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As we've frequently seen from commentators on various liberal blogs. There's been this concern that the WH would "slash" SS Benefits. I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind such "concern-trolling". It's one thing to attack specific policies that the WH brings out. It's quite another to attack motivations.

Anyways, David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to the President came out tonight and said no "slash" of benefits is in the offing.
 Plouffe Denies WH will slash Benefits

Before we argue about Social Security, we need to draw some basic points. Social Security has a surplus in the Trust Fund. What that means is that SS is NOT contributing to the deficit or the debt.

However, according to the Social Security Administration, assuming that nothing is done to the finances of Social Security, the program WILL start contributing to the deficit and the debt by 2037. In particular, what will happen, if NOTHING is done, is that there will be an AUTOMATIC cut to SS by then. On the range of about 22%. Hence, those getting benefits would only get about 78% of them.

The closer we get to 2037, the more drastic the option will be. I'm in favor of cutting a deal on SS now (mainly because I don't know who's going to be President in 2037 and what congress is). But I am in favor of keeping a discussion of that program AWAY from deficit reduction talk. Because, it has nothing to do with deficit reduction.

Jacob Lew, the current OMB Director, has stated that basic point.

And now we have David Plouffe Saying that there will be no "slashing" or "reducing" benefits of SS.

Plouffe's inclusion of the word "reduce" alongside the pledge not to "slash" may have been an innocent rhetorical addition to a common administration talking point -- one used several weeks ago during the State of the Union address. But for advocates working to make current benefits sacrosanct and fretting that the White House had left the door open to either cost of living adjustments or other benefit "tweaks," it was noteworthy.

"Until now, Sen. Harry Reid was the top Democratic leader on the record saying that cuts to Social Security benefits were off the table in any form -- big or small, slash or tweak," said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "If Mr. Plouffe's words are true -- that the White House opposes all reductions in benefits for current beneficiaries and future ones alike -- it's huge news. Such a position is overwhelmingly popular with Democratic, Independent, and Republican voters alike, and is the kind of boldness Democrats will need to show to win big in 2012."

Here are the 6 Principles that the WH has outlined:

The President believes that we should come together now, in bipartisan fashion, to strengthen Social Security for the future. He calls on the Congress to follow the example of great party leaders in the past — such as Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. and President Ronald Reagan — and work in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen Social Security for years to come. Guiding the Administration in these talks will be the President’s six principles for reform:

• Any reform should strengthen Social Security for future generations and restore long-term solvency.

• The Administration will oppose any measures that privatize or weaken the Social Security system.

• While all measures to strengthen solvency should be on the table, the Administration will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.

• No current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced.

• Reform should strengthen retirement security for the most vulnerable, including low-income seniors.

• Reform should maintain robust disability and survivors’ benefits.


h/t Ezra Klein
So my question becomes, can we cut the BS on this meme? If not, why not?
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Comment Preferences

    •  It ain't over till the fat lady sings. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilK, emal, emsprater

      He is currently willing to raise the age, which is cutting social security.   I have no doubt -the Republicans will  bully him-  he will be eager to volunteer more.

      Second, the country OWES social security billions.  It has been suckling off the teat of social security for years.   I want to be paid back, and I want all those crooks in Washington to forfeit their taxpayer funded benefits and pensions.   If they want austerity, give it to them.

      Third, even without getting paid paid, it is solvent until 2040, at which time they can raise the freaking cap.  OR, they can get the hell out of the war and bomb business.  

      We have two parties:  John Birchers who took over the Republican party, and all the fleeing Republicans who now own the Democratic Party.    I'm not supporting either of them.   Obama is the biggest waste of a mandate and a majority I have ever witnessed in my 60 years.

      If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

      by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:57:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure a lot of us... (16+ / 0-)

    ...thought the same thing about Bush tax cuts for the rich and a public option in health care reform.  "Oh Obama won't let THAT happen.  Can we all just stop talking about it?"

    And yet, here we are.

    The meme will die when and if it doesn't happen.  Until then, any optimism is going to be heavily guarded.

