Did President Obama Shift On Social Security?

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Feb 17, 2009 at 16:28


As mentioned in my previous post, on February 23rd, there will be a "fiscal responsibility summit" convened by Jim Cooper and other Blue Dogs. One of the main goals of the summit is to create a commission that will provide non-amendable, non-filibusterable legislation that will cut Social Security and Medicare:

At the moment, discussions are focused on whether to name a special panel to make the difficult decisions that would be required to right the nation's finances. Key senators in both parties are backing a plan put forward by Conrad and the Budget Committee's senior Republican, Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), that would create a task force of lawmakers and administration officials. The task force would wrestle with the details of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and the tax code, and deliver a reform plan to Congress for a vote later this year.

Under the proposal, the task force's recommendations could not be amended; the House and Senate would be required to accept or reject them without changes or additions, similar to the process lawmakers use to close military bases.

On February 2nd, the Washington Post reported that President Obama was opposed to such a commission:

Obama specifically mentioned the Gregg-Conrad proposal when he met with Senate Republicans last week. Several senators told him they would like to see such a task force created as part of the economic stimulus bill, saying the promise of a fiscal reckoning would make the massive measure easier to swallow.

But Obama "was not supportive" of that idea, said Gregg, whom Obama may tap to join the administration as Commerce secretary. "I think they think it's just too big a lift for the stimulus package."

Today, however, the Wall Street journal is reporting that President Obama is in favor of such a commission (more in the extended entry):

Chris Bowers :: Did President Obama Shift On Social Security?
The president met with 44 fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats this week and gave a nod to legislation that would set up commissions to deal with long-term deficit strains. The commissions would then present plans to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

"We feel like we've found a partner in the White House," said Rep. Charlie Melancon (D., La.), a Blue Dog co-chairman.

There are two possibilities here. First, President Obama changed his position on the commission between February 2nd and last week. Second, either the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post is incorrect, and Obama is either still opposed to the commission or was always in favor of it.

I don't know which one is the case, Jane Hamsher has a must-read article today on the subject. She points to a possible Obama administration embrace of the Conrad-Gregg commission outlined above, but also with favoring the "Diamond-Orszag plan for reforming Social Security, which calls for raising the retirement age and cutting benefits."

Now, I share both Jane and David's incredulity that the Obama administration would embrace such a proposal, given that President Obama campaigned on eliminating the Social Security cap, not on cutting benefits or raising the retirement age. Further, since Jane's article is based on reporting from the National Review and the Wall Street Journal, perhaps it is all wishful thinking from conservatives. However, even if it is just wishful thinking from conservatives, we still need to take it seriously. People like Jim Cooper do, in fact, want to cut Social Security and Medicare. They are also extracting some concessions from the Obama administration, such as the "fiscal responsibility summit." We will find out more on February 23rd, and then February 26th, but as the budget fight looms, don't discount the possibility that Social Security could actually be cut even under a Democratic trifecta.


Tags: , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

This is the Wall Steet Journal (4.00 / 5)
I would take anything from that newspaper with a grain of salt.  There's been a disinformation campaign going on. This is the same newspaper that said that Obama wouldn't shut down Guantanamo.

The WSJ's editorial page is crap... (0.00 / 0)
they do first-class bidness/economic/govt reporting.
that's their audience, that's where the money is, and why it sells.
they don't give a fiddlers fart about you or me. BIDNESS is whom they play to. Chomsky, Nader, Parenti, all lefty critics, all proclaim that if you wanna know what really matters, read (at the library) the WSJ ...


[ Parent ]
I think we need to get in front of it (4.00 / 17)
and let them know it is not acceptable before it even starts. www.whitehouse.gov  

Yes Obama campaigned (4.00 / 3)
only on revising the SS cap.

But here's an argument he can use going forward.

Yes, I only talked about raising the SS cap to fix SS while campaigning. But now we know our economy is in far more dire straits than anyone had any good reason to believe during the campaign. We have to take more drastic measures to solve the problem of SS, otherwise our deficit is going to grow out far out of control.

Now, for Obama's uncritical supporters, what's the answer to that argument? If SS is not a problem at all -- which is what genuine, thinking progressives thought all along -- then why did they think that it was permissible for Obama to talk about "fixing" SS in the first place?

They are left with pretty desperate hair splitting rebuttals.  


how about: cutting SS benefits is counterproductive w/rt stimulus measures. nt. (4.00 / 3)


[ Parent ]
They need not be cut immediately in any (0.00 / 0)
case.

Those cuts can be scheduled for a later time when they will be used to reduce the deficit.


[ Parent ]
A shrewd read amigo! (0.00 / 0)
n/t

[ Parent ]
Lots of his supporters (4.00 / 2)
never bought into the need to fix SS with ANY measures, including raising the pay cap. And the possible explanation that he might use to justify cutting SS that you speculated on above would be transparent BS, because present economic problems in no serious way impact SS's possible shortfall in 40-50 years. It's the opposite, in fact, in that SS's huge trust fund presents a massive looming debt problem to the government that cutting SS would be a despicable way to solve.

