[Editor's Note: With Mitt Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running-mate today, we felt it was imperative that we remind our readers of exactly what kind of policies Paul Ryan is fighting for—policies that would strip workers of their rightful earned benefits and turn them over to the wealthy elite. This is not the America our Founders envisioned and not the America Progressives are fighting to restore. But it is the America we would have with Paul Ryan as second in command.]
Paul Ryan, Republican chair of the House Budget Committee, is attempting to Raid the Railroad Retirement fund by introducing a ‘poison pill’ that would effectively steal the hard-earned money that Railroad workers have been putting aside for years. Many people may be familiar with Paul Ryan’s current budget plan for our nation, which he calls a “path to prosperity.” What many people may not be aware of is that his plan for the nation is similar to his plan for local railroad workers, which is to create a “path to prosperity” for the top 1 percent that is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.
Paul Ryan added a little something extra this year to the conservative’s immoral budget proposal for America. In addition to devastating our social safety net by gutting social programs that benefit the most vulnerable populations among us, including the working poor, sick, disabled, and elderly populations, Paul Ryan is extending this destructive crusade to include middle class working Americans who contribute to the railroad pension fund. It should be noted that the money saved from this crusade will be transfered up to the wealthiest among us, who believe they are entitled to it!
According to the Railroad Retirement Board “An accompanying report (House Report 112-421) to the House of Representatives’ version of the federal budget for fiscal year 2013 includes a list of reforms that could impact government income security programs.” According to this report, conservative politicians in Washington are actively trying to “conform Tier I so that its benefits would equal those of Social Security, with an estimated savings to taxpayers of $2 billion over 10 years.” What this means is that workers will be forced to alter their existing pension plan, which has been working to benefit retired and disabled railroad employees for years.
What Paul Ryan is not telling the American people
Paul Ryan is not telling the American people that the railroad pension fund has absolutely nothing to do with taxpayers. The Railroad pension fund is completely funded by railroad workers themselves. Not one dime of taxpayer money is used to fund this pension plan. So, why would a conservative politician in Washington say otherwise? The short answer is that Paul Ryan is operating under a radical ideology that seeks to transfer wealth from average working Americans to upper class members of what Vice President Joe Biden referred to as the “privileged sector.”
Despite the fact that Railroad workers fund their own pension plans—NOT TAXPAYERS!—it is important to point out that this language of “saving taxpayers $2 billion over 10 years” will soon be the focus of attention by the majority of right wing politicians in Washington, not to mention Fox news, and all of the radical right wing talk show hosts. Soon, they will all be on the same page, so to speak, and join forces to endlessly repeat this talking point of saving taxpayers money.
When viewed through the lense—or “frame”—of saving taxpayers money, Paul Ryan’s comments appear to make sense. This is how framing works. Specific language is used to create a “frame” that represents how people see an issue. In this case, the endless repetition of “saving taxpayers money” that will shortly occur will start to make sense to viewers and listeners of this right wing echo chamber because of the sheer repetition. This strategy works in a similar fashion to advertising. The more a message is heard or seen, the more readily accepted it becomes once this topic is brought up.
With that being said, the sad, but ugly truth is that some of us will begin to view the Railroad Retirement pension fund through the lense of this frame, and believe that this issue is primarily about saving taxpayers money, and not about the fact that it really involves stealing money from working Americans.
The great thing about framing, (for right wingers who seek to manipulate us), is that any fact that doesn’t fit the frame is rejected, and only misinformed opinions that reinforce the frame are accepted. They’re pretty slick aren’t they!
Since the ‘poison pill’ language above has not yet been used to amend the Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Retirement Board, who oversees the fund is not able to comment on what changes to tier I benefits will actually take place for current railroad employees.
Now would be the time for people who work on the railroad, as well as concerned citizens who care about threats to our current earned benefits programs, to begin taking action by calling their local and state representatives to protest this immoral theft taking place by radical right wing politicians.