According to Glenn Greenwald’s scale of liberal caving on cuts to our safety-net, social insurance programs, we are at Step Two:

“STEP TWO: As the deal gets negotiated and takes shape, progressive pundits in Washington, with Obama officials persuasively whispering in their ear, will begin to argue that the proposed cuts are really not that bad, that they are modest and acceptable, that they are even necessary to save the programs from greater cuts or even dismantlement.”

This week Peter Orszag wrote an editorial recommending cuts in order to ‘fix entitlements’.  Jared Bernstein wrote a piece validating the trade of tax increases for cuts. He gave little or no detail on the cuts.  Linda Bergthold wrote an enabling piece for HuffPo on the proposed cuts for healthcare. Her basic message is that these cuts don’t harm beneficiaries and basically, that they are not that bad. She referenced a CAP plan, without going through it in detail. All of the authors write with an air of “of course there will be cuts.”

Bernstein and Bergthold both reference the CAP plan for deficit reduction and the CAP plan for cuts in healthcare, (the Orwellian titled, Senior Protection Plan.)   Orszag boasted that he has been working with CAP and has offered CAP ten ideas for reforming healthcare, saying that they are so innovative that they cannot be scored by the CBO. Senator Whitehouse also claims to have an unscorable (by the CBO) plan to reform healthcare. ACOs probably have unscorable outcomes.  It should be noted that the CAP healthcare plan was partially funded by Pete Peterson, the infamous enemy of American social insurance programs.

My problem with the authors’ opinions is that they use their trusted, expert status to dismiss the realistic fear of the impact of significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid. They disarm those who should take action to fight increased copays, cuts to services, restrictions to healthcare, and changes in the structure of payments to providers. Changes which are very likely to reduce and degrade the quality of healthcare beneficiaries receive after the changes are made. And their claims that beneficiaries will not come to be harmed by these changes are not verifiable. Nor are they ever accountable when their ideas-gone-wrong, go wrong. How and when does one measure the cost of medical treatment  never received?

It is not inevitable that these changes are made. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are programs we can afford. We should fight cuts with all our might.

Notes:  CAP is the Center for American Progress. The CAP tax plan referenced by Bernstein & Bergthold is titled, “Reforming our Tax System, Reducing Our Deficit.” The CAP healthcare cuts plan reference by Bergthold & Bernstein (indirectly) is titled, “The Senior Protection Plan”.