Internet poster Jonathyn over at The Agonist came up with the most innovative and probably accurate explanation of the Democrats plans for social security. He asked the question, why aren’t the Democrats making threats to Social Security the centerpiece of their congressional campaigns? The answer is as enlightening as Sherlock Holmes observation about the dog that didn’t bark. If they’re going to blow up Social Security in the lame duck session of Congress by endorsing Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission , there’s a real risk to campaigning on saving the program. Can they be this vile? Are they this stupid? - Michael Collins
Social Security Is Not a Campaign Issue?
This is part I of a multipart series to demonstrate how everyone in Washington—and one-term President Barack Obama in particular—are telegraphing the fact that they will be gearing up for a major campaign to steal money from Senior Citizens by making drastic changes to “fix” the Social Security program.
Why oh Why are the Democrats not making Social Security an Issue? Wonders Rachel Maddow (click here and search for “The Ad Democrats Need to Win” for the segment—will edit as avail). As admirable as she is for being quite possibly the most intelligent person on cable news, the incorrect rhetorical effect she seeks is to demonstrate that Democrats are really bad at politics. She points out that many prominent Republicans have plainly said that they will privatize social security or eliminate it altogether, which for obvious reasons is vastly unpopular with very large majorities of Americans.
If Democrats disagree, surely they will raise their voices.
The Dog that Didn’t Bark
Au contraire, mon soeur. The deafening silence coming from the left is because the fix is in. As I’ve always said, if you have a hard time distinguishing between incompetence and malfeasance, it’s almost always both, and if past is prologue, the tin-eared Democrats make no distinctions between bad policy and bad politics. Witness how quickly $1 Trillion of taxpayer money can materialize to prop up the corrupt New York-Washington banko-political patronage system — passed by a Democratic congress! Witness the mandate for every man, woman, and child in the United States to purchase insurance from a corporation at unregulated rates under penalty of federal fine — passed by a Democratic congress!
Legislation like that just might make lifelong Democrats the tiniest bit . . . cynical.
Know also that the White House sets the political tone for the rest of the party through its control of the DNC and heavy hand on the tiller of the DNCC and DSCC.* There is no coordinated campaign message coming from the White House this political season, or from Democratic party organs, and no Democrats aside from the one that Maddow mentions are campaigning on Social Security beyond “strong Social Security, yadda yadda yadda.”
But what will happen after the election is that one-term President Obama’s discredited catfood commission will make recommendations to lower taxes on the rich and eliminate social security. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already put the legislative mandates in place to make a straight up-or-down vote on the commission’s recommendations. Since everything is always framed as a left-right “debate” the only two options that the politicos and the main stream media outlets will consider are Democrats (Cut Social Security) or Republicans (Privatize or Eliminate Social Security).
Sorry, there will be no air time for Raoul Grijalva or Bernie Sanders to discuss the other options, such as leaving Social Security alone (smart) or strengthening it (smarter). Just as there was no air time for them to talk about single payer, or the public option, or millions of United States Citizens spontaneously participating in mass demonstrations across the continent that dwarf any tea party rally to date.
But Democrats won’t campaign on Social Security because they know that videotapes of their campaign speeches will come back to haunt them in the form of oppo research campaign ads. I wonder how voters will feel about them after Grandma has sold everything and moved in to the closet.
* (who through their genius moves brought about the spectacular Hindenburg-inspired catastrophic failure of giving Ted Kennedy’s seat (Ted Freakin’ Kennedy’s seat! WTF?) to a Republican.)
Part II: Obama and the Senate Democrats Will Eliminate Social Security
Dog Whistle Politics and Impending Democratic Congressional Losses
This is part II of a multipart series to demonstrate how everyone in Washington—and one-term President Barack Obama in particular—are telegraphing the fact that they will be gearing up for a major campaign to steal money from Senior Citizens by making drastic changes to “fix” the Social Security program. Part I can be read here.
“You didn’t elect me to do what was popular. You elected me to do what was right.” -One-term President Barack Obama, Speech to Congressional Black Caucus, Washington DC, September 18, 2010
I was pecking away at my computer, absentmindedly watching Countdown with Keith Olberman when I heard something that made my blood run cold.
We always knew this was going to be hard. I said it was going to be hard, remember? I said I was going to tell you some things you didn’t want to hear. I said that we were going to have to make some difficult choices. I said not everybody was going to be happy with every single decision I made.
You did not elect me to do what was easy. You didn’t just elect me to read the polls and figure out how to keep myself in office. Whenever you read the media in Washington, all they’re concerned about is, boy, his polls numbers are down, so that must mean that he didn’t do the right thing. Just because your poll numbers are down. That’s how everything is measured.
But you didn’t elect me to look at the polls. You elected me to do what was right. You elected me to do what was right. That was change you could believe in — that I was going to do what was right, not what was expedient, not what was convenient.
