Social Security Shutdown? Bring It On!

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Hey, Mr. Congressman trying to make a name for yourself. Would you like to kick start a real national conversation about entitlement reform, not the lame Biden burlesque over increasing the debt ceiling dragging on in some undisclosed location? Are you brave enough to grab the nation by its lapels and explain that Change is not just a campaign slogan? Do you have the spine to put a solution on the table that is as economically sound as it is inevitable?

Then let August 2nd pass without a debt deal. Go ahead, stop mailing out Social Security checks for a week. Then announce that you will turn the spigot back on as soon as Democrats stop holding the poor hostage in order to subsidize the rich.


That's right. Tell Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Biden, and the whole gang of politicians claiming to represent the little guy that you will vote to increase the debt ceiling provided they join in passing a bill subjecting every dollar of federal entitlement spending to means testing. Set a hard income limit of $75,000 per person or $100,000 per couple above which not a dollar of direct payments from Uncle Sam will be permitted to go into the pockets of any individual for any reason whatsoever.

Now, who volunteers to stand up and defend welfare for the rich?

But Social Security is not welfare! It's an insurance program that citizens have paid into for decades! Oh really? Let's settle the matter once and for all. Put out an emergency call to Geraldo Rivera. Sign him up to reprise his mystery of Al Capone's vault, only this time dispatch him to Parkersburg, West Virginia. Let him examine the contents of the Social Security Trust Fund, and bring the president of AARP along as a witness. Let the nation watch on prime time TV as Geraldo opens the sacred file cabinets and finds nothing there but ceremonial Congressional IOUs.

OHMYGOD, can all $781 Billion dollars really be gone? Well, if it wasn't then why is the debt ceiling standing in the way of mailing out Social Security checks?

A move to means testing to spare us the spectacle of a Greek meltdown is so obvious the only reason it is not on everyone's lips is that Republican politicians are cowards. Sure, you get the occasional Rand Paul willing to stand up and take some heat. But think about it. If the Republican leadership rose as one and demanded an end to welfare for the rich who is going to outflank them?

Where are the presidential candidates on this issue? The Tea Party? How about the limousine liberals who keep demanding tax hikes? Speak up, we can't hear you. Someone go ask Barbara Streisand to tape a public service announcement encouraging the rich to release all entitlement claims on Uncle Sam. Do you think that would get some attention from liberal journalists, or would their heads explode?

Wouldn't it be fun to watch the editorial board of the New York Times twist themselves into pretzels defending the status quo? Everyone knows the unspoken reason that champions of big government hate the idea of means-test entitlements, and that's because once these payments become welfare people not receiving them will demand reform. (As the saying goes, programs for the poor are poor programs.) But when is a better time to bring this issue to a head than when the sword of Damocles is hanging over the federal government's AAA credit rating?

And if progressive Democrats decide to defend universal entitlements to the death? Bring it on! Imagine an independent campaign ad promoting Social Security means testing. A silver haired dowager in a mink coat pulls up to a McDonald's drive through window lounging in the back of a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce. As she rolls down her window and sticks out her hand the pimply faced teenagers working behind the counter take turns emptying their pocket change into a paper bag, passing it to the old lady. When she drives off you can hear her purring back over her shoulder, "Ta ta dahlings, see you again next month."

Bill Frezza is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and a Boston-based venture capitalist. You can find all of his columns, TV, and radio interviews here.  If you would like to have his weekly columns delivered to you by e-mail, click here or follow him on Twitter @BillFrezza.

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