Politicians Sense Which Way The Wind Blows On Social Security

Dave Johnson

It’s election season and candidates who once hated on Social Security are hearing from the public and switching positions. At the same time members of Congress have sent a letter to the President declaring that they will not go along with any cuts to the program. Will the Congress get the message and pre-empt the Decifit Commission, and tell them to actually address the deficit and stay away from a program that is fully-funded and by law can’t contribute to the deficit?

NPR reports. Democrats Hope Tea Party’s 3rd Rail Is Social Security,

Social Security remains the third rail. And Democrats are hoping it has as much electricity flowing through it this year as it ever has.

Politicans are sensing that Social Security is still the third rail and that the public is responding to ads, op-eds, blogs and letters to the editor that Social Security’s defenders are using to turn things around.

And around they are turning. For example, Mariannette Miller-Meeks is running for Congress against incumbent Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s 2nd district. The Globe Gazette (Iowa) reports, Miller-Meeks changes stance on Social Security privatization

A supporter of allowing younger workers to put some of their Social Security contributions into private investments through personal accounts when she challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack two years ago, Miller-Meeks now opposes such “privatization.”

But not just out in Iowa, not by a long shot. DC politicians read DC’s Politico, and Politico is reporting GOP cautious on Social Security,

Twenty of the 26 Republicans who are most likely to oust Democratic incumbents or pick up seats being vacated by Democrats have outright rejected a proposal to allow workers to invest their payroll taxes in private accounts instead of Social Security, and several of them have signed pledges to that effect at press conferences in their districts.

Many of these same candidates are on defense, pushing back against TV ads that associate them with President George W. Bush’s Social Security reform attempt in 2005. Most of these candidates have no problem rejecting trillions of dollars in other government spending. But they realize that senior citizens are the most dedicated midterm voters, so you can’t mess with Social Security — or Medicare, for that matter.

[. . .] The candidates who have tried to touch Social Security have quickly found that it’s better to express support for the program than to risk the wrath of seniors. [emphasis added]

Also in Politico, conservatives are complaining that politicians are taking the low road and representing the wishes of their constituents in this representative democracy. How dare they stoop so low! But this is still somewhat of a representative democracy and politicians understand that Social Security is popular: When in doubt, Democrats turn to Social Security,

With many Democrats running scared from their party’s handling of the economy and health care reform, they’ve returned to an old reliable campaign theme in the homestretch: attacking their opponents for threatening Social Security and Medicare.

Yes, that pesky representative democracy thing, always in the way of cutting Social Security. We, the People of the United States do not want Social Security cut. We need it. It is ours. Congress: pre-empt the Deficit Commission, tell them to cut the deficit, not Social Security.

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