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Safety net cutters are seriously selfish

Nowhere is the gap between the needs of the majority and the preferences of the 1 percent greater than in public discussion of Social Security. The rules of the national debate rig the discussion in advance, to the detriment of most Americans and to the benefit of the rich and the financial industry.

The first rule of the rigged retirement security debate is that we, the people, and our elected representatives are allowed only to debate purely public retirement benefits, like Social Security and, for the poor, Supplemental Security Income. According to the rules of the game, we are not allowed to mention or criticize the oceans of money in tax-sheltered private savings accounts that disproportionately benefit the rich — nothing to see here, folks, move along!

The rigged rules of the Social Security debate, furthermore, do not allow any participant to suggest expanding rather than cutting public retirement benefits — why, that’s crazy talk! Only cutting Social Security or, at most, maintaining promised benefits will even be considered as policy options. At the same time, players in the Elite Entitlement Debate game are allowed, indeed, encouraged to propose further expansions in our already-enormous tax-favored private retirement savings programs like 401Ks and IRAs. Calling for combining cuts in Social Security with more tax giveaways for savings, mostly to the rich, proves that politicians are Very Serious People to their Wall Street donors and to the mainstream media pundits who lionize the conservative deficit hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles.

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