My mother often calls me at work and immediately launches into some aspect of whatever she has been worrying about all day. I then have about three seconds to figure out what she’s talking about, while she’s had hours to ponder and reach one-liner conclusions.
She called me at one of the crisis points in the financial system crash, Lehman had just failed or something, and Bush was out there stammering, walking around in circles, looking terrified, and I said “hello?” and she said, no greeting or context, “thank God they didn’t let him put Social Security in the stock market.” My mother’s a Democrat and by 2008 she referred to Bush almost exclusively as “him.” My mother has both a pension and Social Security. She’s doing okay. Yet the very first thing that came to her mind with the onset of the financial crash was “Social Security isn’t in the stock market”. Someone or other didn’t let him gamble with Social Security.
As I mentioned here, we’re going to do our best here locally to inform people on the Romney-Ryan Plan for Medicare and Medicaid, which they’ve been lying about apparently, so I’ll have to update my presentation from last week, but my personal larger concern regarding Romney-Ryan is Social Security. I think Republicans and our friends on Wall Street have been after Social Security for a long, long time, because it’s one of the few big pots of money left that they haven’t been able to gamble with while pulling out a percentage for themselves. They want that money, and they are not going to give up until they get a piece of it.
Ryan’s Social Security privatization proposal, the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, which he sponsored along with then-Sen. John Sununu (whose father has been a prominent Romney surrogate), would have allowed workers to funnel an average of 6.4 percent of their 12.4 percent payroll-tax contribution to a private account. Lower-income workers would be able to divert more of their wages, as the plan allows 10 percent of income up to $10,000 and 5 percent of income up to the payroll tax cap to be diverted. By default, the private account would be invested in a portfolio set by the Social Security Administration of 65 percent stocks and 35 percent bonds. Workers could choose an 80/20 stock-bond portfolio, or a 50-50 portfolio, but would not be able to pick individual stocks or bonds. At retirement, all participants in the plan would be required to buy an annuity.
The Social Security Administration concluded that the Ryan-Sununu plan would require huge increases in general budget revenue to make up the shortfall left in payroll tax revenue. Specifically, revenue would have to increase by 1.5 percent of GDP every year, an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found, or about $225 billion at current GDP. That’s a big honking tax hike. What’s more, under the plan, investments in the stock and bond markets would skyrocket such that by 2050, every single stock or bond in the United States would be owned by a Social Security account. This would mean that the portfolio managers at the Social Security Administration would more or less control the entire means of production in the United States.
Funnily enough, Ryan also proposed a resolution in 1999 that passed the House (with only Ron Paul voting against) expressing the sense of the body that Social Security should be maintained without any changes to benefits for current retirees or increases taxes.
We know almost nothing about Mitt Romney. He has successfully stonewalled, dodged or ignored every demand for specifics. He has been on both sides of nearly every issue. He and his wife have made it clear that they believe we know all we are entitled to know about the man who wants to be President.
But we don’t have to beg and plead with Paul Ryan for ordinary disclosures. Paul Ryan has a long record.
There’s about 80 days left until the election, and we’ve already wasted a week talking about Ryan’s dreamy blue eyes and exercise regime. People need to know that Paul Ryan has left a long paper trail of really radical proposals to destroy public programs that Americans love and rely on, including Social Security.