    Let there be balance in all things.

    by DawnG on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 08:55:49 PM PST

    •  Uh Huh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gobears2000, Eclectablog

      Were they EVER this definitive? Even the Bush Tax Cuts, they just strongly thought it wouldn't happen. Were always hedging. This ain't a hedge.

      •  Whatever you want to tell yourself. (13+ / 0-)

        I was in diaries telling people there was no way the HCR bill would NOT have some form of public option.  Whether it be a whole new agency or medicare +whatever.  People were doomsayers and saying it was never going to happen, but it wasn't until Obama lied (yes, lied) and said he'd never campaigned on a public option (and yes he did) that I began to wonder if the fix was in.

        And yes, a lot of us though that there was no way they'd CAVE on tax cuts for the wealthy.  There was no way they'd let republicans just walk away from taking the middle class hostage on a FREAKING ELECTION YEAR!

        Don't sit there and tell me that Social security is sacrosant and that Obama is going to defend it vigorously.  Point out to me one good policy that Obama has defended VIGOROUSLY that didn't end up getting scrapped eventually in the name of "compromise".  Just one.

        I'm waiting.  Goalposts get moved.  Terms get redefined.  Defeat gets rebranded.  And maybe it won't happen this time.  maybe he'll be good on his word.  But the meme will not die until he can PROVE himself on that point.  Until the budget is passed and the ink has dried on his signature.

        Let there be balance in all things.

        by DawnG on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:07:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  HCR IS GOOD POLICY (6+ / 0-)

          The details indeed were subject to compromise, it had to be. It was the only way the bill was going to pass Congress.

          But for the bill itself? He never wavered from the belief that he should go for the "big bill". Even when Scott Brown won MA. We get so invested in the micro parts of a bill, that we ignore the bigger picture of the actual thing that passed.

          •  I'ts good policy... (8+ / 0-)

            ...and the bulk of it doesn't take effect until 2014.  Hell, if he doesn't get re-elected, the next president can repeal it almost single handedly.

            And HHS is issuing wavers to the "85%" rule for company run health plans left and right.  Who exactly is going to be left that has to adhere to it?

            Let there be balance in all things.

            by DawnG on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:19:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Dawn didn't say it wasn't. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PhilK, dkmich, emsprater, schnecke21

            What she said was that the health insurance bill that passed did not reflect the health care reform that was promised.  She ticked off a bunch of examples of Obama promising one thing and doing another, and she laid out instances in which he's caved on things he'd promised to defend (see Bush tax cuts, extension of).

            Your response is essentially a non sequitur.

            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

            by FogCityJohn on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 11:05:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Not sure what Obama could have done (4+ / 0-)

          on the tax cuts. He pushed strongly for a vote before the election, on just the middle class tax cuts, but Congress punted it to the lame duck session. And then a middle class tax cut bill failed to get through the Senate.

          •  For starters, (5+ / 0-)

            he could have decided not to craft a bill with the Republican House members when they were still the minority party.

            The bill, which was largely worked out earlier this month between the White House and Congressional Republicans, extends the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans for two years, extends unemployment benefits for 13 months and includes a one-year Social Security tax cut, among other measures.

            The measure is not paid for, and costs more than Mr. Obama's controversial stimulus package that was harshly criticized by Republicans for exacerbating America's deficit and debt problem.

             http://www.cbsnews.com/...

            Is that asking too much?

            -9.50/-7.59 - Bring 'em back, Out of Iraq and Afghanistan

            by Situational Lefty on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 10:24:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gobears2000, ban nock

              So he should have waited until the 112th Congress was sworn in and the GOP in the House was in the majority?

              Even you own link undercuts the entire premise of your argument. "Earlier this month" in the article means earlier in Dec. of 2010 (post-election).

              The Democratic caucuses in both chambers on the Hill refused to hold stand-alone votes on just the middle class cuts and separate out the cuts for the wealthy before the election.

