I’ll take Yglesias’s post as a sign there is a possibility we’ll be saved from Obamanomics.
Yesterday in Virginia, Pres. Obama pushed one way to “stabilize the system” and Social Security, while he simultaneously works to make Congress more feckless through the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created through ACA, whose power he now wants to expand to take on Medicare. Obama on Social Security:
So we do have to stabilize Social Security’s finances, but we can do that with some relatively modest changes — unlike health care, where we’ve got to get in and work with providers and really get some much more substantial reforms. With Social Security, it’s just a matter of tweaking how it currently works.
Now, politically, it’s hard to do. Politically, it’s hard to do. For example — I’ll just give you one example of a change that would make a difference in Social Security. Right now you only pay a Social Security tax up to a certain point of your income. So a little bit over $100,000, your Social Security — you don’t pay Social Security tax.
Now, how many people are making less than $100,000 a year? Don’t be bashful. (Laughter.) The point is, for the vast majority of Americans, every dime you earn, you’re paying some in Social Security. But for Warren Buffett, he stops paying at a little bit over $100,000 and then the next $50 billion he’s not paying a dime in Social Security taxes.
So if we just made a little bit of an adjustment in terms of the cap on Social Security, that would do a significant amount to stabilize the system. And that’s just an example of the kinds of changes that we can make. (Applause.)
So we are going to have to make some changes in Social Security, but it’s not the major driver of our deficit. And what I’ve proposed is let’s work on Social Security, but let’s not confuse that with this major budget debate that we’re having about how we deal with both spending and revenues because that is the problem that is going to require some really hard work and some bipartisan cooperation. Okay?
If Pres. Obama had any leadership vision at all he would have done this before he lost his congressional majority. That he’s suddenly talking about it as his reelection heats up doesn’t impress me.
Voters now have to decide it they believe him. It’s not the first election promise he’s made, but those big bad Republicans and Blue Dog Dems forced him to cave. The question is what we’re going to have to give up in return for lifting the cap, if it happens. The only way it will if Democrats take back the House and keep the Senate, which considering Rep. Ryan’s poison budget pill isn’t as far fetched as it sounds, though I wouldn’t put odds on it this early.
As the chart above illustrates, Obama, Democrats, Republicans and the Tea Party are still wrong and the people don’t want their prescriptions. So it’s no surprise that everyone is souring on political parties, because neither of the big two represent anyone anymore. It’s part of the reason the Tea Party rose up, but they’re ideas are even worse.
To compete with what Obama said yesterday, we have Obama’s Gang of Six and Senate man Dick Durbin talking about using Social Security as a bargaining chip. David Dayen did a rundown on this yesterday. I’m not going to pose it as “good cop – bad cop,” but it’s obvious Independent a Sen. Bernie Sanders has struck a White House nerve.
Durbin criticized a resolution put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a liberal independent from Vermont, that says Social Security should not be cut under a deficit reduction plan. Durbin said he would not vote for such a resolution.
“I think Bernie is going too far with his language,” Durbin said.
“In 2037, as we know it, Social Security falls off a cliff,” he said. “There’s a 22 percent reduction rate in payments, which is really not something we can tolerate. If we deal with it today, it’s an easier solution than waiting. I think we ought to deal with it. Many of my colleagues disagree, put it off to another day. But from my point of view, leaving it out makes it easier politically, including it, I think, meets an obligation, which we have to senior citizens.”
I still don’t think anything will happen before 2012. But it’s it’s just a matter of time whether it’s Democrats or Republicans who starting tinkering with Social Security, which isn’t any part of our deficit or debt problems.
Instead we should be surtaxing the super wealthy, reversing the Bush tax cuts completely (because everyone is going to have to take a hit), lift the payroll cap for Social Security above $160,800 (Obama reiterating this idea), cut the Pentagon budget, come home from Afghanistan, pull out of Iraq, which is especially important since Pres. Obama started a war in Libya that will require a lot more effort than anyone’s talking about right now, as well as end subsidies for big farm and oil companies, then fix the tax code so Exxon-Mobil and GE actually have to pay taxes. Problem solved.
Oh, and one more thing, U.S. trade policy, which is the biggest reason why Donald Trump caught fire with his blow torch rhetoric targeting China.
As you look at the graphic above also notice the feelings about cutting military spending. It’s particularly fitting that as badly as we need serious cuts in Pentagon spending, decades of militarism, preemptive war, our latest in Libya, and support of the defense contracting industry has cemented into the minds of most Americans that we actually need the military-industrial complex we have today, which in the 50th anniversary year of Eisenhower’s warning tells our entire debtor nation’s story.