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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By Joshua Blakeney | Press TV | August 31, 2013
In a recent tweet Stephen Walt, professor of International Relations at Harvard and co-author of the seminal text The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy wrote, “Note to advocates of military action in Syria: please tell us ur endgame: where does using force lead and who’s in charge if Assad goes?”
I would answer, that from the perspective of the Israeli-guided Western imperialists the answer would be: nobody. Israel and its de facto puppet regimes in Ottawa, London, Paris and Washington want Syria to be a dysfunctional, ungovernable failed state, rather than a sovereign Arab state led by an intelligent, anti-Zionist strongman.
It ought to be kept in mind that the post-WWII US military doctrine for the Middle East was the Eisenhower Doctrine which promoted the fomentation of stability in the region to facilitate the flow of oil to Americans. This was fine if you were safely ensconced in Houston or Dallas with your oil companies raking in profits from Middle East oil fields but for Israel this policy was disastrous. The funneling of petro-dollars to Israel’s adversaries like Saddam Hussein, who fired scud missiles at Israel in 1991, and to the likes of President Assad was intolerable. Therefore a schism in the Empire soon emerged and two distinct US-Zionist visions for the Middle East crystallized. … continue
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