In a magnanimous display of benevolence I’m sure he feels entitles him to Sainthood at the very least, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) announced on ABC News’ This Week that’d he’d be “willing to accept tax increases.”
A Republican who’s in favor of a tax increase? And who called Grover Norquist “stupid” during a dispute about ethanol taxes? Do we a have a new front-runner in “Republicans the Left Can Stomach for More than 30 Seconds?”
Don’t schedule the ticker-tape parade just yet. In the same breath, Coburn clarified that he’d be willing to accept tax increases as long as Democrats were willing to put “significant entitlement reform” on the table. While a term like “significant” is open to interpretation, Coburn is the same man who said Social Security and Medicare are “things we don’t absolutely need.” One can only imagine what qualifies as significant reform to programs he’d just as soon see dead altogether.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m starting to get physically ill every time one of these jowly old men talks about how American’s entitlement programs (remember: you’re ‘entitled’ to them after you make mandatory payments into the program for your entire working life, like you’re ‘entitled’ to the car you just bought) are ruining the nation when the simple fact of the matter is that politicians like Coburn have spent decades raiding Social Security surpluses to pay for pet projects, taking money out that could have been invested in ensuring the long-term health of the program. Remember that the next time any politician tells you that Social Security is in trouble – it wouldn’t be if decades worth of Congressional leadership hadn’t had their hand in the cookie jar the entire time and it’s a pretty deep jar.
For all the fear mongering over the money the U.S. owes to China, it’s often overlooked that the single largest creditor across the entire federal deficit is Social Security – it “owns” roughly 18 percent of the debt, nearly double the amount held by China/Hong Kong. And it’s not like Social Security was a conscious, active investor. It owns all this debt because Washington has been carrying away money in buckets, and covering these debts with IOUs the entire time.
And therein lies the ultimate boondoggle, the main reason entitlement ‘reform’ just absolutely has to be on the table, according to people like Coburn. By reforming the program (or scrapping it all together as so many Republicans would love to do), the GOP hopes to covertly reduce or eliminate the money Congress owes to Social Security, knowing full well that if they have to publicly admit to spending a portion of the budget to pay back the money they took, imperiling the retirements of millions in the process, the public outcry would be severe to say the least. Imagine if you borrowed a few hundred thousand dollars for your house and then suddenly found yourself with the potential ability to just strike that debt from the books, never paying back a single dime. This is precisely the issue at hand when Republicans like Coburn talk about entitlement reform. In their sick logic, Social Security drives the deficit because they borrowed billions and billions of dollars from it and now they have to pay that money back … to the rest of us.
For those of you out there who support this sort of ‘reform,’ I’ll put this a different way: last year, your 401(K) was worth $300,000. Then, without your permission, your boss somehow ‘borrowed’ half that money and is now refusing to pay it back, threatening to scrap it altogether instead. That is exactly what is happening to your Social Security. Mad yet?