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Yes Virginia, SS can be cut

2010 September 14
by Ian Welsh

Sorry, it doesn’t work like this:

Nevertheless, Grijalva is right. Social Security will most likely be left intact. Not because of any efforts of the CPC. Not because Progressives will stand up to block cuts. Not because Social Security is popular with the people. Social Security “reform” will fail because it is remarkably stupid and will result in devestating shame on the Administration and cause DLC-type Democrats to lose their seats. Whereas Democrats thought they could sell a crappy Healthcare bill as a success, there is no way Americans will watch seniors eat catfood and thank the Democrats for the priviledge.

No.  It doesn’t work like that. The bailouts passed with more opposition even than SS cuts.  If both parties agree on something, it is irrelevant what the public thinks because DLC-style Dems won’t lose their seats over it if it’s bipartisan.  Furthermore, even if they do lose their seats, they are willing to lose their seats in order to do the bidding of their large donors since if they don’t do that bidding, they not only stand a good chance of losing their seats due to a funding cut off, but once they’re out of office, they won’t be taken care of.

Public opinion is not relevant to the overall direction of what Village elites do.  It DOES NOT MATTER.  Calls about the bailout ran 100:1 to 1200:1 against, they passed it anyway.  Village elites are generally unified in their preferences for policy, and when they are, all you’re arguing is fairly trivial details, not the essence of the policy.  The question about SS in the Villagers minds is not whether it should be cut, but how.

That’s not to say it’s hopeless.  The last attempt to cut SS failed, after all.  But there wasn’t a Democratic president pushing for it that time.  Obama has proven very adept at arm-twisting Democrats.  The real question, however, is if Republicans will cooperate.  Cutting SS is something they want, but the tax cuts and pork they can offer if they get back Congress and the Presidency may outweigh that and the Tea Party types are generally folks who need SS badly.

We’ll see.  But I wouldn’t be complacent on this.  At all.

18 Responses
  1. Lori permalink
    September 14, 2010

    This post sums the situation up more succinctly than anyone else I’ve read.

    So my question is, how long will it take Obama to become a billionaire once he leaves office if he pulls this off? I really think he’s a guy who decided that the easiest for him to become a fat cat was by being president. I can’t made heads or tales out of what he is doing otherwise. Like all sociopaths, he’s corrupting the entire system around him and making as many people complicit in his crimes as he possibly can.

  2. John B. permalink
    September 14, 2010


  3. par4 permalink
    September 14, 2010

    As long as the oligarchy are secure in their wealth and personal safety this will keep happening. It always has and always will be like this,until the majority is too oppressed to tolerate it any longer. There is nothing new under the Sun.

  4. Bernard permalink
    September 14, 2010

    i just assume SS will be cut. what i wonder is/are the aftereffects. Will the Country go more Republican? knowing Republicans, that means America gets screwed more and more.

    i guess i expect lots of people from the loony right to revolt. against the Republicans? once SS is cut, the Democrats are history. so what is the probable path. a fast descent into hell? or a slow boil, like today?

    anyway. these are “interesting” times.

  5. John B. permalink
    September 14, 2010

    that’s a good point. What will be the Democrats reason to be if they continue this path of triangulation and disinheriting the wealth that was part of the New Deal? I for one know this: If the wealthy continue to get their additional tax breaks (bush era cuts) and the Democratic congress (the biggest one we have had in years) goes along with it, I am done with them…

  6. David Kowalski permalink
    September 14, 2010

    The best and perhaps only way to save an intact Social Security is at the level of the Deficit Reduction Commission. Five votes stop anything. That means the eight Republicans stop any increase in taxes and any cut in the military. Corporate giveaways continue unabated. We need five votes. Obama and Reid (may he rot in the Nevada desert) stacked this thing but good.

    Obama certainly would seem to still control two to three votes: Jim Clyburn, Andy Stern, and Dick Durbin. I assume that Durbin would be inclined to save Social Security as is. Stern has already said he’s in favor of cuts. Clyburn is a power mad weasel who is getting old. He’s usually shown as a maintainer of the existing system but I don’t trust him.

    Once it gets to a lame duck session, the deal is done for the Versailles boys. Hope Reid loses even to that crazy woman Angle. Maybe it will teach Obama something. Hoover couldn’t show his face in public for years so maybe Obama won’t have the marvelous future he expects.

  7. Pepe permalink
    September 14, 2010

    I assume that Durbin would be inclined to save Social Security as is.

