Opinion » Bill Cope

Unsocial Insecurity

The GOP is a self-inflicted wound

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Just a word up front in the interest of full disclosure: I am--and have been for almost two years--receiving a monthly allowance from the federal government. That's right, along with a growing number of Baby Boomers and a decreasing number of the Greatest Generation, I put some portion of the food in my belly and the roof over my head by the grace of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's best idea ever: the Social Security Administration.

Normally, I don't like discussing my finances with anyone, especially total strangers like you, dear readers. But in light of the radical right's aspirations to whack the government program intended to ensure there is a minimum of old people starving to death on the street, I find it necessary to inform you that I benefit from that program before I write another word about it.

Besides, I have to admit that knowing this column--which I have heard is not terribly popular among the radical right crowd, hah hah--is being subsidized in part by those very people who hate it the most gives me a measure of satisfaction that I could not get solely from the process of writing. Yes, I get an enormous fulfillment, week after week, explaining how stupid conservatives are. But it is a delicious bonus for me to reflect now and then on how I am free to do what I do (pointing out how stupid conservatives are) thanks in some degree to the tax dollars collected by the SSA from those very conservatives. Hah hah hah hah hah.

What's a matter, Mr. Tea Bagger? Don't you think that's funny?

Now, I must present you with more evidence of just how damn stupid conservatives are. Thanks to a recent article in a periodical from the American Association of Retired People (September-October 2011, aarp.org/magazine), I learned something about Social Security I didn't know before. But before sharing this tidbit (which I wager most of you don't know, either), I must qualify my description of "stupid conservatives." We should be honest and exact here, as we're dealing with the future of America. So in the spirit of honesty and exactness, I am obliged to say that not all conservatives are stupid. Most of them are, certainly. Just listen to a few minutes of Fox News or a Republican caucus press conference and you will wonder how any of those people ever found work outside of the cardboard recycling industry.

However, there are conservatives out there plenty smart enough to have figured out how to make zillions of unearned dollars off the stupidity of, and with the complicity of, the Republican hierarchy. Oil barons are a prime example--not only do they break their own profit records year after year, but they have convinced the very dumbest political leaders in places like Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana that they need tax breaks and government subsidies to continue. And need I say, there are always obliging Congressmen (especially in places like Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana) who, for fat wads of campaign cash, will not only defend the subsidies and tax breaks but will go the extra mile and declare global warming to be a hoax?

So the rich not only get richer, they also manage to keep a lot more of it than we common people do, thanks to the drudgy doggedness of conservative politicians who insist--in spite of all evidence to the contrary--that sooner or later, some of that wealth will trickle down to us common people. Hah hah hah hah hah!

But as to Social Security, we are all equal in paying into that, aren't we? At least, the rich are putting their fair share into that common cause that keeps old people from starving to death on the streets. Aren't they?

No, they aren't. As I learned from AARP, if you make more than $106,800 a year--no matter how much more than that you make, be it $106,801 or $5 billion, as one hedge fund manager is reported to have made in 2010--you only pay FICA taxes on the first $106,800.

Are you following me? Better question: Can you believe it? Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, Sam Walton's kids--multi-multi-billionaires, all--contribute no more to that common fund than a lowly middle manager. And that's not to mention the people who make a measly $1 million a year.

In AARP's estimate (and let me say, I would trust an AARP analysis more than I'd trust a corporate jet full of Republican senators flying down to a Koch brothers barbecue) that if this arbitrary cap was raised to just $190,000, it would make up for 31 percent of the feared shortfall in the Social Security fund--not expected for another 25 years, anyway. If there were no cap, if it were eliminated altogether, the shortfall would be corrected by 99 percent. In other words, if the wealthy paid the same rate as you and I, there would be no crisis with Social Security--not 25 years from now or ever.

But raising or eliminating that cap would be, in effect, a tax increase, wouldn't it? And what serves as leadership among Republicans these days (hah hah) have, almost to the last venal creep, pledged to never, ever--under any circumstance even if it means old people starving on the street or America going tits up--raise a tax.

We know what the rich get out of such a pledge, don't we? Richer.

And we know what the Republican leaders get for making such ruinous promises. Ka-ching!

But what do the people who vote for these bums get? Other than, as time goes on, more obviously stupid.

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