While the news has been monopolized over the last few days by Rep. Giffords's failed assassination attempt, another assassination attempt is going on, this one in the rooms of Washington D.C.. The target in the cross-hairs? Social Security.
I use words like assassination and cross-hairs fully aware of their incendiary power, but using blander, more politically correct words would not render justice to truth, because there is a large number of politicians, not all of whom are Republicans, who are intent on killing Social Security as we know it, eager as they are to transfer its huge wealth to the coffers of private corporations.
The slashing of Social Security benefits, or the proposed increase in the retirement age, are just the first steps in the dismantling of a system that has served American seniors well for almost four decades, the real intent being the ultimate death of the publicly financed system and its replacement with a fully-privatized one.
In utter disbelief, progressives have seen President Obama, the supposed paladin of the middle-class, steadily retreat to the position of those who would destroy Social Security as we know it. He did so first by instituting a fiscal commission with the responsibility to find ways to balance the budget; given its highly tilted composition, the commission unsurprisingly came up with cuts to Social Security as a a preferred method for achieving the desired result. Then, under the protection offered him by his commission's findings, the President has been moving ever more to the right on Social Security reform, to curry the favor of deficit hawks and his Wall Street uberlords. As Austan Goolsbeee, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers said in reply to a question by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on the future of Social Security: "[T]he president has always said, let's not automatically rule everything out before we even begin." How does that sound to you for making a stand against the attempt to kill Social Security?
For more on the assault on Social Security, read Robert Kuttner's Zero Hour for Social Security.