              So you are going to blame the Administration because the Dems in Congress were trying to be too clever by half?

              cheers,

              Mitch Gore

              Who is a Tea Partier? Someone who listens to Glenn Beck. Who's an anti-Tea Partier? Someone who understands Glenn Beck

              by Lestatdelc on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:17:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

            If anyone wants to toss a stink bomb form the left over the tax cut extensions, then they need to land on Van Hollen and the Democratic caucuses in both chambers of Congress. They kicked the can down the street on the tax cut extensions until after the election. Van Hollen's office saying they did this in the absurd belief that they had already scored the political win in the rhetorical slap fest prior to the elections, so the Dem caucus didn't need to actually vote on it.

            The Congressional Dems tossed rotten lemons to the Administration over the extensions, and post-election the Administration made the best lemon aide they could before the 112th Congress was sworn in.

            cheers,

            Mitch Gore

            Who is a Tea Partier? Someone who listens to Glenn Beck. Who's an anti-Tea Partier? Someone who understands Glenn Beck

            by Lestatdelc on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:14:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Happy to. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PhilK

              This is why we need a Republican in the WH.  Put a neoliberal in there with a D after his name, and they are all hog tied.  Can't fight their own president - not that any of them fought Bush much either.    Obama pushed the tax cuts, just like he pushed the WS bailouts, the wars, and his half-assed health care bill.  They did their Presidents bidding.  

              If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

              by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:02:28 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  did you just tell on yourself? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gobears2000
                This is why we need a Republican in the WH.

                your views intrigue me.  tell me some more about how we need a republican in the WH.

                "Wake the town and tell the people!" ~Ewart Beckford, O.D.

                by mallyroyal on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:07:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Oh please. Tell on myself? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  PhilK, emsprater

                  I am an Independent.  An eclectic Independent and an American.   I don't give a damn about parties, I give a damn about my country and the people in it.   If that means we all do better with a Republican in the WH to hate and fight, then put him/her there.  

                  You are way too partisan.  If you always are there to support and enable the people who use and abuse you, why the hell should or would it ever change?

                  If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

                  by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:54:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I give a damn about my country too (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ivan, gobears2000

                    my version of giving a damn is keeping a repub out of office.  I don't agree that the parties are the same.  not by a long shot.  I never did, but the last decade has clarified that even further for me.

                    by the by, my only personal interaction with the site owner was when he told me this was a PARTISAN blog.  if that's truly changed I wish he'd let me know the same way he let me know it was for Dems when I was brand new and thought it was a run of the mill lefty blog.

                    time was, advocating for republicans winning seats (whether in congress or in the WH) wasn't the done thing around here.  no matter what point was trying to be made.

                    "Wake the town and tell the people!" ~Ewart Beckford, O.D.

                    by mallyroyal on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:41:48 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Some people might consider (0+ / 0-)
                This is why we need a Republican in the WH.

                This comment to be troll-rate bait on a partisan Democratic blog.

                "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

                by Ivan on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:59:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  If you're not a Democrat (0+ / 0-)

                and you support Republicans winning elections. Please leave. Go away. This is a web site for people who want Democrats to win. You and all other teabaggers are not welcome.

                Did I miss something? Oh ya, that door hitting you on the butt.

                "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

                by ban nock on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:26:45 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Oh come on... It's a silly comment (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  emsprater

                  advocating an utterly wrong-headed strategy which would lead to disaster if implemented, but the poster is no teabagger.

                  When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

                  by PhilJD on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 11:17:56 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ooops, thanks, should have checked (0+ / 0-)

                    comment history and not used that term.

                    It's hard for me to tell the trolls advocating for Dems to lose and regular posters advocating for Dems to lose, sometimes I'm probably to quick on the draw. At least I didn't HR, I think I've HR'd like 3 times on this board but then they are a good way to alert the mods that there is a lurking Republican troll, that's what I immediately thought  of doing.

                    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

                    by ban nock on Fri Feb 18, 2011 at 11:20:59 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Called their freaking bluff! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PhilK

            If he assumed power and governed from power day one, he would have had to be supportive of Democratic philosophy;  and he's not.   Obama is what he is, and he isn't much.

            If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

            by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:59:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Just one. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          emsprater

          Student loan reform

          DADT

          START Treaty

          Food Safety bill

          Withdrawing combat troops from Iraq and keeping the SOFA on schedule.  

