Saturday, July 9, 2011

Obama Puts Social Security on the Chopping Block -- Just Like He Promised As A Candidate!!

Reports that President Obama might settle ongoing negotiations over the nation's massive debt by making cuts or other changes to social security has alarmed many liberals and progressives. Although these reports have stunned many Democrats, Obama's recent position should not surprise people who listened carefully during his presidential campaign.

In 2008, Obama repeatedly attacked John McCain, arguing that, if elected, his Republican opponent would slash social security. Obama, by contrast, said he would preserve benefit levels by raising the income cap on payroll taxes that finance social security payments. Obama's relentless attacks on McCain regarding social security helped to shore up support from elderly and traditional liberal voters.

Nevertheless, while candidate Obama criticized McCain, he conceded that he would consider cuts to social security as well. During a 2007 Democratic candidates debate at Dartmouth College, for example, Obama stated that he believed and that he had previously stated that everything should be "on the table" in order to save social security. Obama has made similar statements since his election. During a 2010 interview on MTV, for example, Obama affirmed his earlier position that all options with respect to social security "are on the table."

Democrats should consider the substance of any proposal that Obama makes. Perhaps cuts are necessary. Maybe raising the retirement age is fiscally sound. Or maybe eliminating the cap on payroll taxes is the best solution. But Democrats should not act surprised by Obama's negotiating position. As usual with Obama, the substance is in the fine print for those who pay attention.


Virgil said...

Thanks for the reminder! It's funny how people forget. It's nice to know there is some Obama supporters out their! Seems like everyone is pissed at him for one reason or another.

Joyce L. Arnold said...

Hey Darren,
I'm always glad to read a new post from you :).

I agree that Obama's policy and governance positions were always, or at least almost always, visible. That's why I voted third party in 2008, will do so again in 2012. Given the entrenchment of what I've come to think of as the "two party front for the oligarchy," voting independent is one piece of my liberal activist agenda :)

sdcjmcf voice said...

Hi Darren, I largely agree, but why does Obama come off as such a bad negotiatior in this? I'd love to hear your views.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hello, Virgil: Thanks for reading.

Joyce: Careful reading is important. As a lawyer, I truly appreciated Obama's campaign, because it required people to listen carefully. I also appreciated it as an educator, because it teaches people to move beyond media hype and actually read position statements.

SDCJMCF: I think that people continue to assume that he favors some far left position and that he is simply compromising. I think (and I have written on this over and over again) that he is truly a moderate, and he starts near the center because he hopes to end there eventually. Perhaps its some modified version of triangulation. His arguments could cause the extremes on both sides to look like fringe elements. If you don't believe that social security should be touched at all - he has made this a questionable position. If you don't believe in any tax hikes - the same result applies.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Virgil: PS: I added your blog to my blog roll. Love the concept.

rpannier said...

What you posted is very true. The problem is, for myself and people I know, that he has shown himself to be way to willing to cut a deal -- any deal.
In just about everything contentious that has come up he has seemed unwilling to stand ground.
The concern many in the progressive community have, is that in the end he's going to give the Republicans 80% of what they want and claim victory, then when pressed by those in the liberal community claim there was little he could do because the Republicans are the majority in the House.
As to people who say raising the age is a good step, I would disagree. It's easy when you sit in Congress, in a University position, etc to say we could raise the age to 70. Try working in construction, in a job that requires heavy lifting, etc. It's very different at that point.
Here in Korea, retirment is 63 for that very reason.
It's unfortunate that there is no party that represents the laboring classes any more. Maybe if they came from a family of people who worked in a mill they might have more appreciation.

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