The Associated Press reported yesterday afternoon that “President Barack Obama signed an order Thursday unilaterally creating a bipartisan commission to rein in unruly deficits after Congress rejected a similar body with considerably more enforcement power.
As I have said a few times and William Greider details in the January 25 issue of The Nation (posted on the Nation website on January 7), the force behind the bipartisan deficit commission is Pete Peterson and his pals, who have long clamored for gutting Social Security benefits. Peterson, like many who dislike Social Security, pretends that it suffers from a deficit, which will get worse as baby boomers retire. In fact, there is no Social Security deficit. Social Security has a surplus that will last us many decades.
But under Reagan, Social Security began to loan its excess reserves to the federal government to help pay for the federal deficit.
It is true that this year Social Security will pay out more than it takes in for the first time in 25 years, the first of many years that will occur as the baby boomers, those born 1946-1964, reach retirement age. But as Paul Krugman has observed in several articles over the past few years, if the federal government pays back what it’s supposed to pay back, all Social Security needs is a quick fix or two, like raising the maximum salary subject to the Social Security tax.
But what if the bipartisan commission that President Obama creates follows the wishes of Peterson and other conservatives who want to use deficit cutting as an excuse for hacking Social Security into pieces?
Besides ruining the retirements of millions of working people, such a move would signal the first time the United States has ever defaulted on a debt. We would lose all respect in the world, no one would want to lend us money for fear of another default and the dollar would soon be replaced by another currency as the basis of the world economy.
Let’s work to make sure that never happens. If you agree with me, do what I’m doing and send President Obama a letter or email asking him that in his charge to the commission that he asks them to recommend that the federal government pledges to pay back the Social Security system what it owes as the need to pay retirees and other recipients comes due.
Also, tell your friends and relatives to write a letter to the President. When the names of all commission members are announced I’m going request everyone to mail or email all the commission members telling them the same thing.