June 1, 2015

There's a lot of things I want to say to Jeb Bush right now, but they can all be summarized with one solid smack upside his head. If anyone doubts there's a difference between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, I would suggest they have a look at that video above, because it oozes privilege and disdain for people who are barely making it from one month to the next.

Not that we expect less from Jeb. We don't. When you haven't actually had the privilege of being laid off because you're old or young or just expendable, why would you have any empathy for those who have?

Mr. High and Mighty Jebbie thinks Social security is "supplemental retirement income." He said so, twice. Right there in that video.

"So people that already have the supplemental retirement system, which is a contract, I don't think we violate that. For people that are about ready to be beneficiaries of their supplemental retirement, I don't think we change that."

How effing generous of him. He thinks Social Security is just supplemental. Like a perk. Or a special dividend. (Of course he doesn't, but that's what Frank Luntz told him to say.)


Social Security was always supposed to be the foundation for retirement income, not those 401k plans Wall Street is so fond of raiding every few years, and not those unicorns known as pension plans that only union members get these days because they bargain for them.

There is nothing supplemental about Social Security income, any more than there's anything optional about paying into it. But I wouldn't expect a graduate of Oligarch University to understand that, not really.

Anyone who doesn't understand that isn't paying attention to the real world. And anyone who isn't paying attention to the real world has no damned business running for President.

Social Security is doing just fine. Republicans like to invent stories about how it's not, but it's still the most successful government program out there, with Medicare running a close second. It's responsible for lifting seniors out of poverty, and as the current generation of seniors can attest, keeping them from dying sooner than they might otherwise.

But it's far from perfect, and it's far from supplemental. When we live in a world where billionaires can buy themselves their own tailor-made candidate for the highest office in the land, it's time for a little redistribution.

Bring back the 90 percent income tax for high earners. You'll be surprised how the job market opens up, and how fast it does, too. If they want a tax break, they can damn well start putting some money into making this economy work again.

Tax Wall Street transactions on non-retirement accounts. Force some risk back on those who risked everything we had in the bank for our retirements for a change.

The best thing that ever happened to Democrats this cycle is Jeb Bush, because the distinction he draws between how the Republican party views working people and the way Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton view them is sharp and alive.

If I hang on for the next nine and a half years, maybe I'll get to take that retirement income I paid for over the entirety of my working lifetime. We shall see. But I'll tell you this much: It won't be supplemental.


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