President Obama’s decision to join Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Elizabeth Warren in calling for expansion of Social Security is a big win for the left wing of the Democratic Party. Liberal Democrats and their allies in the labor union movement put this idea on the table several years ago to try to kill off enthusiasm from centrist Democrats for reducing Social Security benefits. Their strategy worked.
But in addition to a tactical win for the left, Obama’s turnabout on Social Security is the result of a cycle of tactical ineptitude on the part of the American conservative movement.
Five years ago, conservatives had the opportunity to get a Democratic president to sign legislation that would have substantially cut entitlement spending. In exchange, they were asked to agree that high-income Americans should pay higher taxes. They refused, thinking in part that preventing Obama from scoring a bipartisan achievement would make him easier to beat in 2012.
Obama was reelected anyway. Taxes on high-income households went up anyway. And now the politics of entitlement spending have shifted drastically to the left. The Republican Party’s 2016 nominee says he opposes cuts in Social Security benefits, and mainstream Democrats have flipped away from Obama’s openness to cuts to the position that benefits should be enhanced.
Tag Archives | Social Security
… Time to put the people first.
He might not be the absolute worst of the Republican politicians owned by the rich, but he’s near the top, and he’s on the so-called Super Committee.
NYT columnist David Brooks recently cited Mitt Romney’s plan to semi-privatize Social Security and Medicare and link these programs to Wall Street as proof that Romney is “the serious one” among Republican presidential candidates. More here on the audacity of these buttoned-down bozos.
Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, makes passionate statements in support of working people then backs them up with legislation such as a bill that would strengthen Social Security without cutting benefits.
Here’s part of an e-mail I recently received from Barack Obama’s spin doctors:
As someone who got his start as a community organizer, President Obama’s entire career has revolved around the idea that ordinary people working together can do extraordinary things. So I hope you can take part in marking his 50th birthday… This Wednesday, August 3rd, campaign volunteers will get together for house meetings in all 50 states. We’ll plan local events… and talk about how to spread the word about the President’s accomplishments…
Can you attend a house meeting…? RSVP now.
I replied with this:
What are “the president’s accomplishments?” His unprecedented (for a Democrat) efforts to tear down the social safety net that evolved from the New Deal? To my shame, I voted for Obama, but I’m certainly not going to help celebrate his ongoing dismantlement of the Democratic Party.
But there’s a better way to express discontent about Obama’s refusal to back tax hikes for the rich and his unwillingness to defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Simply show up at one of the house meetings and tell those present what you think of his ongoing cave-in to right-wingers.
Click here for the meeting closest to you.