There's nothing seriously wrong, if at all, with social security, and cuts are absolutely unnecessary to "save" it. There's a lot wrong with the economy, and with the government's finances, though. And anyone who says that SS needs to be cut is really saying that they want to cut it to help fix what's wrong with the economy and government debt levels. I.e. fix them on the backs of today's and tomorrow's retirees. I can almost picture the ads that AARP would run to fight this.

Only an idiot is going to try to cut SS to fix the economy and get the government out of debt. It's a political loser. I'm half hoping that some try, to make it easier to weed them out in '10. Lots of Blue Dogs in need of being primaried (Cooper, Taylor). Lots of Repubs in need of being replaced by progressive Dems (Reichert, Hastings, King).

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
It's a clever way of accomplishing a government default. (4.00 / 4)
There is nothing wrong with the Social Security "Trust Fund", except for the fact that previous administrations from Reagan II on have used the surplus to pay for other budget shortfalls.  Reagan, in his first administration, increased the payroll tax to address projected shortfalls when the baby boomers would reach retirement.  A surplus was purposely created to address this projected shortfall.

Bruce Webb at Angry Bear has published, something like 61 articles explaining the hoax of social security "problems".   If it is possible to "summarize" these posts, I would say this comes close:

Social Security is not facing a crisis. It is paid for until 2040 or so. After that, if the predictions are true, it may be necessary to pay a small amount more in order to keep the same benefits over a longer life expectancy. That will average about 20 dollars per week on an income that is 300 dollars per week bigger than today, and will pay for an extra 6 years of life expectancy.

This money does not come from "the government". It is your money saved for you, and protected from inflation by "pay as you go" with wage indexing.

The only way the bad guys get the scary numbers is to assume that we will not pay the the extra 20 bucks but keep collecting unreduced benefits for seventy five years or the infinite horizon.

Because Soc Sec is pay as you go and NOT an "investment" there is no need to raise the tax before we reach the point where people are actually living longer.

So, one has to ask, why are we even including this in the conversation right now?  IMO, it is a clever slight of hand to appeal to the "Joe the Plumber fiscal responsibility" axiom.  You remember Joe last week questioned the stimulus by wondering why gov't wasn't like him.  When he's running short on cash, he just cuts cable!  Rings true doesn't it?

This is absolutely political subterfuge, deceit of the highest order.  I am pissed and really wonder why more people are not.  If this commission happens, as currently being reported on so many fronts, then not only Obama, but the Democrats are DONE!  

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis


[ Parent ]
Whatever the reasons for its creation (0.00 / 0)
the trust fund is there now, invested in T-Bills, which the government cannot and will not default on, per se. What these people are trying to do is find a way to allow it to default on them in effect, by a combination of benefits cuts and retirement age-raising that would allow it to never have to actually pay back much of that trust fund, and instead be able to roll it over forever via paper-shuffling. It's both political and fiscal con artistry of the lowest order and hugely immoral as well, basically trying to balance the budget on the backs of old and disabled people, both present and future.

As with so many other important issues, Obama appears to be hedging, in either refusing to definitely come out with strong positions on them, or, in some cases, coming out with a clearly RW position on them, especially wrt national security issues. Why he's doing this is anybody's guess. Some feel that it's cowardice, some initial caution, others yet jiu-jitsu. I'm leaning more and more towards cowardice with each passing day. He doesn't appear to want to fight about ANYTHING where there are risks involved, even though it's against a GOP and RW that's at their weakest in decades. One almost wonders whether he actually embraces some of their positions--which have become the default establishment positions most often--so eager is he to ingratiate himself with the center-right establishment and not fight it.

I don't get it. Maybe it is jiu-jitsu, or unavoidable and smart initial caution. I don't know. But we've tried that before, under Clinton and Bush, and it's never worked out for us. In politics there are rarely satisfying draws. One side wins, the other loses. And when one side refuses to do what is necessary to win, it loses. If Obama is trying to avoid a fight, he will lose by default. This is no time for phony bipartisanship, appeasement or half-measures.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Bush had a half dozen commissions... (0.00 / 0)
...to reform the tax code, reform health care, etc.

None of them really saw the light of day.  The tax one made the news for about 48 hours, but even Frist and Hastert said, "I ain't touchin' that with a ten foot pole!"

If it makes Cooper feel better to lead a commission, then great...  It means nothing.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Don't know if it means nothing, Mike (4.00 / 9)
All it does is put us on the defensive more than we should have to be.  It raises the bar for us.  Instead of fighting Republicans, we fight ourselves.


sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
We should remain guarded... (4.00 / 3)
But, until this report from right wing land is substantiated, we should still remain optimistic.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
The difference is (4.00 / 7)
that Obama's commission has a real, and very pressing overall problem it is trying to solve: the hugely increased deficit that the current bailout and stimulus legislation incurs.

This is not a problem that can just be ignored. "Serious people" will demand that something somewhere must address it.

