Does anybody really believe Proglodytes (Progressive Troglodytes) would want to defund their crown jewel?
Neither do I.
Today Alan Grayson (D-FL), a.k.a. the “People’s Progressive”, wrote an op-ed for The Huffington Post describing how he is opposed to any cuts in chained CPI. Politico is indicating, as of last week, that in the closed-door negotiations between Sen. Reid (D-Wonderland) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kinda), President Obama would be open to a cut in the chained CPI. OK, the head begins to swirl there, so let’s break this down into some easier chunks.
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First off, what is chained CPI? Chained CPI is a calculation by which the government determines the increase in Social Security payouts. The “chained” refers to the tie-in between the calculations and the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The new calculations would not actually cut Social Security, but would slow its growth. It’s like MSNBC’s viewership, they don’t actively tell people not to watch, they just put out such terrible content their network grows slower. So we are meant to believe that President Obama is fine with these cuts and Progressives such as Grayson are opposed to them. Obama the moderate is déjà vu all over again.
Now we get to the interesting part: the numbers vs. the politics. We’ll tackle the numbers first. Last year, the SSA fund that pays out non-disability benefits (It’s called OASI) grew by only 92.2 billion dollars. The other three major funds shrunk. Even in the summary, the SSA concedes that we have too many baby boomers beginning to collect benefits when compared to workers paying into the system. Also, since the adjustments are made based on inflation, one could safely bet that irresponsible spending might throw these projections out of whack. Thank God we aren’t doing that. Also, despite this remarkable recovery we’re in, the labor force participation rate is shrinking. Fewer people are working to pay FICA taxes, and they are making less money to tax. Oh, and somebody cut the payroll tax, the only tax that pays for Social Security.
In short, Social Security is facing a “fiscal cliff” of its own.
That leads us to the politics. The President has been very shrewd about letting his attack dogs, like Grayson, (who looks like a bulldog forced itself upon some sort of river otter) do the verbal and rhetorical heavy lifting. Anybody remember the “Die quickly” speech on the house floor? Yes, that was Grayson, Borking all of us right in the face. President Obama is just as bad, but can remain insulated from doing the dirty work, like a mafia Rahm. So why is the most LPSD (Liberal, Progressive, Socialist, Democrat) President in our history amenable to cutting chained CPI calculations, when he has already cut the payroll tax, and the influx of recipients and disability claimants almost guarantees a major shortfall in Social Security even sooner than expected? This is one of those great cases where the answer is simply the question with different punctuation. You don’t think President Obama wants to have a major scrap with Republicans over our most cherished social program?
Even better, the whole thing will come apart at the beneficiary level because a Republican proposal, that the Progressive caucus opposed, caused the whole thing to drive right off the third rail of American politics. You couldn’t script a political fight any better. Our beloved President is going to have to stand up for the poor and working class against rich, white Republicans who want to cut the benefits those people earned, and in so doing, will preserve the legacy of the New Deal. And even if it’s not President Obama (they assume it might be President Clinton The Lesser) , some Progressive is going to have to make that stand for the collective good. Instead of kicking the can, the LPSDs are standing there, ready to receive a football they kicked years ago.
It would be foolish to think that they have not played this scenario out in their heads, but they seem to concede their own argument sometimes. In his screed for HuffPo, Grayson uses an example of inflation, and an example of gas rising by 200%. Here’s the giveaway: It’s his party policies causing exactly that. Also, isn’t it our current President who is concerned with how fast gas prices rise, not whether they rise?
So what should the GOP do? Take the cut and prepare for the fight? Concede the tax increases and retire to lick their wounds? Back out to square one and give no ground? Maybe, no, and God I wish. The GOP needs to make it very clear they are proposing cutting payout growth because it is the President’s party that has driven Social Security to the brink. The media won’t cooperate, we know. The Progressives will scream about the social contract, the moral obligation, and dog food, we know. I don’t like the idea of “saving “government programs, but this could be a rhetorical Little Round Top for the GOP. We also know that it is hard to ignore the following message: We refuse to let the Obama economy and policies destroy the middle class wealth we have all worked so hard for.