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Gutting Social Security would devastate blacks and Hispanics

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 9/27/2011, 3:29 p.m.

But the GOP candidates really don’t have to lay out any plan to preserve the sustainable Social Security funding levels since many Americans are convinced that the system is perilously broken and will require drastic measures to fix it.

The absolute refusal of policymakers, both Democrats and Republicans, to even mention the word poverty, let alone come up with any tangible programs to deal with the escalating numbers of those in poverty, further assure that there will be no effort made to spotlight the crucial role that Social Security plays in keeping down poverty.  

President Barack Obama has gingerly moved around the issue for two reasons. One, Social Security has been mistakenly branded an entitlement, and any talk of preserving an entitlement as a sacred cow is increasingly seen as a political albatross. It’s also regarded as a virtual political kiss of death to talk about anything other than finding ways to chop down government spending. And since Social Security and Medicare are by far the best known and most politically vulnerable government programs to target for change and cuts, they have become the favored political whipping programs of both parties.

The Democrats’ caution on Social Security and the GOP presidential candidates’ increasingly bold attacks on it don’t change two facts about Social Security. It’s still the program that tens of millions rely on for a significant portion, or all, of their income, and without it they’d be in hopeless poverty. A disproportionate number of those are blacks and Hispanics.

The other is that despite the drum beat attacks on it and relentless cry of wolf about its impending collapse, polls show that the overwhelming majority of voters, especially seniors, back Social Security as it is, and will punish any presidential candidate that makes calls for gutting Social Security a part of their campaign rhetoric. This is the saving grace for those who depend on it the most, at least for now.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an associate editor of New America Media.