Friday, April 05, 2013

Obama opens another round in the War against Social Security and Medicare

President Obama-Brüning is escalating his efforts to achieve his Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Jackie Calmes reports in Obama Budget to Include Cuts to Programs in Hopes of Deal New York Times 04/05/2013:

President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans and revive prospects for a long-term deficit-reduction deal, administration officials say.

In a significant shift in fiscal strategy, Mr. Obama on Wednesday will send a budget plan to Capitol Hill that departs from the usual presidential wish list that Republicans typically declare dead on arrival. Instead it will embody the final compromise offer that he made to Speaker John A. Boehner late last year, before Mr. Boehner abandoned negotiations in opposition to the president’s demand for higher taxes from wealthy individuals and some corporations. [my emphasis]
The article derived from those anonymous "administration officials" that the Social Security benefits cut includes the "chained CPI" scam and that the Medicare cuts will involved means-testing, thus setting up the framing of Medicare as "welfare" instead of social insurance.

And, of course, this becomes that starting point for Obama's famous negotiating with the Republicans in the debates over the budget.

Obama's push for his Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is the main reason I regard the Pod Pundit chatter about how the Republicans have to reform their hard-right policies as hot air. The Democratic President is giving retirees and those who aspire to be retirees someday a big reason to not vote for Democrats.

Charlie Pierce is understandably disgusted, as he explains in Moochers Incorporated Esquire Politics Blog 04/05/2013:

The entire power of the presidency comes down now to the president's ability to "demonstrate his willingness to compromise" with a bunch of vandals and yahoos ... Exactly what is this supposed to accomplish? What is the purpose of the demonstration? The Democrats are going to go up the wall, and the Republicans are going to ask for more and more "demonstrations" of the president's willingness to compromise until he has shown himself willing to compromise us back to 1922. Who is the demonstration supposed to convince? David Brooks? This is crazy. This is wrong. It is government by Beltway dumbshow. It is awful politics and worse policy. ...

The American people are going to look at a Democratic president's selling out the cornerstones of eighty years of Democratic social policy and blame the Republicans because they won't help him do it? I can write the "Stop Obama's Raid On Social Security" ads for the 2014 midterms in my sleep. In addition, wasn't this also the logic behind the sequester? How's that working out?
Joan McCarter comments in President Obama's budget will include cuts to Social Security, Medicare Daily Kos 04/05/2013:

Now that Obama has fully embraced the cuts, no amount of White House spin is going to be able to permanently pin the chained CPI on Republicans, as the administration official is trying to do. Republicans have been demanding for months that Obama specifically spell out the cuts to social insurance programs he would accept; now he's done so, they will make sure he owns them.

The White House seems to believe that this will show the American public that he is Very Serious about both deficit reduction and working with Republicans, that "he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit,” in the words of a senior administration official. Because of course a willingness to compromise is all that it takes to make the Republicans come around. That and his charm offensive.

Republicans aren't going to come around, and now have a weapon. And what the American people will probably remember is that in 2008 candidate Obama promised that as president, he would not cut Social Security, a promise reiterated by Vice President Biden in 2012. In fact, we're probably not going to be allowed to forget that, once the Republicans get their ads running in congressional districts around the country saying that Barack Obama broke his promise and wants to cut your Social Security.
Yep. The awesome awesomeness of Obama has come down to this. He wants to have as his legacy that he cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and put those programs on the road to extinction.

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