I don’t know what pisses me off more – the egregious lying by the GOP about their opposition to entitlements, or the willingness of the liberal Fake News to let the GOP off the hook. But either way, the bottom line is that the current political narrative as we move towards 2024 is nothing but bunch of goddamn lies.
The GOP doesn’t want to cut social security? The social security system was created by a law passed in 1935 (the picture above is FDR signing the bill.) The following year, Roosevelt won re-election against Alf Landon, the Governor of Kansas. Landon (whose daughter, Nancy Kassebaum, was the Kansas Senator from 1978 to 1997) refused to campaign in 1936 because the same GOP which nominated him also endorsed a platform which opposed every legislative piece of the New Deal.
The government’s attempt to lift the national economy out of a crater in which industrial capacity had fallen to 5% (during the worst month of the 2008 recession the capacity was 68%) and every state bank had closed, was pronounced by the GOP as ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’ or worse. Sound familiar?
The GOP and its conservative allies didn’t curb their opposition to Social Security after the 1936 contest, which was a national referendum on the government intervening in personal, financial affairs. To the contrary, the GOP continued to challenge the implementation of social security until their last attempt to erase the New Deal in a courtroom ended in 1949.
The next attempt by the GOP to push back against the expansion of ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ in the public welfare space was when LBJ got government into paying for medical help by passing Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The only reason the passage of these laws got past an alliance of GOP Congressional members with Democrats from southern states, was because LBJ was able to twist a few arms among his own southern Congressional friends.
If LBJ had been just another public figure whose roots lay north of the Mason-Dixon line, the efforts to bring America into parity with the rest of the industrialized world when it came to health care would have failed, like the way an extension of Medicare/Medicaid failed when it was driven by Hillary Clinton in 1993-94. The opposition to HillaryCare brought together the same groups who had fought against social security in 1935 – conservatives of all shades united under the banner of the GOP.
The paradigm developed by the GOP to protect America from the twin scourges of Socialism and Communism shifted away from internal threats to external threats under Reagan who somehow managed to parlay his opposition to government entitlements (the ‘welfare queen’ in her Cadillac) into the largest, single tax increase of all time. I’m referring to the 1983 deal he made with Tip O’Neill to bail out the social security trust fund by doubling the payroll tax.
At the same time, when it came to keeping America pure from the ‘socialist-communist’ threat, the GOP could also count on another population, namely, the groups which saw the extension of civil rights into education and other public environments as promoting such noxious beliefs as racial integration and then gender equality for both women and gays.
In particular, such populations were often nested within religious groups, most frequently white Evangelical blends of the Protestant faith, whose leadership (Graham, Falwell, et. al.) built national audiences through the use of TV.
Which brings us up to the current situation with both sides trying to outdo the other when it comes to counting statements made by politicians which turn out to be lies. Today The Hill website is carrying an op-ed by a guy who runs something called the Jobs Creator Network which promotes small business development without government help, and he claims that Joe said at least 7 different things during the SOTU speech which were outright lies. Except what he calls ‘lies’ were, for the most part, economic growth since the Pandemic went away, and without the Covid-19 shutdowns, all the recent economic upswing would have happened under Trump.
On the other hand, when the GOP says they have no intention of cutting entitlements like social security, this is simply not true. They won’t try to cut it this year because they don’t have the votes in either chamber to override a veto from the Resolute desk.
But there’s another election in 21 months, and all the GOP needs is to find someone who hasn’t already lost an election to Joe and the opportunity to get rid of social security looms large.
Am I being too harsh by accusing the GOP of wanting to abolish our social security checks? Isn’t that what a Republican President named George W. Bush tried to do in 2005 when he tried to privatize social security except he was told to stick the idea up his *ss?