The scary aspect of this is that this goal can be used to justify all kinds of cuts and "reforms" that might not otherwise have any political viability. It would be only too easy to use such a goal to underpin a cut in SS, if Obama has a mind to demonstrate his "seriousness" by so doing.


[ Parent ]
not an ordinary commission (4.00 / 9)
This one is apparently designed to submit actual unamendable legislation to Congress, for an up or down vote.

This isn't going to just produce some document that can be ignored.  It will make an actual bill that can't be fixed in any way, only killed.

This is a high stakes gamble.


[ Parent ]
That aspect of it makes it (4.00 / 4)
far scarier still.

The product of this effort will certainly be addressed as "the solution, and the only solution" on the table to address the deficit. It will be argued that it simply must, as a matter of "responsibility", be passed. It also will allow Obama the argument that he may not in any way personally endorse some of its measures -- say, a cut in SS benefits -- but feels that it would be utterly irresponsible, given our current crisis, not to pass it into law.

Everything about this commission is starting to seem like a setup to enable legislation and "reform" that would otherwise, as independent items, never be allowed to see the light of day.


[ Parent ]
AKA disaster capitalism (0.00 / 0)
But I wonder if we are becoming paranoid, as we wait for Obama to reveal himself as a Trojan Horse for the right wing. Frankly, any significant move to cut Social Security, in this economic crisis, would take Obama down - and fast.  

[ Parent ]
So I guess I'm no longer... (4.00 / 5)
"The boy crying wolf"?  Well, I'm at least glad that people are taking notice. But now, we must take action!

http://www.whitehouse.gov/cont...

Seriously, we need to drown the WH in emails and calls until they confirm that gutting Social Security is off the table!

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.


If Obama cuts social security benefits... (4.00 / 8)
...he won't be reelected in 2012. I rely on believing he wants to get reelected. I think he wants to be regarded by history as a better president that Bill Clinton. He's not going to join the Republican revolution by helping them advance their agenda. And if he does, he'll lose, big time, in 2012.

I hope you're right (4.00 / 6)
...but I'm not so sure.

I have a large circle of friends in the 30-45 age range, living in the SF Bay Area; repeat Burning Man attendees; creative types who all forward the stuff they receive from MoveOn to our mailing list; who actively campaigned for Obama; and who are active in politics and social causes generally.  I tended to think of them as DFHs of the highest order.

But when I starting sounding warning about attacks on Social Security a few years ago, they weren't interested.  First, they were all convinced that they could build a bigger retirement nest egg if they managed the money instead of the government.  Second, almost all of them believed that they would never see any Social Security money once they retired.

They have already let go of it in their hearts.  Some of them believe that the program is bankrupt, as the conservatives would have them believe.  The rest just don't see it surviving the repeated attempts to destroy it.

Also, I believe that Dems will virtually always vote for whoever the Democratic Party offers them as the Not-Republican. Outside of the rarified circles of political blogs like Open Left, FireDogLake, etc., the ONLY logic that applies to voting is that the Republicans are very very bad, so you have to vote for Democrats, and that Democrats must do whatever it takes to get elected, including jettisoning everything issue-related.

I'm all for More and Better Democrats, but for most dems it's still just More Dems, following the Logic of the Lesser of Two Evils.


[ Parent ]
Yeah, these are mostly New Dem techcrats (4.00 / 4)
who live in social, professional and ideological bubbles. I know the type up here in Seattle, less Burning Man than wine bar, but the same general "I'm so smart I'll always land on top, and from from my point of view things aren't as bad as the far left makes them out to be, and in any case they don't and won't affect me" mentality that allows such people to wave away concerns over many issues like Iraq, torture, warrantless wiretaps and social security. They know that such problems exist, but don't connect with them emotionally, so they look abstract and far-off to them. They've probably written off social security because they assume that they'll be so well-off when they retire that it won't matter whether it's here or not when they do. It's yet another example of how so many people today are detached from reality even as they see it with their eyes, one of the direct and most tragic effects of Reaganism--i.e. if you believe it, it will be so, reality be damned. They'll come around soon enough, as the economy continues to tank and saving social security becomes important to THEM all of a sudden.

As a society, we tend to becomes captive to and victims of our own success and productivity, all too often assuming that they're unending, infinite and infallible. They're not, as we're finding out, yet again way to late to avoid the inevitable consequences of such hubris.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Two words (4.00 / 1)
"Creative class."

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Two more words: Self-absorbed (0.00 / 0)
There are instances where hype equals reality.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
slow down (4.00 / 1)
You are now, of course, dissing my personal friends' character based on your sweeping demographic generalizations. I wish you wouldn't.

Some of them are self-absorbed; some of them volunteer for soup kitchens. Some of them started programs to clean up green areas. Some of them are trying to keep the oceans and rivers viable for life (and I don't mean they're members of the Sierra Club: I mean they are fighting legal battles in Sacramento).

I was with you up until that point.


[ Parent ]
Ok then, some are self-absorbed, others politically oblivious (4.00 / 1)
while focusing exclusively on pet single issues, which while certainly virtuous, do not excuse them from every citizen's obligation to be up on all the major issues so as to not let politicians get away with things due to citizen apathy and cluelessness.

I have been immensely unimpressed with the average American's lack of sophistication about and interest in much that is beyond their immediate range of interests and priorities, across the political spectrum. I can sort of understand this when it comes to the right, most of whose members are now made up of sociopathic fat cats and clueless rubes.

But on the left, I have a hard time understanding this. We're talking about a mostly very well-educated class of people (i.e. the creative class) who have zero excuse for being politically naive other than some form of self-absorption. You don't get to be taken seriously if you're not willing to be up on ALL the issues if you're smart and well-educated.

I'm guessing that a lot of these people are the same Obamabots who passionately defended him from criticicm over FISA, Jeppesen, Al-Haramain, etc., without knowing a damn thing about these issues, because they don't really care about these issues, because they don't have anything to do with them, and Obama is Magic (so if he says that Social Security is in crisis, it must be, and whatever he says needs to be done to "fix" it, he must be right).

A different sort of self-absorption, perhaps, compared to the self-absorption of careerist corporatists, but still self-absorption, of the more oblivious magical thinking sort. Their hearts are in the right place, but their minds someplace else entirely.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
I agree... (4.00 / 1)
Not only do I think that there aren't 9 Dem senators who will vote yes in the Senate on gutting SS,,, I don't think Obama is politically stupid.  There is something else here.

[ Parent ]
thanks for staying on top of this (4.00 / 4)
We should start asking our reps & senators NOW to make statements against this. we should also start putting pressure on people NOT to serve on this.

Pressure (4.00 / 3)
Part of the problem is that Blue Dog memnership is inflated.  About half are not true believers.  Anything we can do to push the Michael Arcuris and Adam Schiffs out of the group now, the better it will be.  What if they go from 47 out of 233 to 40 out of 257.  That's letting a lot of air out of their tires.  Much lower than that and they can be ignored.

Cooper has no reason to be a hard liner.  His district voted 56% for Obama and is one of only two really safe D districts in Tennessee.  Crushing the old and the disabled won't play well in Nashville. He's personally subject to pressure.

Others may talk fiscal responsibility but the Dogs are often representing districts that are net takers. I don't know how a gray panther type thing targeting selected Dogs and Obama would play out but cutting what's left of people's retirements for no crisis but just to seem responsible?  No way.  Cut their damn business tax breaks.  


[ Parent ]
If The Dems Do This I'm Voting For Nader (4.00 / 8)
I swear.

The Democrats are the only ones who can make me vote for Nader.  Obama pulling this shit would actually make Clinton pushing NAFTA look good.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Putting it differently . . . (4.00 / 3)
If the Dems do this (or something equally atrocious), won't you regret that you didn't focus more of your protean activist energies into developing-over the long term- a viable, independent, progressive alternative to the Dems?



[ Parent ]
I agree with your sentiment.... (0.00 / 0)
but can't we find someone better than Nader to use as a threat?  

the funk can move and the funk can remove- dig?

[ Parent ]
With you there... (4.00 / 1)
I'll write myself in before voting for Nader.

[ Parent ]
Let's not wet ourselves just yet... (0.00 / 0)
This is a media report from a neo-con rag...   So we don't know what's up... lets not assume until it happens.   But lets also voice our opinions both before and (if it comes to pass) after.

[ Parent ]
Obama said more than raise the cap: He said there is a long term funding problem (4.00 / 7)
Though that was what he said after he stepped back from his initial characteriztion of agreeing there was a crisis.  I will admit that his utterances on Social Security always left me very nervous and upset.  

When you use their frame, you tend to accept their solution. Why even agree to this godawful fiscal responssibility summit. It was a promise to Jim Cooper, in exchange for a promise that Cooper renenged on to vote for the stimulus bill.  Maybe he wants this summit for his own reasons.  Real- actually enact some unpopular things that he won't then be directly accountable for, or a charade to make it seem like he's reaching out when he has no intention of following through.  Another conspriacy theory of Obama governance?

This ia a interview with Barack Obama by Johnathan Singer of MyDD on the subject

I asked Obama why he would use the word "crisis", particularly given the fact that the Social Security trust fund will not run out until 2042 or 2052 (depending on who is doing the analysis), and that even then the program will provide greater benefits than it does today, even accounting for inflation.

Barack Obama: I think the point your making is why talk about it right now. Is that right?

Jonathan Singer: Yeah. And why use the term "crisis"?

Obama: It is a long-term problem. I know that people, including you, are very sensitive to the concern that we repeat anything that sounds like George Bush. But I have been very clear in fighting privatization. I have been adamant about the fact that I am opposed to it. What I believe is that it is a long-term problem that we should deal with now. And the sooner the deal with it then the better off it's going to be.

