Cross-posted at Eclectablog.com. Updated to correct a mistake regarding Medicare vs. Social Security. It all started when somebody (Digby?) derisively labeled President Obama's deficit reduction study committee "The Catfood Commission". The complete asinine nature of such an offensive characterization is epic. I assume it's called that because they believe it will lead to old people eating catfood instead of human food because it will be all they can afford after President Obama is done gutting their social security and other benefits. In other words, they are suggesting that President Obama is a foe to poor people. No, really. That's the implication: that a man who spent most of his early career on the front lines fighting for the rights of those at the lower reaches of the socio-economic ladder is, now that he's in a position of true and awesome power, going to use that power to further damage the position of poor people. It's positively ludicrous. When the President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, it eliminated some of the more wasteful aspects of
Social Security Medicare (Medicare Part C plans). I was completely unsurprised to see Republicans use this as a way to suggest that the President is "CUTTING YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY MEDICARE BENEFITS!!!" Even though he was doing what they have always claimed should be done -- cutting out waste from the Social Security Medicare system -- they hypocritically attacked him for it. Not a surprise coming from the Party of No. What I have been surprised about, however, is liberals attacking the President for something he has not yet done and, if his past is any indication, will not ever do with regard to another large entitlement program: Social Security.
And they are totally doing this. The Huffington Post has run countless fear-inducing op-eds about how the President is throwing poor people under the bus. Daily Kos has had numerous front-page essays and even more diaries explaining how, despite never giving any indications that he is going to do so, President Obama is going to force poor, old folks to eat catfood. And don't even get me started about FDL.
Let's be clear about this: there hasn't been a President since Jimmy Carter that has cared more about the plight of our society's poorest members than Barack Obama. He has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with them to help them secure political power when they had none through his work with the Gamaliel Foundation. When you have heard about the time he spent as a "community organizer on the southside of Chicago", that's what they are talking about: the time he spent helping people left behind after manufacturing jobs were shipped elsewhere, leaving poverty and economic cataclysm in their wake. He worked with them to help them have a voice and a seat at the table when decisions about their future were being made -- helping them to achieve power when everyone wrote them off as powerless.
If you have read President Obama's books, you understand that this group of Americans are the ones most on the mind of the President. He's not going to damage their already tenuous position by gutting their Social Security.
So when Senator Bernie Sanders claims the President is going to gut Social Security, saying, "What I’m told is that no definitive decisions have been made on the issue of Social Security – I expect that is probably true...", he's extrapolating into an area unsupported by the facts and President Obama's own history. Frankly it's beneath Senator Sanders to say such a thing, particularly when his claims are unsubstantiated.
Now, does this mean the Obama Administration isn't considering making some changes to how Social Security is run or how the services are delivered? No, probably not. And as our country's largest entitlement program, it makes perfect sense to look there for ways to be more efficient and to save money for American taxpayers. There will come a day when there is more money going out of the program than is coming in and having a plan in place to deal with that and taking measures now to mitigate that situation seems quite prudent to me.
But the nauseating part about this is how some on the liberal left, some with very loud voices and very big megaphones, I might add, automatically assume the President is going to harm poor Americans. It is, apparently, the first thing they think of. I don't see them looking for other explanations or seeing this in any other light; they simply assume he's going to harm poor Americans in order to appease Republicans.
In my Congressional District (MI-07) and in countless other districts across the country, Democrats showed how the Republican candidates for Congress in the 2010 midterms were looking for ways to gut Social Security or even eliminate it entirely. Many called it a "Ponzi scheme". Many of them were advocating privatizing it. These are not new ideas from the GOP, they've been suggesting things like this for decades.
Want to know who wasn't looking to damage Social Security? The Democrats. Including Barack Obama. So when you hear about how the President is going to throw poor people under the bus, slash the Social Security benefits and preemptively capitulate to the Republicans on this, take it with a HUGE grain of salt. Keep this in mind: the so-called "Catfood Commission" never even made an official proposal when they were done. They couldn't even agree on what to propose within their own ranks. So there's nothing to implement in any sort of a formal way -- there's only some recommendations that came from a portion of the deficit committee. After the State of the Union address next week, I predict that any thoughts of the President trying to slash Social Security benefits and harming poor Americans will be put to rest.
But in the meantime, we get to listen to liberal commentator after liberal commentator predict otherwise. It's illogical, it's unsupported by any actual facts, and it exposes them for what they are: knee-jerk anti-Obamaists. I don't know exactly why. I suspect it's because they have been in the opposition for so long and don't know how else to respond to a President. But on this issue, they are showing their true colors.
And they are wrong.
I'm just sayin'...