          This is off the top of my head.

          He's earned justified criticism, at the same time, saying name "just one"  is not a reality based criticism.

      •  The official statement (8+ / 0-)

        clearly distinguishes between current beneficiaries, who's benefits will not be reduced, and future beneficiaries, who's benefits will not be slashed. Also, official Washington seems to be in agreement that an increase in the retirement age is not a reduction in benefits (despite that being false). The statement says nothing about this issue.  Those are all hedges.

        Also, why are the hedges (which are about obfuscating) relevant?  Trust Obama, but if he misleads its ok because we didn't read the find print is an incoherent position.  

        Regardless, Republicans are coming for Social Security.  If we get fired up to protect it, that makes it more difficult for them. That is the right move no matter whether you are right about Obama. Because if he's not feeling the heat, it would be harder for him to stand up to them (if he's so inclined). And if he folds, later we'll have to listen to people tell us how Obama had to compromise because all the pressure was coming from the right.

        The solution is to make sure that never happens.

        Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

        by David Kaib on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:17:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We just believe what we want to believe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sebastianguy99, HamdenRice

    many here just want to be outraged, so Obama will always be just about to cut Social Security always. And if he goes his entire time in office without doing it, it will be because  the liberal blogosphere prevented it from happening. That's the narrative, and it just wont go away no matter.

    •  Now that's not fair. (8+ / 0-)

      Sure there are some people who are going to poo poo Obama and every little thing he does, but the large majority of us WANT him to succeed but have been disapointed in the past.

      For them, the meme will die when Obama kills it with his own two hands.  But nothing is certain and we shouldn't be treating it as if it were (either for or against).

      Let there be balance in all things.

      by DawnG on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:25:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's the new way to argue... (5+ / 0-)

        by making it seem like criticism equals a desire for failure, as if to oppose any Obama policy means a preference for the likes of Palin.  I think this line of reasoning is unseemly.

        •  I dont think believe that at all (0+ / 0-)

          I never said progressives do this because they want him to fail. I think criticism is necessary. But I think there is a "boy who cries wolf" issue with the TONE of the criticism. If people on the left are going to be outraged by everything, if everything is a betrayal, then I dont know how effective that criticism really is.

      •  Permanent Outrage, Just Concern (0+ / 0-)

        You're both right. Many here do just seem to always be in full throttle outrage mode. You don't have to look far for examples. But you're right that only Obama can kill the meme that he's ok with cutting Social Security. Until he takes benefit cuts off the table, and in particular says he's not going to sign a bill that raises the retirement age, then he should expect liberals are going to be pushing hard against him.

    •  Yeah, cause life is just a bowl of (0+ / 0-)

      cherries; and we need to concoct things to provide balance to all the good and happy shit that Obama and DC does.  

      If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

      by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:04:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This comment is bullshit (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilK, emsprater, David Kaib
      many here just want to be outraged, so Obama will always be just about to cut Social Security always. And if he goes his entire time in office without doing it, it will be because  the liberal blogosphere prevented it from happening. That's the narrative, and it just wont go away no matter.

      It's our job to keep this from happening, do you get it? It's our motherfucking JOB. It is our duty as citizens. Obama just happens to be in the White House right now. It would be our job if the president was Mickey Mouse, Chaim Schmuck, or the Man in the Moon.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:04:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh stop it (9+ / 0-)
    As we've frequently seen from commentators on various liberal blogs. There's been this concern that the WH would "slash" SS Benefits

    Slash was the WH word of choice. Obama has now used that careful word choice twice i.e. said that he would not 'slash' benefits. He said nothing about not reducing benefits

    He plays the lawyer and you dutifully, like a good little OFA minion, throw up the required strawman.

    •  I think the diarist makes a good point... (8+ / 0-)

      The "WH won't slash SS Benefits" is a meme, and it needs to die.

      Obama has already caved on Telecom immunity, the Public Option in the Healthcare bill, Executive pay for banksters, tax cuts for the rich and his commitment to a limited escalation to the war in Afghanistan.  It's high past time we stop taking his word for it when it comes to questions of policy.

