Not to belabor an already sharp point, but — here’s what happens when people don’t vote. On their very first day of work, the people that 17 percent of American voted into office are already setting the stage to attack social security. Proving once again that today’s “Republicans” are really Koch Libertarians, the first order of business passed late on Tuesday was a seemingly small proviso that may end up turning into major crisis for America’s poor, elderly, sick and injured.
Like many things evil, this one is most nefarious in its multi-layered subtlety, and seems innocuous enough on the surface. On that surface, its a simple proviso that funds cannot be reallocated to pay for Social Security without additional provisions to “improve the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds.” Sounds harmless enough. But, let’s think this one through.
Reallocation of funds to Social Security has become a fairly routine thing; it’s been done 11 times in the past, and (like the last thing Republicans shut down the government over) has become a standard point of order when paying America’s bills. The procedure has always been the same: When Social Security is a few years from running out of money, Congress reallocates money to it to keep it solvent, and the program moves on.
But the Republicans’ new proviso would mean that simple funding reallocation would come with strings attached — strings in the form of budget and benefit cuts to Social Security. In short, it allows Republicans in Congress to hold Social Security hostage (which we know is always a favored conservative tactic) unless it gets the kind of deep cuts that make Libertarian Ayn-Randians all wet between the knees.
But here’s the thing: Why would they pass a proviso forcing Congress to do something that a Republican-controlled Congress would do anyway? Why pass it at all, if they’re planning on being in charge?
In short: they aren’t.
Social Security is solvent without requiring reallocation until 2016, when people will show up to start voting Republicans out of existence following the two years of rape and pillage we’re expecting. But there will be at least a few Vikings left in the building after 2016, in the form of the Senators and Representatives who were just sworn into office two days ago. So, this little measure isn’t intended to give Republicans leverage now; it’s intended to give them leverage against the possible Democratic supermajority they may be facing in 2016. That year, a presidential election year following two years of pillage by Republicans, we may see Democrats take the House and Senate — and the presidency is a given at this point.
And so, planning for that eventuality, Republicans are going to do what they can to cling to some power: that is, take old, sick and disabled people hostage by creating a Social Security crisis that didn’t need to happen.
And even if the Republican Manufactured Social Security crisis comes up before then, taking old people and disabled veterans hostage will give Republicans leverage over Obama’s veto pen. The same one he’s using to kill the Keystone XL.
Again, let us remember:
This is the first thing they did after being sworn in.
Of course, we weren’t the only ones to notice this bit of political chicanery. The first was none other than Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted immediately after the rule passed:
Hey, now, Elizabeth!
Don’t say the Republicans are putting them at risk! They don’t want to shoot the hostages!
Because when hostage day comes, you can bet they’ll blame “the crisis” on democrats, exactly the same way they blamed Obama for “shutting down the veterans’ memorial” when Republicans shut down the government. They’ll say it’s not their fault seniors aren’t getting their medication — it’ll be those evil Democrats, and their continuing refusal to compromise on little things. Little things like…cutting funding for seniors’ medication out of Social Security.
The Vikings have officially entered the building.
But Vikings will be Vikings; raping, pillaging, setting fires and taking hostages is just what they do. Funny thing, though. We actually had a system to keep those Vikings from getting in the building in the first place. It was called democracy.
Which, unfortunately, only works when people vote.