Skip to main content

I'm not liking the looks of this guy one bit
President Obama's newly minted spokesman, Dan Pfeiffer, appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos and was questioned about the budget proposal put forth this week which aims to cut Social Security and entitlements.
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.

His response to the concerns raised by the Senator on behalf of 2/3 of seniors:
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.

STEPH: So there will be some carveouts?

PFEIFFER: Absolutely.

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).

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.

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.

So - you won't be happy. How unfortunate for you. But people will know the President is serious.

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
10:00 a.m. bobswern (A Michael Hudson article republished with permission)
12:00 noon
2:00 p.m.  joe shikspack
4:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.
8:00 p.m. TomP

Wednesday, April 10
10:00 a.m.
12:00 noon  Words in Action
2:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.
8:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 11
10:00 a.m.
12:00 noon
2:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.
8:00 p.m. angleajean

Friday April 12
10:00 a.m. Reserved
12:00 noon Reserved
2:00 p.m. Reserved
4:00 p.m. Reserved
6:00 p.m. Reserved
8:00 p.m. Reserved


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.
b. AFL-CIO petition calling for no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and calling for more jobs, repealing the sequester and ending tax loopholes for the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

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.

Originally posted to Pushing back at the Grand Bargain on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and Social Security Defenders.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site