Younger Americans might give up receiving Social Security
Recently, we have been hearing more and more people suggest that maybe younger Americans should give up the thought of receiving anything from Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Folks have suggested they would still be willing to pay into those systems to protect our current seniors and to save our country for our children and grandchildren.
This is the real spirit of the Tea Party.
We can look out for ourselves and for each other. We don't need or want the government to do it for us. We have seen where the "big government" approach takes us:
impossible promises and a future mortgaged beyond the lifetimes of our children's children.
Doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it's always right. The real solution is fiscal discipline and entitlement reform.
We felt skeptical that Tea Partiers opposed major US entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the obvious demographic facts of Tea Party life. Tea Party people know that Social Security, Medicare, and veteran's programs are government-
managed, expensive, and funded with taxes. It is just that they distinguish these programs, which they feel recipients have "earned", from other social benefits, which they feel unnecessarily run up expenses. Or might run up public costs in the future--
placing a burden on hardworking taxpayers to make payments to freeloaders who have not earned public support.
Much of the Tea Party brouhaha about the "federal budget deficit" is a preemptive strike against funding for unworthy programs and recipients,
not a call for cutting off spending on programs like Medicare and Social Security that currently benefits people like them. There is a strong sense among Tea Party people that they have earned these social protections through lifetimes of hard work.
Increase the payroll tax to sustain Social Security
Not a single grassroots Tea Party supporter we encountered argued for privatization of Social Security or Medicare. Even a Virginia man who calls Social Security a "Ponzi scheme," noted that the Bush plan for the privatization of Social Security, which
he supported at the time, would have been disastrous for seniors in this economy. There is almost nothing done by the government that the private sector cannot do better; but when pressed on Social Security, he stops short and gropes for a halfway point;
he might privatize the administration, he tentatively suggests, but not the funds themselves.
When Tea Partiers expressed concerns to us about Social Security and Medicare, they focused on how to keep the programs solvent, even if additional taxes
might be needed. Indeed, broad surveys show that Tea Party supporters prefer new revenues to sustain Social Security over the long haul. For avowed Tea Party supporters, 2/3 of them support increasing the payroll tax to sustain Social Security.
Think Tanks support privatization; grassroots does not
Rank-and-file Tea Partiers have considerable affection for Social Security and Medicare, even as they pay lip service about slashing federal spending. Grassroots Tea Partiers have a different take than the policy-makers at right-wing ideological think
tanks, for whom Social Security and Medicare are anathema. National groups such as FreedomWorks have long been committed to privatizing these huge, popular US social insurance programs, taking funds out of them so that taxes on business can be reduced.
Right-wing ideologues also hope to boost for-profit businesses that manage savings for retirement. So what happens when FreedomWorks and other ultra-free-market advocacy groups push these privatizing plans in the name of grassroots Tea Partiers, most of
whom are either on Social Security and Medicare already, or expect to be soon? Will local Tea Partiers become skeptical of advocates claiming to speak for them--at least on matters where Tea Party people have concrete experience and views of their own?