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CAP's Matt Miller helps Andrew Cuomo throw Social Security under the bus


But in an era when health care and pensions for seniors are poised to crowd out cash for every other public priority, or else require tax increases beyond what even liberals think would be good for the economy, this shouldn't be the left's only objective.

Thinking anew means asking a federal version of Andrew Cuomo's question. Should Democrats really say trillions in automatic pension increases over today's levels are "untouchable," when there's no similar "trust fund" guaranteeing great teachers for poor children, universal preschool, repairs for America's crumbling roads and sewers or help for [insert your favorite non-elderly priority here]?

If you're with me this far, you've grasped a piece of common sense that sadly can't find expression in our infantile political culture. Repeat after me: "Social Security is indispensable to our seniors' economic well-being and also a program whose autopilot increases should be trimmed to leave room for other progressive priorities." There! That wasn't so hard, was it?

It'll take a while for Democrats to catch on to this; with some elections still looking winnable on the low road, the White House won't be testing the left's capacity for enlightened self-interest anytime soon. But Andrew Cuomo has tacitly made the liberal case for "cutting" Social Security. The conversation he's seeded is destined to come; the only question is when.

WIth friends like these.... Somebody should take Miller aside and explain to him that government is not a household, and government expenditures aren't "cash."


Silversalty's picture
Submitted by Silversalty on

Not sure what the story is with this since the WaPo article is 3 years old. The logic of the article seems to be far more applicable to the military, which is never allowed to have a decrease in its yearly budget increase. Miller even uses the spin off phrase "Medicaid Industrial Complex" with the added kicker "education machine" so he knows (knew) where it truly applies.

I see that there's a tweet by Joan Walsh on this which leaves me wondering why an old article is getting attention.

Cuomo's a lapdog for the wealthy. He originally ran on a theme of no new taxes and tax cuts for the mythical "small businesses." Then he and the neighboring tax hating governor (Christie) set in motion regular increases on the tolls for the Hudson River crossings - as if the Port Authority really needs more cash. Cuomo's currently trying to act like the great protector of the wealthy in countering deBlasio's call for a tax on the wealthy to pay for early childhood education.

There's an image that keeps popping in my mind of an American soldier pointing an assault rifle at Gramma Millie and demanding her and her husband's life savings. Sad to say that if you think about the dialog on deficits and spending the last few years and decades, the image is not all that out of place.

Oh, what's the return on investment in the American military in the last 60 years? Hey, we conquered Grenada though we didn't stick around long enough to really test that! We bankrupted the Soviet Union a bit before we bankrupted ourselves? The Afghans probably deserve the credit for that with a military that actually wins wars.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

and/or his fiscally ultra-conservative neoliberal agenda.

At one time he was an admirer of Summers and Rubin, and he was a corporate advisor and consultant to the Clinton Administration's OMB.
Occasionally, I listen to his podcasts (Left, Right, and Center).

His playbook is right out of the DLC's "Hyde Park Declaration."

His "obsession" seems to be cutting both Social Security and Medicare (just as the Hyde Park Dec prescirbes) for so-called intergenerational "balance."

Never ceases to amaze me that hacks like Miller disregard the fact that SOMEDAY today's youth will ALSO BE Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries.

Of course, he knows this--but the neoliberal (Pete Peterson et al) agenda is only concerned with "education, research and infrastructure"--because all of the schemes that they've cooked up in these areas mostly result in enriching the wealthy, long term.

They have little or nothing to do with benefiting the 'average American.'

(BTW, I wouldn't be against programs to repair our infrastructure, etc., that are not public-private partnerships--which primarily serve to funnel wealth upward. But last time I checked, these programs are not on-the-table for discussion. And SOME educational programs and spending are clearly beneficial and desirable, but again, most of what is being enacted, is hurting, not helping our public school systems.)

Especially since the monies to pay for these giveaways will come not from raising taxes on the wealthy--tax reform currently under discussion and negotiation will drastically LOWER the marginal tax rates for the wealthy--but from slashing the social safety net, which obviously most adversely affects lower income Americans.

Oh, and the infamous "loophole closings?"

The tax expenditures (loopholes) that are likely to be enacted are the ones which generally benefit lower- and middle-class Americans--tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance work?

I understand that this "cut" will affect tens of millions of workers, many of them lower income persons--who will not be eligible to just jump into an Exchange to offset this tax cut. After all, one must meet certain criteria if one's employer offers group health insurance, before becoming eligible to "shop" in the Health Exchange.

BTW, ole Joan is not exactly my favorite political talking head, but I'm with her on this on--regarding Miller.

Here a link below to "Left, Right, and Center." One can't listen to many shows without hearing some of Miller's rants on slashing Social Security and Medicare.

Left, Right and Center

Several years ago, even Robert Reich was aghast that Democrats were considering the Kerry-Hutchison Infrastructure Bill, which will impose steep "polls" on Americans to travel their interstate highways, etc.

Oh, BTW, I hope that everyone reads the WaPo article that Lambert posted.

It is a good example of what bothers me the most about corporatist neoliberal Democrats.

It would be one thing if they presented their arguments "truthfully," but most of them don't (like Miller).

Miller is being deceptive in his talk about "COLAs."

He says:

I'm not talking about the way benefits are hiked each year to keep up with inflation - no problem there. But under current formulas, the starting benefit levels slated to be enjoyed by future retirees are substantially higher than they are now.

The last "adjustment" to the CPI was signed into law by FP Clinton, and it "lowered" the Social Security benefit by between 2-3%.

According to the Chief Actuary of the SSA, Stephen Goss--this "adjustment" was a cut to benefits, compared to what the previous formula afforded.

It was the infamous "hamburger to steak substitution."

And of course, today, we've got Dems--like Miller--wanting to further cut federal transfer programs by "tweaking" the CPI formula.

This will result in an approximately 3% further cut to beneficiaries monthly Social Security checks.

Goss says this will go BEYOND the hamburger/steak substitution.

Indeed, it will be equivalent to making a choice between A CAR AND A FLAT-SCREEN TV!

I plan to post the C-Span video (on my older laptop) of Goss before the next two election cycles.

[This dude is really great at explaining "CPI." And he does so in easy to understand language.]

Hey, off my soapbox!

But I'd be VERY wary of Matt Miller.

I'll try to post some of his podcasts (if and when I have a chance to find some on Social Security "cuts") over the next several months.

Sorry if this is redundant and rambling--I'm sorta pushed!


Submitted by lambert on

.... phrase by phrase, combined with a search on prominent Dem names. Then create a phrase cloud (word clouds don't capture talking points, so it has to be phrases).

Any geeks out there heard of software that would do that?