Sunday, February 15, 2015
Neolib Hack Robert Samuelson: Determined To See Oldsters Eating Cat Food!
"What's happening is simple: Spending on the elderly is slowly overwhelming the rest of the federal government" - Robert Samuelson
Well, seems that columnist Robert Samuelson is at it again, beating the drums for elderly austerity and more money for the war machine. It seems this guy never gives up. He's thoroughly Neoliberal after all, having committed himself for years (even in a response email to me some 7 years ago) that no one ought to be receiving money just for breathing. (As most seniors do).
In his latest screed ('The Twisted Priorities of a Graying Nation') we're informed "government is being gutted" and "priorities are being skewed" by a reckless, profligate over-spending on the elderly. Meanwhile, spending is behind on "vital activities" like defense and financial markets - he references their "regulation"- but if you've read any of his past articles it's really about their expansion, i.e. using further globalization such as the TPP. He and we know the GOOps will never allow more genuine financial regulation, especially as they already killed what was left of Dodd-Frank in the 2014 end of year spending bill. (This was via a poison pill amendment that was stuck in the spending bill, enabling the banks to once again use FDIC monies to back up their risky trades - leaving us open to another 2008-style meltdown)
As usual he harps on the CBO projection that annual federal spending will grow by $2.6 trillion or 75 percent from 2104 to 2025 and "almost 90 percent of the increase comes from three sources: Social Security, health spending and interest on the federal debt."
Why he includes Social Security is mystifying for a number of reasons, including that Social Security. has never added to deficits given its payroll taxes essentially more than fund its outlays. Right now, in fact, the size of the S.S. Trust Fund is at $2.74 TRILLION which exceeds the $2.6 trillion Samuelson cites as federal spending for S.S., healthcare and interest on the debt! And we're not even including as S.S. revenue the taxes on Social Security income which none of these austerity nabobs factor into the mix. Namely, that up to one third of your Social Security benefits can be clawed back once you exceed a specific threshold. Why do none of the austerity fetishists mention that? Well, because it inveighs against their "entitlement" cutting agenda!
Meanwhile, a large part of health care spending is on prescription drugs, a little problem that could easily be remedied by allowing Medicare to do what the VA does, and bargain for the lowest drug prices with PhRMA. As for the large federal interest on the debt, any moron could have informed Samuelson that the main reason for that is too little income, as in revenue - for all the spending that's being done - mainly on the military since 2001 (When ol' Gee Dumbya decided to cut taxes instead of increasing them when he commenced his "war on terror" - that's now sucked up 13 years and nearly $4 trillion)
Samuelson goes on to whine about "the degradation of government" and points to the National Institutes of Health "losing nearly 25 percent of its purchasing power" in the last decade. Well, whose fault is that, Maestro? It's the fault of the Repukes who cut the NIH (as well as CDC) budgets which money they preferred to spend instead on military toys like the F-35!
In the same breath he also reports:
"The Internal Revenue Service blames budget cuts and reduced staffing for delays in mailing refunds and responding to taxpayer questions"
But again, this wasn't incepted by Social Security but by the Repukes cutting the IRS budgets as "payback" for what they believed to be singling out right wing groups for greater scrutiny, i.e. when claiming any tax exempt status under Internal Revenue code 501(c)(4). As a result, the 'Pukes cut an additional $346 million from the taxman's budget - virtually tying the IRS' hands to assist taxpayers or to expedite refunds. See e.g.
Samuelson then rightly wails about the "national parks being hit..since 2010 their funding has decreased by 12 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars and the backlog of deferred maintenance has topped $11 billion."
Again, this awful, deficient funding situation has nada to do with Social Security but the same House Republicans and their cruel austerity punks who also de-funded the SNAP food stamps program in 2013 and want to do the same again now. Don't blame the favorite scapegoat of Social Security but rather a bunch that has its own priorities askew and would ten times rather spend on defense and war toys (now taking up 6.3% of GDP) than domestic programs - including out infrastructure which is falling apart.
Instead of lying his ass off about the need to cut Social Security - making it a red herring for Neoliberal austerity groups like "Fix the Debt" he ought to applaud the program's expansion which - if effected- could ameliorate the ongoing low aggregate demand problem that's keeping our economy down. The solution then is not less senior capacity to spend, but MORE! The more senior spending on goods, services - even health care- the more money infused to create more jobs!
But never mind, Samuelson and his ilk won't be satisfied until the elderly are on a permanent cat food (or kibbles) diet!