I just saw the clip of Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle on Fox and Friends, and I heard her say something about Social Security and Medicare that I believe is a absolutely crucial to Republican and conservative hopes for upcoming elections.
Here’s the video of the interview (starting at about 4:03):
In the interview, Angle is asked about the rumors that she plans to dismantle Social Security and Medicare. She responded not just by denying this, but by turning it around into a call for a “lock-box” around Social Security and Medicare, and against the Harry Reid’s of the world who have been “raiding” those funds for a whole host of unrelated purposes. She argues that seniors have paid their money into those funds “in good faith”, and that we need to “personalize” Social Security and Medicare “so that the government can no longer raid it”.
Republicans should be able to whip Democratic behinds up and down the political field with this argument. I’ve had conversations with many liberals and progressives, and it literally makes me sick to my stomach when their true feelings about these programs are revealed. They see Social Security and Medicare as two more sources of government income and welfare programs, entirely dependent on the whims of politics.
Just look at the ridicule that they heap on the Tea Partier who carries a picket sign that reads, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!” Ideological liberals think that’s the stupidest thing ever because they truly believe that the federal government can do with that money whatever it wants, and any notion of that the beneficiaries have any kind of individual, quasi-contractual right based on their years of work is pure anathema.
But the vast majority of the American people do not see it that way. Most people would be appalled to learn that the Democrats feel empowered to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits however they see fit in any given year, to take money from Social Security and Medicare for other purposes. They would be disgusted to to see senior citizens who dutifully worked their whole lives paying their hard-earned money into those programs reduced to nothing more than welfare recipients begging the government for a few crumbs of their own money back. Social Security and Medicare benefits are promises that have been made to individuals, and should not in any way be made subject to the whims of whoever happens to be in power in Washington and the fiscal nightmare that is the U.S. federal government.
OK, I understand that in a pure libertarian/conservative world, there would be no Social Security and Medicare. But I would also argue that a view that puts Social Security and Medicare funds into a “lock-box” to be used only for their intended purpose, where individuals earn and enjoy their benefits as individuals, not subject to any political interference and machinations, is much closer to the conservative ideal of the role of government, as opposed to the Democrats’ view, where Social Security and Medicare are simply more arbitrary and capricious government taxation and welfare programs, with no attachment whatsoever to the individual.
Before Sharron Angle, I hadn’t heard anyone talking about this in terms of “personalizing” Social Security and Medicare, but that is exactly right. At this point in history, if Republicans simply stand for the original concept upon which those programs were founded, i.e. as government-sponsored, personal, individual old-age retirement accounts and health insurance policies, I believe that Democrats, who stand for the corruption and bastardization of those programs into just more arbitrary and capricious tax and welfare programs, will be absolutely shredded on this issue.
And, besides, once the personal and individual nature of those programs is conclusively established, then the door is open to all kinds of market-based reforms to make them as effective and fiscally sounds as possible.
But if Republicans let their general opposition to government programs and commitment to fiscal sanity get in the way of articulating support for “personalizing” these programs, then Democrats will score once again by painting the Republicans as the party that is “out to get your Social Security and Medicare”, as they are trying to do with Ms. Angle.
I believe that this battle will be key in the coming years, as the federal budget crisis gets worse and worse. The Democrats will be taking a serious look at the “IOU’s” referred to by Angle as a huge source of potential new revenue to feed their social engineering programs. Already, $500 billion was taken out of Medicare to fund Obamacare.
But the American people have said time and time again that Social Security and Medicare are the “third rail” of American politics, not to be touched by any but the most suicidal of politicians. By personalizing and individualizing these programs, Republicans will be able cut off one more huge source of oxygen to the Democrats, and portray themselves as the protector of average Americans against a rapacious and out-of-control federal government.
That statement alone, IMHO, warrants a generous contribution to Sharron Angle’s campaign: