For the millionth time: Hands off Social Security!


Is this déjà vu? Presidents get re-elected, they make proposals to cut or privatize Social Security and Medicare, the American people react with righteous anger and the president loses the battle.

Social Security is known as the "third rail" in American politics, because you touch it and ZAP ... you die (politically speaking).

It happened with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; a similar battle is shaping up with President Barack Obama.

In a wrong-headed budget proposal, President Obama ties Social Security benefit cuts to deficit reduction. It reduces cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) - a tiny bit per year - but over the course of 10-20 years the cuts add up to an average of $1,000 per year. The cuts come from a change in a price/human-buying-behavior formula called "chained CPI."

According to the Social Security Administration, grandparents who retire today would get $650 less per year at age 75 and more than $1,100 less at age 85. That's money stolen out of our grandparents' pockets and pockets of all future retirees, veterans and people with disabilities, which could pay a month's rent or a few weeks of groceries.

This benefit theft pays for continuing tax breaks for oil companies, hedge fund managers and other "swag" for corporate elite. Objectively, the president's proposal fuels the one percenters' class warfare on the rest of us. The president was reelected to do just the opposite.

Even though Social Security has nothing to do with budget deficits (Social Security benefits are paid for by employee and employer contributions), the White House claims the cuts are in exchange for a deficit reduction "grand bargain" with Republicans.

At best, this is a fool's errand. The sequester-loving, intractable Republican leadership has no interest in any compromise with the White House. Even with these concessionary cuts the Republicans have already said the president's budget is DOA.

Today, 2 million signatures protesting the cuts are being presented to the White House. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., promises to do everything he can to block the chained CPI proposal and cuts to Medicare.

When you think about it, these benefit cuts threaten the unity and fighting capacity of the coalition that backed the president last year. Maximum unity is needed to win comprehensive immigration reform, investment in jobs, infrastructure, education and clean energy, federal action to reduce gun violence and pay equity for women - all critical for the president's agenda. Now significant sections of the Obama coalition are forced to spend resources and energy in rightfully fighting the president's proposal; resources that could have been used to win on other issues.

There are winning alternatives to the budget battles. Sanders and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., have introduced legislation to eliminate the Social Security payroll tax cap on income above $250,000, so millionaires and billionaires pay the same share as everyone else. President Obama endorsed this approach during his 2008 presidential campaign.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has introduced a "back to work" budget that cancels the sequester and funds infrastructure, education, other public works, and provides aid to states and local communities to rehire laid-off teachers, firefighters and other public employees. All funded by closing tax cuts and loopholes enjoyed by the super-rich and corporations, and cutting military spending.

You can tell the president you may support him on many issues - but not on these cuts! Sign the AFL-CIO's petition that says: Benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare are unacceptable. I'm calling on you to oppose any and all cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid benefits and focus on immediate solutions to get Americans back to work, like repealing the sequester and ending tax loopholes for corporations and the richest 2%.

Photo: Alliance For Retired Americans Facebook page.



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    Posted by DOUGLAS E. SMITH, 04/13/2013 8:38pm (3 years ago)

  • As this great article expresses-the right isn't impressed, centrist and leftist aren't-what's the point?
    Maybe Obama wants to give a little credence to the spurious myth that the poor and workers-we are responsible for the various and sundry crises of capitalism-environmental, moral, economic, social, health, world war threats, ect.,ect.
    This is giving credence to discredited lies.
    It is a disgrace.
    We need to organize-not mourn-like Joe Hill tells.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 04/12/2013 10:19am (3 years ago)

  • It's become further evident that neoliberals like Obama, and of course the GOP, can't be trusted with programs of a humanitarian nature. But in their world, being humanitarian is either politically risky or too wimpish.

    Posted by revolution123, 04/11/2013 2:48pm (3 years ago)

  • Just look at history for the insanity today about abolishing SSI. Prescott Bush father of Geroge Bush and Wall Street banks was involved in a planned Coup of the US Government in 1934. It was called the "Business Plot" by the media then and the "Dickstein-McCormick House Committe n UnAmerican Affairs". The plans was to destroy SSI, all labor laws , destroy the unions and abolish every social program due to being "Commie" programs. In 1983 an attempt was to abolish SSI by the GOP and privitize it into a phonzy scheme. Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people in 1952 the fringe in the GOP would attempt these things. It took a planned war to destroy our economy and break the countrys bank account. The GOP now see it can be done and WE are in the middle of the planned desturction of all our social programs if the GOP isnt voted out of office.

    Posted by RailroadMike, 04/11/2013 2:36am (3 years ago)

  • Good editorial!

    This exposes more than most issues the bankrupt two party system. I am no longer so sure that the President's acceptance of beginning the dismantling of entitlemets is just a tactic, but rather a conscious move to support the ruling class. After all, didn't Clinton pave the way with "reform" of welfare and the formation of the Democratic Leadership Council.

    I recently read an article that put forward the thesis that the Republicans lost the election because of their ultra-right positions and for another reason that goes unsaid by the left and liberals. What goes unsaid is that since Clinton the Democratic Party has usurped the GOP on budget and fiscal matters. After all, as bad as the GOP is on almost every issue, the underpinnings of their successful campaigns has been deficits and balanced budgets. It now appears as though the Dems have done a pretty good job of undercutting the GOP at the people's expense. The agenda of both parties keeps moving to the right in spite of the support by the people for a progressive agenda.

    We need a serious MArxist analysis of what's going on and an action plan for building among the 50% who according to polls are anti-capitalist.

    Posted by DAvid Bell, 04/10/2013 2:47pm (3 years ago)

  • It looks like the people are going to be overtly facing a deadend. Whether GOP or most Dems, it could become worse sooner or later.

    Posted by revolution123, 04/10/2013 2:11pm (3 years ago)

  • Whether Republican or Democrat, it looks like the people are heading toward an overt dead end with both.

    Obama continues his "Art of Compromise,"-along with other Dems- surrendering to the GOP again on a crucial issue.

    Social Security is not some monetary bargaining chip being tied into reducing the deficit. There's no relation.

    SS is a program that is a result of the government's public obligation to the people in promoting the general welfare. Given its function, that's what it's supposed to do. (as opposed to over-centralization).

    The Republicans are hopeless. The Democrats disappointing.

    Posted by revolution123, 04/10/2013 2:08pm (3 years ago)

  • I was afraid that this proposal from Obama was coming to reality after I wrote to Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois asking him to oppose any change to the cost of living formula. Durbin only responds when he's on the same page with a constituent; I got no response both times, so I thought "uh oh."

    The behavioral economics theorists have dubious and unproven ideas, at best; at worst, they're just plain phonies. You know, fish is very important in everyone's diet, and it is expensive as it is. True, there are less expensive fish than others, but it is still valuable as a source of vitamins and Omega 3. So when the price of fish continues to rise prohibitively, sure we can just switch to poultry and give up fish, a nutritional food we need. But we should not have to make a choice like that. The cost of living increase for social security recipients should help us get the food we need. Or, as the behavioral quacks would have us do, we could eat our pet goldfish.

    Posted by John Lombardo, 04/09/2013 7:28pm (3 years ago)

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