Sick and tired of austerity

When Obama offered “concessions on entitlements” to House Republicans he was hosting at the White House, my worst fears -t he worst fears of a person on Social Security and Medicare, and only by the luck of the draw not on Medicaid – washed over me like a wave of chemotherapeutic nausea.

I tried to fight back the fear with the thought that since Obama seems to be hanging tough on demanding “balanced” tax increases from the 1 percent, maybe I did not have too much to worry about.

After all, it’s clear that the wealthy backers of the “tear down every advance for working people since the New Deal” crowd have lots of phony arguments about debt and austerity.

But when push comes to shove, they appear to have only one real beef: “I’m rich and I refuse to pay more taxes!”

Added to earlier “entitlement reform” proposals from both Republicans and some Blue Dog Democrats to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare, there is now another retreaded concept from the 90s: “Chained CPI.”

This is not a new concept, but it is now making the rumor rounds as a “reform” the president could endorse. The move to a chained Consumer Price Index would reduce benefits to retirees by some $135 billion over 10 years, according to The New York Times, and far more in later decades because of compounding. 

Proponents of switching to a chained CPI contend that it is a technical fix in the interest of greater accuracy, not a benefit cut per se.

But, as The NY Times editorializes: “that claim does not stand up to scrutiny. The chained index is in many ways a better method of tracking price changes for the broad working population, but there is no compelling evidence that it is better for computing the Social Security COLA. What is known is that elderly households tend to have lower incomes and lower expenditures than younger households, and that more of their purchases are for needs that cannot be met by switching to products and services in unrelated categories.”

Ever since Obama chose Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Clinton, to chair a presidential commission on balancing the budget, the nausea has never fully retreated. These geniuses came up with cutting Social Security and Medicare by raising the eligibility age as a good idea.

Social Security has nothing to do with the current budget deficit. Nothing. 

And while it may be true that the rich and the well off are living longer, the folks that really need Social Security and Medicare are not!

Every major study, except those by bought-and-paid-for corporate shills, names high unemployment first, Bush tax cuts and wealth loopholes second, the military third, and the private parts of Medicare fourth as the chief budget busting culprits.

Simpson and Bowles address some of the tax giveaways, but offer nothing on employment, the military or the privatized parts of the health care industry. 

Obama’s poll numbers have been dropping ever since the sequester debacle. And they are not likely to improve while searching for some “Grand Bargain” with the too-big-to-fail- backed new fascists in Congress. The latter will make no bargain, grand or otherwise.

They have clearly resolved to nullify and bring down government, not improve or even stabilize it. Its like bargaining with an insane person armed with nuclear weapons. Interests that refuse to bargain have to be removed from the bargaining table.

We’re in a fight with the .1 percent over who is going to run the country, and for whose benefit: them and theirs, or we the people of the United States. There must be a winner, and a loser.

The current balance of power between social classes in the United States is unsustainable.

The president was not elected by folks who agree with Simpson or Bowles. Most of those folks voted for Romney. Cuts in income for working people, either retired or working, will NOT move us forward, only make us sicker. No to cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits! Expand Medicaid to everyone under 138 percent of poverty! Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Photo: (#jobsnotcuts via Thunderclap)



John Case
John Case

John Case is a former electronics worker and union organizer with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), also formerly a software developer, now host of the WSHC "Winners and Losers" radio program in Shepherdstown, W.Va.