GOPs stealth plans for Social Security privatization

If you thought privatization of Social Security was dead and we won, think again. According to the Dallas Morning News, the Republicans are planning a devious plan to sneak in private accounts this fall, doing it in a way that will not require Senate committee approval. And Karl Rove is involved, meaning this is still a high priority.

Rove recently said the House would act on Social Security next month and the Senate soon after. Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chair of the House Ways and Mean Committee, also said his panel will introduce a “retirement security” bill in September. It has also been rumored that the weakening of pension rights and the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) would also be included.

The House bill is apparently going to be the “Growing Real Ownership for Workers Act of 2005” (HR 3304), introduced by Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), which, according to the Dallas paper, “privatization proponents are trying to pass off as a new idea to stop the ‘raiding’ of Social Security.” The Morning News says, “That’s baloney: The McCrery bill is the first step toward President Bush’s plan to privatize and ruin Social Security — nothing more. When Congress comes back from vacation in September, the push for private accounts will begin quickly with the House Ways and Means Committee taking up the McCrery measure. The bill creates private accounts, cuts guaranteed benefits and increases the national debt.”

Because the GOP has insufficient support in the Senate Finance Committee, and the Democrats are solid in their opposition and could sustain a filibuster, the GOP leadership will use the same shady method they used to pass their phony Medicare prescription drug program. Here’s how they plan to pass a privatization bill:

• The Senate Finance Committee passes any old bill that has to do with retirement or Social Security, but does not include privatization. The Senate passes it.

• The GOP-dominated House passes a bill with privatization.

• Republicans send the two bills to conference and come up with a bill that includes privatization but didn’t have to get through the Senate Finance Committee.

• Then, the administration and GOP congressional leadership do what they did to get the Medicare Rx bill passed: bribery, blackmail, nuclear option and 3 a.m. votes.

In northeast Ohio, our Coalition to Protect Social Security is planning our own fall campaign to protect Social Security.

Our agenda will include:

• a regional campaign to convince GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette to oppose any privatization plan.

• reports and updates on our recent activities — birthday parties, county fairs, petition gathering, speakers bureau.

• discussion of how best to present our petitions to our two senators.

• brainstorming ideas for actions. (Start thinking now.)

We invite everyone in our surrounding areas to get involved. We also urge people throughout our region to e-mail reports on what’s been done in their area.

We hope others throughout our state and country will mount similar fall campaigns.

It’s show time!





John Gallo (jgallo@clevelandaflcio.org) is coordinator of the Coalition to Protect Social Security, in northeast Ohio.