Alan Grayson: They Want to Destroy Social Security (circa 1935)

Alan Grayson For Congress

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If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Break It.

Dear Dale:

Yesterday, I wrote that all the crocodile tears that the Right Wing sheds for the supposed insolvency of Social Security are just a cover story for what they really want to do, i.e., destroy Social Security. My Tea Party opponent is a perfect example of this: he calls Social Security a “Ponzi scheme”; he calls Social Security and Medicare “robbery”; he calls them unconstitutional; and somehow we’re supposed to believe that he’s the one to save them.

So it has ever been. So it will ever be.

Germany introduced Social Security in 1889. It came to America “only” 46 years later, in 1935. When the Social Security program was introduced here, one of its most vociferous critics was former Republican President Herbert Hoover. Having led America into the Great Depression, Hoover wanted to make sure that no one led it out. (Does that ring a bell?)

According to an Associated Press report on May 6, 1935, and a New York Times report on May 22, 1938 (sorry, no NYT link), Hoover attacked Social Security in apocalyptic terms. Regarding the security for seniors that the program would provide, Hoover said that “we can find [the same economic stability] in our jails. The slaves had it [too].” Hoover said that programs like Social Security would put Americans in cages: “Our people are not ready to be turned into a national zoo.”

It’s odd that Sarah Palin hasn’t deployed the same metaphors. Yet.

Hoover said that rather than indulging in programs like Social Security, Americans should “cling to their family life, to their homes, to their individual self-respect, to their rights, to their individual liberties.” He urged that we must not shift “from the self-made man to the government-coddled man.”

I know that this sounds just like Paul Ryan, but it was Herbert Hoover. Really.

Hoover added that the way to achieve genuine “social security” was not through government handouts, but by “saving pennies and producing more.”

Yes, those pennies sure add up, don’t they? Save five of them, and you’ve got a nickel. Or, in Mitt Romney’s case, a quarter.

Hoover said that he believed in private charity, not government handouts. He predicted that government programs like Social Security would destroy private charity, “one of the most fundamental of inspirations in the spiritual growth of the family or individual.”

Now you know whom Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum got their ideas from.

With unemployment in America approaching 25%, Hoover said that social programs like Social Security simply weren’t needed to feed, house and clothe people. “We could do that by the simple methods of bread lines, barracks and dungarees.” The government could do nothing to ameliorate these problems; the only answer was “courage and vision in adversity.”

This sounds like something that Mitt Romney would say, right? Either that, or something equally vacuous.

Herbert Hoover led the Republican effort to strangle Social Security in its crib. And now, 77 years later, Republicans are trying to suffocate Social Security as it lies in bed.

At least they’re consistent.

When a right-wing Republican talks about how to “save” Social Security, I don’t know whether to laugh or (like John Boehner) cry. Republicans have as much interest in saving Social Security as they do in saving the whales. Or the rainforest. Or the Queen. Or the last dance. Meaning none.

Courage,

Alan Grayson
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