One of the most contentious issues in the current “fiscal cliff” negotiations that’s angering progressive activists is President Obama’s offer to the GOP to change the way cost of living adjustments are made to Social Security benefits. According to economists working with the group Social Security Works, moving to what is called a “chained” consumer price index will reduce benefits for the average 65-year-old by about $6,000 in the first 15 years of retirement, and $16,000 over 25 years.
I’m not surprised, but still angry. Obama has always been a failure as a negotiator with Republicans. He reliably makes major concessions before negotiations even begin – and in exchange for little or nothing from the other side.
In this case, there’s no excuse for concessions like the chained CPI on Social Security. First, by law, Social Security contributes not one thin dime to the nation’s deficit. The fact that Social Security is on the table at all in the fiscal cliff talks is indefensible. But apart from that fact, poll after poll tells us that 60 to 70 percent of the nation (including Republicans) oppose benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Further polling tells us that a majority of Americans say they will blame Republicans if there’s no deal – and taxes go up before the fiscal cliff deadline on Jan. 1. If a deal is not reached before the end of the year, the GOP will be forced to approve legislation reinstating tax cuts for the middle class in the early days of the new Congress.
More importantly, there are many alternatives to pulling the trigger on the chained CPI. Richard Eskow of the Campaign for America’s Future has summarized practical ways to produce revenue and make budget cuts that don’t place the burden on poor and working families, which are summarized in his article, 8 Deficit Reducers That Are More Ethical – And More Effective – Than the “Chained CPI”.
If Obama had any true leadership qualities, core beliefs or a spine, he’d rally the nation to protect social safety net programs while standing by his previous pledge to impose tax rate increases on those making $250,000 or more a year. If he did use the power of his office to wage this fight, he’d have the support of a strong majority of the nation, and likely force the Republicans to cave.
Yes, of course he's about to betray the voters. What else does he do?
If, after four years, you haven't caught on to that, you never will.
Barack has shown no loyalty. All he does is betray.
The sooner people catch on that, the easier they'll find the next four years.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday: