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<>Social Security - his next cave-in
 by Robert Kuttner


If you think the Democratic base is mad at Obama now,
just wait until he caves on Social Security.

How will this occur? The deficit commission appointed by the President has called for an increase in
the retirement age, as well as other cuts in benefits over time. And the deal that Obama made with the
Republicans just gave deficit hawks new ammunition by increasing the projected deficit by nearly
$900 billion over a decade. Social Security will be in the cross-hairs.

The deficit commission has tried to camouflage these cuts by emphasizing that Social Security benefits
for the very poor would not be reduced, and might even be increased. But in the commission's proposal,
the cuts would affect middle-class retirees. Larry Summers, who is stepping down as Obama's economic
chief, has refused to rule out cuts.

Social Security has also been softened up by the element of the tax deal that temporarily cuts payroll taxes.
Supposedly, the trust funds will be made whole by a transfer from general government funds. But this increases the deficit.

So Obama has created a kind of pincer attack on Social Security. One arm is the deficit commission,
which has created the blueprint. The other is the tax-cut deal, which increases the deficit, adding to the
artificial hysteria that Social Security is going broke. Meanwhile, the right is playing a very cute game,
congratulating Obama for the deal.

Obama also signaled that he might include Social Security cuts as part of a grand deficit-reduction deal.
If that occurs, the civil war in the Democratic Party will only deepen.

I don't want to live in this world - where the Democratic president agrees with the Rethugs.

If we're going to have a Democratic civil war, can we do it
while there's still time to run the winner in the 2012 race?


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