      Every time the White House sends out a press release to what's left of the Democratic organization that backed Obama's 2008 campaign, it should not only be questioned, but it should be doubted and an alternative Progressive opposition should be vigorously advocated.  

      On Social Security, it's time to lower the retirement age and drop the cap on earnings.

      -9.50/-7.59 - Bring 'em back, Out of Iraq and Afghanistan

      by Situational Lefty on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 10:05:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So a deep cut is not a "slash" (8+ / 0-)

    and we're really just arguing semantics here. Because cutting benefits by 22% is not going to hurt those who depend on SS in the least.

    Do you really believe that, or is it your claim that if you can "prove" that the word "slash" is in some way inappropriate (even though it has been only occasionally used) that cuts are insignificant or essentially nonexistent? Because it seems to me that people who live on SS from hand to mouth are going to find that a steep cut.

    •  No, it will only piss off the generation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilK

      at the bottom of the totem pole who ends up totally screwed.   But hey, they can thank their lucky stars that they have a President who thinks wars and tax cuts for billionaires matter more than they do.

      If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

      by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:05:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The major policy analysts in DC (9+ / 0-)

    are not as convinced as you that this is particularly 'definitive', it can and has been argued that a change to the so-called 'chained CPI' from the current one (CPI-U(?)) would not 'slash' anyone's benefit even as the end result would be significantly large over time.

    Nothing coming from Lew or Plouffe shuts the door here to a 'tweak' that could include CPI changes:

    While all measures to strengthen solvency should be on the table, the Administration will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.

    Please visit, follow or join our Group: Social Security Defenders

    by Bruce Webb on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:35:18 PM PST

    •  What is the correct basis for the COLA? (0+ / 0-)

      I have heard plenty of people say that a "chained"* CPI is a more accurate measure of increases in the cost of living than the CPI. (over the long-term chained CPI grows about 0.3% more slowly  than CPI)

      I have heard plenty of people argue the CPI-E (an experimental measure that bases the price index on a basket of goods that seniors consume) is more a more accurate measure than CPI-W. CPI-E tends to grow faster than CPI-W. Presumably a "chained" CPI-E would be more accurate than the regular CPI-E.

      Any arguments for just continuing to use the CPI-W?

      * chained price indices take account of the way that consumers substitute cheaper goods or cheaper sources of goods when the price of a relatively close substitute rises. When the price of apples rises people buy more of a cheaper fruit. When the price rises at the local Safeway they buy more from a cheaper source like Costco.

  •  By 2037 (4+ / 0-)

    The Republican Party will have changed and adequate taxes will be available to the Social Security Trust Fund.

    But only if we stand strong now.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 09:41:06 PM PST

  •  Unfortunately I can't trust Plouffe (9+ / 0-)

    Or anyone from the Obama administration (incl. Obama) to hold to what they say anymore. I've heard the same sort of denials time and time again... Then the administration caves in to the Republicans, and tells everyone to be grateful for the few scraps they get. Or how they should be grateful they're getting screwed, because they could be getting screwed more.

    So, I'm betting it'll be the same strategy here: deny cutting of SS up until the cuts are announced, then claim they had no choice because of those tricksy Republicans, and we need to shut up because the cuts could have been deeper and aren't we lucky they weren't!

    As they say, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Well, it's the fourth or fifth time we're potentially being fooled here (or at least for some of us), and I'll be damned if I'm going to believe the administration won't include SS cuts until I see the actual deficit reduction plan going into effect without SS as one of the components.

    The Obama administration has proven to be two-faced when making such promises, so my default is now skepticism instead of trust when listening to its spokespeople.

  •  I will let it die when Obama stops peddling conser (6+ / 0-)

    -vative trope like "SS needs fixing".  And draws a line in the sand and state clearly, unequivocally that the retirement age won't be raised, and benefits won't be cut, ok, slashed.

    And the payroll tax holiday which will reduce revenue for SS - we will see what happens.

