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Democrats Make Obama Retreat on Social Security


Elana Schor at TPM:

The New York Times reports this morning that the White House had abandoned plans to unveil a Social Security “task force” at today’s fiscal summit, raising the question of whether the Obama administration is ready to conduct separate debate over the long-term health of Social Security and Medicare — or whether the tired canard of “dangerous entitlement spending” will continue to rule the political roost.


“We just think the timing is terrible” to formally open such a Social Security task force now, this activist added. “At a time when the economy is terrible and people are losing their 401(k)s, you want people to feel more comfortable about their retirement.”

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (and a TPMCafe contributor), was another influential voice on the left urging Obama aides to use the White House bully pulpit on other issues and leave aside Social Security.

“I certainly let them know that I thought it would be a really bad idea” to create any task force, Baker told me. “Most of us took the position that we were trying to use whatever contacts we had [to raise concerns], working from the position that we were expecting to be working with the Obama administration.”

The message sent to the White House by progressives, as Baker put it, was: “We’re going to have to oppose you on this. It’s a waste of political capital – why would you do it?”

That’s the good news.  That bad news is the fauxgressive NeoRepublican Obama administration hasn’t given up, they’re just moving the SS task force idea to the back burner.  Social Security “reform” isn’t dead, it will be back sooner or later, just like Jason Voorhies.

So keep those pitchforks and torches handy, you’ll need them again.

(h/t Lambert)



Vaginaphobe Andrew Sullivan:

Now we see the real struggle for the soul of this administration. Obama wants to tackle the insolvency of the big three entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. These three programs, especially Medicare, will destroy the fiscal future, unless we pare them back now. Left untouched, they will also make it much likelier in the near future that global financial markets may finally snap and stop sending money to a country that looks more and more like those subprime mortgage-owners than a serious polity. And so we have a tough-on-spending budget and a desire to convene the long-anticipated, endlessly delayed fiscal sanity summit to make the deal we all know needs to be made. The GOP will have to accept some tax hikes and the Dems will have to accept some entitlement cuts.

It seems to me that a key sign of the Republican party’s maturing back to sanity will be a willingness to join Obama in this endeavor.

The current market has scotched any “private accounts” diversion from the social security debate, removing the ideological impediment placed before this pragmatic reform by the last president. The Democrats are resisting, giving the GOP a chance to reclaim its serious fiscal credentials by actually focusing on big-ticket entitlement costs rather than their asinine “pork” fixation – a way to appear fiscally prudent while avoiding any real action. The left seems adamant in refusing any reforms until they have us all in their national health scheme, from birth to death. The right therefore has an opening to appeal, for a change, to the sensible center. Will they? The answer to that question will tell us more about the future of the right than any lame-ass Jindal-style posturing over the stimulus.

Just a thought, but is it possible that Sully hates Social Security because women tend to live longer than men?

43 Responses

  1. Sully hates Social Security because he’s a right-wing Republican ratfucker!

  2. Emperor Bob is probably skeered of naughty lady parts just like Sully is

  3. DYB:

    Now that Obama has been elected Sully can go back to hating Democrats.

    Especially the ones with vajajays

    • My thoughts exactly.

      The Republicans who claimed to love Obama will be getting their hate back on in about six months.

      Obama has never understoof that there is nothing any Democrat can do to prevent Republicans from hating him. Obama can praise Reagan to the skies and continue the heinous Bush policies of torture, bogus claims of executive privilege and rendition. He can “surge” in Afghanistan and throw trillions of dollars at the corporate fat cats.

      The Republicans will still hate him and call him a commie pinko America-hating liberal.

      Because that’s how they win elections. And once the true scope of the Obama disaster becomes evident, they will be in a lovely position come 2010 and 2012.


      • that’s it in a nutshell. brilliant.

      • Yes, I got the impression that the Elephascists weren’t really trying to win in 2008. Plastic Jesus looks more and more like the ultimate stooge.

        Soooo, do y’all think he’s more like Moe, Larry, Curly, Joe, or Shemp?

