advice from a fake consultant

out-of-the-box thinking about politics, economics, and more…

Social Security: They Want To Cut, We Plan To Fight November 10, 2010

So if you’ve been following my work lately, you know that there is a renewed effort underway to change Social Security, and that the fight officially began just this very morning.

Now what’s supposed to happen is that a television ad buy sponsored by a Wall Street billionaire is supposed to get you enthused about cutting your own Social Security benefits in the future; this is the tip of a “disinformation iceberg” that is trying to get you to act, right now, because if you don’t you will never, ever, ever, ever, see a single dime of Social Security when you get older.

I was on a “let’s talk strategy” conference call today that laid out some ideas for the “next steps”; we’ll be talking about that call over the next couple of stories…but for today, we’re going to talk about something you can do that will bring the message right to your favorite Member of Congress.

He is always plotting and carrying out great enterprises, which have always kept his subjects bewildered and astonished, waiting to see what their outcome would be. And his deeds have followed one another so closely that he has never left space between one and the next for people to plot uninterruptedly against him.

–Niccolò Machiavelli, describing King Ferdinand of Aragon, in The Prince

With the election a week behind us, the fight is on to get you to believe that you will never see a dime of Social Security, that the danger is so profound that we must act today, and that maybe a healthy cut in your future benefits isn’t really so bad after all.

To help convince you all this is true, a series of TV ads have been produced that imply that the only other solution, short of those benefit cuts, is more deficit spending and endless borrowing. (They have a catchy name for the effort as well: “OweNo”.)

As it turns out, that’s patently untrue, but as I said, that’s a topic for another day.

The idea behind the ads, of course, is to create a space for Members of Congress to vote for these kinds of proposals—but we’re going to strike first, before the ads can really gain a lot of traction.

So here’s the idea: we all have Members who are constantly having to “come home and face the District”; what we want to do is ask those Members, right now, on camera, if they are willing to vote for cutting Social Security benefits or not.

Myself, I like the question: “Are there any circumstances that would get you to vote for cutting Social Security benefits?”

If they say yes, try this: “Why do you like cutting benefits for middle-class people and not taxing 90% of the income of someone who makes a million a year?”

(If you make about $110,000 a year or less, 100% of your income is taxed for Social Security purposes. However, no income above that is taxed—so if you make a million a year, only 10% of your income is taxed, which seems a lot like “trickle up economics” to me…but what do I know?

As it turns out, removing that “income cap”, all by itself, would fix our financing problem for the next 75 years, without cutting benefits at all—again, a topic we’ll flesh out more completely another day.)

Now once we start gathering all these videos, we need a place to put them. Based on the call today, it looks like we’ll be going to the Owe No You Don’t! website, which, by a happy coincidence, is full of helpful resources for those looking to win this fight. The site is not ready to receive the videos today, however, but I will either update here or do a new story to let you know when it is, or if some new plans have emerged.

(Of course, if you get a good video, don’t be afraid to post it to this story as a comment as well.)

I also have available a big ol’ list of who in Congress has publicly said and done what regarding changes to these programs—and if you’re wondering exactly who in Congress supports privatizing Social Security, this is the list you’ve been looking for.

The next step is to put all this video to work: so how about starting right in your own home town? Send a copy of the video to the local newspaper, or the local TV station’s “tip line”. In the other direction, I’m going to try to encourage the folks operating Owe No You Don’t! (with whom I’m currently working) to use that video to get the attention of national media—which means video of Members “ducking and dodging” will be particularly valuable.

You might even get lucky and get a “Sharron Angle”—you know, the one where the person being asked just runs off without even acknowledging that they’re being asked questions, even though you’re right there next to them the whole time, following them and still asking the question, as they hop in the car and run away in fear.

So that’s today’s homework: charge up the camera batteries, go find your local Member of Congress, either pay a friendly visit at the office or catch ‘em at a local appearance, and make them either answer questions or run away.

As we gather the videos, they become a media attraction, and we put even more pressure on these folks…and if we get really, really, really, lucky, we’ll find someone who “autotunes” the Members who run away into a viral video we’ll all be proud of.

Good hunting to you all, and in a couple days we’ll all meet back here and talk about the Social Security “tax cap” and financing stability.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This post was written with the support of the CAF State Blogger’s Network Project.

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