No FDL alumns on this panel, but it is a topic that should be near and dear ro many readers’ hearts.
Obama’s Social Security "Death Panel": Engaging Activists to Defeat the Drive to Cut Critical Social Programs
This panel will detail the push by anti-government organizations and the president’s debt commission to solve the “deficit problem” by slashing Social Security and other critical federal programs. It will describe the real factors driving the federal deficit, including tax cuts for the rich, two wars, rising health care expenditures and the Great Recession. The panel will debunk the most basic falsehood of the debt commission: that Social Security contributes to the deficit. Panelists will expose the hypocrisy of addressing the deficit without considering deep cuts to the bloated military budget or increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Panelists also will describe a newly formed coalition working to blunt attacks on Social Security and other domestic programs and how activists can get involved online and offline.
PANELISTS: Nancy Altman, Eric Kingson, Robert L. Borosage, Digby, Laura Clawson
Bob Borosage is first up. . . .
Bob is describing how, after the small stimulus passed, Obama fell pray to advisors telling him that people were concerned about deficits. Obama proposed a three-year freeze on domestic descretionary funding and a special panel to examine cuting the budget. Thus, Obama gave life to the rightwing frame and unleashed the Blue Dogs and deficit hawks.
We don’t have an entitlements crisis–our projected deficits are all from escalating healthcare costs.
During the last depression and after the war, leaders asked how can we build a robust, new economy that can provide for our citizens. They looked at taxes and encouraging new growth. Today, the only question is "How can we balance the budget?"
Eric Kingson is up. . . .
There is PowerPoint!
Point one: Social Security Works!
Eric quotes a couple of sages who explain that a) Legislators who offload responsibility to a commission are not worth their station; and b) Eisenhower once prediced that Soc. Sec. was so imporant to the American fabric that if anyone tried to cut it, their party would fall off the face of the earth. . .
Ike kinda maybe got that one wrong.
Why Soc Sec works:
Nothing provides more secure life, disability & retirement insurance for America.
(Many more points, Eric is speeding through the slides–not fair!)
The so-called funding crisis is very manageable. Right now everything is just fine through 2075.
Soc Sec has wide support among electorate.
3/4 of Tea Party types support Social Security.
Funding model was tweeked in the ’80s and is now fine, so right looks for new lines of attack.
They now argue that they are eviscerating benefits to "protect the young." Arguing there are priorities now that need spending.
Focus on deficit is a red herring debate made by people who don’t need the kind of support social programs provide.
Leninist deconstruction of attack: Tell the old we won’t touch their security; tell the young that their benefits will not be there.
He closes with–"We need the blogs" to raise awareness about this.
Laura Clawson now up. . . .
People want jobs, want jobs creation legislation–but when they don’t see a jobs bill, then deficit reduction creeps in as an issue.
If they don’t expect a fix for job situation, they figure, well, if I am not going to have a job, then please at least fix the deficit (for esoteric reasons? Not wuit sure she explained what people think deficits do to them. I know the arguments exist, but speakers on this panel are having to rush through).
Important for left to counter the deficit hawks, fill the info vacum.
Digby is up.
THIS IS THE BATTLE OF OUR LIVES. rw has it out for Social Security.
Shock doctrine–this crisis is giving guys like Pete Peterson an opportunity to roll out what he has been working on for years.
We need to learn from previous fight to stop privaization.
Saying there is no problem will not break through. Digby suggests "Strengthen SocSec, don’t cut it."
Right has rolled out a bunch of myths.
Age myth–people live longer today. Well, childhood mortality brought down avg. age, but the folks designed Soc Sec actually gamed out the system really well.
Other myth: not enough workers for all retirees. . .
Social Security planners figured this one out, too. We have been at roughly the same ratios for a long time, and things are functioning fine.
Be prepared to counter these myths. Go forth, do battle.
Why not just raise the cap on taxable income?
Yes, says Nancy Altman, that would work. It would have to be phased in on the lower portions of the new tazable income. But it would fund it past the horizon.
Next question: Since this wil take a 2/3 vote (uh, no, that’s actually an old float that did not carry through to this catfood commission) and it will get folks kicked out of congress if they vote for it (um, hence the lame duck session that will take thsi up), isn’t this just a fake out by Obama–a distraction for the deficit hawks?
[picking jaw up off the floor]
Eric and Nancy respond. The commissionis stacked with like minds–and they are out to evicerate the program. Not just tweek, means test, etc. Kill it.
Bob adds: Even if we (the left) do win, and save the program, it will require massive energy and money–that, itself is a huge victory for the right.
Someone in the crowd yells out: Why, with a democratic House, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic President, do we even have to worry about this?
It is an angry question. . . a split emerges in the room with grumbling on one side saying give me a break and defending obama, others saying damn straight!
Bob Borosage jumps in to defend the president. Obama’s sermon on the mount at G-town about the new economy was. . . well, hell, Bob just called it "The Sermon on the Mount."
Someone asks about the frame–no one will say they are cuting Soc Sec. Eric adds that the indexing will be a third cut on young workers; older people will feel a pinch, too, as a balance to the cut on the young.
What can we do to hellp? is aksed–urge all to go to town hall meetings, ask all your candidates about this, and try to bring in young people. Honor 75 anniversary of SocSec coming in August. Go to OurFuture and StrengthenSocialSecurity.
(I might add that FDL ain’t gonna let this one go gently.)
(and, speaking of that, I see that David has a new post up that exposes how America Speaks inflated the number of people that favor a raising of the retirement age.)
Someone is asking about how to answer the argument that SocSec is theft, because they do not inherit a dead spouse’s money paid in to the program.
SocSec is an insurance plan. . . answer to that was rushed, I’m afraid.
And we are done here! Thanks all.