As ThinkProgress noted, former House Speaker Dick Armey laid out a plan this week that would effectively dismantle Social Security and Medicare “as you know it” by privatizing a large portion of these critical social safety net programs. On Meet the Press today, Armey and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) discussed a different Republican plan to privatize and dismantle the social safety net, Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “Roadmap for America’s Future.” Granholm calls Ryan’s plan “far outside the mainstream,” noting that 85 percent of Americans don’t want to cut Social Security to solve the deficit.” Armey responds by laughing, claiming that “no one is talking about dismantling these systems:”
GREGORY: Governor, is this an example of what they called a mainstream political movement, some of these candidates and their views?
GRANHOLM: No. I think it’s far outside of the mainstream. In fact, one of the things, you just held up Paul Ryan’s proposal regarding Medicare and regarding Social Security, I think a lot of which you’ve jumped on to as well. There was a recent poll out that says 85 percent of Americans don’t want to see Social Security cut to solve the deficit. … If you care about democracy and what every citizen believes and you want to empower them, and they don’t want the social security system to be dismantled, and they don’t want the medicare system to be dismantled because your picking and choosing and this is a contact between generations to be able to make sure all of our seniors have the funds when they retire, that they’re not going to be homeless, that they’re not going to have to go to a shelter. I’m not kidding you. The idea that 85–
ARMEY: [Laughing] You just crack me up. No one is talking about dismantling these systems.
GRANHOLM: You just crack me up too, man. Well if you ask every actuarial that’s looked at it says you effectively dismantle the system.
As has been repeatedly noted, Ryan’s plan would destroy Social Security and Medicare as we know it, whether or not its advocates are talking about it that way. And while Armey laughs insensitively when Granholm brings up elderly homelessness, the problem was no laughing matter before the passage of these programs. Social Security and Medicare “ultimately made poorhouses obsolete.” Meanwhile, elderly homelessness is projected to rise by a third in the next ten years, and as the National Alliance to End Homesless notes, “Social Security, Medicare, and housing programs targeting the elderly will be critical for meeting the challenge and reducing risk of homelessness.”