So the notion that somehow because George Bush was trying to drum up fear in order to execute [his] agenda means that Democrats shouldn't talk about it at all I think is a mistake. This is part of what I meant when I said we're constantly reacting to the other side instead of setting our own terms for the debate, but also making sure we are honest and straight forward about the issues that we're concerned about.

Singer concluded

In all it's not everything that I wanted to hear. But perhaps more importantly, Obama had the opportunity to hear that folks don't want him talking about a non-existent "crisis" in Social Security. And hopefully, he will pay heed to that sentiment.

Well at this point I don't think he is. Not when you agree to a summit and the legislation permitting such a dangerous commission with only an up or down vote to go forward.
And I think it is better if we face the fact that this has to be confronted and pushed back very hard. The danger once more is that he's our president and no one wants to embarrass him.

The Singer interview was in a post by Matt Stoller about why he thought Obama's policies on Net Neutrality was more crucial than his wrongheaded stance on Social Security

http://openleft.com/showDiary....

I'll note that my problem, though perhaps not Singer's, has nothing to do with framing.  There just is no crisis.  Obama actually acknowledged this when he transitioned somewhat disjointedly under Singer's questioning to modify his statement about a crisis to instead say that Social Security has a 'long-term financing problem' instead of a crisis.  Kilgore may or may not understand the financing model of Social Security, and he may confuse my arguments with those of Jonathan Singer's, but it's pretty clear that Obama's implicit desire for a 1983 style bipartisan commission is simply a regressive move to raise payroll taxes and cut benefits. That commission simply allowed a tax hike on the working class to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy, all in the name of dealing with the phony Social Security crisis.

snip

His arguments about Social Security are stupid and wrongheaded, but I think those can be beaten back.

My reply at the time

I think just the opposite, he'll start and he will be waylaid and start to think the R's have a point, because, after all they're people....not extremist monsters.  

snip

Krugnman
"I don't believe Mr. Obama is a closet privatizer. He is, however, someone who keeps insisting that he can transcend the partisanship of our times - and in this case, that turned him into a sucker."

This approach is so inherent to his very personhood that it won't get beaten back, and it will pop up like whack a mole in his attempt to deal with anything he does....even his telecom/net neutrality program.

Well now we have to do what Matt said...we have to beat it back.  And the first step is to stop thinking it's not real and that he never subscribed to the crisis mentality (he did in some form).  We need to acknowledge that when he said "..this is a long term problem we need to deal with now. And the sooner we do this the better" That this commssion is an expression of this idea.

Now he may think all it would do is raise the cap...but the commission is its own decider once it's constituted and the up or down vote is all that's allowed. This is a Trojan horse he doesn't fully realize he's letting in through the gates.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


The Obama interview was November 2007 (4.00 / 4)
And here's the
link to Paul Krugman's column raisng the alarm at the time.

Everything he said then is still true now.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11...

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
How very true. (0.00 / 0)
This is a Trojan horse he doesn't fully realize he's letting in through the gates.

And this is why we must stop this before it starts.

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.


[ Parent ]
Maybe... (0.00 / 0)
Then again, maybe Debcoop and you are wrong on WHOSE letting the trojan horse in.

[ Parent ]
who is letting in the Trojan Horse then? nt (0.00 / 0)


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
See my posts below... (0.00 / 0)
Perhaps the GOP are the Trojans in this case and Obama is the Greeks.    

Maybe Obama knows that items like Universal Health care and removing SS caps would be filibustered... however, he can easily get 51 Senate votes on these issues.   Perhaps (and I think my optimistic scenario is as likely as your pessimistic one) this is the reason behind the commission.  

Either way, Obama can veto legislation and the GOP has to find at least 9 dems to vote yes.


[ Parent ]
I think your scenario would make a John Le Carre novel seem simple (0.00 / 0)


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Wow... (0.00 / 0)
Trying to have a debate about this and you insult me...

Please Debcoop, take your idiotic, narrow minded, naive, cynical, pessimistic post and kindly shove it where the sun doesn't shine.  I usually avoid the sheer bullshit of your posts, but thought this one created intriguing debate... but of course you can't stand if someone disagrees with you and you insult me.   SO again, f off.


[ Parent ]
Or... (0.00 / 0)
He could be setting up a trojan horse as well... getting his plan passed while avoiding the filibuster.  Plus it still takes at least 9 dems to pass an up and down... PLUS he has veto power...

While I don't think this is a good idea, however, your pessimistic view point that Obama is allowing in a trojan horse just seems incorrect.


[ Parent ]
A disengenuous and I think petulant reply by Obama (0.00 / 0)
that reveals the side of him that doesn't like to be criticized and challenged, and which is convinced of its own superiority, which we need to keep slamming because it represents his darker and less reliable side. He almost seems to be defending his right to make such points than the points themselves, which to me indicates a certain petulance and immaturity that I still see in Obama and which needs to be drummed out of him asap.

Sure, there MAY be a problem with SS down the line, but we're talking 40+ years from now that at worst might be a relatively minor problem that can be fixed well ahead of time in a couple of decades, but which we have no way of knowing whether it will come true, and which compared to today's other problems is nothing.

