I had thought President Obama had learned his lesson from his first term in office -- when it became obvious that Republicans would not compromise no matter how far the president bent over backwards to give in to them. But evidently he is even more hard-headed than I had thought, because he is once more ready to give in to keep the Republicans happy -- in the vain hope of finally getting them to compromise.
And this time he is willing to sacrifice two programs that progressives are most proud of creating -- Social Security and Medicare. He wants a "grand bargain" with the Republicans, and has decided he's willing to make cuts in Medicare and in Social Security benefits. For Social Security, he is proposing to change the way the cost-of-living adjustment is figured. Instead of keeping it tied to the rise in real inflation, he wants to switch to a much more stingy way of figuring what a rise in the cost-of living should be -- a procedure called the "chained CPI".
This is nothing more than a backdoor way to cut Social Security benefits, since seniors will lose some buying power with each passing year (because their cost-of-living raises will no longer keep up with the inflation rate). And with an average Social Security benefit of only about $1000 a month, that is a benefit cut that most seniors simply cannot afford. With each passing year, more of them will slip down into poverty.
The president is doing this because the Republicans claim Social Security and Medicare must be cut to balance the budget. That's a lie though, since Social Security is not even a budget item (because it is completely paid for out of the Social Security Trust Fund, which is funded by payroll taxes). The truth is that Social Security has not added a single penny to the budget deficit or the national debt -- Medicare (which is mostly funded by payroll taxes and premiums paid by senior citizens) has contributed far less to the budget deficit than either the Republican tax cuts (for the rich) or their unnecessary wars (Iraq and Afghanistan).
It would make far more sense to raise taxes on the rich (and corporations) and stop the foreign wars, but the Republicans won't hear of that -- and it is the Republicans that Obama is trying to please with his ridiculous and hard-hearted proposal. He hopes to split the Republicans by giving them what they have asked for and get a budget passed, even if that budget is an austere GOP budget.
And it might actually get a few Republicans to vote for it. We just have to hope that more Democratic progressives will keep their word and vote against the Obama budget than Republicans who vote for it. It is time for those progressives in Congress to stand firm -- and stand in defense of America's senior citizens -- who did not create this economic mess and should not have to suffer to fix it(while the rich laugh all the way to the bank).
I never thought I'd see a Democratic president offering to cut Social Security benefits. But that is exactly what President Obama wants to do. He should be ashamed of himself. He is turning his back on not only millions of senior citizens, but also millions of progressives who were vital to his election and re-election. Personally, I feel betrayed.