Monday, October 08, 2012

Obama's commitment to a Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid biting him in Presidential campaign

Sam Stein provides a good explanation of how President Obama's bad policy goal of cutting benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is actually hurting him in the Presidential campaign in Obama Campaign Does Debate Cleanup On Social Security Answer Huffington Post 10/08/2012. In his famously deficient performance in the October 3 debate, Obama passed up a chance to score points against Mitt Romney on Social Security. I almost wrote "inexplicably" but it's actually all too understandable. And Stein explains why in his article,

The Obama campaign is finally trying to walk back that comment of Obama's:

The choice is clear: President Obama will never privatize Social Security or undermine retirement security for middle-class Americans," the [Obama campaign's] post concludes. "The same cannot be said for Romney."

Maybe so, but there are complicating factors here. For one, Obama did agree to change the payment rate of benefits as part of a debt-ceiling deal that he and House Speaker John Boehner nearly pulled off in August 2011. And while his campaign insists that he won't "slash" benefits, progressive reform advocates recoil at such language, arguing that it paves the way for him to back "modest" cuts. During an MSNBC interview several weeks ago, those concerns were exacerbated after Axelrod declined to detail what type of reforms Obama would pursue if reelected -- something that the Romney campaign highlighted on Saturday morning.

“Last night, the Obama campaign took its fact-checking campaign to a new height of absurdity, blaming confusion over the choice on Social Security reform on Mitt Romney," said Amanda Henneberg, a Romney campaign spokesperson. "But the truth is that if President Obama has a plan to save Social Security, he hasn’t shared it with anyone." [my emphasis]
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