Every once in awhile?and honestly, it doesn?t happen that often here in Washington?a politician says exactly what he thinks. He/she steps away from the party talking points and poll-tested language which purposefully confuses more than clarifies. We had one of those moments this week, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor made it clear that the America he dreams of would abolish Social Security and Medicare. Here?s what he told the right wing Hoover Institution, as reported by NPR:
?So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? For – you know, listen. We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.? Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
It?s not really news that GOP leaders are really less interested in ?reforming? Social Security and Medicare than eliminating them; however, politically, it?s certainly unusual for it to be verbalized out loud. The preferred terms of art for those who share Majority Leader Cantor?s views are ?reform?, ?modernize? and ?protect for future generations?. Their cynical political strategy created and articulated as far back as the last major Social Security reforms in the early 80?s, was to ensure current day beneficiaries that they would be protected (the theory being seniors only care about themselves) and deliver the death blows to these programs to future generations who won?t really know what they?re missing ?until it?s too late.But the battle against President Bush?s privatization plan should have shown them that eliminating Social Security might create the kind of America Rep. Cantor dreams of but it?s certainly not the kind of nation working Americans want to bequeath to their children and grandchildren. Every industrial nation in the world provides some form of retirement security for their citizens. Suggesting that America can?t succeed if Social Security exists, ignores 76 years of history which proves just the opposite. America succeeds because Social Security exists. We do not want to turn back the clock to an America requiring poorhouses for our elderly with 50% of the nation?s seniors living in poverty. To an America where children who lose a parent breadwinner have no source of economic support and our nation?s disabled are forced to live institutionalized rather than independently.Our Congressional leaders shouldn?t want that kind of America either.Thankfully some in Congress don?t?Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) released this reaction tonight to Leader Cantor?s plans for Social Security. It’s clear that these are the members who are now on the front lines of the battle to define just what kind of America working Americans truly want. It’s up to us to ensure they don’t forget it.