In debt talks, Obama offers Social Security cuts

by on July 6, 2011 · 6 comments

in American Empire, Economy

By Lori Montgomery / The Washington Post / Wednesday, July 6, 6:38 PM EDT

President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue.

At a meeting with top House and Senate leaders set for Thursday morning, Obama plans to argue that a rare consensus has emerged about the size and scope of the nation’s budget problems and that policymakers should seize the moment to take dramatic action.

As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.

“Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” said a Democratic official familiar with the administration’s thinking. “These moments come along at most once a decade. And it would be a real mistake if we let it pass us by.”

Rather than roughly $2 trillion in savings, the White House is now seeking a plan that would slash more than $4 trillion from annual budget deficits over the next decade, stabilize borrowing and defuse the biggest budgetary time bombs that are set to explode as the cost of health care rises and the nation’s population ages.

That would represent a major legislative achievement, but it would also put Obama and GOP leaders at odds with major factions of their own parties. While Democrats would be asked to cut social-safety-net programs, Republicans would be asked to raise taxes, perhaps by letting tax breaks for the nation’s wealthiest households expire on schedule at the end of next year.

The administration argues that lawmakers would also get an important victory to sell to voters in 2012. “The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain,” said a Democratic official familiar with the discussions.

It is not clear whether that argument can prevail on Capitol Hill. Thursday’s meeting at the White House — an attempt by Obama to break the impasse that halted debt-reduction talks two weeks ago — will provide a critical opportunity for leaders in both parties to say how far they’re willing to go to restrain government borrowing as the clock ticks toward an Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling.

Obama has already spoken to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) about the possibility of building support for a more ambitious debt-reduction plan, according to people with knowledge of those talks, who, like others quoted in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to shed light on private negotiations. The two discussed various options for overhauling the tax code and cutting entitlement spending, but they reached no agreement.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar C.K. July 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm

He promised he would try to lift the cap on Social Security taxes, and we never heard that mentioned again.

He promised he would rescind the Bush tax cuts and waited until the lame duck session, when he was “trapped” into giving in.

He promised a Public Option and later said that it was never meant to be more than a sliver of his plan, when it was everything to us. Then he sent Bill Clinton to campaign for Blanche Lincoln who fought the Public Option.

How can we know he is not a Trojan horse for all the policies the greediest of the Republicans want?

Ordinarily, I don’t like kicking the can down the road, but in this case, he should have kicked the can down the road with a short-term deal and worked out a better deal later with a better Congress. If he “seizes this moment” for a long-term deal, we will be stuck with a bad deal for a long time.

Huge majorities of the people, even many lay Republicans, favor raising taxes on the wealthy and leaving Social Security and Medicare alone. I guess our opinions don’t matter.

If he wants to fix the Medicare aspect of our budget problem, he should fight to have Medicare opened up for everyone, so that lots of young, healthy people would be shoring up that system rather than pouring their dollars down the rathole of for-profit insurance.

Recently, there were reports of Republicans blatantly and openly planning to run fake Democrats in primary elections in Wisconsin. Everyone seemed surprised. The truth is that they have been running fake Democrats for a long time. The surest way to get a Republican in office is to be sure that you actually have a Republican running against a Republican in the November election.

I am so discouraged. I am no longer sure at all that President Obama is on our side.

If he were to get a primary challenger, we would all be afraid to vote for the challenger for fear that we would end up with the more extreme Republican.

What kind of democracy is this?

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avatar Patty Jones July 6, 2011 at 10:04 pm

sigh….

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avatar Joe Hill July 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

Hey, C.K.! Ever hear the term “bourgeois democracy”? You know, the wealthy elites get to have a robust democracy within their own circles, and the rest of the population gets essentially a dictatorship – of, by, and for the rich — imposed upon us. In some places they go as far as to pay an army of public relations experts to flood the press and the broadcast media with fairy tales about how free and democratic the whole system really is. Sound familiar?

Don’t mourn. Organize! The vast majority of working people in this country, according to every poll on the subject, would LOVE to be in a union and would LOVE to have a better life. It is the anti-worker legal system that obstructs it. So, we need to get back to basics. If REAL union organizing is “illegal” then we must all live as outlaws!

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avatar tj July 7, 2011 at 12:27 am

So what do you get with Dual Lawyer families in the White house – Clintons & Obamas?

Lie like rugs.

Anything goes – to get themeselves, very, very rich.

At least you know what you’ll get from a Republican – they’ll usually just tell you straight-up how they’re going to -f- you.

Anyone left who’s still …. pro-bama, either: has a Special Interest he’s still supporting for them, has a Special Interest they still hope he’ll take care of for them, hasn’t been paying attention, is too nice & is in major denial, or, I’m sorry to say – just doesn’t have the brain-power to know when they’ve been seriously had …

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avatar Monty Kroopkin July 7, 2011 at 9:42 am

Heard about the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor (CMPL)? They present a strong critique of labor’s support for the Democratic Party. They don’t say enough, I think, about the limitations of any potential labor party electoral victory ever, insofar as the whole legal system here, from the constitution and all throughout the election laws and everywhere you look, the whole system is designed to protect the wealthy. The system is not designed to foster democracy. The importance of building and sustaining an independent labor movement is either lost or glossed over by groups that push for a new political party as the best solution to the current decline of working people’s standard of living, the obscene perpetual militarism and imperialist mass murder around the world, and the rise of neo-fascist legislation.

But, still progressives badly need to have a robust conversation about the issues raised by groups like CMPL. So, check out their description of themselves and promote the conversation, right?

CMPL at
http://www.masspartyoflabor.org/ [click on “about us”]

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avatar jacksmith July 7, 2011 at 9:58 am

REALITY!!

Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform

Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator

Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare

START NOW!

As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT, AND MUST NOT, ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.

Republicans: GET RID OF THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.

Democrats: ADD A ROBUST GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION TO HEALTHCARE REFORM.

This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

Spread the word people.

Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

See you on the battle field.

Sincerely

jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

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