Saturday, June 11, 2016

President Obama and Social Security

After his years-long, repeated efforts to enact a Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security and Medicare, President Obama on 06/01/2016 suddenly for the first time started talking like a Democrat on Social Security instead. (Remarks by the President on the Economy/Concord Community High School/Elkhart, Indiana; Daniel Marans and Arthur Delaney, President Barack Obama Backs Expanding Social Security Huffington Post 06/01/2016)

And then we have to tackle retirement security. That’s something that keeps a lot of people up at night. That’s why we’ve taken actions already to make it easier for more workers to save through their jobs, to make sure that when you do save, you’re getting advice that’s not in Wall Street’s best interest, but in your best interest.

But look, let’s face it -- a lot of Americans don’t have retirement savings. Even if they’ve got an account set up, they just don’t have enough money at the end of the month to save as much as they’d like because they’re just barely paying the bills. Fewer and fewer people have pensions they can really count on, which is why Social Security is more important than ever. (Applause.) We can’t afford to weaken Social Security. We should be strengthening Social Security. And not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous, and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned. (Applause.) And we could start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more. They can afford it. I can afford it. (Applause.)
The Young Turks have been following Obama's position on Social Security for years. Here's one from last October, Obama Helping GOP Cut Social Security 10/27/2015:

Cenk Uygur breaks down the history and the more recent story in Obama: Increase Social Security Benefits 06/04/2016:

And a briefer report, Why Did Barack Obama Change His Mind About Social Security? 06/05/2016:

John Laesch looks at the politics of this in Empty Rhetoric... Or Will President Obama Propose Legislation To Strengthen Social Security? Down With Tyranny 06/10/2016:

Mr. President where is your legislative proposal to increase and strengthen Social Security?

As the National Democratic Party Attempts to steer their corporate candidate into the white house, they are now openly wooing progressive voters with empty rhetoric. The first salvo of false promises comes from the sitting president. Sandwiched between 2008 and 2016 rhetoric promising to increase Social Security, the president actually proposed cutting Social Security as part of a “grand bargain.” ...

And so, after attempting to cut Social Security with an actual proposal as part of a “grand bargain,” the president is reversing course.

My quibble here is that there is no proposal to the United States House and Senate that seeks to accomplish this fair and just rhetoric. When President Obama wanted to cut Social Security, there was a proposal.

Mr. President, if you are serious, we expect a proposal to increase Social Security. It is June 8th, 2016 and the U.S. House of Representatives is in session.

If you need someone to advance this idea in the U.S. Senate, Bernie Sanders has already submitted a proposal, S. 582, the Social Security Protection Act of 2011, to raise the cap on Social Security to $250,000. Call him.
Daniel Marans and Arthur Delaney report:

Obama has previously supported cuts to Social Security retirement benefits as part of an elusive legislative “Grand Bargain,” which he sought in negotiations with congressional Republicans during key moments of budgetary brinksmanship. The proposed deals would have supposedly paired the cuts with revenue increases favored by liberals.

The cut Obama came closest to passing would have come from changes to the formula used to calculate annual cost-of-living adjustments that help benefits keep pace with inflation. The White House repeatedly offered it to congressional Republican leaders during fiscal cliff talks at the end of 2012, despite the objections of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

During his re-election campaign, Obama even downplayed the difference between his position on the program and that of his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Obama’s suggestion on Wednesday that the wealthy should pay for higher Social Security benefits fits with recent proposals by liberal Democrats in Congress, as well as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. While Sanders supports across-the-board expansion of benefits, Clinton has come out in favor of targeted increases.

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