In February 2010 Paul Ryan presented a Republican "Roadmap" that TARPed the American safety net, socializing the risk and privatizing the gain. Today, as Mitt Romney looks to choose its architect Paul Ryan as his running mate, the Republican Roadmap is still a roadmap to ruin for Social Security.
When the Paul Ryan privatizing plan was unveiled 2 and a half years ago, I wrote here at HuffPost:
The Roadmap for Republicans allows Wall Street speculators to use benefits as poker chips with taxpayers of all ages forced to cover the losses. If you hated TARP for the banks, you'll reject TARPing Social Security.
The Roadmap for Republicans begins with the same privatization path proposed by President Bush and soundly rejected by the American people in 2005. According to its architect, prospective Republican Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, It "offers workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. Includes a property right so they can pass on these assets to their heirs, and a guarantee that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation."
Translation: TARP on steroids. Personal retirement accounts are welcomed -- but not from the trust fund. And guaranteeing them allows Wall Street to gamble those Social Security trust fund assets and forces taxpayers to pay back any losses. We'll treat Social Security like poker chips -- but if you mess up, we'll cover your losses. Didn't we just do this with TARP for the banks and investment houses? Imagine if this TARPing of Social Security trust fund assets had happened when the market plummeted in 2008. In addition to those shrinking 401ks and pensions, we'd all be on the hook for lost Social Security trust fund assets invested in the market.
From there, the Roadmap for Republicans says it "makes the program permanently solvent -- according to the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] -- by combining a more realistic measure of growth in Social Security's initial benefits, with an eventual modernization of the retirement age."
Translation: lowers benefits and raises retirement age. Modernization means you'll be working longer, earning less, and covering the losses of everyone who blew their shares of the Social Security trust fund on a Wall Street gamble.
Finally, the Roadmap tries not to menace seniors. Republicans say it "preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older."
Translation: we know that seniors won't want to work longer for less money so we'll spare you BUT not entirely because you taxpayers 55 or over are still on the hook to cover any losses from the under 55 crowd. Rather than workers subsidizing seniors, this is seniors subsidizing gambling workers.
Still want to buy in? If I'm wrong and this Roadmap for Republicans is so great, why not do it to everyone now?
The promise of Social Security was reflected in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inter-generational compact that rewards hard work and provides retirement security. Now more than ever we need to strengthen Social Security and pay back the trust fund. However, lowering benefits, raising the retirement age, and TARPing the Social Security trust fund is not the answer. Republicans may want to choose the Ryan Roadmap, but I'm sticking with FDR.
What has happened in the past two and a half years? Republican austerity programs such as Paul Ryan's budget in Washington and GOP governors across America have cut back on the American Safety Net, fired hundreds of thousands of government workers, slashed pensions and refused public investments in job creation. Mitt Romney has won the 2012 presidential nomination by promising Republicans that he would end a so-called "culture of dependency" on welfare -- welfare defined as "free stuff" and food stamps for poor folks, not tax breaks for Big Oil or tax shelters for Bain executives. Calls to cut spending mean paying our hard-earned Social Security and Medicare benefits and slashing Medicaid just when aging baby boomers begin to retire and need these essentials.
Embracing Paul Ryan's vision now is not only a gamble for Mitt Romney, whose flip-flop from Massachusetts moderate to severe conservative would give our Olympic gymnasts a run for their gold medals, but an unacceptable risk for millions of American families who need the benefits they've earned.
Republicans may want to double down on Paul Ryan as privatizer-in-chief, but I'm still sticking with FDR -- and President Obama.
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