How Obama lost my trust on Social Security
[Originally posted as a response to a Big Orange commenter, but lost in the noise. I'm reposting it as is, because I summarize the commenters position. No links, but I suppose they could be added.]
[UPDATE: It would be nice to know what the Democratic candidates, especially Obama, feel about raiding Social Security to provide a fiscal stimulus.]
I couldn't disagree with you more profoundly.
For me, in the forseeable future, Social Security will mean the chance of living (and dying) with some simple degree of dignity after I am too old to work. (Now, I'll work 'til I can't work, I have no intention of playing shuffleboard, but I expect to live longer than I am able to work.)
For the privatizers, Social Security is a gigantic revenue stream they can loot in the form of diverting commissions (and capital). They've been eying it for a generation -- this is one of those continuing battles of the 90s that some find so tiresome -- and trying to get at it, and I have the feeling that with the subprime meltdown, this class of people will be even more anxious to continue to live in the style to which they have become accustomed with a new revenue stream.
So, Social Security is a real life issue with important consequences, both for a lot of elders who would like to put off the evil hour of eating dogfood as long as possible, and "financial innovators" and the inventors of investment vehicles ("they call it an investment vehicle because it's designed to drive off with your money"). It is a political issue in that is has competing interests and life or death stakes, but when you call it a "political cudgel" I don't think that's the understanding of the word "politics" that you have.
Now, it's interesting, rustydude, that you posit two and only two solutions for the Social Security "problem" (which is really a problem for other parts of the government, assuming, arguendo, that future adminsitrations don't, in fact, force disposable old people to return to the dog food route).
One is don't touch it; two is tweak SS taxes. But why stop at only two?
Surely to stop at two adopts a right wing frame? (In other words, something that concerns many of us about Obama.) Why leave out the obvious third option of starting to claw back the Bush tax cuts, and working to bring back income distribution to some non-feudal, 1970s style distribution should also be on (the famous) "table"? (See the handy chart at left on income distribution, if you want to see with "clarity" the world that Reagan's economics made.)
Finally, this issue was been framed by many as Obama calling Social Security in "crisis." It was Atrios who blew the whistle on Obama on this point, and his argument, developed over several posts, was more subtle. His point was that Obama had put Social Security "in play" -- after the "angry left" with a great deal of toil, had succeeded in getting our craven Democratic leadership to take it out of play -- and that when Social Security is in play, it's in play by Beltway (Village) rules -- and everyone in the Beltway who is "serious" believes that privatization is on the table. So, Atrios sums up, Obama undid a lot of hard work by a lot of good people. And for why?
So far as I can tell, there was no reason whatever for Obama to put Social Security in play, except to score some meaningless points against Hillary in Iowa. I've seen the YouTube, and it's breathtaking in its "audacity": One sentence he's saying Hillary doesn't have a plan to deal with the "problem," and in the very next sentence he's saying he doesn't want to make it a political football. Dude, you just MADE my dignity in old age a political football, and all to pick up a tenth of a point in Iowa.
So, rustydude, after that episode I completely lost confidence in Obama, and began to look at what he said, as opposed to what people said that he said, or how they felt about what he said. And there were plenty more reasons for concern.
Obama lost my trust in that episode. He can regain it, this is why we have primaries, but he's for now, he's lost it.
UPDATE Obama's dogwhistle to the Republicans worked. Maybe I can make my pony into dogfood? Oh, wait....
UPDATE 2011-07-07 I wasn't cynical enough. Obama believed it.