Cayman Islands.

  Republicans love to use the socialist bogeyman cry of “redistribution of wealth” in order to graciously ignore the fact that middle class families, despite having two working, are finding it impossible to put their children through college and at the same time save for retirement. Instead of attacking “ordinary” Americans like teachers, cops, and firemen, the GOP should be concerned with the fact that over the past 30 years the only redistribution of wealth that has taken place in our country is that wealth has been redistributed upward on a scale never seen before.

 The Republican strategy of turning Americans against each other is intended to distract us from the true core issue, the real problem. Over the last 30 years the American economy has doubled, so where did the money go? According to Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary, the bottom 90% of Americans has only seen a 1% gain in income over the same period. On the other hand, the share of our national wealth going to the top 1% has tripled. The richest 150,000 households in America, 1/10th of 1%, earn as much as the bottom 120 million put together.

  All over the country Republicans are attacking Social Security, Medicare, state and federal grants for college, vital public services, public schools, teachers, and cops. In state after state more sacrifices are forced on the middle class but the GOP refuses to talk about the real solution and that is to restructure our tax codes to eliminate the loopholes, not for those that make $250,000 a year, but a new tax bracket for the real fat cats, the big money.  

Garrettspeak:  Social Security edition

Notwithstanding my views as someone who specializes in employment tax on the whole “payroll tax rate reduction” that was in effect for 2011 and is now back on the table for 2012, I want to offer up a perfect example of the noncommittal but hidden agenda of my representative, Scott Garrett.  Over the five years I’ve lived in his District, I have been able to learn and master the understanding of “Garrettspeak” – which is essentially the clouding of issues, justification of votes or statements with reasons that may apply at one time (states’ rights for most of his votes) but not for others (the recent vote about concealed carry laws or Terri Schiavo, for example) – and most importantly, the little nugget in most statements that show his true constituency – the upper echelon of the 1%.

Garrett was recently quoted in a NY Times post highlighting a “rift” in the Republican House caucus on the issue of the payroll tax cut.  This relates to the reduction in the rate for the employee portion of social security tax from 6.2% (of the first $106,800 in 2011) to 4.2%.

In the article, Garrett’s quote is as full of nothing as you can get in one quote:

Representative Scott Garrett, Republican of New Jersey, noted that the Senate on Thursday rejected two competing versions of a payroll tax cut. “If the Senate is able to do that, we could do it, too,” he said.

“We should not be taking money from seniors to give to people who are fortunate enough to have a job,” Mr. Garrett said.

Chris Christie Tells All at Koch June Retreat

You want to know what Christie plans to do in this state? You can find out all the details. He explained it in detail to the attendees of a secret Koch seminar.

Chris Christie was the keynote speaker at the Koch June 2011 seminar in Vail, Colorado. Mother Jones’ writer Brad Friedman has just written a two-part report on this highly guarded, invitation-only strategy and fund-raising meeting of approximately 300 politicians, right-wing media star, corporate presidents and CEOs, and the wealthiest of political donors. Today’s article covers Christie’s keynote address – and has the complete audio. Christie’s speech lasts almost an hour, and he is extremely blunt about his plans for the State of New Jersey – and, later, for the entire country.

He openly mocks New Jersey Democrats. He is determined to get rid of the state teachers’ union so that he and the Plutocrats can mold the children of New Jersey: “we need to decide who is determining our children’s future, who is running this place. Them or us? I say it’s us.”

Link to the article and the audio:


The Roots of Intransigence

Trying to reason with a Tea Partiers is like trying to get a Congressional Republican to compromise. It’s easier to teach pigs to fly.

MoveOn.org sponsored rallies today all across the country to bring attention to the irrevocable harm that the Republican Tea Party is imposing on mostly complacent Americans. One such event was held over the lunch hour today at the Mount Laurel office of ex-NFL offensive linesman and Tea Party darling, Congressman Jon Runyan.

I arrived at Runyan’s office at around 11:30, and there were about five people already gathered in the parking lot. One was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the rest were members of the West Jersey Tea Party. (I’ve heard of North Jersey, South Jersey, and Central Jersey, but where the heck is West Jersey? But I digress.)

Republicans Threaten Social Security Checks for Nothing

The President rightly pointed out today that the House Republicans are jeopardizing Social Security checks, disability checks, and veterans benefits:

“I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it”

Stopping checks or defaulting on debts would be a complete disaster, whether we’re talking about the consequences to individuals or the consequences on the national macro-economy.

Setting recent arrivals Jon Runyan and Leonard Lance aside, every New Jersey Republican and Democrat have voted to raise the debt ceiling multiple times (PDF), each voting yes when their party was in the majority and no when it wasn’t. These long-term Republicans — Frank LoBiondo, Chris Smith, Scott Garrett, Rodney Frelinghuysen — are in perfectly safe seats and it’s time for them to step up for the good of the country. After all, they already approved the budget so they have authorized every dollar of spending, knowing that it required borrowing. It’s been pure political showmanship until now, but reality is intruding. They need to vote — with some Democrats of good faith — to raise the debt ceiling without continuing to take the country hostage.

