THE WRITING has been on the Democratic wall since President Obama created his own austerity commission known as Simpson-Bowles. It’s true that Republicans might do worse, but then at least Democrats could blame them for cutting a massively popular program like Social Security, instead of doing it themselves and destroying the Democratic brand forever.
From the New York Times, which continues the tick tock to post-election fiscal cliff shenanigans, which right now will likely come as people tune out for the holidays.
First, senators would come to an agreement on a deficit reduction target ““ likely to be around $4 trillion over 10 years ““ to be reached through revenue raised by an overhaul of the tax code, savings from changes to social programs like Medicare and Social Security, and cuts to federal programs. Once the framework is approved, lawmakers would vote on expedited instructions to relevant Congressional committees to draft the details over six months to a year.
If those efforts failed, another plan would take effect, probably a close derivative of the proposal by President Obama’s fiscal commission led by Erskine B. Bowles, the Clinton White House chief of staff, and former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, a Republican. Those recommendations included changes to Social Security, broad cuts in federal programs and actions that would lower tax rates over all but eliminate or pare enough deductions and credits to yield as much as $2 trillion in additional revenue.
When you vote for Obama-Biden in November, you’re voting for the plan to change entitlements, while supporting tax cuts, too. In essence, you’re buying into austerity. You are also supporting the Democratic Party’s final tilt rightward and giving more ground to corporate Democrats, who will be a bigger, badder Blue Dog, a breed that’s dying away.
It’s a tough election year for many Democratic partisans, whom I hear from every day. They’re sick about the inevitable entitlement deal, which would be a lot easier to stomach if Democrats demanded a series of tax increases for the 2%, but also lifting the income cap on money that can be taxed for Social Security. But then Democrats wouldn’t have to sell their souls.
Social Security is funded through mandatory taxes, so going bankrupt or becoming insolvent is an impossibility unless the federal government raids Social Security.
The only reason to change Social Security is in the spirit of offering some bipartisan fig leaf to get Republicans to offer tax increases. The problem is that President Obama has already signaled he’s ready to deal on entitlements, back in 2011, so Republicans don’t see any reason to deal on tax increases, because they aren’t being forced to the mat in a campaign that shames them to do so.
Holding your nose to vote Democratic has a whole new meaning this year, especially since it makes the voter party to austerity cuts in entitlements from Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid.