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GOP's 'Pledge to America' Would End Up Privatizing Social Security | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

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GOP's 'Pledge to America' Would End Up Privatizing Social Security

The House Republican "Pledge to America" would make permanent George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, at a cost of more than $3 trillion over the coming decade.

Yet, the GOP gameplan proposes to address the massive shortfall with a freeze on only some domestic programs that would save about $100 billion next year -- "approximately 7.7 percent of the projected $1.3 trillion budget deficit," according to the Baltimore Sun.

How will the rest of the massive budget deficits proposed in the GOP pledge be offset? 

Buried in the twenty-one-page document is the real pledge: a discussion of "reviewing" Social Security and other entitement programs" and a commitment to a program "requiring a full accounting of Social Security." 

DC bureaucrat-speak, to be sure. But it is not hard to translate. 

"What's hidden in this pledge is the Republican pledge to privatize Social Security," says Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida.

Privatization of Social Security, a longtime GOP priority, was the first focus of former President Bush and the Republican Congressional majorities the last time they won an election cycle—in 2004. And, with they scheme to lock in Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, the only way Republicans will avoid creating the largest deficits in American history is by ending the nation's commitment to its seniors and to its most vulnerable citizens—by gutting Social Security and functional Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

"They clearly support privatizing Social Security. They clearly support turning Medicare into a voucher program," says Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. noting that two key players in the House Republican Caucus—Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor—have are busy championing such proposals. "Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor wrote a book about it and are in the middle of a book tour promoting that."

Ryan and Cantor will have plenty of company if Republicans sweep this year's mid-term elections. Some of the party's leading contenders are explcit about their disdain for Social Security.

Appearing this week on an Alaska radio show, Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller—Sarah Palin's personal favorite—referred to maintaining Social Security programs as federal initiative where "government is into something that it shouldn't have gotten into." 

Miller is blunter than Republican leaders. But the "Pledge to America" makes the agenda clear enough. Either the pledge is an outline for massive new debts and deficits or it is a roadmap to the privatization of Social Secuity, Medicare and Medicaid.

To suggest otherwise would be to engage in what another George Bush once described as "voodoo economics."

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