        Nyuk nyuk nyuk… :mrgreen:

  4. This is sort of good news. The bad news is all the other ‘entitlement’ resources are still on the table.

    But the more the situation is that Congress/Obama/his golf buddies have to make any attack on Soc Sec head-on, out in the open, the harder it is for them to do anything. When it was folded in with 87 other things Villagers were trying to cut, it dispersed the opposition energy across lots of things.

    Now, we need to get MediCare off the ‘fiscal responsibility’ table and single-payer put forward as the best solution to our health care crisis.

    • Social Security is still on the table too.

    • HR 676, Medicare for All would be a good way to move Medicare/Medicaid off the table. Getting younger people in it would drop the cost/person like a rock and make it easier to defend in any case.

      At the very least, Congress needs to rework Part D and open Medicare up to anyone over 55. That would be a start.

  5. You stole part of my thunder, myiq2xu, but I’m still going to post mine a little later on.

  6. You would think that with Democrats controlling Congress and the WH that Social Security and other key liberal accomplishments would be safe.

    • if we had a president that didn’t actually admire Ronald Reagan and was a real democrat, you’d think that, wouldn’t you?

      • You should but here’s another one of those Democrats.

        Social Security “was a critical issue before we got into this crisis,” Representative Ellen O. Tauscher, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the New Democrats coalition of House moderates, said in an interview. “Now it’s one of those things – the question is, is it a nice-to-have or a have-to-have?” She said she would favor having a bipartisan group take up the issue and devise a plan “that doesn’t get delivered until perhaps a year from now.”

    • Social security is really not the problem. The problem is Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare became a special problem with the whole W. prescription drug benefit for the pharmies. But any solutions to these should be considered in the context of a holistic look at health and social services—including health care for all, unemployment benefits, food stamps, retirement systems—the whole enchilada. Probably nothing could make our economy work better than an overhaul but taking these one at a time is just crap. It winds up being a very crappy system. We need to distinguish between “social safety net” and what you need for a nice life.

      Front page of WSJ today has a stunning article on the rise of senior citizen employment and unemployment. Men and women in their 80s who are getting $800 a month in retirement income, have medications to buy etc. They have to have a small job to survive. Whole nother problem.

    • You would think that, except that today’s Democratic Party very much resembles the old Republican Party.
      In the latter third of the 20th Century, the GOP was annexed by an unholy alliance of laissez-faire fanatics, fundamentalists, and Dixiecrats [overlapping, but not identical, categories].

      This left moderate Republicans, and younger folks who would have become moderate Republicans had they been born earlier, with few other places to go but the Democratic Party. They came, and brought big fat horse-choking wads of money with them, and so they were able to take over the Dems, much as the Unholy Alliance took over the GOP and turned it into the Elephascist Party we know and loathe today. When the old moderate Rs, and their ideological co-belligerents, took over the Democratic Party, they brought their anti-working-class prejudices with them. This is why the modern Democratic Party resembles the old, conservative-but-not-bat$#!+-crazy, GOP.


  7. If my husband and I get back all of the money we paid into the system, allowing us total control, we will take that deal. If, however, Obama is going to call a “do over” with all of the money we have and others have put into it, that is simply not acceptable.

    I have as much faith in Obama knowing how to handle money as I do in Rezko or Bush. Just that much.

  8. Sully who gpropably gets a SSI/SSD check for his disability (HIV) is probably thinking that they will only cut everyone elses check and not his.

    Also the odds of him living to 67 for full benifits are slim and none….so he wants to ruin it for the rest of us….

    What a tool!

  9. ralphb tell me how you really feel about MR “Rock Hard Glutes”

    • Haha. I think he’s one of the biggest scumbags slinking around. A true waste of human skin. And then there are his political views. 🙂

      Cheerleading for war in Iraq and that malignant 5th column crap. Just YUCK!

  10. Have you guys seen this graph? Four Bad Bears

    • yes katie and remember I predicted the bottom at 6000 for the dow with Pampers as Ratf*cker in Chief.

      I want to revise that to be 6000 by Pampers 100th day of occupation of the Oval Office….

      I would have to say there is no bottom on the market that one could call but “0”.

      • Here’s to hoping he doesn’t hit 92 levels when the DOW was in the 3000’s.

