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A stealth Social Security cut!

Changing the inflation calculation for Social Security benefits from CPI to chained CPI is a benefit cut by stealth.  Using the low inflation number would result in slightly smaller Social Security benefits every year. While the cuts would take place in small yearly increments the cumulative effect would be that over a seniors lifetime they would get tens of thousand less from Social Security (PDF).

I ain’t a-marchin’ anymore

Phil Ochs:


What Athenae said.

The negotiator

I think Ed misses the point, which is that this carefully-bipartisan massive slashing of government spending and entitlements is what Obama had in mind in the first place. Because while the man may be a tool, he is not a fool:

Let’s recap the Barack Obama school of governing and negotiation. First, you get the Republicans to admit that it’s totally unthinkable and utterly insane to let the government default. Second, agree that 50% of the problem – the entire revenue side – is off the table. Third, let the GOP beat concession after concession out of you by bluffing about default. Fourth, get “concessions” from the GOP – in this case, I’ll bet you $100 on Obama obtaining “defense cuts” that amount to snipping a few staplers and pencils from the Pentagon budget – that hand the Republicans a ready-made “He’s a-cuttin’ the Army while our brave men and women are in harm’s way!!” talking point. Fifth, go to the electorate in 2012 with the message that sure, I and the rest of the Democrats signed off on hacking up Social Security and Medicare, but, um, the Republicans wanted to cut them a little more than we ultimately allowed. That sounds like a winner, right? The Mighty Democrats fought bravely to make sure that your benefit cuts would be slightly smaller.

Good luck with that, idiot. This presidency has been like watching a man commit suicide for three years. At first you’re in a frenzy yelling “Stop! Don’t do that to yourself!” but after a while you just want him to hurry up and get it the hell over with already.

Suck it up

I was talking to a woman from the neighborhood last night – not dumb, just not educated or polished. She said to me, “What do you think is going to happen to our country? I keep wondering when somebody’s going to start setting things on fire, or start shooting at politicians. Because it can’t go on like this. People are hurting.”

This is where I have a problem with political elites, who see political problems as strategic puzzles. They’re sheltered, buffered, cocooned — whatever you want to call it. Maybe they’re just plain blind, or prone to wishful thinking. They have no visceral understanding of how bad it is out here, and how openly ordinary people – people who don’t even follow politics, for the most part – now talk of revolution.

Our cities are a pile of dry kindling, and sooner or later, there will be a match. And then, gated communities become the target zones. What, you think your $15-an-hour security guard will lay his life on the line for you because you tip him at Christmas? Dream on. Sooner or later, there will be a reckoning. People will take sides and it won’t be yours, Mrs. and Mrs. Exploiter.

I was thinking of that when I read Ian Welsh this morning.


Tom “The Mustache of Understanding” Friedman on the Middle East.

The cost of war

Wake up, Pennsylvania

The GOP-dominated PA state house approved their new budget last night, and thanks to a lot of tricky last-minute amendments and no public input, it looks like a right wing wish list — with Gov. Tom “I’m Owned by The Gas Industry” Corbett as Santa Claus. About the only bright spot in this mess is that a last-minute push for school vouchers failed — but Corbett says he’ll bring it back in the next session. The other highlight is that the budget displaces many, many costs to the local municipalities under the guise of “preventing” tax increases:

Corbett got most of what he wanted – deep spending cuts, no new taxes on natural gas or anything else – but only after his administration pushed through a last-minute Senate measure to shift control of billions in welfare funding from the legislature to his administration.

His welfare secretary said budget needs necessitated the change. “We have a savings target to meet, and we can’t wait months and months to do it,” Gary Alexander told The Inquirer Wednesday night.

But the measure set off alarms among advocates for the poor, who portrayed it as a power grab by the executive branch that would shred the safety net for hundreds of thousands of people – most of them women and children – who depend on government assistance.

Richard Weishaupt, a lawyer with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said past administrations had been given temporary authority over a narrow range of welfare services, but nothing so sweeping as what the Corbett administration is seeking.
Continue Reading »

Greeks say no

The Greek government has voted in favor of a new round of austerity cuts – securing the next multi-billion instalement of cash from the EU and staving off a default. But furious protesters have reacted violently to the vote, with battles between police and demonstrators continuing just meters from Parliament. Scenes from downtown Athens resemble a warzone – as protesters fought with riot squads amid volleys of tear gas. Hundreds of thousands of people nationwide walked off their jobs for a two day strike against the austerity cuts:

Another one bites the dust

Andy Stern, former progressive.

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