The president's budget, it's being reported, will include both revenue increases by closing tax loopholes for the rich and the use of Chained CPI to calculate the cost of living adjustments under Social Security. John Boehner seems to be grasping for a drink and complaining loudly that the president is being a meanie by asking the super rich and the corporate behemoths to pay their fair share. And the Left? They can barely contain the traitor-drum:
“Evidently the president either does not understand or does not care how critically important Social Security and Medicare are, not just to seniors but to middle-aged and younger workers for whom these programs are likely to be even more crucial,” said Eric Kingson, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition.[...]What's actually more evident is that Eric Kingson and Anna Galland are talking out of their posteriors, as is anyone hounding about how Barack Obama is the enemy of Social Security. Eric Kingson or his organization are not concerned about those who most need Social Security, neither are any of the loudmouths on the Lefty blogosphere. The only thing they are concerned about is fundraising off of the status quo. If that weren't the case, one of these concern trolls would have at least mentioned the following in passing.
“President Obama’s plan to cut Social Security would harm seniors who worked hard all their lives,” said Anna Galland, the executive director of Moveon.org.
Besides the tax increases that most Republicans continue to oppose, Mr. Obama’s budget will propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said.I have explained this before. The President's proposal would create a minimum baseline for Social Security benefits so that no one who works their whole life has to live in poverty in retirement. The minimum benefit would be above the poverty line, for the first time fulfilling the promise of Social Security to end elderly poverty and actually boosting benefits for the lowest wage workers, which the protectors of the Entitlement Status Quo are effectively against. The president's proposal would also boost benefits at age 85, making sure the people most at risk of running out of their savings are taken care of. Let me say that again: for those in the greatest need, the president's proposal would increase benefits.
When it comes to Medicare savings, the President is focusing on savings from providers and drug companies, as well as on having wealthy seniors pay a higher premium. There is nothing controversial about that - at least there shouldn't be any controversy about that on the Left. Not unless while I wasn't looking, the Left suddenly moved into the tent of lining the pockets big pharma and giving "relief" to the wealthy.
So why do we suppose the venerable organizations on the Left charging at the White House with torches and pitchforks over the president's yet-to-be-released budget fail to mention all of this? Why do they fail to mention that this president has expanded the social safety net through a massive expansion of Medicaid, increase in Medicare benefits by taking the copay out of checkups and preventive care, and by other provisions of the Affordable Care Act as well as the biggest expansion of SCHIP since its creation? Why would MoveOn.org, founded to defend a far more centrist president from the attacks of a far less Right wing Congress turn on a far more progressive president facing attacks from a far more retrograde Congress?
Why? Because politics is a racket; that's why. It is categorically obvious that none of the torch-and-pitchforks folks on the ideologue Left has the slightest interest in protecting Social Security, Medicare, or the social safety net in general. If they did, they would have the common sense to understand that first, without reforms, all Social Security beneficiaries will get an automatic 25% cut in 20 years' time, and when the Medicare trust fund runs out in 10 years, beneficiaries will face an immediate 13% cut. Further, if they would take their heads out of their asses for a split moment, they would also understand that the president is proposing a budget deal to increase not just government revenue but expand the social safety net further by funding universal early childhood education. With friends like these...
So let's recap. The Left's reactionaries would rather defend the failing status quo on the social safety net than:
- Add life to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
- Wipe out poverty forever for the poorest when they retire after a lifetime of backbreaking, minimum wage work.
- Force pharmaceutical companies to stop raiding our treasury for seniors' medications.
- Ask the wealthiest seniors to pay a higher Medicare premium.
- Close tax loopholes for the rich.
- Institute universal preschool.
That's right. The so-called "defenders" of Social Security would rather protect the privilege of the wealthy and of the drug companies than accept modest adjustments in the calculation of how much benefits increase by. They would rather steal from every disadvantaged child in America the opportunity to get an early start. They would rather tell the lowest wage workers to go to hell when they retire.
I get it. The hounders will be coming out of the woodworks to say how they support all those things but that those need to be done without affecting the COLA formula. And they will take umbrage at me for accusing them of being willing to sell poor children's futures down the river in order to protect a shaky status quo. But that is only further proof that these people do not live in the real world. It's great to arm-chair legislate from the cheap seats, but "none of the above" is not a choice in politics or public policy.
It is time for those who actually care about the social safety net as something other than a racket or a click-magnet to come together and stand up to the fearmongerers. In my judgment, that necessity on our side is no less crucial than the need for gun owners to come together and stand up to the fearmongering of the NRA. We cannot let ourselves be governed by the follies of reactionary groups who cannot think a mere two steps ahead of their immediate pet pony. It's time for citizens to skip the ideologue middleman and get the facts ourselves. And it's time to let our president lead on a path that we voted for: pragmatic government to move our country forward.
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