Why Republicans Are Salivating

09 April 2013 |permalink | email article

Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of the Nation magazine, has got it right. On the very day that a bleak jobs report showed just how feeble the recovery is, the White House revealed that the president will propose a budget that features cuts in Social Security. This was designed to get Republicans to agree to negotiate a grand bargain on deficit reduction—or to prove that they are obstructing any deal. The exchange has Republicans salivating . Cutting Social Security becomes the president’s choice, not something extorted by Republicans. If Democrats stand for anything it is defense of Social Security and Medicare, the United States’ most beloved and the vital social programs, a proud legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society.

If Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have any sense, they will organize their entire caucuses and pledge to oppose any deal that cuts a dime out of Social Security benefits.The economics of the president’s proposal are even worse than the politics. The crisis we face in Social Security isn’t that the benefits are too generous; it is that more and more Americans lack the savings for a secure retirement. Obama could be rallying Americans to address the growing retirement crisis. He could focus attention on continuing to challenge the entrenched interests that drive up costs in our health system, the greatest source of our long-term debt crisis. Instead, he is fixated on more austerity, on a “grand bargain” that will include cuts to already inadequate Social Security payments.

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