Lawmakers called on Alan Greenspan to resign as chairman of the Federal Reserve Feb. 25 for proposing cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for millions of hard-pressed seniors and the disabled to pay for George W. Bush’s $1.7 trillion tax gift to the rich.
“Greenspan should resign,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination whose platform calls for restoring 65 as the age for full Social Security benefits and universal health care. “It is a disgrace that the chairman of the Federal Reserve would advocate making tomorrow’s old, infirm, and disabled pay for today’s tax cuts to millionaires,” Kucinich said.
Greenspan, he added, is guilty of advocating “theft” by the rich against the poor. Rep. Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vt.), echoed the call for Greenspan to step down.
They were reacting to Greenspan’s Feb. 12 “sky-is-falling” testimony before the Senate Budget Committee in which he repeated the timeworn falsehood that the Social Security Trust Fund is going broke. The cumulative surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund is currently $2 trillion and no shortfall is forecast until at least 2042. Critics point out that lifting the current cap that exempts income above $87,000 per year from Social Security taxes would generate ample revenues to cover any deficit.
Greenspan cited the enormous $521 billion federal deficit. He endorsed Bush’s call that the tax cuts for the wealthy, main cause of those deficits, be made permanent. He urged Congress once again to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare, and slash cost of living adjustments for beneficiaries to reduce the deficits, in effect, a call to raid Social Security, forcing seniors and the disabled to shoulder the cost of deficit reduction. No wonder Bush greeted Greenspan’s proposals. The wily chief executive said he will oppose cuts “for people at or near retirement” but left open deep cuts in benefits for future retirees. He also plugged his private retirement accounts to open the door to privatization of Social Security and Medicare.
Sen. John Edwards, another Democratic contender, said it is an “outrage” for Greenspan to suggest “that we should extend George Bush’s tax cuts on unearned wealth while cutting Social Security benefits that working people earn.” Edwards called instead for Congress “to roll back these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans … institute a new tax on the wealth of the top one percent … and take other steps to eliminate corporate subsidies and wasteful spending.”
Patti Reilly, a spokesperson at the AFL-CIO-affiliated Alliance for Retired Americans, told the World, “We are totally against what Mr. Greenspan is proposing, raising the retirement age, and reducing cost-of-living adjustments, in order to reduce the federal deficit. He’s in favor of private retirement accounts. That’s ridiculous. These accounts are based on risky stock market investments.”
She continued, “At this moment 47 million Americans, the elderly, infirm, and disabled, rely on Social Security for their income. They paid into Social Security and they expect and need those benefits. Greenspan linked this whole scenario to Bush’s tax cuts. He has made Social Security an issue in the 2004 elections, as it should be. Defending Social Security and Medicare absolutely will be the defining issue for 40 million seniors.”
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