This is a re-post of a diary I did in February of 2011. Relatively little has changed since then - despite an intervening election.
If you do, think again.
In various diaries and discussion threads here, there has been a lot of speculation and tea leaf reading about to what extent the Obama administration or congressional Democrats will fight for social security. Front pagers and diarists have attempted to parse the words of various administration figures to determine where the "line in the sand" might or might not be.
In this rather short diary, I am going to quote from a personal communication. All of this was written by a lobbyist for a progressive union and expresses her frustration at what she is dealing with in talking to congressional staffers. The picture is not pretty
I think the best way to give you the flavor of what is actually going on on the hill is with an extended quote from this communication:
Hi. Sorry, this is long, but things aren't going well in Congress at all right now. And I'm sorry to keep blathering on about the budget, but it's all anyone is willing to talk about right now.
I just had another really really horribly depressing meeting with staff who should know better. In ALL of my meetings this year, I have been hearing the same thing over and over - from everyone from relatively conservative to otherwise fairly liberal democrats... (including people who have in the past accused ME of being too conservative in my thinking/work on something!)
I haven't in the last decade seen the disconnect between the beltway and real Americans be bigger or worse than it is right now.
Here's what they are saying:
1) You can't tell us not to cut Social Security, you have to give us a list of acceptable cuts to the program that you would endorse. No one takes "scrap the cap" seriously.
2) Debt/deficit is going to be the only issue this year
3) We don't want to look stupid by fighting cuts when it is clear that we're in a debt/deficit crisis
4) We're out of options, we have to cut, we can't raise taxes because it's just impossible. Or we have to be "grownups" and realize that everyone needs to "feel some pain" here.
This is what people I have thought of as reasonable people are saying! I feel like I should be writing a book about Stepford Staffers.
OK folks: The above was written by an experienced professional lobbyist - someone who knows the game and how it is played. If you are sitting there in the complacent belief that the administration, or your member of congress, or someone else, is going to defend social security for you, this should disabuse you of that fantasy. The Dems, from Obama on down, have entirely bought into Republican framing and Republican priorities. Social Security and other social programs will survive in something like their present form only if there is a massive revolt of the people to let them know that we won't stand for the destruction of those programs.
It's up to us, and no one else.
Are you up for the fight?