President Obama and the Democrats' willingness to accept cuts to Social Security in the form of the gimmicky "chained CPI" right after an election where no candidate for federal office campaigned on it shows that the Right's long-term project of undoing the New Deal marches on despite the electorate's wishes.
WASHINGTON -- Billionaire private equity mogul Peter Peterson is investing millions of dollars in a new Washington-based campaign for austerity, plann...
Given the importance of Social Security to regular Americans and its partisan value to Democrats since Franklin Roosevelt, no sane Democrat should be associated with these efforts. But in an age of Citizens United and unlimited corporate donations, where Obama tacks back and forth between criticizing Wall Street and soliciting Wall Street executives for campaign funds, it is all too tempting to demonstrate fiscal "soundness" by joining this parade. Thanks to Paul Ryan, however, the president may be spared again. The association of Romney-Ryan with the gutting of Medicare and Social Security offers just too tempting a political target to throw away for the sake of impressing Simpson, Bowles, and their corporate cronies. Or so we must hope.
For more than a decade, deficit hawks and their allies in the media have been promoting a grand bargain whereby Republicans agree to tax hikes and Democrats agree to cut social programs like Social Security and Medicare. That, in turn, will put the deficit on a downward path and presumably restore economic growth. The trouble with this premise is that the current deficit is mainly the result of the recession itself plus the Bush tax cuts and military spending increases. It has nothing to do with Social Security; the projected increases in Medicare spending are only the result of failure to tackle deeper health care reform.
Obama's move flummoxed the Republican Party into a week of rare silence, left Romney to speak gibberish to the NALEO meeting, and intensified support for Obama among Latinos without an offsetting backlash among Anglos. Obama's reluctant and belated acceptance of same-sex marriage accomplished something similar. Here public opinion remains closely divided, but is unmistakably moving in the direction of greater tolerance, especially among independent voters. Once again, the Republican capture by the hard right is revealed, and Romney is put in a usefully awkward position. The question, however, is why Obama waited so long, and why he doesn't pursue other areas where the Republican position is far to the right of public opinion. The answer seems to be a combination of Obama's own innate caution, and the obsessively tactical, "test-everything" orientation of his campaign strategists.