Having plunged America trillions of dollars deeper into debt with little to show for it, President Obama reportedly has found agreement with congressional Republicans on something: Social Security "reform."
The U.S. is so desperate for any hint of financial sanity out of politicians in Washington that we innocent taxpayers are understandably quick to embrace the slightest move toward stanching the river of red ink that our children and grandchildren will be yoked with paying off for decades.
The various Social Security "reforms" being discussed include making people work longer before they are eligible for retirement benefits, making workers pay more into the system and, of course, doling out less benefits.
Only in Washington with this crowd of criminals would such a "reform" offer us a glimmer of hope.
Let's review how we got here.
Some 70 years ago, politicians in Washington decided that they needed to take charge of our retirement savings. They levied a mandatory payroll tax to establish a Social Security fund that would pay workers after they retired. This was to keep old people from the indignity of eating cat food.
This worked just fine for about 30 years. In fact, it was so financially successful that politicians — closely related to common bank robbers — decided that they wanted a more hands-on approach to spending all of this free money flowing in. So, in 1968, President Johnson and Congress jointly started raiding your retirement account.
No longer would workers' payroll taxes be spent only on retirements. Instead, politicians could spend your retirement savings on all their more pressing priorities such as political favors, boondoggles and government buildings. Never mind that if an evil Wall Street tycoon did this, he would go directly to jail.
So here were are, another 40 years of reckless spending later. The amount of money coming in from payroll taxes is now eclipsed by the amount that goes out in payments to retirees. This Ponzi scheme is, shall we say, underwater, and the sanest people involved are calling for Social Security "reform."
This would be like if you had a bank and robbers walked in every day for 40 years and stole everything customers had deposited. Then, after 40 years, people come in to withdraw their money only to find that all their deposits for the past 40 years have vanished. The only money left to be withdrawn is that which was deposited that day.
Stunned, broke and perplexed, you walk out onto the sidewalk and standing there is one of the bank robbers. He is holding a picket sign calling for "bank withdrawal reform" and talking about how people should start depositing more money and how they just need to learn to withdraw less.
What is really scary is that this guy standing on the street is the most honest of the bunch. At least he says he has given up his days as a bank robber.
So it is today with the Social Security reformers in the Republican Party. Still, it is worth asking, "Well, how about federal government reform? Or thieving politician reform? Or, stop stealing our money reform?"
Although it is a wee bit apparent that Mr. Obama suddenly realizes that Social Security is faltering as a federal government Ponzi scheme, there is no evidence that he is ready to give up the big-spending, high-rolling ways of a bank robber. On the contrary: A stunning report from The Hill newspaper last week suggests he aims to take the thieving to yet another level.
According to a "senior administration official," Mr. Obama wants to go after the private retirement accounts of people he deems have saved too much for their retirements. Some taxpayers, the official fumed, have accumulated "many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving."
No, really, Mr. Obama, you politicians have done quite enough already, thank you. Maybe it is time you move to Cyprus. You would fit in perfectly over there.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.