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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Why Is The White House Considering “Significant” Cuts To Social Security?

Republican leaders in Congress, who were staring down the Democrats over a potentially disastrous debt default only days ago, are suddenly blinking so fast that they might be signaling in Morse code. Although their message is muddled and illogical – with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) saying he can accept closing tax loopholes only if such measures are “revenue neutral,” thus canceling their budgetary value – the Republicans now clearly understand that they will be blamed if the negotiations collapse.

And Democrats appear to understand that they have the advantage, as they voiced support for a proposal by Senate Budget Committee chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) to reduce future deficits by $4 trillion with an even split between increased revenues and reduced spending.

But just when the Republicans are showing fear and losing momentum, there is one important Democrat who seems to think it is time to wave the white flag– and give his enemies an historic victory on the eve of his own reelection bid.

According to the Washington Post, President Obama will propose “significant” cuts to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican agreement to let tax breaks for the nation’s wealthiest families to expire at the end of this year.

Why would the President abruptly undermine his party’s longstanding support for the two highly popular federal programs – especially when polls consistently show overwhelming majorities in both parties oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits? It isn’t as if there is any great enthusiasm for him or his economic leadership among Democratic voters. Indeed, he and Congressional Democrats only began to achieve political traction again, for the first time since the midterm elections, when the Republicans foolishly lined up behind House Budget chairman Paul Ryan’s plan to transform Medicare from a public entitlement to a privatized voucher.

Over the past few weeks, Democrats pressed that advantage by portraying the Republicans as defenders of tax loopholes for corporate jet owners and oil companies and enemies of middle-class families – and the Republicans eagerly leaped into that trap. The Democratic strategy worked so well that even the most extreme elements in the Republican leadership – such as Cantor – suddenly saw that they had closed themselves into a very dangerous box.

That is why Cantor – and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ)– began to babble about “increased revenues,” “user fees,” and “closing loopholes” over the past two days, using language that directly contradicts their own earlier hard-line rhetoric.

Of course, Republican support for increased fees and closed loopholes that add up to a negligible amount – or to nothing at all, as Cantor apparently prefers – won’t satisfy Democrats who now know that pushing back works. They might well imitate the Republicans, accept the concessions by Kyl and Cantor, and push back even harder.

The Senate Democratic budget plan would reduce the deficit from $4 trillion to $5 trillion over the coming decade, according to Conrad’s calculations. By requiring that half of the total come from tax increases and ending tax loopholes, Conrad would raise roughly $2 trillion to match a similar amount in spending cuts – far more than the President has proposed. Last spring, for instance, the White House suggested that Congress should cut $3 in spending for every dollar in revenue raised.

Conrad is among the most conservative Democrats, but he is retiring after this year. What he proposes would be fairer to American families, better for the American economy, and more desirable for his party, too. But the restored courage demonstrated by Democratic Senators in support of his plan will not accomplish much if the president is determined to capitulate on fundamental principles. Should he prove to be so foolish, then he will find himself another step closer to the end of his presidency.

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • Daid Heston

    The current stand off on the budget amplifies the need for a strong third party,formed in every state.This third party must be funded state by state and should have candidates for each position on the ballot.

    The need for a strong third party would nessitate discussion and co-operation to reach a majority vote
    to pass legislation, and would more represent what the citizenery and not special interests require for survival and well being.

    I guess that I’m just a Jeffersonian or in todays lingo a damned red commie, but it is my opinion that our government was founded to help insure that the will of the majority should become the law of the land, but in our current system, the issues are artifically imposed on the electorate in the form letters sent out by both by the nationial parties asking not for editorial opinions of the populace, but rather the voters stance on issues chosen by the wealthy donors. I am certain that all remember the annoying and very costly opinion surveys mailed enmasse by both the House and the Senate. These mailings were, as I noticed, first introduced by the democrats and in particular the Clintons.

    These “opinion forms” at first did not reflect any issue current to the mailing, but rather showed a trend on items that seemed disconnected to the needs of the people, but rather what would placate the masses until the monied intterests could figure out how to prevail in the formation of the discussions for our legislators to argue.

    It has always been my opinion that a government should firstly do what the populace needs the enhance the quality of life for the masses(the majority of our income resources)and then any money left could be used to support our image in the world standing. The corporations should be left to stand or fail as they see fit with their own monies,not that of the tax payers.The Republicans would have us believe that “entitlements” are our pink elephants, and they indeed are,but our entitlements are being given to the pink elephant to supress the very people that paid for and created these programs. There is more being spent on welfare currently than any in our history, only problem it is given to the corporations to assist them with their off-shoring of our jobs and their profits.

    I find it disturbing the obvious double legal standard with regard to the the treatment of drug or crime assets located off-shore and prosecuted under the RICO laws,and the apparent laxity of the same laws when applied to the wealthy.Certainly, with out the need for warrents, the NSA or the very costly Homeland Security Department(who was formed and tasked with finding money being off-shored as possible terrorists funding)should have tripped over the
    enormous amount of monies being off-shored to avoid taxation by our precious corporations and wealthhiest among us,or we hired the most inept possible.The crime they(the wealthy) is no different than the RICO prosecutions,except as we give them their refund checks, we apparently also give them a wink and a nod, rather than an arrest warent, immediate siezure of all belongings as evidence of an on going criminal enterprise and the subsequent conviction and 40 year sentence given other RICO
    David Heston

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