Thursday, December 09, 2010

My New Huffington Post Blog

So here's my new Huffington Post Blog

Obama Cave? I'm Concerned About Social Security

Okay, what I'm most worried about is not my president's abdication of power to the Repubs in the Tax War. I know he didn't just capitulate, he caved. And that bothers me, especially from someone who claims to play basketball. Personally, I was never a very good b-ball player. I never had game. But I'll tell you what: You shot over me or pushed by me or fouled me a few times and well, next time your feet left the ground I was at your knees, taking them out and watching you fall hard on your face. That's basketball. That's the way it's played in New York parks. Don't push me, don't embarrass me. Because sooner or later you will have to leave your feet for a jumper or a rebound and you are not gonna have any feet to come down on. Deal with it.
So I'm not sure Obama does have game, regardless of what he says. Now, if he'd have agreed to extend tax breaks on everyone for a year, well, maybe. Because that would mean it would come up again while he was president. But two years? That means it doesn't have to come up till after the next presidential election. And there is a very good chance he won't have to deal with it then. Which is too bad because he means well. Just doesn't apparently have the stomach for the job. And mind you, I'm rooting for him.
That said, the even worse part of the cave or compromise or whatever you want to spin it as, is the 2% reduction in payroll taxes for social security. That has me frightened. Because while that helps mollify the middle-class today--as in $10-$20 bucks a week, about the cost of a pack of smokes in New York--it is going to lend a great deal to the people who say social security is underfunded and should be privatized. And even more to the people who consider it a government handout.
Handout? I started paying social security when I was six years old and went to work at Louie's Candy Store in Whitestone. I worked probably 12 hours a week for him and paid maybe $15-$20 a year in social security. I'm a journalist and so have never paid much. But after 53 years of paying into it I've accrued enough to earn a few bucks when I'm old enough to collect in a few years. If I don't die first. So there is no government handout there. That's my money that's been saved and invested and if I live to be 80 the social security bank will probably still win on betting on my lifespan.
Add to that the millions and millions of illegals who pay social security on fake cards on which they can never collect and the social security bank ought to be worth trillions more than will ever be needed to pay back the workers who paid into it.
But to cut back on the payroll tax to fund it, in my view, really just gives ammunition to those who want it privatized. They'll point to the new tax cut as a reason it's not sustainable. They'll be lying, of course, but a gullible American public will buy into the lie.
And to have my president, my Obama, walking into that obvious trap, signals to me that he's a deer in the headlights. Too frightened to move. And I am disappointed in him for that. For tossing my money to the wolves. I thought he was a ball player who played in city parks in New York and Chicago. Evidently not. Because if he had, there would be a lot more people walking on crutches in the Senate right now. If you can't win, the least you can do is submarine people so they know you were at least serious about playing.

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