It was just another throwaway press statement from politicians skilled at using tax dollars to write throwaway press statements.
I know I'm not the only person sick of the phonies, because I hear all the time from citizens who share similar sentiments. But for some reason, this one just rubbed me the wrong way.
The press release from Aug. 12 is a little long, but not too long to reprint:
"Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today made the following statements on the 73rd anniversary of the creation of the Social Security program.
"Social Security is, and has always been, an important program, and many seniors in Georgia and across the nation depend on this vital program," said Chambliss. "Currently, nearly 48 million Americans are receiving some form of Social Security benefit. We must ensure that this program continues to provide benefits to the working Americans that deserve what they have earned.
"Today, Americans have been using this program to aid in their retirement for 73 years. Many have benefited and it is my hope that many will continue to have access to this program as we in Congress work to ensure that it remains solvent. I would like to take this opportunity to renew our commitment to making sure this program is around for many years to come."
"We keep seeing a lot of numbers and dates tossed around, but the key date is 2019. That is the year that the amount of Social Security benefits we're paying out will exceed the amount of payroll taxes we're taking in. That's just 11 years from now, and the financial picture only gets worse and worse after that year," Isakson said.
"It is imperative we strengthen this program that so many Georgia seniors have depended on for 73 years. Congress must move towards addressing the Social Security crisis and restoring trust with the American taxpayers over how Congress handles their money."
Whew. I feel like Chris Tucker in Rush Hour, after hearing Jackie Chan speak in broken, Chinese-accented English: "What the hell did you just say?"
Did Chambliss or Isakson say absolutely anything of substance? Sure, I know, lighten up, it was just supposed to be some kind of statement to let us know that Georgia's two senators knew Social Security was having an anniversary.
Well, whoopty-doo. They could have accomplished that by just saying "Happy birthday, Social Security!" and spare us the fluff.
"Renew our commitment to making sure this program is around" in the future? "Imperative that we strengthen the program?" Just try to find a single politician who will disagree with those phrases (except for Ron Paul, that is).
The question isn't whether politicians will talk about saving Social Security, but about how. President Bush, rotten in just about everything else, has the best idea so far: Allow younger workers to place part of their Social Security "contributions" (as if we have a choice in making them) in the stock market.
Every politician is going to make sure grandma gets her check - not because they believe in grandma-hood and apple pie, but because they know grandma is a reliable voter. But if these pandering politicians don't quit talking and start doing, future grandma will have a heckuva time getting her check from a bankrupt treasury.
Of course, those politicians, like the reliably voting grandmas of today who threaten political death to anyone touching the sacred Social Security cash cow, will be long gone by the time that happens.
I just wish all of them had the guts to look their grandchildren in the eyes, point to the stack of IOUs and say, "Someday, this will all be yours."
Happy birthday, Social Security? Bleh.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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