The future of Social Security

I’ve heard many people lament that Social Security won’t be around by the time they need it. Social Security is quite sound and is well run. It has to be tweaked from time to time to keep it that way, and that’s where the voters come in. If the voters put people in office who support it, Social Security will continue to thrive. If the people vote for candidates like Tom Cotton who oppose it, and if people like him achieve a majority in Congress with a like-minded president, Social Security will indeed fade away. It depends on whom the voters elect.


Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush believed their elections in 1980 and 2004 were mandates to privatize and initiate the systematic destruction of Social Security. A Democratic majority in the House led by Speaker Tip O’Neill reached a compromise with Reagan to save it, and Reagan is still hated by many because of some of his benefit cuts. Mr. Bush was stopped primarily by a horrified public. I still believe his sneak attack on Social Security played a huge role in the Democrats’ return to control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections.

President Obama stunned nearly all of his supporters in his first term when he put Social Security and Medicare on the negotiating table to achieve a “grand bargain” with the Republicans on the budget. Fortunately, the GOP didn’t realize they had won and turned him down because they had decided to never agree with him on anything. Many of Obama’s 2008 voters have never trusted him since. If he had agreed to weaken those programs, Mitt Romney would probably be president today because many previous Obama voters would have stayed home on Election Day 2012.


On Nov. 4, a majority of the 37 percent of registered voters who bothered to vote put both houses of Congress in the hands of the Fox-Republican-Tea Party, which is obsessed with sabotaging and ultimately destroying Social Security and Medicare. (That was the lowest voter turnout since 1942, when the nation was united by WWII.) That also means that the other 63 percent who neglected their obligation to democracy also “voted” to undermine Social Security and Medicare as well: Silence is consent.

With the election of Mr. Cotton to the Senate, Arkansas doesn’t have a single supporter of Social Security and Medicare in Washington. Our four representatives in the House and now both senators are devoted to the agenda of the reactionary plutocracy that wants to dismantle our social safety net and return to the precarious past: the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, Club for (Greed) Growth, Americans for Prosperity, ALEC, etc.


Regrettably, even President Obama has stacked his current 18-member Deficit Commission with 14 participants who favor cutting SS benefits. The meetings are held behind closed doors, and Erskine Bowles is its chairman! You’ve heard it before: They’re probably planning to recommend balancing the budget on the backs of the seniors.

The OCED (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) has compared the social security benefits of its 34 member nations and eight other major economies and found the U.S. near the bottom. American workers’ benefits rank at No. 36 among the 42 nations studied, right below Slovenia. We ought to be ashamed. Social Security is one of our most efficient and effective programs, but it should be made even better.

Instead, we will have a majority in Congress, and seemingly a president, that maliciously wants to reduce benefits, raise the age of eligibility to 70, and privatize it so the plutocracy can make a profit from it. This is what the majority of 2014 voters and all the no-shows evidently want. If that is what the richest country in the world truly desires, the future for American workers and seniors looks very bleak.

David Offutt


El Dorado

From the web, in response to ‘The GOP in charge,’ a Nov. 13 cover story by Benjamin Hardy and David Ramsey:

The answer to your question “What will it mean?” is: Some really stinky, awfully dirty shit is going to hit the fan, more so on the state level than the national level, so strap in and hang on, because we’re in for a really bumpy ride over the next few years. If you want a quick and easy example, I’ll simply point out the fact gas prices went up 10 cents the day after the election. Greed is good, and we’re going to see and endure a lot of that attitude!


From the web, in response to Max Brantley’s Nov. 13 column, ‘Brave new Arkansas’:

Yip. Our resident and nonresident billionaires paid good money for this.

Now ya’ll bend over and enjoy it.


Here’s a ray of hope amid the gloom: Essie Dale Cableton, an African American activist with Gould Citizens for Progress and the Arkansas Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, was elected as mayor of Gould.



When you keep voting for the lesser of two evils, Max, sooner or later the electorate asks just how much worse could the other guy be? That’s what happened to Pryor and Ross, they ran too far to the right.


From the web, in response to Gene Lyons’ Nov. 13 column, ‘Time to govern’:

Congress could lower the taxes of those corporations that raise the median wage of their employees. Or link corporate tax rates to the CEO to average employee pay. You want lower taxes, bring down the X number times earnings your executives make compared to the median worker’s wage.

Lower taxes on those that share more profits to the workers. 

I know, good luck with that.