Tuesday, February 2, 2010

'Are You Crazy?'

That's Chris Matthews interviewing Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) (YouTube) on Hensarling's advocating balancing the budget by cutting Social Security benefits. This is one of those rare and pleasant times when Matthews is merciless, even predicting for Hensarling just what his leadership will say about his benefit cuts.

Hensarling's cut-off age is 55: people older than 55 would not have their benefits reduced, so this would not personally affect me. But when he advocates reducing benefits, he is cavalierly tossing away the contract across generations that has assured, since about 1935, that seniors are not forced to retire into poverty, that their spouses are not suddenly poverty-stricken when seniors die, etc. This is not a difficult concept, and it has worked for most of a century. And Social Security can keep working: "Social Security’s funding shortfall is relatively small and manageable." (Medicare is a different and more difficult problem.)

But Hensarling, faced with a "lifeboat" problem, facilely proposes tossing many of us overboard... including himself, right? Well, yes; he's 52... that age at which most people feel they will live forever. But of course if he stays in Congress...

I paid into Social Security most of my life. If you're an American my age, so did you. If you didn't personally pay, a family member paid, on the understanding that as you supported seniors during your working career, you would have an adequate living (i.e., not in poverty) when you reached the age at which you could no longer work. Hensarling is proposing nothing less than stealing society's part of that contract from you. Yes, I said "stealing"; what else can you call it?

Can the Dems turn this into a pick-up in the House? I don't know; what can you expect in a district where P-A-L-E-S-T-I-N-E is pronounced "Pal-steen"?


  1. Simple solution - remove the cap on FICA taxes. If the banks want to waste millions on their morally defective executives, at least they can fund Social Security and Medicare.

  2. Bryan - Hensarling seems to me to have removed the cap on his bottle of gin... what else would lead him to believe that anyone is buying what he is selling? But we do live in interesting times...

  3. mandt, it's a different place. "Pal-steen" is a town in northern East Texas. Residents may pronounce "Israel" the way you describe, but they're not talking about potential adversaries.



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