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The Koch brothers came into the limelight when it became clear that they had been stoking the growth of the Tea Party in order to pursue their extreme right wing agenda. It’s now evident that they have mounted a concerted effort to destroy Social Security, one of the most successful government programs ever. A very revealing video from Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films, “The Koch Echo Chamber,” featuring Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, explains the full extent of their plot.
You will probably have heard every lie put forward by the Koch brothers to help kill off Social Security. They were hatched by experts working at the four think tanks that the Koch brothers fund to produce arguments to support their goals. Pundits from the think tanks appear frequently on television, usually without any mention of their right wing bias. Their punchlines are repeated ad infinitum by the right wing media, particularly Fox News. Right wing bloggers turn them into factual looking articles and “calls to arms” emails. The Koch Bothers also make contributions to politicians and hold indoctrination sessions to help them press the points home.
The think tanks
The Koch brothers fund a whole slew of think tanks to build arguments that appear to be based on facts. Some of them are, thought the facts have been carefully selected to support the arguments. That’s not science, it’s pure politics. The think tanks shouldn’t be regarded as academic institutions, but marketing arms of large corporations and the very rich. Here are the ones involved in the Koch brothers’ bid to kill Social Security, the amounts that they are known to have received so far and their latest “research” on the subject of Social Security:
Cato Institute: $13.6 million – “Personal Accounts for Social Security an Election Killer — Not Quite”
Heritage Foundation: $3.6 million – “Time To Raise Social Security’s Retirement Age.”
Mercatus Center: $9 million – “Social Security in Cash Flow Deficit.”
Reason Foundation: $2.4 million – “The Facts About Social Security.”
The think tanks have pumped out over 300 articles on Social Security in the past few years. The arguments made in these policy papers, because that’s what they really are, crop up over and over again when their pundits appear on television and are quoted in the press.
Lie #1 – We need to raise the retirement age
You’ll probably have heard this first from Veronique De Rugy and David Johns from the Heritage Foundation, backed up by Andrew Biggs and José Piñera of the Cato Institute. They are presented as experts, but all they’re doing is promoting the Koch brothers’ agenda. The Fox News Zombies repeat the message incessantly. Then you’ll hear Republican politicians, particularly the Koch-backed Tea Party types, re-iterating the line. What’s wrong with this picture?…
Paul Ryan: $63,000 received from the Koch campaign – “[All we need is] very modest increases in the retirement age.”
John Boehner: $30,000 received from the Koch campaign – “…and eventually getting the retirement age up to 70 is a step that needs to be made.”
Rand Paul: $17,000 received from the Koch campaign- “…the age on Social Security will have to go up.”
Why should we be asking taxpayers to stay at work 12.5% or more longer when all we need to do is return tax levels for the rich to the levels they were at back in the 1960′s?
Lie #2 – Social Security is going bankrupt
It isn’t. It’s self-funding and the most recent reports show that it has a $2.6 Trillion surplus and can cope without any change for many years, though it would be prudent to make changes to Disability Insurance arrangements to avoid long term problems. Rand Paul and Michelle Bachmann are the latest to regurgitate the “Social Security is going bankrupt” line. He received $63,000 and she received $20,000 from the Koch brothers during their recent campaigns.
Lie #3 – We need to privatize Social Security
We don’t. If it’s handed over to Wall Street speculators the costs will skyrocket and benefits will be slashed. It would probably be bankrupted very quickly, squandering the money paid into the fund and leaving seniors without a lifeline. Rand Paul (whom the Koch brothers bought for $63,000) is the latest to spew out the “personal retirement account” line.
Why are they doing this?
Before watching the short video below, it’s worth reflecting on why the Koch brothers are doing this. It’s partly right wing dogma, but what will the Koch brothers gain personally by squeezing more years out of their workforce and reducing government expenditures on Social Security? Perhaps the graph below [Source:Mother Jones] will provide a clue.
A Comparison Of The Income Of America’s Wealthiest, The Nation’s Productivity And Average Overall Wages
Note how productivity has risen dramatically, but wages have stayed flat. Meanwhile, the wealth of the nation’s richest people has increased dramatically. It’s worth noting that the top 400 wealthiest people in the United States have a combined wealth that equals that of the 150 million people (50% of the population) in the lower ranks. So, why does the GOP want to make them rich at everyone else’s expense?