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Through much of the Obama presidency, there has been an undercurrent of unease concerning his commitment to the preserve Social Security, the keystone  social insurance program of the New Deal and Great Society.  Now is the time for him lay claim to our proud Democratic heritage, and to step up with a ringing endorsement, and so distinguish himself (and his party) from the challenger.  

Much has been made of the President's statement, in the first presidential debate, that he and Governor Romney shared a similar position on Social Security.

Another progressive site, not generally prone to rhetorical excesses, has also noted a certain cognitive dissonance in the President's (and vice-President's) failures to  unambiguously support support Social Security.

Other sites where less restraint is practiced, have suggested that this failure reflects the President's close ties to the financial industry, which would benefit from the ultimate weakening or dismantling of Social Security.

Whatever position one takes on the various threads and voices in this debate, it is clear that the Presidential race is tightening.  If the President thinks he can win the election by finessing the issue of Social Security, and leaving the door open to 'tweaks' (so called) he is playing a dangerous game.  He will need the enthusiasm of progressives to overcome the electoral chicanery of Republicans in any tight election.  The argument that progressives will come home to him, despite their misgivings, will not serve: "Vote for me, I'm not as bad as the other guy," is not a winning slogan.

It is time for the President to lay claim to our party's heritage, and state his unqualified support for Social Security as it now stands.

Originally posted to magnetics on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

    by magnetics on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 11:51:21 AM PDT

  •  Raise cap and it is done. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magnetics, DarkestHour, bluedust, quill

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 11:57:04 AM PDT

  •  Privatization (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magnetics

    That should be the biggest issue from now until the election. Obama should attack on this. I'm skeptical that he will, but we'll see.

    •  As noted below, I think it will only happen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CentralMass, blueoasis

      if the party machinery starts to feel a serious draft.

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:06:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Privatization is a red herring (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      The numbers that made it at least theoretically feasible in the late 90s were bogus by the 2005 tour and totally out of reach today.

      The Republican Party has already given up on Privatization for anything but a starting point for the Grand Bargain to gut Social Security on the benefit side. Because they KNOW they are bluffing, the real money is out of the barn.

      Note that Ryan did not even blink at omitting it from the Budget he actually passed, he knows it is DOA on coming up against CBO scoring. Progressive supporters of Social Security would make a HUGE mistake focusing on this phantom as opposed to "tweaks" like Chained-CPI. They missed the chance to storm the Social Security Gates outright, now they are setting in for a starvation based siege. And Obama's advice to the troops and residents seems to be "time to tighten your belts"

      bruceweb.blogspot.com

      by Bruce Webb on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 05:04:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree but it won't happen (13+ / 0-)

    It's pretty clear, despite what some would hope for (only "tweak" being a raising of the cap), that the President supports Bowles and Simpson's plan to raise the retirement age and cut the program for those who are currently under a certain age.

    That's why one age group gets language like "not cut" and another age group gets "not slash". Those are specific word choices.

  •  Said this before. (7+ / 0-)

    If this POTUS wants to win,he needs to be forthright and unabashed in his SS support. But the door he opened in that first debate makes it more difficult to do now.
    Difficult but not impossible.(Assuming he doesn't want to cut SS)

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:06:25 PM PDT

    •  If he does want to, it's up to the progressive (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, blueoasis, CentralMass

      community to make sure he doesn't.  

      I admit I am no mind reader, but I do not like the signs I've seen over the past 4 years.

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:08:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't want to win? What? (0+ / 0-)

        The progressive community doesn't need to down the president on this issue right now. Let's elect this president. The GOP wants to privatize and gut SS. I don't like those signs at all.

        The fix is soooo easy. Raise the cap.

        •  Doesn't tweak or cut. (0+ / 0-)

          As for raising the cap -- he should simply come out publicly in favor of it.  What's not to like about that?

          The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

          by magnetics on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:00:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually there are solid arguments against (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tardis10

            a simple cap increase. In particular an immediate cap increase serves to crowd out the possibility of increasing middle and top rates for any other part of the progressive agenda. And mechanically just sends a torrent of cash through a system that is projected to spend the next decade in surplus.

