From the NY Times:
No matter how the immediate issue is resolved, Mr. Obama, in his failed effort for greater deficit reduction, has put on the table far more in reductions for future years’ spending, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, than he did in new revenue from the wealthy and corporations. He proposed fewer cuts in military spending and more in health care than a bipartisan Senate group that includes one of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans.
To win approval of the essential increase in the nation’s $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling, Mr. Obama sought more in deficit reduction than Republicans did, and with fewer changes to the entitlement programs, because he was willing to raise additional revenue starting in 2013 and they were not. And despite unemployment lingering at its highest level in decades, Mr. Obama has not fought this year for a big jobs program with billions of dollars for public-works projects, which liberals in his party have clamored for. Instead, he wants to extend a temporary payroll tax cut for everyone, since Republicans will support tax cuts, despite studies showing that spending programs are generally the more effective stimulus.
(my emphasis) Notice the disconnect? Cuts in the payroll tax that fund Social Security are cuts to Social Security. Yet the Times reporter and their editor are so into boilerplate reporting they completely ignore what is in their reporting. They pretend, instead, that you can cut payroll taxes indefinitely and magically Social Security will continue to be funded at “normal” levels (actually, normal is what the Europeans pay, around 80% of pre-retirement income, while the US pays around 40-60%).
Then there’s this telling bit:
In his budget proposal in January, Mr. Obama declined to suggest a plan along the lines proposed by a majority of his bipartisan fiscal commission, which in December recommended $4 trillion in savings over 10 years through cuts in military and domestic programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and a tax code overhaul to lower rates while also raising more revenue.
Even though Mr. Obama was widely criticized, administration officials said at the time that to have embraced that approach then would have put him too far to the right — where he ultimately wanted to end up in any compromise with Republicans, not where he wanted to start.
But by this month, in ultimately unsuccessful talks with Speaker John A. Boehner, Mr. Obama tentatively agreed to a plan that was farther to the right than that of the majority of the fiscal commission and a bipartisan group of senators, the so-called Gang of Six. It also included a slow rise in the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65, and, after 2015, a change in the formula for Social Security cost-of-living adjustments long sought by economists.
“He’s accommodated himself to the new reality in Washington,” said Tom Davis, a former House Republican leader from Virginia. “That’s what leaders do.”
But Congressional Democrats and liberal groups objected.
First, “long sought by economists”? Which economists? Right wing economists, surely, if it is true these COLA adjustments decrease the payout people receive in retirement. More lazy reporting from the Times to not name names of economists and/or indicate their ideology. And remember, people pay into Social Security. It’s a separate program from the federal budget. Paying out less is a form of theft completely unrelated to the larger issue of the federal debt. Paying out less is a right wing wet dream. It’s not morally fair or economically sensible (you don’t want half dead seniors littering the sidewalk, begging for food).
Bernie Sanders is still correct: the pundits, the lobbyists, the politicians, they have zero clue as to the impact of the programs they propose. The wealthiest who pay their lobbyists and offer jobs to politicians, they know: pressure to increase their taxes will go down if the government spends less. Even if it means hundreds of thousands of more layoffs and more economic misery for all Americans. The Times should call these details out. This is not a horse race: it is life or death for many Americans. And for many others, it is the difference between economic security and insecurity, a job or no job.
As for this article, the journalist has not been paying attention to who has benefitted from Obama’s policies to date. They are traditional Republican constituencies: Wall Street, Big Business, and the wealthy. This is not a rightward tilt, or edging to the right. This is a Republican President calling himself a Democrat because the Democratic party is captive of the same forces that have captured the Republican party, and the media.