    To me, a skepticism of power is always a good thing. Think it is a basic characteristic of Democracy.

    Nov 2, 2010: Voters to Obama: "Yes, we did. We looked forward, not backward".

    by Funkygal on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 10:13:53 PM PST

    •  Please tell my son SS doesn't need fixing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      calchala

      The do-nothing-caucus could care less about the next generation and future generations who will have to pay the rather steep cost of their inaction.

      No one with any sense thinks that Social Security is on a stable footing over the long term. Large and permanent deficits begin in only 25 years.

      Also, the  revenue not collected by FICA taxes due to the payroll tax holiday are being replaced by general revenues. The payroll tax holiday is an accounting gimmick to avoid the obvious, that we are just borrowing to give people some extra cash today.

      •  Actually, the payroll tax holiday (0+ / 0-)

        was no accounting gimmick.  It is a part of a well thought out plan to begin to focus the public's attention on the meme that SS costs the general fund money and adds to the deficit, thereby setting up the climate for dismantling the program as we know it.

        I see it as no different from the Bush use of the 'Niger yellow cake' documents to set up support for the Iraq war.

        it's time for LGBT Americans to put some First Amendment remedies into place.

        by emsprater on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 01:57:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  as usual (3+ / 0-)

    opacity rules. he can "cut" them, or "reform" them, or "modify" them without having to "slash" them.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 10:21:07 PM PST

    •  Eye of the beholder (0+ / 0-)

      If we cut benefits by 5% and raise taxes a similar amount to avoid a 22% cut in 25 years, then have we "cut" benefits or not? If the purchasing power of future benefits continues to increase over time, but at a slower rate does this count as cutting or slashing or whatever.

      Just define the terms you are using. until then you are being just as opaque.

  •  Assuming the diarist is correct... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ivan, emsprater, Situational Lefty

    maybe it was the pushback from the Left that helped the WH decide.

    In other words, there is NOTHING wrong with the meme complained against.

    The diarist seems against virtually any meme that opposes the WH meme.

    Hopw is that any less of a problem?

  •  He isn't, and never was, going to cut SS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HamdenRice, ban nock

    That was something to keep a certain narrow and vocal sliver of the Left outraged.

    Social Security is not the Public Option. Anyone paying attention to the health care bill as it progressed through House committees, knew that it was a shell of what was initially envision. Nonetheless, it is always about the votes.

    In the end, there weren't the votes for a Public Option (see: Lieberman, Joe).

    The same is true for Social Security. There just aren't enough votes to enact drastic cuts. I think it was smart politics to appoint that commission and then put the onus all on the Republicans to do the deed.

    The Republicans thought, and may still think, that they have the President positioned as the fall guy, but with the release of his proposed budget, we see that he has no intention of getting in the way of the Republicans committing political suicide.

    We will all enjoy watching them greatly increasing President Obama's reelection chance as they come to understand that the admonition about the "Third Rail" applies to the Tea Party the same as all others.

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ...Bertrand Russell

    by sebastianguy99 on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 10:49:30 PM PST

    •   There is a campaign (0+ / 0-)

      going back at least 35 years, to undermine SS.  (Bruce Webb talks about some of this  here ).  They have always known they cannot do it outright, because of the program's popularity. The plan has always been to do it obliquely, under the guise of "reform" and "saving SS."  Those of us who are familiar with this get no comfort from your arguments, which are decidedly beside the point.

      Also, why does it make sense to agree rhetorically on the need to address "entitlements" to deal with the all-important problem of the deficit, when that is an unpopular position?  Please explain the smart politics of the commission. Typically in politics, if you support a popular program, and your opponent does not, you try to distinguish yourself from them. Why obscure that difference?

      One more thing - it's dumb politics to go out of your way to piss off your ideological flank.  Using that to justify anything is rather odd.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

      by David Kaib on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:25:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  SS Comprehension Failure (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, Ivan, Corporate Dog, schnecke21

    The diarist either does not understand Social Security or lacks the basic ability to write understandable English.  She writes:

    However, according to the Social Security Administration, assuming that nothing is done to the finances of Social Security, the program WILL start contributing to the deficit and the debt by 2037. In particular, what will happen, if NOTHING is done, is that there will be an AUTOMATIC cut to SS by then. On the range of about 22%. Hence, those getting benefits would only get about 78% of them.

