Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.
The news today if true about the "fiscal cliff" negotiations is not only quite disturbing, but equally as much perplexing. I guess it should not be. The modern Democratic Party with a few exceptions has long been very good at this. Through cowardice or complicity or whatever reason you might believe the Democratic Party always seems to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. No wonder they can never keep power for too long and can never enact an agenda to stop decades of trickle-down economics. Americans believe they talk a good game but are too cowardly to do anything about it. And you know something? They are for the most part spot on.
It does not matter what issue. It does not matter which way the political winds are blowing or how the public feels about anything. No matter how extreme or completely idiotic the Republican stance is all men like Boehner and McConnell have to do when they are not in power is throw a temper tantrum when they do not get there way. Eventually they will get most of what they want and will give very little or nothing in return.
And now it is happening again. I am not singling out President Obama because plenty of other Democrats have been guilty of it. However, he is the leader of the party who has just been given a second term by a massive effort which produced close to another landslide. If not a mandate he was given a definite upper hand by the American people in negotiations and polls show his argument still wins the day.
He has made concessions aplenty in his time in Washington. He extended these tax cuts once. He axed a public option in healthcare. Time and again he reached out to the other side and pulled back a bloody nub. Yes, after being a very moderate first-time President who tried his best not to rattle cages he saw the fruits of those labors. He faced possibly more hate, vitriol, propaganda and downright lies than just about anyone I can remember in my lifetime.
In this last Presidential election two competing visions were presented to America. A return to full-blown trickle-down economics or a more Progressive version of Obama than we saw in the first term. These debates included visions on how we would get over the "fiscal cliff" and what was best to do about our debts and deficit. And no matter what anyone says about the Republicans winning the House the American people made a clear distinction and choice on what they wanted done about that.
Now Obama is once again giving too many concessions while negotiating from a position of strength and too many Democrats are too willing to fall right in line:
House Democratic leaders have softened their blanket opposition to Social Security cuts in a “fiscal-cliff” package despite an outpouring of anger from rank-and-file members.http://thehill.com/...
Democratic leaders are keeping an open mind after President Obama proposed to cut inflationary increases in Social Security payments in his latest offer to Republicans, with some saying they’d support such reductions if the most vulnerable beneficiaries are protected.
Which brought about a comment I found particularly distasteful from Nancy Pelosi:
“The Democrats will stick with the president,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday when asked about the Social Security provisions on MSNBC.I find that distasteful because we are not the Republicans. We should not be falling in line with anyone just because they are in our party if they are wrong. And the fact of the matter is President Obama was wrong for even putting Social Security on the table for any reason. We did not fight for that and the American people did not vote for it.
Luckily Senate Democrats may be a much harder sell on toying with Social Security:
Several Senate Democrats also hammered Obama’s chained CPI proposal Tuesday, with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) saying the provision would be “a problem for Democrats”; Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) warning that he’ll “fight hard” to keep Social Security out of the fiscal-cliff package; and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) saying the White House move “doesn’t warm my heart.”This legislation should be opposed. It should be opposed by every single Democrat and anyone who ever wants to draw their Social Security funds. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare explains why:
“Too many Washington politicians clearly hope middle-class Americans simply won’t notice billions of dollars in Social Security benefit cuts included in proposals changing the current cost of living allowance formula to a stingier chained CPI. I promise you, seniors and their families will notice.http://www.ncpssm.org/...
If news reports are correct and the White House is considering this benefit cut, then President Obama has broken faith with seniors and his commitment to keep Social Security out of the deficit debate. The chained CPI would mean an immediate benefit cut of $130 per year for the typical 65-year old retiree and would grow exponentially to a $1,400 cut after 30 years of retirement.
Contrary to the political spin, this chained CPI proposal isn’t a “tweak” or an “adjustment,” it’s designed to cut benefits and raises taxes, largely on the poor and middle class, totaling $208 billion over ten years. $112 billion of those benefits cuts come from Social Security alone with up to $24 billion coming from VA benefits and civilian and military retirement pay cuts.
Seniors will have received an average COLA of 1.3% over 4 years with no increases in two of those years. Arguing that is too generous shows how out of touch some our political leaders have become with the real-world economic realities facing average Americans. Adopting the chained CPI is nothing more than a political slight of hand targeting our nation’s middle class and poor and should be rejected by the President.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
Which brings me back to the title question to Barack Obama and the Democrats who would follow him down this path. Again? Are they really going to throw the people this chained Consumer Price Index is going to hurt under the bus for men like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner? All this sounds like pocket change to them because they are so out of touch but to real Americans that legitimately need and deserve these benefits it is a lot. Are Democratic leaders really lining up with the zealots in the Republican Party against them??
Is it really easier just to give in than to fight? Does it really make you look better? What is wrong with drawing a line in the sand, telling the American people and let them decide in 2014 who was to blame for "going over the cliff". Why do we have to concede?
Which really makes me begin to wonder. Maybe some Democrats do these things because while they talk a good game deep down inside they agree with men like Boehner and McConnell more than they agree with us. Maybe they are not fighting for and against things because deep down inside they don't really believe in them.
I want to make one thing clear. I know that we are going to have to cut spending. I know too, that we already have. However, Social Security is indeed solvent, has never contributed a penny to the national debt and has had it's surplus raided over and over. It is not and never will be the problem. It is too important to too many people from all generations to be gambled away at the dice table.
I hope all Americans will rise up like they did against the privatization scheme of George W. Bush and make short work of this latest capitulation, or whatever it was.