The new White House budget proposal is getting a lot of attention because it explicitly connects the Obama administration to an agenda that includes cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. Some pundits see this as a way to appeal to the "middle." But does anyone– in the middle or anywhere else–really want to cut the safety net?
Here's a proposal for Social Security that was on the New York Times' op-ed page yesterday (2/20/13): The top third of beneficiaries (by lifetime income) [would] receive no annual cost-of-living adjustment in retirement. The middle third would get half of today’s adjustment, and the bottom third would receive the same annual increase they do now. Such a reform…would reduce Social Security spending by more than a tenth over a decade and fix the program’s long-term financing. This is part of Paul Ryan adviser Yuval Levin's attempt to find "common ground" on the entitlement issue: "Both sides should agree at least […]
Tom Friedman wrote a column about how government policies are harming the recovery. What we need is some kind of grand bargain to, as the headline puts is, "unparalyze" the economy and spur new growth. What's that mean? Cuts to Social Security and Medicare, along with "tax reform."
This week on FAIR TV: Can Chuck Hagel really be considered anti-war? Pundits are mad about the fiscal cliff tax deal–they wanted more Social Security and Medicare cuts. And Murdoch's New York Post made another attempt to link Occupy Wall Street to crime–and other media outlets went along.
Don't expect much help from corporate media on understanding the "Chained CPI," because selling the "grand bargain" requires citizens not really knowing what this part of the deal entails.
What should the U.S. do about the so-called "fiscal cliff"? Who better to ask than Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, "one of the world's most influential bankers"? That's what CBS Evening News must have been thinking, anyway, when they did a segment last night (11/19/12) all about Blankfein's opinions. CBS's Scott Pelley began: "When we asked Blankfein how to reduce the federal budget deficit, he went straight for the subject that politicians don't want to talk about." BLANKFEIN: You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's expectations. The entitlements, and what people think that they're going to […]
Time magazine's Joe Klein found the lesson (11/7/12) in Obama's re-election. And it involves… wait for it… moving to the right: It will, and should, be argued that the election was a mandate for moderation. The last month of Mitt Romney‘s campaign, when he rushed to the center and suddenly made it a race, ratified the real will of the people: a sensible centrism that runs deeper than the over-caffeinated bluster that seems to dominate the media. The election hinted that the third rail of American politics–the certain death that comes to those who question entitlement programs like Social Security […]
With all the newfound interest in campaign factchecking in the corporate media (that enthusiasm shouldn't be confused with being good at it), it's worth remembering that it's not just the political candidates whose claims should be factchecked. The moderators should face some scrutiny too. Last night ABC's Martha Raddatz framed a question this way: Let's talk about Medicare and entitlements. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive? Glenn Greenwald caught that one, and […]
As Dean Baker noted (Beat the Press, 9/7/12), corporate media mostly missed one of the major pieces of news in President Barack Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention. Talking about the federal budget deficit, Obama said, "Now, I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission." Then, as he talked about what he would and wouldn't do to reduce the deficit, he included this line: "And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it–not by turning it over to Wall Street." "Responsible steps to […]
Under the headline "Democratic Disinformation From Charlotte," the website Factcheck.org (9/5/12) took aim at this "dubious or misleading claim": Rep. James Clyburn engaged in partisan myth-making when he said “Democrats created Social Security” while Republicans “cursed the darkness.” History records strong bipartisan support in both House and Senate for the measure President Roosevelt signed in 1935. Later, in explaining this judgment, Factcheck wrote: For sure, there was opposition to the legislation. Sen. Daniel Hastings, a Delaware Republican, warned that it would "end the progress of a great country," as the New York Times reported. But Hastings was in the minority, […]
Part of ABC's This Week show (8/19/12) was devoted to the idea that, as host Jake Tapper put it, the U.S. economy is at a potentially defining moment: The great debate: Can we restore the nation's finances, or is the U.S. headed toward bankruptcy–an issue at the forefront of the presidential debate, especially since Mitt Romney's selection of Congressman Paul Ryan. Setting aside the notion of "bankruptcy," it's worth pointing out that despite Ryan's professed interest in taming the debt, his budget plans don't actually do much of that. The "all-star panel of experts" was going to tackle this weighty […]
Bill O'Reilly complained last night (7/5/12) that there are too many disabled people in America: Twenty years ago in June 1992, there were 3,300,000 Americans receiving federal disability payments. Today, 20 years later, that number is a record 8,733,000 workers on disability. O'Reilly's not buying it for a second: Why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I'll tell you why. It's a con. It's easy to put in a bogus disability claim. And according to O'Reilly, who compares himself to Paul Revere, this is a big sign that that "the country is in steep decline": More than […]
Dan Balz, the Washington Post's chief correspondent (5/20/12), complains that President Barack Obama hasn't solved America's fiscal problems: Obama has drawn criticism for failing to offer more forceful leadership. He established the Simpson-Bowles commission but declined opportunities at key moments to push and prod for its consideration and enactment. There's an odd syntax here that reflects some slippery thinking. Grammatically, "its" in the second sentence seems like it would refer to the Simpson-Bowles commission, but that would be nonsensical. You're presumably supposed to think it means the commission's plan, but that's a trick–there was no plan passed by the commission […]