by Bill Onasch / March 2006 issue of Socialist Action newspaper
(Note from the author: In the spirit of full disclosure, I must acknowledge that Social Security payments are my sole source of regular income.)
The White House budget submitted to Congress includes a major proposal to privatize Social Security. It didn’t make the cut for the final draft of President Bush’s State of the Union Address and has been largely ignored by pundits of all stripes.
By 2010 the process of shifting no less than $710 billion of Social Security funds out of secure government holdings into private accounts would begin.
Regardless of how the market fares, this means a bonanza for stock brokers and money
managers—subsidized by precious Social Security dollars. It also means putting the retirement future of account holders at risk.
But wait, there’s more! According to the Alliance for Retired Americans, the budget would also:
• End benefits at age 16 for the child of a deceased, disabled, or retired worker if that child is no longer attending school full time. Savings over 10 years: $1.5 billion.
• Eliminate the $255 death benefit paid to surviving spouses or entitled children of a beneficiary who dies. Savings: $2.0 billion.
• Increase enforcement of an existing law that reduces benefits for public-sector workers who receive a pension from work not covered by Social Security (the Government Pension Offset, or GPO, and Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP). Savings: $2.4 billion.
• Change the reduction in disability benefits that apply to beneficiaries who also receive workers’ compensation payments. Savings: $0.4 billion, although the Social Security Administration (SSA) intends to revise it so that savings are zero.
But even that’s not all. The budget cuts Medicare by $36 billion and Medicaid by $13.7 billion over the next five years. And, cuts in the Older Americans Act and various block grant programs will decimate services such as Meals On Wheels, adult day care, and transportation assistance.
All of the savings at the expense of us old codgers will be diverted to the greatly expanded war budget.