Momentarily stymied in their effort to plunder Medicare and hand all its money to their wealthy insurance industry cronies, Republicans have revived their efforts to plunder Social Security and hand all its money to their wealthy Wall Street cronies.
A cadre of House Republicans led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) Friday floated a bill that would let those foolish enough to do so opt out of contributing the 6.2% of their wages that goes to Social Security, where, as US Treasuries, it joins the trillions held in the most secure and coveted form capital can take, and instead toss it into the hands of Wall Street speculators who'll pile it onto the roulette wheel of whatever trendy market bubble they want to take a spin on.
Their employers would continue to contribute the 6.2% matching funds to Social Security for 15 years, after which the employee could have the matching funds also sent to the Wall Street counting house crap table. Of course, since market bubbles blow up every ten years or so, the employee would probably have second thoughts by then.
Republicans have got that angle covered, figuring that if enough people were stupid enough to opt out of Social Security, the Social Security trust funds would've gone belly up, and there'd be no traditional Social Security left for anyone to fall back on.
And the Wall Street cronies will have added significantly to their collection of mega-yachts and mega-mansions.
Republicans had shuffled their Social Security privatization scam onto the back burner because, despite GOP lies to the contrary, Social Security is solvent for decades, and with slight tweaks to contributions (making the rich - horrors! - kick in a little more), will remain solvent for the foreseeable future. Despite Republicans' deepest desires, they left Social Security privatization out of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) 2012 Budget.
But, ever since Republicans got thrashed in their stronghold New York 26th Congressional District special election and Ryan, author of the infamous Medicare couponization scam, has been needing bodyguards to survive walking to and from his own town hall meetings, Republicans have been forced to lay low on their scheme to dismantle Medicare, hand all its money to private insurers, and pawn off future seniors with worthless vouchers the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office figured wouldn't cover a third of the cost of premiums, deductibles, co-pays and other expenses. Oh, sure, they still talk tough, but they keep their eyes peeled in the event some heavy object comes hurtling their way.
Bored with holding the nation's ability to issue bonds and borrow money hostage to ever greater tax subsidies for their rich patrons, Republicans have quietly shifted their scheme to plunder Social Security from the back burner to the one in front. Besides, the trans-national plutocrats who wield the far ends of GOP pols' choke chains have begun to yank pretty hard at the prospect of Republicans' refusing to raise the nation's debt ceiling, forcing the US to default on maturing obligations, and wreaking havoc in said trans-national plutocrats' beloved bond markets. The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Wholesale Distributors, and the National Association of Manufacturers have all conducted heart-to-heart sit-downs with GOP pols intent on crashing the debt ceiling.
Republicans might figure plundering Social Security would prove their loyalty to their wealthy overlords and get them to stop yanking so hard on those chains.
Sessions and a cohort of GOP eager-beavers, including Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Lamar Smith (R-TX), must figure their opt-out scheme is just the ticket to pander to and coddle their nervous Wall Street minders. Their Savings Account for Every American Act (SAFE) would allow the uninformed to send 6.2% of their wages to their SAFE account instead of to Social Security. Of course, even without SAFE, anyone who wanted to engage in high-risk behavior can shovel as much money as they like into mutual funds, equities, junk bonds or unprotected sex with dubious partners. Social Security is the safety net that catches you when you inevitably roll snake eyes, and Republicans can't stand that it's there protecting you instead of in some greedy old corporate tycoon's fat fingers getting stuffed into some stripper's g-string.
Once, plutocrats needed American labor to build and run history's greatest economic engine. Then, through the miracle of acquisitions, leveraged buyouts and mergers, through the magic of slash-and-burn management, downsizing, outsourcing and offshoring, plutocrats didn't need American labor anymore.
Then, plutocrats needed American consumers to buy goods and homes and home furnishings and services and cars and knick-knacks. They pumped up the real estate market with George W. Bush's "Ownership Society," bamboozled Americans into using their homes as ATMs with cash-out refinancing, and repackaged and resold and reinsured ballooning pyramids of funny money while consumers gorged themselves on 8-mile-per-gallon SUVs, bass boats, redwoods decks and Carrera marble kitchens. When the rich crashed the world financial system, American consumers crashed with it. But, through the miracle of emerging international markets and the magic of burgeoning new middle classes in India and China, plutocrats didn't need American consumers any more.
For thirty years, rain or shine, war or peace, good times or bad, Republicans chanted the mantra, "More tax breaks for the rich, more spending cuts on everyone else." If there were budget surpluses, as after the Clinton years, Republicans called for, "More tax breaks for the rich, more spending cuts on everyone else." If there are budget deficits, as now, Republicans call for, "More tax breaks for the rich, more spending cuts on everyone else." After thirty years, Republicans succeeded in concentrating 84% of America's wealth in the hands of 20% of America's wealthiest. There's little left to plunder except Medicare and Social Security.
In fact, giving the rich more tax breaks and subsidies while slashing spending on everything else has nothing to do with creating jobs, or speeding up growth, or encouraging innovation, or easing inflation, or anything else of the sort. Giving the rich more tax breaks and subsidies while slashing spending on everything else has only one effect: it makes the rich even richer. It concentrates more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands.
Republicans have proven their commitment to enriching the few, and will be relentless in their effort to plunder America's last great reserves for their wealthy masters. They will lurch, roll, rumble and roar inexorably toward their goal, an indefatigable juggernaut focused on plundering, pillaging and pilfering every last dime in Medicare, in Social Security and in every ordinary Americans' pocket.