Former Presi-dunce Bush (a/k/a "Shrub") gave a speech in which he bemoaned the fact that during his tenure, he never managed to privatize Social Security.
Ignoring the fact that he took a budget surplus and created a record deficit, started two illegal wars, and generally took us from one of the most respected countries to a country that was characterized as a "bully nation" - Shrub's biggest regret is that he didn't hand Social Security to the Wall Street Robber Barons to rape and pillage the retirement income of a vulnerable population: senior citizens.
My Granny, God rest her, was on Social Security. Granted, Grandpa left her ok - she didn't have to worry about eating Fancy Feast. She never had to decide to pay the mortgage, the gas bill or get her prescriptions. She never had to cut a pill in half to make the medicine last longer.
But too many seniors do have to have those conversations with themselves. My mother, God love her, does get Social Security and she has a small pension. She doesn't need the constant worry about what her Social Security check might be if it's tied to the stock market. But she does have to worry about outliving her small pension. She hasn't gotten to the "do I cut the pills in half" question yet, but only because we're keeping an eye on her investments.
No senior does need that kind of worry, but you have to wonder about those folks who maybe don't have family astute enough or close enough to make sure they're ok. There was a paper written by the Division of Economic Research out of the Social Security Administration's Office of Policy, in 2001. It's available here:
And it's not light reading. But it does illuminate some facts that the politicians cleverly or ignorantly gloss over. Back in 2001, the paper assumes that the poverty threshold would continue to be adjusted for inflation but not for increases in real income. It also assumes that Social Security benefits wouldn't change and that earnings and "other incomes" would grow by 1%.
So if those variables were all true, poverty among the elderly, according to the authors, would actually decrease from 10.5% to about 7.7% in 2020. But read a newspaper or look at the news. Incomes haven't grown. Savings have been decimated. My 401k is now a 200.5...I rarely even look at my statements because I know it's only going to aggravate me.
But the Wall Street Robber Barons are giving themselves bonuses. None of them have to worry about housing costs, retirement plans and other things seniors in this country have to deal with.
And Shrub has his book, Laura's book, TV and speaking engagements where I'm sure he'll charge an arm, a leg and a wheelchair to attend. And people will willingly cough up the money to hear him talk about how he "regrets" not taking Social Security and handing it to people with no sense and no souls.
According to the Social Security Administration, at http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/colafacts.htm, "monthly Social Security and SSI benefits will not automatically increase in 2011 (italics mine) as there is no increase in the Consumer Price Index from the 3rd quarter of 2008, the last year a COLA (cost of living adjustment) was determined, to the 3rd quarter of 2010." There was a decrease int he national average wage index for 2009, which affects the disability threshold, too, and the amount you need to earn to earn ONE Social Security Credit. No increase in the CPI for what? EIGHT quarters of our economic cycle?? Hello? Is anyone out there paying attention, or are we all consumed by the Kardashians and Lindsay Lohan?
So, the economy, to be blunt, is in the crapper. Republicans are screaming that only "they" have the secret for wealth, long life and happiness. But if you look beyond the screeching, you see that what they propose will only affect people who don't really care if they ever get a Social Security check - because they're already wealthy beyond the dreams of 80-90% of the population.
THINK before you vote. Think about how you want YOUR retirement to look. Think about WHEN you want to retire. And think about the folks who would like to take that away from you.