Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No wiggle room for Obama on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Michael Tomasky, in an article written before the Republicans' newfound affection for raising the debt limit (Obama's Big and Quiet Transformation New York Review of Books; accessed 01/22/2013), reminds what the President who gave a remarkably progressive Second Inaugural Address on Monday was doing just last month:

... to have made it through the cliff deadline without any cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is a victory. Obama put a Social Security benefit cut on the negotiating table in mid-December, in the form of indexing benefits to the so-called "chained consumer price index," which would reduce monthly checks for those in their eighties and nineties especially. To the great surprise of many, even Nancy Pelosi endorsed this policy. But then negotiations collapsed, and John Boehner endured his humiliation over "Plan B," so it was moot. But Republicans tried to revive the chained CPI, insisting for a few hours on New Year's Eve that it be part of any deal, and then backing off after seeing that it would go nowhere.
It was a very bad moment in the recent history of the Democratic Party.

I like Digby's perspective on being on guard for new versions of Obama's Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (Villager pap Hullabaloo 01/21/2013):

Unfortunately, when it comes to this I'm afraid Democrats need to be in full blown trust but verify mode. In fact, they need to just be in verify mode and willing to just say no. ...

There are savings in Medicare that are acceptable, but we all know that in order to bring down over all health care costs in the long run the government must take much greater responsibility for costs and regulation, some of which it must be hoped will come about because of Obamacare. (Or an epiphany to lower the medicare eligibility age to --- 0.)Other than that, there's not one idea on the table about any cost savings to "entitlements" that won't come out of the hides of average citizens.

So no, he [Obama] squandered whatever trust Democrats (those who give a damn anyway) might have had in his ability to "restructure" the programs without hurting the people they serve. There's no running room on that at all. [my emphasis]
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