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A President Who’ll Cut Social Security — And Liberals Who Love Him Too Much

Richard Eskow  points us to a trend with liberals media types and Social Security:

A President Who’ll Cut Social Security — And Liberals Who Love Him Too Much

The spectacle of a supposedly liberal president repeatedly and needlessly trying to cut Social Security is enough to bring a reasonable, economically literate person to the point of existential despair. To see leading liberal lights like Rachel Maddow and Ezra Klein chuckle indulgently at those foolish Republicans in Congress over the subject — Don’t they know he’s already giving them what they want? — is to risk plunging into the depths of that despair.

This week the president hosted a dinner for Republicans leaders where he worked to sell his budget proposal, including his harmful plan to cut benefits through the “chained CPI.” National Security was the main course and Social Security was the dessert. And guess who wasn’t coming to dinner: The elderly, the disabled, or any policy experts who understand the disastrous implications of the chained CPI.

The Maddow/Klein exchange (which we’ll bring to you as soon as a transcript is available) is the crest of a building wave in pro-Democratic Party commentary which says, as Klein puts it, that “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” Klein says that at least “some of the gridlock (in Washington) is due to poor information.” Jonathan Chait bemoans the fact that Republicans “won’t acknowledge [Obama’s] actual offer, which includes large cuts to retirement programs.”

But Democrats like Maddow, Klein, and Chait know better. They know exactly what Obama’s been trying to do. And their only complaint seems to be that he’s not doing effectively enough. We’re not hearing much from the ‘left’ side of the debate about the profound flaws, biases, and inherent cynicism behind both the President’s policy and his rhetoric.

Here are the facts:
1.Research suggests that Social Security cost-of-living increases are already inadequate. (See studies on “CPI-E” for more details on the best ways to increase them.)

2.Obama’s proposed chained-CPI cut would typically reduce benefits for 3 percent, and by as much as 6 percent for some recipients.

3.The White House’s decision to label this cut the “superlative CPI” is grotesque. It suggests that elderly women who receive an average of $950 or so per month are receiving “superlative” benefit increases each year.

4.The administration’s insistence on speaking of “entitlement reform,” mixing Medicare (which has a real cost problem because of our for-profit health system) with Social Security, is a cheap trick first devised by Republican consultants.

(hat tip Nancy Ortiz)

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Big government pushed by the right

Dean Baker notes that liberals have let the right wing get away with the small government mythology…

It is astounding how liberals are so happy to work for the right by implying that conservatives somehow just want to leave markets to themselves whereas the liberals want to bring in the pointy-headed bureaucrats to tell people what they should do. This view is, of course, nonsense. Pick an issue, any issue, and you will almost invariably find the right actively pushing for a big role for government.
…These TBTF banks operate with an implicit subsidy from the government. Lenders expect the government to step in to back up these banks’ debt if they fail, as happened on a massive basis in 2008. As a result, TBTF banks can borrow money at lower interest rates than would be possible in a free market.
…To take another easy example, drug patents raise the price of prescription drugs by close to $270 billion a year above their free-market price. This is roughly five Bush tax cuts to the wealthy…
…Patents imply very big government since the government will imprison anyone who produces a drug without the patent holder’s consent. In recent years, big government has been actively working to extend Pfizer’s and Merck’s patent monopolies to the rest of the world through NAFTA, CAFTA, and other recent trade deals.
…While the government has been using the banner of “free trade” to drive down the wages of manufacturing workers, it has simultaneously been increasing the protection afforded doctors in order to prevent any similar downward pressure on their wages…

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