    Contrary to what the diarist appears to believe, Social Security CANNOT contribute to the deficit.  It has a dedicated funding mechanism (the payroll tax), and it has no borrowing authority.  The diarist is correct about the consequences of inadequate funding -- SS beneficiaries will not receive the full payments to which they would otherwise be entitled.  But Social Security does not -- I repeat -- DOES NOT contribute to the deficit or the debt.

    Mind you, right wingers and the folks on Obama's Catfood Commission would like us to think Social Security is part of the deficit problem.  That way, they can justify reducing benefits.  (And yes, you can "reduce" or "trim" or "scale back" SS benefits without "slashing" them.)  

    My suggestion for the diarist is that she take five minutes to actually inform herself about an issue before she turns the latest OFA e-mail blast into a diary.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 11:01:53 PM PST

    •  It's a content failure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      calchala

      This is a silly semantic quibble.

      The government takes in money and pays it out. When it takes in more than it pays out it is in surplus, when it pays out more than it takes in it is in deficit.

      Terms like "on-budget" or "off-budget" are arbitrary games that congress plays to keep the public slightly confused. (Were the "war supplementals" on or off budget?) It means nothing in terms of whether the government has enough cash to pay for its current expenditures and whether it then has to borrow to make up the difference.

      If Social Security cash outlays are greater then cash revenue from payroll taxes and income taxation of benefits, then the government must borrow to make up the difference.

      Yes the trust funds  collect interest and can redeem principal, but that just means the Treasury has to find the cash somewhere. Call it whatever you like but it is cash your government has to raise somewhere.

      •  Not quite (0+ / 0-)

        What happens if Social Security's revenues and assets are insufficient to pay benefits due is that the benefits don't get paid.  One assumes that the government would do something to make up the difference, but I'm not aware of any legal obligation that it do so, and I'm certainly not aware of any means by which the Social Security Administration could force it to do so.  

        Social Security was created with a dedicated funding mechanism precisely to avoid it becoming enmeshed in annual budget debates.  So I don't see this as a "silly semantic quibble," unless all issues of law about how federal money is raised, appropriated, and spent are simply semantic quibbles.

        "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

        by FogCityJohn on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:09:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  pre or post trust fund exhaustion? (0+ / 0-)

          I think you are correct as far as the deficits after trust fund exhaustion are concerned. Social Security has no authority to pay benefits if it does not have the revenue. Talking about unfunded obligations as if the benefits must be paid is silly. It's a political argument, primarily.

          But the idea that paying off the trust fund assets does not impact the net cash flow of the government does not make sense either. I don't see how having a dedicated funding mechanism has anything to do with whether the government as a whole needs more cash.

          Most families have multiple bank accounts. Say your spouse spends 20,000 of the families money on  new car out of one account. Does it make sense to say that one account balance is down, but the others are doing just fine? Not to me.

          •  The goverment isn't a family. (0+ / 0-)

            There are many government operations that have dedicated funding sources.  Social Security is only one of them.  In those cases, the revenues raised are available only for the program to which they are dedicated.

            The government certainly needs more cash, but the point is that Social Security is not part of the problem.  

            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

            by FogCityJohn on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 09:41:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's an analogy (0+ / 0-)

              You can pretend the government has many different pockets and you can pretend that they are somehow independent of each other.  But it is just pretending.

              At the end of the day the the government as a whole has to have the cash to pay the obligations of the government as a whole. One of those expenditures is to pay off its bondholders. That is neither good nor bad. It just is.

              Of course, the Social Security Trust Fund collecting interest and eventually principal redemptions is not a problem, any more than paying interest to China, or CALPERS is a problem. The the timing and size of the payments to the Trust Funds from the Treasury have been understood with a pretty high degree of accuracy for 20-25 years.

  •  Why won't the meme die? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, Ivan, emsprater, schnecke21, David Kaib

    Spend 2 years getting lawyered by Barack Obama and you learn to look for the dog that doesn't bark.