      • I hope this is wrong but wouldn’t bet against it. Oh, AIG wants more taxpayer money. That will surely help, NOT.

        • They have to figure out how they are going to get the funding. As it stands right now the government already owns 79.9 % of it.

          They are blaming this on commercial property write downs. So it appears the other shoe has dropped.

  11. The crux of the matter is he can’t fix a darn thing without reforming health care. He keeps talking about Social Security but Medicare is actually in much worse shape.Why? Health care costs have grown and will continue to grow. Medicaid is also a costly proposition. The uninsured has swelled with unemployment peaking. If we continue doing health care as we have done thus far we are looking at some budget breakers.

  12. This is off topic

    Who has an opinion on AIG needing to write down 60 billion and seek more government help?

    • My opinion is that it is more heads we lose; tails they win. This is also the total failure of the government to act to take care of bad debt. Paul Krugman is the only one on this stuff who really seems to have workable solutions and can explain his solutions in language most people can understand. Seize the bad banks. Clean them up. Sell them back to private investors.

  13. Is there anyone more slimy and disgusting than Andrew Sullivan? Yes there is. Barack Obama, but it’s a close race.

  14. CWaltz,

    From my reading on this today, it appears the plan is to give in on Social Security cuts in order to get some Republicans to go along with health care “reform,” which will probably mean rationing and cost-benefit judgements, e.g., my 87 year old Dad doesn’t get treatment for anything serious because he won’t last that much longer anyway.

    • I don’t think that the GOP and Dems are going to get away Social Security reform. I am a little worried at what the free market bunch think is acceptable health care reform.

  15. Gary and MyIQ and BostonBoomer and Riverdaughter – I just sent you email.

  16. Anglachel, who has been silent for lo these many days, has a post up on the economics of One. Summarizes writing of others and has some good points which boil down to: the banks bought Obama; we taxpayers are being asked to nationalize the downside and privatize the upside as in heads we lose and tails they win.

    • Did she call us racists again?

    • Nice writing by Anglachel. But I want to take issue with the most important item in her post. The 3 year put option.

      If true, this is a major, major concession by the Fed. Clicking on her link about the put option takes you to a New York Fed page explaining TALF, with no mention of the put option, which makes sense. TALF is entirely separate from PPIF (Private/Public Investment Fund). The former provides consumer/business loans, the latter invites private investors to buy into the now infamous toxic bank assets. Both are potential funded at a 1.0 trillion dollar price tag each, so easy to confuse the two.

      So I go to her reference site Interfluidity. Same mention of the put option, same link to the Fed’s TARP page, but no mention of any put option. Dead end. I look elsewhere and finally come on this wonky site called Baselinescenario, where a commenter named Rajesh deep down in the thread proposes a hypothetical on private investors taking on toxic assets:

      Assume that the banks are valuing the assets at fair value (which could be above the “market price” if the market is illiquid.) Why would the private investor buy the asset if there is no prospect of making a profit? Why would the bank sell below the value they think they can get by holding on to the assets? And all this assume zero transaction cost.

      I prefer a solution that avoids the issue of asset pricing. Take $100 billion of TARP money, lever it up with loans from the Federal Reserve to an even $1 Trillion. Now execute intermediate term (1-3 year) repurchase agreements. The entity (lets call it Repo Bank) would buy the assets from the bank at the value currently on the books and at the same time, the bank would agree to buy back the same asset in two years time for 2% more (net any cash flows from the asset.)

      Anglachel, Interfluidity, and others mention this 3 year repurchase agreement notion as a basis for saying the Fed is offering 3 year puts on toxic assets. So this claim about what the Fed is selling is based on the musings of some commenter on a financial blog?

      If the Fed or Treasury has in fact made statements about the 3 year puts, then I will be appropriately humbled, and saddened by the Fed’s level of capitulation. (Hope dakinikat can help me here.) But if the item has no basis, that is a large and dangerous misconception to be spreading around the political blogosphere.

  17. I miss Al Gore’s “lock box”. They had to make it into a joke like the “inventing the internet” because attacking their strength is how they roll.

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