By James W. Russell (first published on Perfect Swindle blog, 4/24/2011)
David A. Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s Director of Management and Budget, came right out and said it in an April 24, 2011 New York Times op-ed, “The Bipartisan March to Fiscal Madness” Social Security should be reduced to a means tested program that would benefit only the poor.
Instead of being the primary source of middle and working class retirement income, it would become a welfare program.
At a time when 401(k) type retirement plans have been exposed for not being able to provide anywhere near the retirement security that the traditional pensions that they replaced provided for working and middle class retirees who are now more dependent than ever on Social Security, removing that source of retirement income from ordinary people would be a road to social madness.
Stockman’s advocacy is consistent with the World Bank’s 1994 Averting the Old Age Crisis report that led to widespread disastrous privatization of national retirement systems in Latin America.
What neither he nor the Times disclosed is that since leaving the Reagan administration, he has become very rich through positions in the financial services industry, including in Salomon Brothers, the Blackstone Group, and his own company, Heartland Industrial Partners. That industry stands to profit handsomely from all diversions of current retirement savings from Social Security to its own 401(k) like plans.
And, of course, Stockman has become so rich from the financial services industry that he has no personal need for Social Security benefits during his own retirement.
James W. Russell is CSU Professor of Sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University and the author of Double Standard: Social Policy in Europe and the United States: second edition.