    "I didn't campaign on the public option!"

    "I never said I wouldn't end the Bush tax cuts, I just said I didn't want them to be permanent!"

    Did Obama say he would not raise retirement age? No.

    Is it possible that, in Obama's Reganite universe, "strengthening Social Security" would involve raising the retirement age? Yes.

    Meme sustained.

    "The deflation of the progressives was done on purpose by the White House staff. It was a terrible mistake." -- Howard Dean

    by just some lurker guy on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 01:27:05 AM PST

  •  If you're going to use Chris Bowers diary, (6+ / 0-)

    use it all.

    Raising the retirement age is on the table. Notably absent in this list of principles is any mention of the retirement age. The retirement age was also not mentioned during the portion of the State of the Union address that discussed Social Security. The continued absence of any mention of the retirement age is a very strong indication that changes to the retirement age are indeed on the table.

    No “slashes” to benefits, but possible tweaks. These six principles once again emphasize that President Obama is opposed to “slashes” in benefits. This is the exact same language that the President used in the State of the Union. Notably, “slashes” is a subjective descriptor, which vaguely rules out deep cuts in benefits but does not oppose benefit cuts in general.

    Keep in mind that if any deal happens, it will be worked out in private, without any public campaign: But despite all the confrontational rhetoric between the two parties about budget priorities, the White House and Republican congressional leaders, in private talks, have agreed on the need to try to reach a bipartisan “grand bargain” over the budget—a sweeping deal that could include entitlements and tax reforms as well as budget reduction. A Senate Republican leadership aide confirmed this, saying, “In fact, for anything to happen, it will require such a White House/congressional leadership bargain.” The preferred idea is that, just as they did late last year on the tax bill, they would reach an agreement and then unveil it to the public. Furthermore, no deal will be announced unless the Obama administration is behind it. As David Axelrod said to me three weeks ago when I asked him if there was any deal on Social Security President Obama would veto:

    I will say this. I don’t think -- there’s not going to be a bipartisan agreement for him to veto. I think if there’s a bipartisan agreement that it’s going to be hammered out around the principles that he articulated last night or it’s probably not going to move forward. Just the nature of the issue.

    If you don't stand for something, eventually, you stand for nothing.

    by dkmich on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:16:24 AM PST

  •  Obama - Social Security - Concerns (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emsprater, ban nock

    I can agree with you when you say there are many on the left that long ago decided they despise President Obama. I'd also agree there's a lot of concern trolling, demonization, and plain looking for trouble in anything he says here on Daily Kos.

    But there is legitimate concern that the President has not taken future benefit cuts off the table even though the program is very sound and only in need of minor adjustments. There's legitimate concern President Obama has left raising the retirement age ON the table. Until he does so people are justified in their concern. Unfortunately, those six principles leave open the possibility of much damage to Social Security.

    Does that make the "EFF YOU OBAMA!!!" types justified in their rage when nothing has materialized to this point? Not hardly. There's definitely an element that can't see beyond their own personal revulsion with the man. But it's going too far to lump in those types with other liberals who have very real concerns about the bedrock social program that Democrats and liberals have been protecting against assault for decades.

  •  The Obama administration requires .... (0+ / 0-)

    constant force to make them do the 'right thing' in regards to social issues, including 'entitlements' (as the media and the republicans like to call them).

    If he weren't so given to governing by capitulation before the start of negotiations, we wouldn't be having this conversation in the first place.

    Each and every tiny bit of progress that has been made on goals important to the average American since Obama took office has been made because of the constant pressure from the left, not in spite of it.  Wake up!

    it's time for LGBT Americans to put some First Amendment remedies into place.

    by emsprater on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 06:39:34 AM PST

  •  By 2037, climate change (0+ / 0-)

    seems likely to render all discussion of Social Security sort of moot. "Shoring it up for the long term" just isn't a national discussion we need to have now. At best it's a distraction, when we have far greater and more immediate things to worry about.

    When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

    by PhilJD on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 11:27:52 AM PST

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