Now think to yourself. Was he talking about Medicare for All or a Public Insurance Option during the Health Care Reform debacle?
Noooo— those were popular measures that would have been expedient in that they actually reduced the deficit and solved many if not all of our problems related to the delivery of health care.
Was he talking about Wall Street reforms?
Noooo— those were also popular measures that could have seriously curtailed the plutocrats who rule both Wall Street and Constitution Avenue.
What in the world could possibly be universally unpopular yet sold to us as doing “what was right?”
Social Security is the last big nut that they’ve never been able to crack. It’s a spigot of money within the economy that they have never been able to tap, and if they could only tap into that cash flow by privatizing it, or divert some amount of money out of the pipeline, the diverted money can be directed into already well-established money pumps flowing directly into their bank accounts.
They’ve been coming at it from twenty different angles, undaunted by facts, mercy, or anything to the contrary, like a persistent, relentless, horny twenty-year old trying to get into your pants:
- “Honey, the deficit’s too big, so we have to reduce benefits,”
- “People are living five years longer as comatose zombies in Intensive Care Units, so we should raise the retirement age,”
- “Inflation? Excluding fuel, food, housing, and medical costs, inflation was 0.5 percent, so no Cost-of-Living Adjustment for you! (Besides, do Seniors really need to drive cars, heat their homes, eat food, have a roof over their heads, or get medical attention to survive? Seriously!)”
- “Social Security is only intended to supplement the pension your employer defaulted on years ago, and the 401(k) you could afford to pay into if you paid Zero to 15 percent income taxes like the guys who run your 401(k).”
- “Historically, the stock market has outperformed other investments, just not in your lifetime, or well enough for you to ever retire.”
- “We just can’t afford Social Security. We have to spend $2 Trillion on ‘emergency supplemental spending’ for our unforeseen costs arising from a ‘Mission Accomplished’ that’s lasted nearly a decade. Nobody Could Have Predicted it would appear in the budget again in 2010. Or that it will in 2011. And 2012. Yeah. Those wars.”
- “We just can’t afford Social Security. The Federal Reserve floated $3 Trillion in exchange for Treasuries to buy exotic derivatives contracts at face value when anyone else could get them Over the Counter for 4-5 cents on the dollar.”
- “The Social Security Trust is just worthless scraps of paper in a vault somewhere. Not like U.S. Treasury Bonds. Actual Very Serious rich people might have those.”
- “Everyone feels so entitled these days. We must cut entitlements. What makes you so special? Why are you so entitled? Paying into Social Security every paycheck, all your working life, for fifty years? Did you ever think of Warren Buffet’s feelings? Doesn’t he deserve a few billion of that? At least he works for his money. You’re just retired.”
And so on and so forth, all in the service of creating an atmosphere of inevitability in Washington. Remember the days of “we cannot wait for final proof in the form of a mushroom cloud?”
All the signals are flashing red that the lame duck Democratic congress will vote on the discredited Catfood Commission’s recommendations to cut taxes on the wealthy while simultaneously cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and that if it passes, One-term President Barack Obama will sign it into law.
The political reality that confronted one-term President Barack Obama when he took office was borne more out of awkwardness than inability. How could he make so many initial “concessions” to the Corporate Right, how many crocodile tears would Mitch McConnell wring out of him, when the Democrats held the magic number, 60 seats in the senate, and a majority in the House? Why oh why would he be so reluctant to hasten Al Franken’s ascension to the Senate? Why did they drag the debate out long enough for Ted Kennedy to die? Why would he let Martha Coakley go down in flames in Massachusetts? Because 59 plus Franken equals no compromises. No compromises minus Ted Kennedy equals Health Care “Reform”, aka “Change You Can Believe In” just right.
The quote at the beginning of this post is nauseatingly galling when you consider the many messages it conveys to its many intended audiences. To the public, it is just cliché political tough talk they’ve heard before: You didn’t elect me to do what was popular. You elected me to do what was right. Rah team.
To wizened civil rights leaders that language that brings to mind a protest march despite opposition from all the white people in a community, despite their dogs and fire hydrant hoses, despite their hatred and insults and lynchings, because the protest marchers were there to do what was right.
And to the plutocrats Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke, it signals that this member of the Joshua generation, standing on the shoulders of the Moses generation, will lead them to a perverse promised land, where every function of government and profit is privatized, every loss is borne by impoverished masses, the wealthy rule every aspect of the land without regulation of any kind, no law no court and no attorney general will dare stay their hand, and Obama will have finally given them their due, something no Republican could ever accomplish in his wildest dreams: the last money spigot in America, the rock of financial salvation that American workers could count on if all else failed, the one thing that would let them keep their dignity in impoverished old age, the trust fund they have toiled to contribute to for all their working lives to take the burden off their own Moses generation: Social Security.
You didn’t elect me to do what was popular.