Hands off Social Security
Published Jul 14, 2011 10:55 PM
A fraudulent and dangerous collusion of the two big capitalist parties in the
U.S. has put Social Security at risk. The excuse for attacking Social Security
is the phony crisis over the federal debt ceiling.
The debt ceiling could be solved in an instant by an agreement between
Republicans and Democrats to simply raise this arbitrary limit. It
wouldn’t solve the real crisis of capitalism that has brought prolonged
high unemployment and suffering for so many millions, but it would end the
phony crisis that allows the ruling class to attack all social programs.
No one can be surprised that the Republican leadership has targeted Social
Security. Ronald Reagan talked against it, and George W. Bush tried to hold
hearings to privatize it. But even the Republican rank and file wanted to keep
benefits for their parents and themselves.
Now joining the Republican right-wing leadership, President Barack Obama has
offered to put Social Security on the table for “compromises” with
the Republicans, along with Medicare and Medicaid.
The very rich have targeted Social Security since workers’ struggle won
it 76 years ago during the Great Depression and the New Deal. It is the most
broad-based and popular program of social benefits in the United States, along
with Medicare. Aside from some federal government and railroad workers, nearly
everyone active in the U.S. economy winds up collecting Social Security
Currently 55 million people are collecting monthly payments. Most of these
people depend on their Social Security check as part or all of their retirement
or disability income. So do their children or other relatives, who might
otherwise be faced with unpleasant choices. Its almost universal application
has made Social Security popular and until now unassailable. Its enemies have
been unable to divide workers by age, by race or by gender over defense of the
That’s not to say that Social Security is perfectly equal or egalitarian
or couldn’t be improved. But nearly everyone wants to keep it, and many
can’t survive without it.
The working class and its organizations must make it clear that any giveaway of
benefits from Social Security — or from any of these programs essential
to the working class — is unacceptable and will be fought tooth and nail.
Anything that reduces benefits or eliminates people from coverage or
differentiates between those currently receiving Social Security benefits and
younger workers can only harm the program and can lead to weakening support for
The working class, which includes the unemployed, the poor and the oppressed
sectors of the population both young and old, must make it crystal clear to
both the Republicans and the Democrats: Hands off Social Security, Medicare and
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