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If you do, think again.
In various diaries and discussion threads here, there has been a lot of speculation and tea leaf reading about to what extent the Obama administration or congressional Democrats will fight for social security. Front pagers and diarists have attempted to parse the words of various administration figures to determine where the "line in the sand" might or might not be.
In this rather short diary, I am going to quote from a personal communication. All of this was written by a lobbyist for a progressive organization and expresses her frustration at what she is dealing with in talking to congressional staffers. The picture is not pretty.

I think the best way to give you the flavor of what is actually going on on the hill is with an extended quote from this communication:

Hi. Sorry, this is long, but things aren't going well in Congress at all right now. And I'm sorry to keep blathering on about the budget, but it's all anyone is willing to talk about right now.

I just had another really really horribly depressing meeting with staff who should know better. In ALL of my meetings this year, I have been hearing the same thing over and over - from everyone from relatively conservative to otherwise fairly liberal democrats... (including people who have in the past accused ME of being too conservative in my thinking/work on something!)

I haven't in the last decade seen the disconnect between the beltway and real Americans be bigger or worse than it is right now.

Here's what they are saying:
1) You can't tell us not to cut Social Security, you have to give us a list of acceptable cuts to the program that you would endorse. No one takes "scrap the cap" seriously.
2) Debt/deficit is going to be the only issue this year
3) We don't want to look stupid by fighting cuts when it is clear that we're in a debt/deficit crisis
4) We're out of options, we have to cut, we can't raise taxes because it's just impossible. Or we have to be "grownups" and realize that everyone needs to "feel some pain" here.

This is what people I have thought of as reasonable people are saying! I feel like I should be writing a book about Stepford Staffers.

(emphasis mine)

OK folks: The above was written by an experienced professional lobbyist - someone who knows the game and how it is played. If you are sitting there in the complacent belief that the administration, or your member of congress, or someone else, is going to defend social security for you, this should disabuse you of that fantasy. The Dems, from Obama on down, have entirely bought into Republican framing and Republican priorities. Social Security and other social programs will survive in something like their present form only if there is a massive revolt of the people to let them know that we won't stand for the destruction of those programs.
It's up to us, and no one else.
Are you up for the fight?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "I was asked what I thought of the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea" - Amy Goodman.

    by Chico David RN on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:28:33 PM PST

  •  Well, I have a "personal communication" (0+ / 0-)

    that completely contradicts your "personal communication". Whatcha gonna do now?

    Then you start reading this bit, realise that it's actually the start of my sig and get annoyed!

    by psilocynic on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:31:27 PM PST

    •  I'll believe this one. (8+ / 0-)

      But then we won't know until we see how it plays out.
      This was the lobbyist for a pretty major progressive organization writing to the person she works for.  
      But I will say this: whatever the Dems are thinking and saying in private, there is absolutely no possible downside to sending the message loud and clear that we won't stand for cuts in our country's most important social program.  If they do plan to fight for it, it reinforces them.  If they don't, it may make them think again.  So the default position, no matter whether you have faith in them or not, is to make it real clear what we expect from them.

      "I was asked what I thought of the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea" - Amy Goodman.

      by Chico David RN on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:43:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Let's see it (10+ / 0-)

      ... because the one in this diary certainly has the ring of truth to it.

      I don't trust the Obama administration on Social Security any further than I can buy them.   They're going to fully participate in this collusion to shaft the country out of our Social Security benefits, because they're all too afraid to raise taxes on the rich enough to fix the budget deficit in a way that makes sense.

      I know good cop/bad cop when I see it, and this has all the makings of a classic case.  Sure hope I'm wrong, but I keep saying that about the administration without often being proven wrong.

  •  The real elephant in the room (7+ / 0-)

    is the fact that no Social Security 'fix' currently on the table actually moves the ten year budget score used by both OMB and CBO, instead they almost all propose phased in benefit cuts for people currently 55 and under and so by definition don't yield any savings until year 12 and small ones at that

    It is all bait and switch, use a target of 3% of GDP in 2015 to justify slashing benefits starting in 2023. Exactly how does that help anything towards their stated goal?

    Please visit, follow or join our Group: Social Security Defenders

    by Bruce Webb on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:42:26 PM PST

    •  My understanding is that it actually RAISES short (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Chico David RN, Funkygal

      term (10 years) deficit and debt to protect from a possible shortfall 26 years in the future.

      Of course, I don't see much economic growth here in the US in the next 26 years due to stupid fucking neo-liberal economic policy, but that's an unreasonable assumption as defined by Serious people.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:52:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  here's my version of the "elephant" (8+ / 0-)

      When you get right down to it, neither the defenders nor the attackers of the current social security system are entirely honest in much of what they say.
      Those who want to decimate social security say: " The system is running out of money, it's going bankrupt".
      As we know, that's false.
      Those who defend the system say "There's enough money in the trust fund to pay full benefits for a long time and 75% of benefits forever."  And that's true - except that all that money in the trust fund is in treasury bonds and for that money to become real requires that the rest of the government run at a surplus for a long time to come in order to pay off those bonds.  And no one really wants to talk about how we get there.  The answer of course is progressive taxation like we had when I was a kid and big cuts in military spending - anyone see any will to do that?

