Obama’s Historic Assault on Social Security
President Obama and his Republican partners in austerity have choreographed a kind of bi-partisan ballet, in which the dancers reach out to each other in slow motion, their fingers almost touching, teasing the audience. These cheap and transparent theatrics are designed to transmit a soap opera-like sense of drama: “Can the two parties come to a compromise for the sake of the country?” But, the fact is, Obama and the Republicans reached most of their grand bargain more than a year ago, when they slashed $1.7 trillion out of domestic spending over a decade. As liberal Obamite Robert Kuttner, of Demos, points out, there’s very little left to cut except Medicare and Social Security.
Social Security has always been Obama’s Great White Whale; he’s conspired with Republicans and right-wing Democrats to harpoon the mother of all New Deal programs since the very start of his presidency. But Social Security is not an easy mark. George Bush found that out in his second term, when he suffered his worst domestic defeat in attempting to privatize the program.
It would take a Black Democrat, fresh from a near-landslide election, to put Social Security on the chopping block, as Obama did in January of 2009. But before he could move in for the kill, Obama and his allies had to convince the public that Social Security is a major contributor to the federal budget deficit – which is a lie. Social Security runs on its own stream of revenues that go into the Social Security Trust Fund, totally separate from general taxation and debt. However, by endless repetition of the Big Lie – that Social Security adds to the federal deficit – Obama and other corporate Democrats and Republicans succeeded in maneuvering the program into the austerity debate, where it does not belong.
At this point it must be said that Obama’s insistence on making Social Security a budget deficit issue shows that he has always intended to make drastic cuts to the program. One of the reasons Social Security has long been thought of as “untouchable” is because President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal Democrats purposely insulated it from the conventional budget process. However, President Obama has largely neutered Social Security’s traditional congressional defenders, who know perfectly well what their president is up to, but will not directly oppose him. That’s why we at Black Agenda Report call Obama “the more effective evil”; he can accomplish what Republicans only dream about.
Obama’s scheme to cripple Social Security is to change the way inflation is measured, resulting in a drastic scale-back in cost-of-living increases in recipients. According to Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the cuts would amount to 3 percent over 10 years, 6 percent over 20 years, and 9 percent over 30 years. In dollar terms, Black Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison says retirees would lose $6,000 in the first 15 years of cuts and $16,000 over 25 years.
And that’s just the beginning. Once the untouchability of Social Security has been breached, it becomes just another social program to be carved up on austerity chopping blocks. President Obama’s true legacy will be to have begun the destruction of the crown jewel of what’s left of the nation’s social safety net.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Obama and GOP Play Tag Team on Entitlements (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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Alarmed at the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiments on the internet, Israeli politicians recently called for nations around the world to enact legislation prohibiting criticism of Jews and Israel. Lobbying to outlaw global free speech is nothing new for Israel, however; it has been in the business of criminalizing speech for decades.
Israel is in the precarious position of receiving tens of billions of dollars in aid every year from nations that purport to support democracy, while simultaneously oppressing the Palestinian people and perpetrating what Nobel Peace Prize winners Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter deem an apartheid. If the American or European people ever knew that their tax dollars where being used in such a way they would surely cut Israel off. In order to conceal this truth and stifle any criticism, Israel and its lobbyists rely on sympathy from the Holocaust and labels of anti-Semitism to discredit critics. Even US Secretary of State John Kerry was recently called an anti-Semite for supporting a peaceful resolution to the Jewish/Palestinian conflict. Kerry is not alone however, President Obama, and just about anyone who has ever opposed an Israeli policy has been labeled anti-Semitic by his enemies. In order to add teeth to these labels, Israel lobbyists around the world lobby endlessly to criminalize anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Israel’s threat of forcing world governments to enact new laws against free speech should not be taken lightly. Israel and its lobbyists have already succeeded in enacting stiff anti-racist laws in most Western countries. These laws have been used on numerous occasions to jail academics, pro-Palestinian activists, and also individuals who have spoken provable facts that are deemed anti-Semitic “canards.” … continue
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