On 12 November 2007, the great blogger ‘Mike the Mad Biologist’ headlined ‘Obama Has Lost My Vote’ and gave as his reason Obama’s having used the phrase ‘the Social Security crisis’ when there was no ‘crisis’ except in the rhetoric of Republican politicians and their aristocratic stooges who want to reduce government benefits for everyone but aristocrats.
President Obama’s plan to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, predated his becoming President, though he didn’t talk about it when he campaigned for the job. (If he had talked about it, he wouldn’t have won the Democratic nomination; and he might not even have beaten the Republican candidate, John McCain, in 2008, since no Republican Presidential candidate has ever publicly campaigned to weaken what his Party nonetheless routinely contemptuously refers to as ‘entitlements.’) Everyone had simply assumed that no Democrat would want to weaken or reduce the crowning achievements of Democratic Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson, not to mention of the Democratic Party itself. But Barack Obama wanted to do it; and he remains committed to doing it.
On 16 January 2009, four days before Obama became President, Michael D. Shear headlined in theWashington Post, ‘Obama Pledges Entitlement Reform,’ and he reported about ‘a wide-ranging 70 minute interview with Washington Post reporters and editors,’ in which Obama endorsed efforts by congressional Republicans, and ‘the Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats,’ to cut Social Security and Medicare. Progressives were already disturbed at what their friends in Congress were leaking to them about Obama’s strong commitment to doing this, and so a few blog posts were issued to ring alarm bells publicly about it. Paul Rosenberg at openleft.com headlined on January 17th (three days before Obama’s Inauguration), regarding ‘Obama’s ‘Mandate’ To Slash Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security,’ and he presented polls showing that the public not only didn’t want to cut any of these programs, but that 74% wanted Medicare and Medicare spending increased, and 62% wanted SS spending increased. Even 65% of self-declared ‘conservative’ Americans wanted the medical programs increased, and 62% of them wanted SS spending increased. To Obama, his plan to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, so as to fund the Wall Street bailout, was an act of political courage. (In his interview with the Washington Post, he ‘pledged to expend political capital on the issue.’) It was his long-term plan, even though the polls showed widespread opposition to it by the public. This was a matter not of expediency, but of conscience, for him: he needed to find some way to fund both theongoing Wall Street bailouts, and the massive federal debt that would be caused by the 2008 Wall Street crash and its resulting plunge in federal tax-collections; and this ‘balanced approach,’ of tax hikes and spending cuts, would be his solution to both problems.
This post was published at Washingtons Blog on September 24, 2014.