The speech I’d like to see Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi deliver:
Fifty years ago, a great Republican declared, “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security….you would not hear of that party again.” We have come before you because today’s Republican party, hijacked by the radical right and beholden to Wall Street special interests, has set out to do just that. We are here today as leaders of the Democratic Party to make absolutely clear our position on their plan to kill social security by a thousand cuts.
We will not allow social security to be sold off to the highest bidder on our watch. It is not a get rich quick scheme for a lucky few. It is a sacred compact from one generation to the next. It enshrines a core principle of our shared American Dream: That a lifetime of hard work, even if your job is none too glamorous, even though you may be no market wizard, deserves retirement with full dignity and financial security. The American people would no sooner stake this economic security on the ebb and flow of the Dow than we would our very national security. We will not compromise the freedom of Americans who have devoted a lifetime to building this country to spend the final chapter of their lives enjoying a measure of the great prosperity of this blessed nation. It is this economic freedom – the freedom made possible with a roof over one’s head, food on one’s table, and life-saving medication – which the President’s party would ransom off in the name of free enterprise.
They have not set their sights on social security because it is imperiled, but because it is successful. They are fanning the flames of fear not because social security is unpopular, but rather because it is, rightly, the most popular government program of our time. It is a shining testament to the power of the American social contract to improve the lives of all our citizens. At a time of record deficit spending, social security is running a surplus which, with no change at all, can pay promised benefits for the next half century. Even after that point, an increase in spending by the wealthiest Americans, who today pay a smaller percentage of their income than their employees into the system – an increase dwarfed by the tax cuts President Bush paid out to the wealthiest Americans – will keep the system in the black into the next century. Social security should be celebrated, not assailed; strengthened, not eroded; and sustained, not degraded.
It is the President’s party, practicing the politics of cynicism and cronyism, which would pit the oldest and youngest members of our society against each other and tell us there is not enough prosperity to lift up both. The American people know better. Social security, through the hard work of the American worker, will provide the benefits promised to our parents, and to our children, and to all of us as well. We reject any plan which curtails benefits to the workers of today or of tomorrow. We reject any plan which would saddle our shared economy now or in the future with unsustainable debt. We will oppose any attempt to weaken social security with every political resource at our disposal, knowing that there is none stronger than the overwhelming will of the American people. We will stand united in telling those who peddle privatization, be they on Wall Street or in the White House: Our futures are not yours to gamble. You will not narrow the margins of our dreams.