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This book seeks to understand the politics of deservingness for future Social Security reforms through an interpretive policy analysis of the 2005 Social Security privatization debates. What does it mean for politics and policymaking that Social Security recipients are widely viewed as deserving of the benefits they receive? In the 2005 privatization debates, Congress framed Social Security in exclusively positive terms, often in opposition to welfare, and imagined their own beloved family members as recipients. Advocates for private accounts sought to navigate the politics of deservingness by dividing the “we” of social insurance to a “me” of private investment and a “them” of individual rate of return in order to justify the introduction of private accounts into Social Security. Fiscal stress on the program will likely bring Social Security to the policy agenda soon. Understanding the politics of deservingness will be central to navigating those debates.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
Social Security politics cannot be fully understood through an analysis of political power or political ideology alone. Beechey argues for an analysis of the social construction of target populations to understand the politics that surround a policy and introduces the concept of deservingness in the context of the literature on undeservingness in welfare policy and the two-tiered US welfare state. Beechey describes her intersectionality informed, interpretive policy approach to analyzing the Social Security privatization debates, launched by President George W. Bush in 2005, as captured on the Congressional Record. While these debates ultimately yielded no policy change, they offer an instructive policy window into the politics of Social Security for contemporary reform proposals, including those proposed in the 2016 presidential campaigns.
Susanne N. Beechey

Chapter 2. Social Security Policy Today

Abstract
Social Security, or Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), is one of the most important and long-lived social policies in the United States. Beechey offers a succinct background to Social Security policy to help readers understand the technical aspects of the policy in order to understand the fiscal solvency questions which bring Social Security to the policy agenda. By understanding how the policy works today, including differential outcomes by gender, race, class, and age, the reader can better understand what is at stake in Social Security policy debates.
Susanne N. Beechey

Chapter 3. The Politics of Deservingness

Abstract
Social Security is characterized by a politics of deservingness. Through a close analysis of the 2005 Social Security privatization debates, as captured on the Congressional Record, Beechey documents that despite divergent policy positions, Democrat and Republican members of Congress deploy an exclusively positive framing of Social Security and its beneficiaries; everyone agrees Social Security must be strengthened and saved, even though there is great disagreement on the reform proposal under debate. Social Security is constructed as a promise to the American people, and in sharp contrast to a pejoratively constructed welfare policy. Recipients are deserving of their benefits whether through poverty, masculine work, or gendered dependency. The power of the politics of deservingness is seen when important silences are considered.
Susanne N. Beechey

Chapter 4. My Family Member as the Deserving Face of Social Security

Abstract
In analyzing the 2005 Social Security privatization debates as captured on the Congressional Record, Beechey finds members of Congress frequently reference their own families when telling stories about Social Security recipients, offering a window into the politics of deservingness and highlighting the important ways that gender, race, class, and age inform the deserving construction of Social Security recipients as three important characters emerge: (1) the dependent widowed grandmother; (2) the school-boy survivor beneficiary; and (3) the heroically masculine, hardworking, father and husband whose contributions to the Social Security system made those benefits possible. Family stories also allow members of Congress to frame generational concerns in terms of their own families, opening up a site of Social Security critique from within the politics of deservingness.
Susanne N. Beechey

Chapter 5. Challenging the Politics of Deservingness

Abstract
In order to enact change to Social Security the politics of deservingness must be navigated. By examining publications by the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute along with media reports and the Congressional Record, Beechey charts attempts by proponents of Social Security privatization to challenge the positive politics of deservingness. Privatization advocates sought to shift the collective “we” of the social insurance model to a “me” of individual rate of return on investment. Attempts to divide the Social Security coalition through stylized examples that Black men die at earlier ages or that the system disadvantages younger working women were less successful than invoking generational divides, pitting the interests of grandparents against those of their grandchildren, to challenge the politics of deservingness.
Susanne N. Beechey

Chapter 6. Social Security Tomorrow

Abstract
The Social Security Trustees Report of 2015 outlines solvency concerns for Social Security, which are likely to bring Social Security to the policy agenda again soon. The politics of deservingness will have important implications for any Social Security policy proposal, and changes to Social Security policy could have implications for the positive politics of deservingness which have characterized Social Security debates. Beechey incorporates Social Security policy positions from the 2016 presidential campaigns in reviewing proposals to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, change the consumer price index (CPI) cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), introduce means testing, raise payroll taxes, infuse income from general revenue, lift the payroll tax cap, introduce private accounts, increase the poverty fighting power, introduce care credits, and restore student benefits.
Susanne N. Beechey

Backmatter

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