Let me begin with a PostScript from yesterday’s blog. Remember the story from Orion County, Tennessee about a man who didn’t pay a $75. fee to a neighboring city for fire protection so the local fire fighters stood idly by their equipment and watched his house burn to the ground?
Of course, the story went zinging around cyberspace and this is what the compassionate Glenn Beck had to say. (Grey is a Beck sidekick): h/t Digby [Here]
BECK: This is the sort of argument that Americans are going to have.
GRAY: It is.
BECK: And it goes nowhere if you go onto “compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion” or well, “they should’ve put it out, what is the fire department for?” [...] If you don’t pay the $75 dollars then that hurts the fire department. They can’t use those resources, and you’d be sponging off your neighbor’s resources. [...] It’s important for America to have this debate. This is the kind of stuff that’s going to have to happen, we are going to have to have these kinds of things.
Digby adds this:
This hideous conversation is so indicative of this period in America. It's not libertarian or Randian or fiscally conservative. It's just plain old selfish and mean.
Digby also wonders if what she heard about people pulling together and helping each other during the Great Depression of the '30s were true.
Well, I was born at the nadir of the Depression and although I lived in a prosperous New York City suburb, I can tell you that it is true. Folks did pull together. I remember being driven around my village at Thanksgiving and Christmas by my father with the back seat of the family Buick stuffed with Turkeys. Father would park out of sight and my job was to run to a particular home in which the people were hurting. I’d leave the turkey by the front door, ring the doorbell and run as fast as I could back to the car that was parked around the corner.
Why the secrecy? My father told me that we didn’t want to embarrass the families who were getting the free turkeys. I got the message and it made me run a little faster. It also made me feel good to help those people and I was just a child. Why can’t the Becks, the Limbaughs and the Masters of the Universe get it, too?
And while we wonder at the right wing’s inhumanity and ridicule of compassionate feelings, we wait for the Catfood (Deficit) Commission to report in to the President. What will their recommendations be on programs such as Social Security and Medicare?
In another tip, Digby points us to an important essay by Paul Van de Water, a senior fellow at the well-respected, non-profit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Center’s mission is to study state and federal policies that affect low and moderate income families and individuals. Of course, one of the policies that has been studied is Social Security’s fiscal soundness and future funding. Here is Van de Water's assessment:
...Social Security is a well-run, fiscally responsible program...The Social Security trustees — the official body charged with evaluating the program’s long-term finances — project that Social Security can pay 100 percent of promised benefits through 2037 and about three-quarters of scheduled benefits after that, even if Congress makes no changes in the program. Relatively modest changes would put the program on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond.
Nonetheless, some critics are attempting to undermine confidence in Social Security with wild and blatantly false accusations. They allege that the trust funds have been “raided” or disparage the trust funds as “funny money” or mere “IOUs.” Some even label Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” after the notorious 1920s swindler Charles Ponzi. All of these claims are nonsense...
Social Security is fully funded through 2037 and only modest changes would keep it on a sound footing for 75 years or more. Let us keep this in mind and take heart.
Nancy Pelosi’s interview with Huffpost on Tuesday was also reassuring. None of the Chairs of the House Committees to which any SS changes might be channelled were on the Commission, by her design. She also said flatly that any attempt in the lame duck session to balance the budget by raising the retirement age ...”would get a very negative response.”
It’s now up to us to keep the House and Senate in Democratic hands after that lame duck session.
Let’s roll up our sleeves...