So why even bother to address this in light of what's going on with Medicare, health insurance, the defense budget, trade and budget deficits, global warming, etc.? It's almost like he's being reflexively defensive just out of petulant spite. Weird.

I think that we've been seeing the two sides of Obama (all great leaders have them, so it's not just him). Namely, the rebellious outsider radical who wants to shake things up and do some good, and the cautious would-be (and now actual) insider who wants to be accepted by the establishment as an equal, and doesn't want to upset them for fear that he won't be. I.e. the former community organizer from the south side of Chicago who opposed the Iraq war when it was not popular to do so, and the friend of Joe Lieberman who went back on his word to support telcom immunity and hire a bunch of neolib hacks.

I think that he's still trying to work out these two sides, but is being heavily pressured by the establishment to be anti-progressive in order to preserve the status quo. It's our job to get him to listen to his other side--the better angels of his nature, one would hope. Such was it with Lincoln, who had to be pushed to make the Civil War about abolition as much as it was about preserving the union and status quo. Such was it with FDR, who entered the presidency as a corporatist budget hawk and had to be pushed to be a Keynesian.

And such will it have to be, I think, with Obama.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
So how should we fight this? (4.00 / 8)
Writing individual emails to Obama - not going to cut it.

We need to start now seeing what existing groups are ready to fight this?  MoveOn?  Labor Groups?  AARP?  Just throwing out ideas.

I assume there are at least a few Democrats in Congress willing to oppose this NOW.  Anyone know who they might be?  I wrote to my Congressperson (Jan Schakowsky), just to see how she reacts.  In the past, she's been dependable.  Now, who knows?  But let's find who the strong ones are.  Can we do anything to make sure they are on the commission to keep it honest?

In 2005, Josh Marshall took the lead on this on the web.  Remember the "fainthearted faction"? He's been silent now.  If he won't move on this, someone else needs to set up a regular web feature (if not a web site) exclusively devoted to keeping their feet to the fire with lists of names.

This looks like a Shock Doctrine moment to me.  They won't come out for privatization, but there will be some complicated formula too difficult to understand that ends up gutting the programs.

The time to move is now.  If I am wrong, if this is not Obama's intention, no harm will have been done in getting ready for the worst.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


True. (0.00 / 0)
We can't just "hope for the best", as some seem to suggest. We need to nip this in the bud. NOW! With our economy about to collapse, there's no reason at all to even consider taking wrong-headed measures to "solve" a nonexistent "crisis".

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.

[ Parent ]
I have no idea what Obama really intends to do here (4.00 / 6)
What troubles me is the suspicion that neither does he. There is still very much a part of him that still believes that you can split the difference in tough policy and ideology debates and wind up with something acceptable. There is not, never has been, never will be. On such matters, one side wins, the other side loses, and the only question is by how much.

Anyone making a "Well, tough times call for tough measures" line of argument for cutting social security is going to be someone who will not personally be affected by such cuts (or so they'd like to believe since they're probably young and/or rich enough to be in denial about the consequences of such cuts and believe that they'll never affect them), but who stands to gain from them, if not financially or politically, then ideologically.

I'm sick of these sociopathic hotshot technocrats with their smug little faux looks of concern and condescending bromides about how we all have to make some tough decisions and share the pain, while they proceed to make horrible and not at all tough (for them, emotionally) decisions that only cause OTHER people pain and themselves political and/or financial gain.

If Obama wants to throw in with the sociopathic concern trolls of the party and establishment, then it'll be the worst fucking mistake he ever makes. And if it's jiu-jitsu, we'll see about that. Most likely, it's neither, and he's just testing the waters to see where the political winds are blowing on this. Which is sad, if so. Leaders don't follow, they lead. Obama needs to LEAD already, and stop this "What do you want from me, I'm just the president and want everybody to like me?" nonsense that led to an inferior stimulus bill.

Grow the fuck up already Obama, and start leading. From a progressive perspective and towards progressive foals. And stop being terrified of what the center-right political and media establishment thinks. They're idiots and creeps and hosebags who have run the country into the ground. You're still listening to THEM and want THEIR approval?!? I hope that it's jiu-jitsu, because any other explanation is unacceptable, and scary.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


I've already shared the pain (4.00 / 2)
Real wages have been flat for 30 years, I'm making way less than I was in 2000, my 401(k) is in the toilet. So, my portion of the shared pain is already fully accounted for. If there is pain to be shared, I would suggest starting with clawback from the people who looted the country for billions and trillions: The banksters, the CEOs, the hedge fund guys, the corrupt generals, all of 'em. Collect on that, and then let's see where we are.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 5)
What a lot of people forget is that there's still a tremendous amount of wealth out there, doing no good right now because it's locked up in peoples' and corporations' estates. Considering that one, much of this wealth was ill-gotten, and two, um, we're going to need some of it, I don't see why we don't clawback that which was ill-gotten. We're likely talking trillions, between the likes of Halliburton, Blackwater, ExxonMobile, Boeing, Lockheed, etc.

