Recently I overheard part of a conversation between two women of a certain age. I was able to glean that one of them had just returned from the latest in her Obamaesque never-ending series of vacations, a two-week European odyssey. She was telling her friend about the first conversation she had with her son, an employed father of three young children with a working wife, since she got back. She said that when she realized it was time for her massage, she had to end their little chat, leaving the full description of the many delights she’d experienced, the marvelous food, the wine, the shopping, and the opportunity to relax, for another time. She recounted her surprise and irritation when he seemed envious of her ability to not only take a two-week holiday, but then to get a massage, apparently to recover from the stress of the jaunt and to steel herself for the challenges of her real life, admittedly tough, since neither she or her husband work.
I’m all for people enjoying life, taking vacations and having a good time, and I’m sure that this lady’s son is too, but can you really blame him? From all outward appearances, many beneficiaries of Social Security are among the wealthiest people in our society. You can see them out enjoying their gifts from the taxpayers by taking vacations, dining out in fancy restaurants, and buying luxury goods, unlike their children, many of whom must work in mind-numbing, soul-destroying jobs that they hate, but feel extremely lucky to have in this economy, even though they still struggle to get by. He’s the guy with the car held together with duct tape. His mom drives a brand new sweet ride. No wonder he’s resentful! Traveling all over the world, in part on our dime? Who does this woman think she is, Michelle Obama?
People are noticing this gray-haired gravy train, and not just the resentful spawn of partying seniors. It’s also the White-House created “debt and deficit commission” aka the scapegoats that Barack Obama will blame for the “essential” crushing tax increases that he will propose next year. They are currently debating modifications to Social Security to address its looming insolvency. From the Wall Street Journal:
Social Security officials project that beginning in 2014, the program will routinely pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes, requiring it to draw on reserves that have been funding the rest of the government. By 2037, the reserves would be depleted and the program would only be able to pay about 75% of promised benefits.
Social Security’s status as a financial basket case is nothing new. Co-chair of the Commission, former Republican senator, Alan Simpson, has been credited with coining the term “greedy geezers” in 2005, but he can’t take credit for it. The Liberal Death Star, otherwise known as The New York Times, used it in an editorial back in 1992, which gives you an idea how difficult it has been to tackle this issue. The recent death of Chicago congressman Dan Rostenkowski provided another reminder when it gave news outlets the opportunity to replay the video of the congressman literally being chased out of a town meeting in 1988 by an angry band of cane and walker-wielding codgers, pursuing him down the street until he jumped into his waiting car to escape their wrath!
Curiously, during his most recent shirt-sleeved photo op, last Wednesday in an Ohio backyard, President Obama exhibited a clinical level of denial about Social Security, when he stated “Here’s the thing. Social Security is not in crisis." This response makes sense, if you consider the meaning of “crisis,” in the Obama lexicon; specifically, an event, real or contrived, that can be used to achieve policy objectives by deceiving the public about its nature. As Rahm Emanuel explained, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." Obama was responding to a question about allowing workers to invest the money confiscated from their paychecks in their own accounts in investments of their choice. What a concept! Allowing people to invest their own money in something that might have at least a fighting chance of paying more than 2%! Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Not to Barack Obama, who is constitutionally incapable of conceding that the big government, redistributionist schemes he has embraced his entire adult life do not work. Consider this exchange from 2007, with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also said that with Social Security, everything should be on the table. OBAMA: Yes. STEPHANOPOULOS: Raising the retirement age? OBAMA: Everything should be on the table. STEPHANOPOULOS: Raising payroll taxes? OBAMA: Everything should be on the table. I think we should approach it the same way Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan did back in 1983. They came together. I don’t want to lay out my preferences beforehand, but what I know is that Social Security is solvable. It is not as difficult a problem as we’re going to have with Medicaid and Medicare. STEPHANOPOULOS: Partial privatization? OBAMA: Privatization is not something that I would consider, and the reason is this: Social Security, I think, is — that’s the floor. That’s the baseline. Social Security is that safety net that can’t be frayed, and we shouldn’t put at risk.
For Obama, when it comes to Social Security, much like the incessant ridiculously high levels of unemployment, “everything is on the table,” by which he means everything except the one thing that might actually work.
Or perhaps Barack Obama understands something that has yet to become clear to most Americans. The debate over the future of the Social Security entitlement, and Medicare, its even more financially troubled cousin, may be interesting to policy wonks, but at the end of the day, thanks to his policies, it may be academic. Why stress out over the so-called silver surge of aging Baby Boomers and their ravaging the federal treasury, or the more imminent problem of payments to their parents and older siblings, when the solution to this actuarial problem is already in place? The reason that Social Security is broke is that beneficiaries can begin to receive benefits as early as age 62. Seventy-five years ago when the program was conceived, life expectancy was 58 for men and 62 for women. Today it’s more like 77 and 82 respectively. The solution is obvious. People today are living too damn long. Fortunately, President Obama knows how to fix that, and he’s got it covered. His so-called “stimulus” bill failed to produce any actual jobs, but it does provide funding for a federal government panel to rule on the “comparative effectiveness” of different medical treatments. A fan of the U.K.’s Orwellian-named National Institute for Clinical Excellence, Dr. Donald Berwick, is in place as his rationing czar, and here’s the really awesome news. The process may have already begun!
Once again, the nearly preternatural intelligence of the Dear Reader, praise be his name, illuminates solutions to every human problem that the average bitter clinger cannot fathom. On the field of intelligence, clearly he is Peyton Manning and you are a 5th grade Pop Warner team.
So, enjoy it while you can, Granny. The final countdown has begun.