My, how the times have changed. Here's a "Save Social Security" rally in 2005, when Steny "Let's Raise the Retirement Age" Hoyer and Dick "Bleeding Hearts Should Be Open To Cuts" Durbin were defending the program from any possible threats. Now they're falling over each other in their eagerness to cut.
Somehow, I just knew it would be the Democrats that Wall Street finally lured into cutting Social Security - because they needed that "Nixon goes to China" cover. But could I just remind you that it's the wealthy who are living longer, not us? (They're the ones with the good health insurance.) So the next time they tell you they need to raise the retirement age, remember that.
Via Talking Points Memo:
It's the Democrats who have progressives feeling queasy.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer explicitly put the idea on the table as well in a speech last month. "We should consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan," Hoyer said.
He echoed House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who put it this way: "With minor changes to the program such as raising the salary cap and raising the retirement age by one month every year, the program could become solvent for the next 75 years." One month a year may not sound like much, but if you're 30 years away from retirement, that adds up to almost three years.
In the House, though, Nancy Pelosi is the linchpin, and she's not nearly as enthusiastic as her colleagues. But, notwithstanding the enthusiasm gap, she also left the possibility of raising the retirement age on the table. When asked about it by TPMDC at her press conference last week, she criticized the plan, but mainly to say she disagrees with putting Social Security on the chopping block ahead of other measures. "Why they would start talking about a place that could be harmful to our seniors -- 70 is a relative age," Pelosi said. "Around here, there's not a lot of outdoor work or heavy lifting. But for some people it is, and 70 means something different to them. So in any event let's talk about growth, let's talk about how we can reduce spending, let's put everything, those initiatives: promoting growth, tightening the belt, looking at entitlements. But let's not start on the backs of our seniors."
There's one catch, though. Last week, Democrats included a rider to the supplemental war spending bill that will likely force the House to vote on a forthcoming fiscal reform plan, if the Senate passes it first. That package is being put together by President Obama's deficit and debt commission, and will be ready to go after the midterms. Pelosi had already pledged to give the package a vote, so perhaps nothing has really changed. But in a way, she also tied her own hands: if the Senate passes a broad tax-and-entitlement reform package at the end of this Congress and her own caucus is willing, she'll be hard-pressed to stop the Social Security reforms she thinks should come last.
Of course, that puts the onus on the Senate, which can't pass much of anything these days,especially if it includes tax hikes -- and any serious effort to pull the country back from the brink of fiscal crisis will have to include some of those. But if there's a fluke, or an unexpected decision on the part of 60 senators to hold hands and jump together, it could happen swiftly, with very little notice.
Don't get mad, get organized! And call your congress critters every single time you read a story like this to tell them you don't support any cuts in Social Security -- and you won't vote for anyone who does.