In 1983, the strategy for destroying Social Security was clearly expressed in the Cato Journal (“Achieving a Leninist Strategy,” vol.3, no. 2).  The Cato Journal is the pseudo-scholarly publication of the Cato Institute, which is a Koch funded Washington, DC “think tank.”  The article, by Stuart Butler and Peter Germanis, recognized that “a firm coalition behind the present Social Security system” had been politically effective.  They concluded, therefore, that it is necessary for opponents to, “begin to divide this coalition and cast doubt on the picture of reality it presents to the public” (page 548).

Butler and Germanis stated that they must also construct a coalition “that will gain directly from implementation” of a plan to privatize Social Security.  They suggested that such institutions as banks and insurance companies, seeing the profits to be made from privatization would be likely allies (page 549).

Recognizing that “the elderly represent a very powerful and vocal interest group,” (page 549), the authors set forth their second main strategic element, which, as they stated, “involves what one might crudely call guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it” (page 552).  And indeed, for nearly three decades, a “guerrilla war” has been waged on the Social Security system and the coalition that works to protect and maintain it. 

This war has been waged primarily with misinformation about the nature of the Social Security system and its impact on the fiscal problems of the federal government.  The Social Security program has amassed a 2.5 trillion dollar surplus and is adequately funded, without any adjustment, until 2037, and, with a small amount of tweaking, into the foreseeable future after 2037.  The misinformation, perhaps disinformation, however, is that Social Security is “going bankrupt” and is putting a strain on federal finances; i.e., it is a cause of the federal deficit.  This is absolutely false.  In covering a deficit caused primarily by wars and ill advised upper income tax cuts, the federal government is borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund.

Has this guerrilla war on the elderly and the successful and well run Social Security safety net program been effective?  Yes.  The mainstream press overwhelmingly takes its cues from the anti-Social Security forces and passes along the misinformation disseminated by conservative think tanks.  Just today, a front page New York Times article on the deficit primarily blamed Social Security and Medicare for the current budget mess in Washington (“Divide on Deficit Likely to Grow After Election,” 10/26/2010).

The author, Jackie Calmes displayed her ignorance by blaming “an unsustainable combination of fast-growing entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare and inadequate tax revenues” for the current budget deficit.  As usual, the “baby boomer” generation is scapegoated in this article.  Ms Calmes quoted David Cote, the chief executive of Honeywell International, and a known anti-Social Security hardliner on President Obama’s deficit reduction commission.  Here is what he had to say: “the thing that shocked me was that the debt crisis had been predicted for decades because of the costs of federal benefits for the baby boom generation.”

This imaginary entitlement crisis caused by the baby boomers is never questioned.  An objective, informed challenge to this slur on people in a single age range, is never presented in the New York Times, on PBS, NPR, or in any other mainstream media.  The maligned group of people born between 1946 and 1964 (and others) has paid enough into the Social Security system to pay benefits to the generation preceding them as well as enough to take care of themselves until 2037.  They are now scapegoated for one war costing several trillion dollars, another war running $100 billion per year (in its ninth year), tax cuts for the wealthy costing another $1 trillion over the next decade, and an on-going defense expenditure of $1.1 trillion per year.

This is how well-funded guerrilla war is supposed to work – especially when there is very little push back by powerful media entities.  Social Security, Medicare and the selfish baby boomers as causes of impending fiscal doom is accepted as nothing less than a truism in the mainstream press. 

The good news is that a network for taking on the anti-Social Security guerrillas is forming and forming rapidly.  For instance, labor unions, the NAACP, Older Women’s League, NOW, Gray Panthers, and hundreds of other organizations are coming together into one coalition know as “Strengthen Our Social Security.”  Check it out at  Local and regional coalitions are also coming together.  In Kansas and Missouri, the “Save Our Social Security (SOS)” coalition is coming together.  The  website will be up in a matter of days.