If someone has a problem with that because it's "socialism", then they can kiss my ass. This was rob the poor and middle class and give to the rich socialism. Time for the other kind.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Wealth Tax Now. (4.00 / 2)
Subject header says it all.  I'll forgo my usual attempts at forging a connection to the issue at hand.

[ Parent ]
Big Amen, brother Kovie. Amen! (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
Oops, goals, not foals--no ponies from here on (0.00 / 0)
Heh, I made a (Freudian?) funny:

Grow the fuck up already Obama, and start leading. From a progressive perspective and towards progressive foals. And stop being terrified of what the center-right political and media establishment thinks. They're idiots and creeps and hosebags who have run the country into the ground. You're still listening to THEM and want THEIR approval?!? I hope that it's jiu-jitsu, because any other explanation is unacceptable, and scary.


"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Obama could kill this (4.00 / 1)
by announcing in public, not just behind closed doors, that he opposes this idea, and stating why it's a bad idea.  Letting it sit out there, even if he has no intention of allowing it to move forward, is bad form.  

Also, I wonder if attacking Social Security is actually popular in those Blue Dogs' districts, or if they need this to be done quietly in order for it not to come back and bite them.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


Maybe... (0.00 / 0)
Maybe there is a method to the madness...a trojan horse.  He gets the right people to pass HIS plan out of this commission and its guarenteed to pass congress... an out of the box way to beat a filibuster.

[ Parent ]
So, what's the secret plan? (4.00 / 1)
Will there be ponies? I love ponies!

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

If the comission (0.00 / 0)
goes out of bounds with what Obama wants he can veto their bill (I believe EVERY bill has to be signed to be a law correct?). now the question is what is acceptable to Obama and we can get some first hand info for that from here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/agen...

Protect Social Security

President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to ensuring Social Security is solvent and viable for the American people, now and in the future. Obama and Biden will be honest with the American people about the long-term solvency of Social Security and the ways we can address the shortfall. They will protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike, and they do not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age. Obama and Biden are strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security. As part of a bipartisan plan that would be phased in over many years, they will ask those making over $250,000 to contribute a bit more to Social Security to keep it sound. Obama does not support uncapping the full payroll tax 12.4 percent rate. Instead, he and Joe Biden are considering plans that will ask those making over $250,000 to pay in the range of 2 to 4 percent more in total (combined employer and employee).



It will be his commission (4.00 / 1)
He will pick the participants which will more or less determine th eoutcome and their mandates....he would be under enormoud pressure to sign what they came up with , congress passed.

They can either do what they expect he wants, why else did he pick them?

Or

They can pretend one thing in order to get on the commission and then come up with an unacceptable outcome. He will be dissing his won commission.

If ALL HE WANTS IS TO RAISE THE CAP, WHY HAVE A COMMISSSION?
All that takes is legislation...one bill not a commission.


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Filibuster... (0.00 / 0)
With the Blue dogs, I doubt we have 60 votes.

[ Parent ]
And you honestly think the commission will be stacked with people (4.00 / 1)
who want to

1. Raise the cap

2. Do healthcare reform and fix medicare in the process?

If that is the case then why wouldn't the commission vote be filibustered as well?

If it's against what the R's and the Blue Dogs want?  

It doesn't solve the problem as you see it.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
I think we're jumping to conclusions at this point (0.00 / 0)
but it obviously bears watching.

And remember, the term "fiscally responsible" is something we pushed for, as it has a totally different connotation than the previous term "fiscally conservative".


Yeah this is a strange one... (4.00 / 1)
I just don't think Obama is that politically naive to make a fight to cut Social Security.   He isn't a stupid man, and after the uproar in 2005, he has to think it would be a nasty fight again.  Further more, are there 9 Blue dogs (assuming Biden casts a tie vote and that the GOP stays together, which I question with the Maine women and Specter) who would vote to hinder or eliminate social security, a big plank in the Dem platform.   The rest of the Party would revolt...  There is NOTHING to gain by this, and a lot to lose.

I'm thinking if this story is true its one of two things... 1) Its another Bipartisan effort... and Obama knows that if the bill sucks, they should be able to kill it on the votes... plus it puts the GOP on record voting against Social Security. or 2) and this is my hope... its a trojan horse.    Medicaid and Medicare are eliminated in favor of a universal plan...   Caps on Social Security are removed to help pay for the program and to "fix" the "broken" social security (yes I know its years off, but if it is fully funded now and that years off is eliminated, its a huge political win).

This is my hope... Either way, I just don't see Obama being so stupid as to try to mess with Social security.  Of course, voicing our displeasure as a pre-emptive is of course encouraged.


Interesting theory...... (0.00 / 0)
I've played some fairly high stakes poker and your gambit is beyond my bankroll. But I think your trust in Obama is misplaced hope.  Is anyone good enough to play chess at this many dimensions?  Is this what the gaussian cupolas relating to credit default swaps were all about?  I would rather just trust my ears and eyes, but I hope you are right.