    Well, that might be Durbin’s inclination, but I doubt he’d cross Obama, if Obama is pushing the cuts.

  8. CEO permalink
    September 14, 2010

    I think every president is offered a huge monetary reward, if they could cut or end Social Security once they are in office. It is never mentioned in presidential campaigns but at some point in every term.

  9. September 14, 2010

    durbin’s already in the bag for ss cuts:

    obama appointed erskine bowles to the commission, who negotiated a deal between bill clinton and newt gingrich … two sleazes in a pod … that got nixed when clinton got caught up in the lewinsky thing. Oh, and sorry if this destroys any of the multitude of delusions that the sorry ass bill clinton apologist crowd basks in.

    obama appointed alan simpson … enough said, I hope.

    alice rivlin, who is a member of good standing in the sociopath pete peterson’s brookings institute.

    david cole, ceo of honeywell, which does defense contracting.

    The way things are rolling thus far, ss cuts are in the bag. That was the plan and the congenitally well-intentioned obama has carried it out for his plutocrat pals. He plays his role as the head pr man of the establishment well.


  10. tatere permalink
    September 14, 2010

    So how do we find alternate candidates? And then maybe the more important point – even if you elect someone who starts outside of the Borg, how do you keep the Borg from assimilating them?

    It’s true that elected folks who toe the line are largely taken care of if they lose, fear of losing does still seem to have some influence. Maybe the afterparty only gets funded if they lose for “the right reasons” – if some Tea Party bozo beats them, well, too bad so sad?

  11. jcapan permalink
    September 14, 2010

    “Furthermore, even if they do lose their seats, they are willing to lose their seats in order to do the bidding of their large donors since if they don’t do that bidding, they not only stand a good chance of losing their seats due to a funding cut off, but once they’re out of office, they won’t be taken care of.”

    Wonderfully expressed. Not to mention that the WH is OK with the prospect of a GOP majority. Thus, for the next two years (in lieu of still blaming W) they can blame actual republican opposition for the nation’s troubles. An added bonus is such “divided” gov’t will distract all the D-partisans who’ve found holding their own leaders accountable so troublesome.

  12. zot23 permalink
    September 14, 2010

    Anytime a condition depends on Democrats “standing up” you know your ass is in trouble.

  13. Tom Hickey permalink
    September 14, 2010

    Wall Street has long regarded SS as the plum. Wall Street controls the political process due to campaign financing. Whoever Wall Street supports has a tremendous advantage. The price of Wall Street support is the plum. Go figure.

  14. The Tragically Flip permalink
    September 15, 2010

    Well the New Deal had a good run, but I guess the Democratic party has returned to its Bourbon roots. Maybe Obama can even pull a Grover Cleveland, and lose in 2012 but win in 2016 or 2020.

    Don’t feel too bad America, the neoliberals have corrupted all the left-of-centre parties in first world democracies that are able to ever win power. I can’t wait for future Liberal Prime Minister Ignatieff’s reign of austerity and privatization.

  15. September 15, 2010

    “The last attempt to cut SS failed, after all.”

    But without ad-liberal heroes like Josh Marshall and their progressivist-related program activities, how could we stand a chance this time around?

  16. jawbone permalink
    September 15, 2010

    It’s not for nothing Obama scheduled the vote on the Cat Food Commission’s recommendations for after the November elections. And Pelosi slipped in that little bit about the House being required to take its vote IF the Senate passes the recommendations.

    Pelosi’s action should have been the indication this was an absolute must for Obama and it would be done. Period. Screw the people, screw the party.

    Given the number of ConservaDems, Blue Dogs, and idiots, there’s no way a majority can’t be put together with the Republicans. In both houses.

    Filibuster? Reid has little patience for Dems who might filibuster, you may recall.

    I see Obama’s underlying objective to be destruction of the New Deal, New Deal Dems, and the party itself. His homage to St. Ronnie. And it was his objective all along: What other reason was there for him to make SocSec an issue during the primaries? What other reason to priase St. Ronnie? And what about his comments about best ideas coming from Repubs?


  17. September 15, 2010

    pelosi stuck this into the bill and still many demo-zombies hold her up as a paragon of liberal virtue. And mind you that she also declared impeaching bush off-limits prior to the 2006 mid-terms. It’s not all reid, it’s also their darling nancy who is a sorry sellout.

    pelosi is queen kabuki … she takes her marching orders from emanuel and has for a long time now.


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