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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Sat Jul 16th 2011, 01:21 PM
He is truly an amazing fellow, like the energizer bunny he just keeps right on keeping on about old folks and Social Security. And he has kept on today until he has the ear of the White House as the head of the think tank that has taken over from the DLC in setting Democratic policy.

He and his group called Lead or Leave are often credited for helping start the war between the generations. That war is coming to a climax today with a Democratic president offering up Social Security to a bunch of right wing extremists.

This is a treasure from 1993 in the Chicago Tribune.

An Appeal To Grandma And Grandpa

May 08, 1993|By Rob Nelson and Jon Cowan, (copyright) 1993, Knight-Ridder Newspapers. and Rob Nelson, 30, and Jon Cowan, 27, are the co-founders of Lead . . . or Leave in Washington, which describes itself as a generational political movement.

Dear Grandma and Grandpa:

We write to ask for your help. We're in a financial mess, and unless everyone in our family gets together to fix the problem, we're heading for "economic and fiscal catastrophe." That's not a phrase we picked up on MTV-it's from a recent U.S. government report on the budget deficit.

This year alone America's budget deficit will be nearly $300 billion, which means we're spending $300 billion more than we take in. That's $300 billion on top of the $4.2 trillion debt we've already built up, enough to pay basketball star Michael Jordan's salary for almost a million and a half years.

It is a long article and hard to just choose parts of it. It is very snide in its tone.

This is one of the paragraphs that really showed their contempt for the older generations.

The truth is, today's retirees get their benefits directly out of the paychecks of working Americans, the majority of whom are less affluent than those they support. True, you paid into the system. But so do we. And right now, we're paying FICA taxes at rates 20 times (inflation adjusted) what you paid as a young worker.

And there's no end in sight.

And then the tone changes again....they are pacifying seniors saying it is not all their fault. How effing nice of them. Don't miss the words about the collapsing school system. What a pathetic grab for generational sympathy. Unfortunately it worked all too well.

We are not ungrateful. We respect and value the sacrifices you've made for our country and have no desire to take money away from those in need. But our generation is in trouble. We were educated in a collapsing school system. Our incomes and skill levels are lower than any previous generation-by the year 2000 over one-third of younger Americans will be living in poverty. And we will be the first Americans to inherit a lower standard of living than our parents.
We're not asking that your generation solve all our problems. And there certainly are many other programs that also must be cut to get the deficit under control. But Social Security must be considered, just like everything else in the budget.

Well, it worked. It IS being considered. It is right there on the table in plain sight now.

We know that Cowan's new group is setting Democratic policy now. How do we know it? Kirsten Powers tells us so.

DLC Shut Down: The Democrats’ New Power Base

The truth is, the DLC’s position as the leading centrist Democratic think tank was long ago overtaken by a group called Third Way, which has been growing more influential by the day.

Before joining the White House, Bill Daley, President Obama’s new chief of staff, was a board member of Third Way.

In an interview before the news of the DLC’s shuttering, Ken Baer, communications director for the Office of Management and Budget and a longtime fan of Third Way, told me: “Their power is rising. They put out original policy ideas that are rooted in reality and relevant to the moment. They are really the only organization owning the reform space in the Democratic Party.”

Jon Cowan's views toward Social Security and seniors may be more nuanced and careful now, but there was a time in 1995 when he was not so careful. He openly called for the privatization of Social Security.

1995 Op ed from Third Way prez Cowan calling to privatize Social Security.

Unfortunately for America, this lie-to-get-elected approach is disastrous for our long-term fiscal outlook and will squander any hope of repairing the system before the crisis strikes early in the next millennium.

The time has come to reinvent Social Security based on a "cut and privatize" approach that will be fair to all age groups. This reinvention should be based on three principles:

* Start immediately to lower boomers' expectations of the returns they will get and encourage them to increase private savings. My generation and my kids' will have to pay upward of 30% of our income in payroll taxes to finance the boomers' retirement at today's benefit levels. That's unreasonable and unworkable. Instead, we'll have to dramatically slash benefits to stay solvent, and we should let folks know now what to expect when the ax falls.

* Separate out the welfare portion of Social Security and pay out poverty benefits to today's--and tomorrow's--needy seniors from general government revenues. In some cases, benefits will have to increase as we keep our commitment to protect America's elderly from poverty; at the same time, benefits will have to be cut to seniors who are well-off. Yes, we'll be breaking our commitment to folks who have paid in for decades, but that was not a contract my generation signed, and it's not one that America can afford to fulfill.

* Lower the Social Security payroll tax to 10% and give workers the option of putting their money into private pension programs that offer far higher returns and sounder prospects than today's Social Security system.

Today the president reiterated his call for "shared sacrifices."

With both parties calling to put Social Security on the table, we should be concerned.

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