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis

[ Parent ]
Maybe.. (4.00 / 1)
But I also find your pessimism and cynicism extremely misplaced and disturbing as well.

And what are you trusting on your eyes and ears in this case... one article from a RW rag?  BEcause that's the only evidence against Obama at this point and its REALLY weak.  

Not every thing Obama has done has been great, but overall, his first month in office has been positive.  

Its not misplaced hope...   Its looking at the situation logically (and frankly i think #1 is more likely than #2) and realizing that gutting social security destroys the party and costs the party congress in 2010 and Obama the White House in 2012.   Logically, he isn't politically stupid like that.  If BUSH couldn't get his plan passed after re-election, before Katrina and with his party in control of both houses, on the extremely unlikely chance Obama wants to gut SS, i don't see him getting 9 Dems to agree with him.


[ Parent ]
Sorry, I bothered. (4.00 / 1)
I am not looking to win a debate with you.  There is much that has been written in the press and the blogs about Obama in re:  social security/blue dogs/fiscal conservatives/etc. over the past 4-6 weeks.  It has all been highly skeptical and it certainly encompasses far more than "one article from a RW rag".  But if you think he is doing the right thing here and you believe there is some kind of plan in mind, then ok.  I hope you are right.  

To me, there is absolutely no logical reason for Obama to even consider this in the first 100 days of his tenure.  It just doesn't make any kind of common sense.  But if you don't like my opinion, well, you don't.  This just smacks of betrayal and political doubletalk to me.  But hey, that's just my opinion.  

I voted for him too, and had really high hopes for what he can accomplish.  I'm not getting a lot of positive feedback just yet.  I do not believe that this country can turn things around with incremental change, at this point in our history.  We need some revolutionary thinking now and a heavy dose of truth awareness, IMHO.  That is where I am coming from.    

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis


[ Parent ]
He doesn't need to lure them into being against Social Security to win votes (4.00 / 1)
He'll have lots of other ammunition.

You are implying that Obama is using this as a Trojan horse to get health care reform.

I think that's just ...just a mile too far to be credible.  You want healthcare reform to include Medicare...then just do Medicare and healthcare reform.

I really don't think he's deceitful. And this is not political, it's deceitful.

During the primary, I worried that his "concern" on Social Security as a long term problem and his refusal to be penned into the Democratic party's rejection of the idea of a crisis as unnecessarily constricting (as it evident in his quote to MyDD) that he would do just what it seems like he is doing. The interview with Singer and the language before made me very, very anxious. He signalled during the primary his stance..but lots of people just didn't think he meant what he said.

I think we need to stop rationalizing, stop believing it's not possible and actually push back.  The White House thinks the left is quiet and will stay quiet....the Ben Smith source I'm told is from within the White House.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
I don't think Obama opposed the idea. (4.00 / 1)
He didn't oppose the idea of the summit or of having it produce some kind of privileged proposal.

He opposed the idea of putting it in the stimulus. That's all.

Read the quote again with that idea in mind and see if you agree:


Obama specifically mentioned the Gregg-Conrad proposal when he met with Senate Republicans last week. Several senators told him they would like to see such a task force created as part of the economic stimulus bill, saying the promise of a fiscal reckoning would make the massive measure easier to swallow.

But Obama "was not supportive" of that idea, said Gregg, whom Obama may tap to join the administration as Commerce secretary. "I think they think it's just too big a lift for the stimulus package."

Too big a lift for the stimulus package. Not in general, but for the stimulus package.

Obama never opposed the proposal for the task force. That's why Jim Cooper kept hinting that the White House was encouraging his work, even as he was voting against the stimulus.


He doesn't REALLY "Oppose" ANY ideas... (0.00 / 0)
That's what worries me...

[ Parent ]
he was for it before he was against it (4.00 / 1)
or he was against it before he was for it, i can't tell. in a jan 2009 [a few days before inauguration] interview with the wapo, he appears to be in favor of 'entitlement reform' and to think that he's the one to do it.

transcript [pdf]
see esp pp9-11

audio

whichever way he plans to jump, i think we ought to start the pushback now.



Thank you (0.00 / 0)
and debcoop just above.  It really is that simple: we pushback now not sitback and see. Otherwise, just what is the point of this whole progressive, left, netroots thing?

[ Parent ]
Chump Change (0.00 / 0)
..is what we're getting.

FYI People: Social Security is not an entitlement program, it's our fucking money.


It took Nixon, a Puke, to go to China (0.00 / 0)
(though it was Carter who actually opened the door)...

It will, by the exact same logic, require a Dim to fuck over Social Security.

There's one compelling reason: It is the last remaining BEEG pot of money just lying around serving the people, and not the country's owners, who resent it.

I regard the plundering of Social Security (now more probably in the name of saving the country from economic crisis) to be a matter of temporal, not ontological, speculation: i.e, when, not if.


USER MENU

Open Left Campaigns

SEARCH

   

Advanced Search

QUICK HITS
STATE BLOGS
Powered by: SoapBlox