Pete Peterson’s Anti-Social Security Talking Points: Coming Soon to Texas Textbooks?
By Nathan Tabak
May 22, 2010 - 10:25am ET
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Over the last few months, Texas’ far-right Board of Education has been in the national spotlight as they prepare to debate new, highly ideological textbook standards for high school. These proposed changes – which could affect textbooks all over the country, since Texas is the country’s second-largest textbook market – would mandate the inclusion of a section on “causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s,” a section defending McCarthyism, and criticisms of the civil rights movement, among other changes.
Unsurprisingly, even more changes along these lines are afoot, in advance of a final vote on May 21. But amongst the many radical distortions of American history along right-wing ideological lines, one finds a change with disturbingly mainstream support.
A new set of amendments, proposed by board member Don McLeroy, recommends that classes “discuss alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, given the decreasing worker to retiree ratio.” As blogger Joan McCarter aptly notes, this proposed wording “could have been written by Pete Peterson” – the billionaire and longtime proponent of entitlement cuts, who’s one of the leading influences on the White House’s commission studying the national debt. Indeed, the McLeroy amendment echoes the wording of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s FAQ on Social Security:
Social Security is becoming more expensive primarily for demographic reasons, because people are living longer and collecting more benefits as a result. With fewer births, longer lives, and longer periods spent in retirement, there are fewer workers whose taxes can support those who retire.
But is Social Security really facing apocalypse? Not at all. The SSA has projected that the program will remain solvent through 2037, at which point it will still be able to pay 76 percent of scheduled benefits; even in 2083, it will still pay out 74 percent of benefits. And there proposals addressing this issue that don’t involve gutting Social Security, such as raising the current ceiling for Social Security taxes.
There’s a reason why Pete Peterson’s talking points are being parroted by the same man who says this:
I see conservative values being much more Americam [sic] values while the left values about big government and taking care of everything to me is just kind of horrifying. America was founded on the idea of limited government and the importance of the individual. Our country started changing a lot with the New Deal and the Great Society… I'm not an expert, but basically a lot of people think we would have come out of the Depression sooner had it not been for the government interventions.
Peterson and McLeroy may not be on the same page on every issue. But when it comes to Social Security, their support for gutting one of the greatest achievements of the New Deal makes them two birds of a feather
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