Mitt Romney, tribune of the people, still doesn't seem to get a simple concept: Social Security is popular. With everybody. And particularly with older tea-party-supporting white voters who can often be counted on to be conservative on numerous other issues, and turn out in elections in key swing states.
It's pretty simple, really. It is perhaps the most successful government program ever, is the largest insurance program for children, and seniors benefiting from their earned benefits during their golden years are rather hesitant to lay it down on the altar of Mitt's very own Golden Calf -- Wall Street. Quelle surprise, as Mitt would have said during his tour as a Mormon missionary in France.
Somehow, amazingly, Republicans never quite grasp the popularity of this program. As Paul Krugman recently put it, "...George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America's defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security." And that, folks, if you look back at poll numbers, was the beginning of Bush's long slide into oblivion.
And if you think George W. Bush, as the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards said, was born with a "silver foot in his mouth," well, meet Mitt Romney. At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, Romney decided to up the ante, and Social Security Works, with whom I work on this issue, captured his deceit for all to see. According to Romney:
We're going to have to recognize that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, not for the current group of retirees, but for coming generations... And we can't afford to avoid these entitlement challenges any longer.
First, a note to Mr. Romney: You won't fool current retirees into thinking you're not coming for their benefits. They know better. Once again, ask your buddy Bush. Second, your lying is showing again. Social Security will not require one iota of adjustment to remain fully solvent for the next 30 years or so -- you know, when Tagg runs for president on his Swiss-Bank-inherited fortune.
But if you did want to add funds to the Social Security Trust fund, it would be simple. Raise or eliminate the cap on payroll tax contributions that sees you pay this tax on only the first .5 percent of your income, while the vast majority of Americans pay it on 100 percent of theirs (that current cap is $110,100).
Meantime, a hint, big guy: There is a reason you are having serious trouble in primaries and caucuses in states where older white voters reside in disproportionately large numbers, such as Missouri, Maine (almost losing to Ron Paul? Really?) and Minnesota. As Mike Huckabee famously said in 2008, you look like the guy who laid them off. But you also talk like the guy who is going to cut their Social Security. At least Rick Santorum -- who, mind you, would also destroy Social Security if given the chance -- is smart enough to sound like a regular guy, with his stories of his immigrant-coal-miner grandfather and Western Pennsylvania background (I'm not convinced about the sweater vests though).
One more thing -- you need to win in places like Florida, Nevada and Arizona. And guess what? Latino voters also love their Social Security. So good try, but I'd find a new program to try and raid -- Bain-style -- if I were you.
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