Thursday, August 19, 2010

Honor The Debt

Look, people, when demagogues of both Republican and Democratic stripe start yammering about reducing the federal deficit by cutting Social Security benefits, for God’s sake stop screaming about seniors surviving on catfood. Make the more basic and more valid argument that cutting Social Security won’t affect the federal deficit one way or another because those payments are not actually in the federal budget.

This argument is going to heat up, and we aren’t going to beat it by talking about the care and comfort of seniors, because the people who want to gut Social Security don’t care about seniors. They will provide all kinds of bullshit about private accounts and such that provide a patina of provisions for seniors, but the reality is they don’t care. They care about a debt which has been incurred and which they don’t want to have to repay.

The real argument to be made is to ask whether or not this nation is going to honor its debts, because that is the real issue. By reducing Social Security benefits, these people can delay the date that the government has to pay back to the Social Security program money which it has borrowed from that program, but they cannot possibly admit that such is their purpose. Everything depends on this nation honoring its debts and being able to continue borrowing money. The moment that our current lenders get the idea that this nation cannot be trusted to honor its debt the entire financial structure of this country comes crashing down.

Almost half of what we spend at this point is borrowed money, and the only reason we are able to continue is because we are able not only to find plenty of lenders, but to find lenders who will lend money at very low rates. They charge such low rates because the risk of loss is low; the chance of the United States defaulting on its debt is essentially zero. As soon as lenders see this nation weaseling out of its debt, that changes and our spending habits become unsustainable.

So the saboteurs of Social Security cannot afford for it to be seen that their true purpose is avoidance of the timely repayment of debt. They cannot, in fact, even afford for us to ask the question. So to protect the Social Security program we must ask the question as often and as loudly as possible. We want our money back, and we want it back as agreed.

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