After Social Security Goes, Nothing's Sacred



President Bush isn't trying to reform Social Security. He isn't even trying to "partially privatize" it. His plan is, in essence, to dismantle the program, replacing it with a system that may be social but doesn't provide security.

Why would the Bush plan dismantle Social Security?

Because for Americans who entered the work force after the plan went into effect and who chose to open private accounts, guaranteed benefits -- income you receive after retirement even if everything else goes wrong -- would be nearly eliminated.

Since private accounts would do nothing to improve Social Security's finances -- something the administration has finally admitted -- there would be huge benefit cuts.

Why expose workers to that much risk? Ideology.

The attempt to "jab a spear" through Social Security complements the strategy of "starve the beast," long advocated by right-wing intellectuals: cut taxes, then use the resulting deficits as an excuse for cuts in social spending.

The spearing doesn't seem to be going too well, but the starving was on full display in the budget Bush just released.

To put his budget into perspective, look at the causes of the federal budget deficit.

In spite of the expense of the Iraq war, federal spending as a share of the GDP, gross domestic product isn't high by historical standards -- in fact, it's slightly below its average over the past 20 years. But federal revenue as a share of GDP. has plunged to levels not seen since the 1950s.

Most of this plunge came from a sharp decline in receipts from the personal income tax and the corporate profits tax -- the taxes that fall primarily on people with high incomes. And in 2003 and 2004, their combined take as a share of GDP was at its lowest level since 1942. On the other hand, the payroll tax, which is the main federal tax paid by middle-class and working-class Americans -- you and me -- remains at near-record levels.

Bush and his supporters will spend millions to scare you into supporting his plan. And, if he can take down Social Security, Medicare will be next. His plan is a slippery slide, which will terminate in both fiscal and social disaster.

For the sake of the future and to preserve the best of America, write or call your congressman and senators.

Urge them to reject Bush's Social Insecurity plan.

Larry Brophy, Payson

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