Furthermore, these long-term debt deals are meaningless because you can’t control what future Congresses do. Look at how Frank LoBiondo complains every year about “cuts” to Medicare doctor reimbursements and votes to pay the doctors more. In fact, LoBiondo and the 1997 Republican majority insisted on putting the Medicare cuts into the budget to “balance” future projections. If he’s reading this, please don’t destroy the country for a deal that you yourself will denounce in a few years.


EVENT: American Dream House Meeting

Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 2:00pm
near Main & Moore Streets in Hackettstown, NJ

RSVP required:

Michele Bachmann says we can reduce unemployment by eliminating the minimum wage. Is that the kind of economic “recovery” we want—$4 and $5 and $6 per hour jobs? Van Jones is absolutely right. Too many of us are already sacrificing plenty. Too many of us are already paying for Wall Street’s recklessness with our personal austerities and anxieties. The Tea Party’s solution is to discredit our ideals and dismantle our government. But we can do better. We can build a movement to make OUR democracy work for OUR American Dreams. Let’s take the first step together by meeting on July 16th to get acquainted and share ideas.

Christie Lie Primer – Volume 1

For Chris Christie’s political opponents, there are few bigger frustrations than the degree to which blatant lies have served as the engine of his agenda. Of course in our modern political climate, it almost sounds silly and hyperbolic to go after someone because they lie – politicians and partisans call one other liars all the time. But it’s exactly this ingraining of the “liar” meme into the public consciousness on which Christie relies.  He knows that if the crowd enjoys the show, they’ll tune out the details.  

But facts are facts, and it would be cool if people cared about them more. So here is a quick primer on just a few of Governor Christie’s more breathtaking lies – a short and incomplete list that begs the question: Why there hasn’t the mainstream media called Christie to task for the laundry list of serious questions surrounding his trustworthiness – especially since one of his big sticking points is that he is such a truth-teller?

Lie: Christie is a Trenton outsider. In his recent speech to AEI, he even said: “You know, I never worked in Trenton before I became Governor.”

Truth: Christie was a registered Statehouse lobbyist who advocated on legislation relation to health care, public utilities, banking, and – of course – education.

Why lie?: To look like an outsider. A maverick. A guy who has nothing to do with New Jersey machine politics. Which, of course, he does. Big time.

more below

Christie: Seniors Have It Too Good

During his speech to the American Enterprise Institute this week, Governor Christie flatly declared that he was blowing everyone’s minds with his proposal to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Of course, he said this to a room full of free-market evangelists, many of whom already think that poor people are gross, so no real risk there. But the subtext was clear: people in New Jersey and throughout the Unites States need to lower their standard of living.

more below

Menendez, Bernanke, the Economy, and Robbing Social Security

Senator Bob Menendez questioned Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke today and posted video:

As they discuss, it’s very nice that it a complete financial collapse has been averted, at least so far, but the overall economic situation, the unemployment situation, and lack of loans points to many areas where Bernanke simply has been unsuccessful. It seems the President and some Senators want to grade him on a curve, but I think Menendez should seriously think about blocking Bernanke simply to send a message. Lots of people are losing their jobs, Govenor Corzine was voted out, and however how hard Bernanke works, his tenure has been a failure and someone should pay a price. Menendez needs to think seriously about whether it will be Bernanke, Geithner and the rest, or whether it will Menendez himself in 2012.

Furthermore, he has resisted regulations that are obviously needed and tried to block a bipartisan attempt to find out what the Fed is actually doing. (They are literally making trillions of dollars in loans with no oversight.)

But the worse was Bernanke’s comments to Senator Bennett on Social Security today:

In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee today, where he’s seeking re-appointment as the Fed’s chairman, Bernanke called for cutbacks in Medicare and Social Security even as unemployment rises and the middle class is endangered.

Citing legendary bank robber Willie Sutton, Bernanke said of the retirement and health care funds that are the legacy of the New Deal: “That’s where the money is.” …

Bernanke reminded Congress that it has the power to repeal Social Security and Medicare.

“It’s only mandatory until Congress says it’s not mandatory. And we have no option but to address those costs at some point or else we will have an unsustainable situation,” said Bernanke.

This testimony tells us Bernanke will use his authority–given by Menendez–to try to undermine and dismantle Social Security and Medicare. (Raising the SS cap–with an income hole–would solve the SS problems and meet President Obama’s campaign promises.) Menendez needs to plan for a Democratic solution to entitlement funding issues, not a right-wing one, and that means rejecting Bernanke now. And by the way, Menendez should let his friends in the White House know that the base is already suspicious that Obama plans to attack Social Security, and he should let them know that this “gaffe” is going to hurt Obama if nothing is done.