      "I was asked what I thought of the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea" - Amy Goodman.

      by Chico David RN on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:53:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Regardless (6+ / 0-)

    of how dire the situation is, it could never hurt to have massive rallies in all 50 states demanding hands off Social Security. References on signs to Pharoahs and building pyramids should be encouraged!

  •  If They Don't Fight for Social Security (9+ / 0-)

    Why would I vote for them?

    I will not vote for anyone in Congress who votes to cut benefits for this program.  I won't vote for a President who signs the bill.


    Find me fast on Daily Kos by following me.

    by bink on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 04:48:34 PM PST

  •  Scrap the cap (7+ / 0-)

    I take it seriously.  And so should anyone who wants my vote...

    National Nurses United, (AFL-CIO): the new RN "super-union" representing 150,000 nurses from all 50 states!

    by National Nurses Movement on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:03:26 PM PST

  •  If it's too good to be true ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, blueoasis, cameoanne

    We've all heard the saying, "If it's too good to be true, then it probably is."  With this administration and most Dems in Congress it's sorta reversed: "If it's too bad to be true, then it probably is."

    Starting with the stimulus bill, just about every time the rumors and scuttlebutt point to some disappointment for a progressive agenda, it turned out to be true.  You cannot get your expectations up with the Dems unless you want to be disappointed pretty often.

    I can therefore easily believe, independently of this validity of the message above, that Obama and the Dems will weaken SS.  Hell, it took Nixon - a rabid anti-communist -  to create detente with China.  Why should anyone be surprised to see Democrats be the ones who dismantle SS.

    They told me if I voted for McCain we'd wound SS.  Sure enough, I voted for McCain and we wounded SS.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:08:00 PM PST

  •  Americans will accept cuts. (7+ / 0-)

    There has been enough misinformation, lies, and BS about Social Security being "in trouble" that when the ax comes, the people will willingly expose their necks.

    If you ask a CEO to pay more taxes, he will whine like a little girl, he will kick, scream, and foam at the mouth.

    But if you ask a 31-year-old cubicle jockey to retire in 2044 instead of 2042, he'll sigh and accept it. Especially when  he didn't think he would ever collect Social Security anyway.

    Sure, there may be polls showing people are against cuts -- but are people against cuts enough to fight? Especially when the cuts are far in the future?

    I say no.

    •  I have to agree with that. (6+ / 0-)

      The people already receiving SS know theirs won't be cut.  The younger ones don't think they will get it and lots of them have bought into the boomer hate that has been carefully hyped.  Even if millions and millions made a stink, the elites don't care.  Remember all the calls and fuss against the original bankster bailouts?  Well, they did it anyway.

    •  This has been teh plan all along (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They'll leave those 50 and older (or so) out of the benefits cuts, etc. because they know this age group will rise up, hire buses to take them to DC and start hitting congress critters over the heads with pocketbooks. As you say, they are going to hit the 20-somethings and 30-somethings because social security is the last thing on their radar.

      "Whenever a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me."-- Harry S. Truman

      by irmaly on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 08:12:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Alas, the domestic consequences of (5+ / 0-)

    the   (invisible) war economy are upon us. On March 13, 2003 Bush launched the invasion of Iraq. On January 12, 2005 the UN inspectors declared the search for weapons of mass destruction over. Even though President Obama pledged in his speech to end all combat operations in Iraq by August 2010 and have all American troops out by the end of 2011, our Commander-in-Chief will be carrying out a corresponding increase in Afghanistan.

    Taxpayer money spent on the war has displaced millions of Iraqis and Afghans and has certainly been costly in terms of lives lost, with thousands of U.S. military personnel dead, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who have been killed. But the economic costs are far greater than most people imagine.

    The extreme right, anti-labor, anti-humanistic, and anti-intellectual forces use the war and wave it under the banner of patriotism. They create a climate of fear and mistrust; then use our national frustration to rein in and control America with social insecurity and power that protects the wealth of the privileged.

    The taxpayer money spent on the war would be better spent supporting health care, education and housing for people in our own communities. And it's time the uber wealthy start paying their fare share.

    Let's not forget the social and economic cost of the wars. We should stand up and demand that Congress shift war funding to support human needs here: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures.

    By resetting our moral compass, we can create the  conditions in which communities can grow, provide more educational opportunities, new jobs, and a brighter future that includes retirement with dignity for not only the 20 and 30 somethings--but for all of us.

  •  Defending social security (0+ / 0-)

    If we, progressive Americans, have learned anything about the non-violent revolution in Egypt, it is that students + labor + an engaged media ='s the end of dictators and their rule.  I cannot help thinking that beginning with the assualt on workers in Wisconsin currently organizing this week to fight for their pensions and contracts, that the same strategy must also be used to fight for social security and its stability.

    Taxes = revenue = services that benefit real people. Social security is part of the social contract that many workers have paid into and organizing needs to start now to educate to agitate a population that wants to keep social security stable for the next generation of workers.  

    We can defend social security.

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