            You can show why this apparently progressive idea has many hidden political and financial snares hidden down in the weeds. But it takes going through the spreadsheets a year and a decade at the time. Short version it is pure overkill, there is exactly no real world policy reason to solve a problem projected over a 75 year threshold and not under standard metrics actually officially triggered until the early 2020s with a totalizing solution starting yesterday. In a more rational world we would we looking at the actuarial gap as it projects to appear in the 25 year subperiods and bite off each of those as they come. I mean what other programs are actually budgeted three decades out? Maybe aspects of the space program, otherwise not much.
            http://www.ssa.gov/...
            The median projection for the actuarial deficit in 2036 (first 25 year subperiod) is -0.82% (less than half of the 75 year projection) with a probability range that would return results from an actual surplus of 0.36% of payroll (the so-called 'Low Cost' alternative') to a deficit of -2.25% ('High Cost'). Given this probability span we can and should phased in projected changes, INCLUDING any cap increases in small increments and wait on events. Whereas a total cap increase just floods the zone and can lead to unanticipated consequences.

            bruceweb.blogspot.com

            by Bruce Webb on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 05:19:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Damn,nice to see you here. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              magnetics

              Couple of questions which you can ignore if you are too busy.
              If the cap were lifted covering 90% of wages, do you know what wage range that would be? Also if carried interest were treated as ordinary income subject to both SS & Medicare taxes,could this move that 90% number?
              I have an acquaintance that pointed out that taxing carried interest would add only 13 or 14 Billion to the govt. coffers so why should they bother. (Yeah,you guessed it, he would be impacted)

              "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

              by tardis10 on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:25:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  LOL (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tardis10

                The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

                by magnetics on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 01:19:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Your questions cross cut (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tardis10

                One is the effect of returning the cap to 90%.
                The other is treating carried interest as ordinary income for FICA.

                But if we combine them both the change is mininiscule. That is most people who earn 'carried interest' probably already have covered income subject to FICA up to the 83% or 90% levels already. And once they limit out whether their carried interest income up to $220k or so WOULD have been subject to tax is kind of moot.

                Now the total removal of ANY cap plus the treatment of carried interest as ordinary compensation (which arguably it should be anyway) would mean a reasonable chunk of change to Social Security. Sure maybe only a few billion dollars, but enough that maybe we could put Big Bird on the SSA payroll.

                Speaking of LOL it is constantly amusing that the Right will get exercised over some random earmark for a million for a museum somewhere or even an admittedly over the top GSA convention somewhere but offhandedly suggest that $13 or 14 billion in foregone revenue (or more than 1000X that amount of 'waste, fraud and abuse') are in context just rounding errors hardly worth bothering about.

                (Which of course recalls the words of I think Senator Dirksen back in the 60s: "a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money". Of course he was being sardonic, the MOTUS take that to heart).

                bruceweb.blogspot.com

                by Bruce Webb on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:35:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I know. At the upcoming debate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aliasalias, magnetics

        I imagine it will come up. My assvice to the POTUS is to make a clear,concise statement and say exactly what his tweak is. Basically,he should get his Bernie Sanders on,point out that SS is solvent & contributes zero to the deficit & promise no benefits will be cut for current or future beneficiaries.I n the spirit ot of S-B bipartisanship he could allow the FICA cap to be returned to its historical average.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:20:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Consider how carefully Biden did NOT (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      magnetics, aliasalias, tardis10

      Commit to current benefits even though he had done so a few weeks ago.

  •  We have added $5.9 trillion to the national debt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shahryar, magnetics, greenbell

    in the last 4 years on top of the $5 trillion that we added in the previous two presidential terms

    Gross debt as a share of the GDP is at 105% up 35% in the last 4 year. Two unfunded wars and a deficit producing tax plan have gutted the budget. The solution from both sides is fighting over who's tax cuts are better.

    We are f'd, not matter which side wins.

  •  Obama will not do it -- the fix is in for a Grand (5+ / 0-)

    Bargain after the election where everyone is going to be gut punched by Obama channelling Saint Reagan and hacking Social Security.

    Now, I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission. No party has a monopoly on wisdom. No democracy works without compromise. I want to get this done, and we can get it done. - Obama, nomination acceptance speech 2012
    Obama lurves him some catfood -- not for himself mind you, he's set for life, just us little people.

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:49:33 PM PDT

  •  Well, as you folks nip at the president's heels (0+ / 0-)

    Mitt Romney is inching closer to winning the presidency.

    I'm sure you'll all feel righteous if Romney manages to win, knowing that you held Obama's feet to the fire.

    And you'll watch as Republicans privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher program and ship Medicaid back to the states as a block grant.

  •  Don't hold your breath. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, quill, magnetics

    It is good politics so he would have done it by now if he didn't already intend to cut it.  He made his intentions clear in the grand bargain episode, showing what he would accept.  And in four years he has made numerous statements about cutting entitlements, most recently to Bob Woodward.

    We need to reelect this President because his opposition is a malignant clown posse.  But then we need to frighten the Congress into abandoning any thought of going along with what he wants on earned benefits and the social safety net.  We need to remind them the third rail still has juice in it.

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