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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 28, 2014

 
Social Security is a very efficient program. If the granny starvers have their way it won't be for long.

by digby

I used to work with a friend who gave classes about retirement planning and perhaps one of her more surprising observations was that working with the Social security administration was very easy and the experience was always efficient and well managed. This must be one of the reasons why people are so happy with it (after the checks they get each months, obviously.) It works.

Well, guess what? The granny starvers can't get what they want the honest way --- their constituents actually like Social Security and want it protected. So they're going after it with stealth:
[C]ries to cut benefits have grown quieter as the program’s enemies realize that the American people will work together to beat back anything they throw at us. But benefit cuts aren’t the only way to dismantle our Social Security system. There is already an invisible war under way—and we’re losing!

The Social Security Administration is funded the same way Social Security benefits are—by payroll taxes that all of us pay. Its expenses have no impact on the federal debt, and represent less than 1% of Social Security’s annual expenditures. But Congress has still cut fourteen of the last sixteen SSA budget requests! And now, these cuts are being felt, as the Social Security Administration is forced to shutter dozens of field offices around the country.

RJ Eskow wrote on the Huffington Post that “many disabled and elderly Social Security recipients depend on field offices, and the workers in them.” And as Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times said “They haven’t been able to cut benefits, so they’re doing the next best thing: making it hard for you to know what you’re due, and harder to get it when it comes due.”
That's very clever. The best way to undermine any government program is to make it inefficient and make the people who need it come to hate it.

I have another friend who went through a tough financial patch this past winter and needed to apply for heating oil help from the state. It was so onerous to go through the process --- and they were so ineffective and downright incompetent  --- that she had to give up. Months later, after she'd suffered through the cold winter by hook or by crook, they informed her that they had finally sent a check to the heating oil company. It was April. Needless to say, the heating oil company had not been willing to extend credit so the account had been closed long before.

If the conservatives can make Social Security work that badly they'll go a long way toward finally breaking the compact it has with the American people. One way or the other, they're not going to give up.

Oh, and when I talk about conservatives, I'm not just talking about Republicans. The GOP doesn't do this on their own.

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