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Obama triangulates away from Petersen, toward Orszag, but that still means Social Security cuts

Jane's all over this:

Social Security: White House Triangulates Against Pete Peterson

There is going to be a huge push from the center-right to cut Social Security as the price of a buy in on health care reform. "Anonymous White House sources" seem to be laying the groundwork for a "victory" if Orszag's plan of "modest tax hikes and benefit cuts" saves the benefits of baby boomers from Pete Peterson's axe. But since they're never named, we don't know who we're supposed to hold accountable for what appears to be a bunch of weasel words that don't let us know what Rahm Emanuel and Lindsay Graham are really talking about behind closed doors.

I'm betting that before this is over, we're going to have it out over whether "liberals" find it acceptable to have reductions in Social Security benefits. Not that they need our support -- it could be achieved with a NAFTA-style Blue Dog/Republican coalition -- but it will still be interesting to find out where everyone comes down.

As Avedon points out:

Baby-Boomers didn't just pay for their parents' retirement during their working lives, but also for their own, thanks to Ronald Reagan giving us the biggest tax hike in American history - on payroll taxes.

I paid for those benefits, Mr. Obama. Why are the people you invited to that conference trying to steal them?
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Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Nothing is wrong with it.

If you fear a fund problem in the future, apply the rate of withholding now applied to incomes below $125,000 to incomes above $250,000.

The GOP hates Social Security because it keeps money out of the hands of Wall Street playas.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Emmanuel is Obama's chief of freakin staff so whatever he is doing is directly tied to Obama. How in the world can anyone distance Emanuel and Obama the way Jane did.

This is not about Emanuel or Lindsay Graham. This isn't about Blue Dogs or Republicans. If Obama wants this chatter to stop all he has to say is S.S. is off the table. Its not rocket science.

koshembos's picture
Submitted by koshembos on

for us to scream bloody murder. Labor unions are a big force to fight any attempt to cut SS. All retirees should scream as well. The lefty blogs must also chip in.

My suggestion: let's demand an increase in SS. The current sum is ridiculous, it's not enough for living. We need an increase.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

The SEIU was gearing up to spend $75 million on a universal healthcare campaign during the primaries but *still* endorsed Obama after he fundamentally rejected universal health care in any form (that's what the anti-mandate, Harry and Louise ads were about).

The lefty blogs seem more interested these days in celebrating the sheer awesmeness of the crumbs Obama throws at them.

We need completely new avenues and groups of people for this. When folks *here* are already "compromising" on raising the tax ceiling, chances are we've already lost this debate. But hey, a couple percent here and there is still Teh Awesome!

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

on JUST the SS benefits if you're, oh, 62 or older, and you never made more than 50K annually in your life (a lot of SS recipients are in this boat, btw).

Gerald R. Ford famously "dispensed surplus funds" to Social Security recipients one year, and ever since then we've had annual (or oftener) screaming meemie fits from Teh Medeeya and from the Republican politicos and their mouthpieces about the "crisis in Social Security." It's bullshit, pure and simple. There is NO crisis. Social Security works.

Like everything else it works better for the well-off than the not-so-financially-blessed, but it works.

Take a hypothetical example: a woman 62 years and one month old whose wages last year were $42,000. As a single woman, at $42K she may not be rich but she's probably not doing too badly. Anyway, she's retiring. She hasn't got a 401K -- it went down the toilet last year in the crash, or maybe she invested instead in Savings Bonds or paying off the mortgage on her house, or it's tied up until she turns 70. Either way, she's going to have to live on just her Social Security benefits. They're going to come to $882.00 per month.

She's very lucky. If she made a more-typical $32K a year, they'd be $750.00 per month.
Even at that, as a one-person household, in Texas she wouldn't qualify for food stamps.

The trouble with Social Security isn't that we need to cut the benefits. The trouble with Social Security, like the trouble with our national budget in general, is that the well-off, and corporations, don't pay into the fund at an equitable rate.

Yes, I would be for lifting the cap. I'd be for having incomes above $200,000 pay more into the fund in proportion to the earnings. I'd also be for taking SS out of the general fund (and making the General Fund pay back its loans from SS going back to the Reagan years).

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

As far as I can see from everyone's posts here, we are all familiar with the *necessity* of Social Security and how any cuts will be *devastating*--I haven't seen anyone here ever advocate for cutting SS benefites, ever! Shit, one of the big reasons some of us have been so hard on Obama is his use of Republican frames on "entitlements". What we've been saying over and over again is that we need to pressure Obama so this information is best directed at him.

The talk about SS would not be an issue if Obama didn't want it to be an issue. He could, with one sentence, end any and all concerns: "Social Security is completely off the table during my administration". Blaming the GOP and evil McCain/Palin does not get rid of that very very simple fact.

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

My Blue Dogish Congressman was against Bush's privatization scheme, and I'm certain he regards the prospect of a proposal from Democrats to do anything along the same lines (including cutting benefits) with personal and professional horror. I'm writing notes to remind him to express early and vigorous opposition to any reduction to Social Security benefits to his leadership and White House Congressional liaison staff. Communicating through him is likely to be a much more effective way to influence whoever is urging this than would sending a note to Obama's web page or hoping to have my letter be among the dozen or so Obama is said to read daily.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Although it wouldn't hurt to cc Obama, and your Senators, just to put a tally mark on the opinion meter.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

I paid for those benefits, Mr. Obama. Why are the people you invited to that conference trying to steal them?

That's your line not Avedon's, right? Maybe you need to close a blockquote tag.