What the Presiden't budget shows is that the President is one, serious about trying to find a balanced solution to our deficits and have a comprehensive economic plan and two, we don't have to choose between deficits as far as they eye can see and job creation and economic growth... while still bringing our debts down to levels talked about by commissions like Simpson Bowles.Okay. He is the President. He is in his second term. He was elected in a landslide, with the promise of protecting the middle class and Social Security and Medicare. Who exactly is he proving this point to? And why does he need to? He is the leader of the freaking free world for crying out loud. Yet, he feels the need to validate himself, to show that he is 'serious'? This perhaps is the most distressing thing to me about this President.
Perhaps the worst thing though is the unchallenged assumption that cutting Social Security is a 'solution' to 'deficits as far as the eye can see'. It has been so often repeated that it has become conventional wisdom. There is no need to even question this factoid.
Stephanopoulos questioned Pfeiffer on the President's proposed cuts to Social Security, quoting Bernie Sanders who tweeted that 2/3 of senior citizens rely on Social Security for half their income.
What this president will not do is, come in, right after getting re-elected, and enact the Romney economic plan, which is what the Republicans in the House are proposing,” Pfeiffer said.I suppose being told that the Presdent won't enact the Romney plan, is supposed to serve as some form of reflexive shorthand reassurance (whew, no Romney plan) for those who aren't inclined to dig into the minutiae of the President's proposal. But, Romney never suggested cuts to Social Security as the President is doing. And Stephanopoulos makes a good point in his question, saying that this will hit the long term unemployed extra hard - if you're not working, you're not contributing to your Social Security fund. This point is not addressed at all.
PFEIFFER: Chained cpi will only be accepted on two condidtions: as part of a 'balanced' package that includes closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest, and it has protections for the most vulnerable, the oldest seniors.Don't you feel better now? Isn't that reassuring? "Absolutely" there will be 'carveouts' for the 'most vulnerable'. Who knows how 'most vulnerable' is defined, or what those carveouts are. If 2/3 of seniors need $1,264.88 for half their monthly income, what kind of a 'carveout' could you do, that would be meaningful in any way, that would leave anything to help 'lower the deficit' (as false as that idea is).
STEPH: So there will be some carveouts?
And what good does it do if a rich person pays a miniscule sized larger share of their income in taxes (which is a very optimistic thought given the history and which in all likelihood will be used to prop up the War Machine), if a senior has to substitute chicken for God-only-knows-what. Or possibly eat nothing at all. How is that an acceptable tradeoff?
The fact is, that 'chained CPI' is a fancy way of saying 'you get less money and arguing about the technicality distracts you from this truth'.
Look, i'ts a compromise. Compromise means some members from both sides won't be happy.I guess 2/3 of seniors is an acceptable 'some'. It's the new math.
I cannot embed i-frame videos, I don't know if it is my browser (Chrome) or what and it has been driving me nuts as fewer and fewer videos seem embeddable so I apologize for that but here is the link to Pfeiffer's speech.
And the full transcript to the delicious seriousness:
PFEIFFER: Thanks for having me, George.[...]
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's begin with the budget. It's going to come out on Wednesday, and will include for the first time, cuts in Social Security and Medicare. The president's put them on the table in negotiations, never put them in a budget before. But already House Speaker John Boehner has dismissed them. And a lot of Democrats are worried that the president is turning his bottom line in negotiations into an opening bid. How do you respond to that concern? And do you really think that this budget is going to change the dynamic, increase the chances of a big deal?
PFEIFFER: Well it's important to understand that what's in the president's budget is the offer that he put to Speaker Boehner in December when we were trying to have a fiscal negotiation. And what this does, is it shows: One, that the president is serious about trying to find a balanced solution to our deficits, and have a comprehensive economic plan. And shows that we don't have to choose between deficits as far as the eye can see, and job creation, and economic growth. You can do both.
Our budget includes investments in infrastructure, bringing jobs back to America, you know, preschool for our -- for -- for everyone, while still bringing our deficits down to the -- our debts down to levels that are talked about by commissions like Simpson-Bowles.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it hasn't seemed to change the dynamic at all, at least so far. Here's what part of what Speaker Boehner said. He said, "If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes. That's no way to lead, and move the country forward." If they're good ideas, he says, why not just do them?
PFEIFFER: Well there's -- there are a couple -- couple things here, George. First is, the House has passed a budget, the Senate has passed a budget. The hope is that those houses can then come together and work to try and find a compromise. The president's focused, in addition to the regular order process that members of Congress say they want, is to try to find a caucus of common-sense. Folks who are willing to compromise, who don't think compromise is a dirty word, and try to get something done. And -- but, if Speaker Boehner's position, as he said in that statement, remains his position, then -- then we will not make progress.
Because what this president will not do is come in right after getting re-elected, and enact the Romney economic plan, which is what the Republicans in the House are proposing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're also going to have a lot of resistance from the Democrats and independents, including Bernie Sanders. He was taking a lot of exceptions, says he's going to block any bill that includes these changes in Social Security that the president is calling for. Here's his Tweet, he says "Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for more than half their income", and it -- and we are seeing this problem with the long term unemployed.So - you won't be happy. How unfortunate for you. But people will know the President is serious.
Particularly those who are near retirement. They're going to be facing a real squeeze in the next several years, and this will be an additional significant cut, won't it?
PFEIFFER: Well, a couple of things. One, Senator Sanders is a passionate advocate, and has been a big supporter of the president. This president will -- this -- this chained CPI that's being referred to here, is something the president will only accept on two conditions. It's something Speaker Boehner and -- and Senator McConnell asked for in the context of the original negotiations, and those two conditions are, one, It's part of a balanced package that includes asking -- closing tax loopholes to benefit the wealthiest, and, two, that it has protections for the most -- for the most vulnerable, including the oldest seniors.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So there will be some carve outs there?
PFEIFFER: Absolutely. And look, this is compromise. And compromise means there are going to be some folks on both sides who are not happy.
DailyKos Blogathon Monday April 8 through Friday April 12
(All times are Eastern, diaries published by the Pushing back at the Grand Bargain group)
Monday, April 8
10:00 a.m. Roger Fox
12:00 noon eXtina
2:00 p.m. joanneleon (An Yves Smith article republished with permission)
4:00 p.m. Horace Boothroyd III
6:00 p.m. slinkerwink
8:00 p.m. joedemocrat
Tuesday, April 9
Wednesday, April 10
Thursday, April 11
Friday April 12
1. Call your senators and representatives and tell them "Hell No!" with a priority on contacting senators. U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can find email contact information here
2. Contact the White House and tell them "Hell No!". Switchboard: 202-456-1414. Email contact page is here.
3. Petitions. There are a number of petitions available. Choose from the following or preferably sign them all.
a. White House petition calling for no cuts to Social Security.
4. Social Media. Share this diary and promote this blogathon on Facebook and Google+ using the buttons at the top of the diary. Send this out on Twitter and add the hashtags #HellNo and #NoGrandBargain.