Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Republican Lying Bastards

A new pack of Republican damn lies being foisted upon us by the news media is that Social Security and other "social safety net" programs have weakened America, and that before these programs came along, Americans were able to take care of themselves, and each other.

When I tuned in to the Randi Rhoades radio show today, guest host Nicole Sandler was playing an audio clip of Republican Christianity preacher Franklin Graham saying that churches have forgotten how to take care of their members because of social safety net programs.

Graham, as Sandler pointed out, was echoing the false narrative first put forth in a recent speech that got a lot of attention given by the new Republican Tea Party Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. Speaking at the Reagan Library on August 21, Rubio spewed forth one lie after another to the effect that Americans once took care of each other, and didn't need Social Security because they saved for their retirements. (Rubio's speech is taken apart here by St Petersburg Times columnist Dan Gelber.)

This false narrative is all based on absolutely no data, no research, on nothing but these sorry jackasses fetid fantasies, and their lies are easily refuted.

The charts below are from work done by Robert Plotnick, a University of Washington professor who has spent his career studying poverty. The first shows poverty rates for individuals and families from 1959, when the US government began publishing an official poverty rate. 

The second chart, which comes from work Plotnick did using US census data on income, shows the dramatic reduction in poverty from 1920 to the present. The second spike is the Great Depression. The first is at the height of the Gilded Age, about which I wrote in my last post.

Yet another chart, from Wikipedia, shows the reduction in poverty among seniors from 1960. From 1960 onward, as more people retired with Social Security benefits, the percentage of retirees who were receiving Social Security, as a share of total retirees, began to go up, and during this period the poverty rate among seniors went from more than 1/3 of seniors living in poverty (35 percent) to less than one in ten (8.9 percent.) Note that the "65 years and older" line starts at the top and ends up on the bottom.

 But according to Rubio and Graham, there was no poverty in their mythic past. We took care of ourselves, and each other. Rubio and Graham are lying. Of course, you might argue that they are just stupid, but you'd have to ignore the fact that both of them have big staffs, paid for by us in both cases, that help them prepare speeches and do their research for them.

What I'd like to know is, where the hell is the media? Why aren't they refuting these bald face lies, lies meant to pave the way for the coming elimination of Social Security and the rest of the social safety net? I've never seen anything in the news media refuting these lying sons of bitches: not in newspapers, not on TV, not on public TV or public radio.

It took me a matter of minutes to locate this information, and a few minutes more to write this web post. The fact that this information isn't splashed across every headline and reported on every news talk shows the minute one these Republican liars opens his mouth is a disgusting testament to the pathetic quality of Journalism we have to stomach in this country today.

And don't forget that Democratic President Barak Obama
, never mentioning that the program currently has a 26-year surplus, has repeatedly said that Social Security needs to be "reformed," which is code for privatizing it, that is, doing away with it. That is, turning our more than $2 trillion Social Security Trust Fund over to that gang of professional criminals we know as Wall Street.

Note: At the web site of the Center On Budget And Policy Priorities, a Liberal think tank, you'll find article after article, study after study, demonstrating the effectiveness of Social Security, and other social safety net programs, in lifting Americans out of poverty and demonstrating the growing gap in incomes and wealth distribution in the US.



  1. Nice post. I work with numbers and figures and often wonder how the majority of people can be so easily mislead on this issue. What's more is that the immediate danger are the Medicare and Medicaid programs which deal with inflationary costs and an aging populace. Social Security on the other hand is not only solvent but easily fixed by adjusting current age eligibility levels, maximum earning thresholds, benefit amounts, etc.

    I can also tell you that the increase in retired Boomers feeds partially into the inflammatory discussions around why only 50% of adults pay income taxes. Social Security beneficiaries with taxable incomes less than $32,000 are free of tax liability on their SS benefits. The most obvious driver of this statistic however is that fewer people are earning wages.

  2. Thanks for the comment, DD, and for making those important distinctions. I have not been noticing comments, partly because of the way my web logs displays them. I have to see if I can change that.

    I wonder if you have any information on how much money is being lost to the treasury by the steady reduction in the marginal tax rate since Reagan first lowered it. (It has been lowered more since then.) Since this means that those people now can consume with that money, instead of having to re-invest it in their businesses so that it doesn't get taxed, how much has the productive capacity of industry suffered?

    And how much is lost to Social Security because of the cap, around $102,000, income above which is tax free for Social security withholding purposes?