A guy who could not seem to find his own ass with both hands just a month ago appears to have had some kind of a Come-To-Jesus moment.
Barack Obama could not wait to capitulate to Rushpubliscums on any and every issue that came before him. But lately, he seems to have actually started drawing lines in the sand.
First, he proposed that his jobs program get a lot of its revenue by closing Chimperial-era tax loopholes for the ultrarich. And now, just a week after he indicated that he’d be willing to tamper with Medicare, he appears to have ruled out any finagling of Social Security.
I don’t know if he means it; nobody does, really. I also don’t know how much of this is being driven by a calculation that he needs to turn populist in order to be re-elected. Whatever the case may be, these are the right moves to make, whether or not there is an election coming up.
President Barack Obama, yielding to pressure from his political base, has backed off a proposal to reform Social Security retirement benefits in a high-stakes deficits deal Congress needs to reach this year.
The Democratic president upset many core supporters in July when he considered changing how the popular pension funds are linked to inflation during acrimonious negotiations with Republicans over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.
Obama saw the change as a way to ensure the federal program remains viable for future generations, but liberals felt he was giving up too much ground to Republicans.
White House spokesman Amy Brundage said Obama’s suggestions on how Congress can get to a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction target, to be unveiled on Monday, “will not include any changes to Social Security.”
A senior administration official said his proposals to 12-member congressional panel tasked with finding the savings by November 23, were still being finalized.
But they are expected to total as much as $3 trillion over 10 years and include tweaks to Medicare and Medicaid, the government’s healthcare programs for the elderly and for the poor, and tax changes to close more loopholes for wealthy Americans and companies.
Obama’s recommendations will not be binding on the “super committee” of six Republicans and six Democrats, but may influence the tone of the negotiations and will play into the 2012 election campaign rhetoric.
His shift in stance means the Democratic members of the super committee charged with tackling the federal deficit would not have to make immediate concessions in negotiations with their Republican counterparts.
Financial markets and credit ratings agencies are watching those talks closely for signs Washington can move beyond his debt ceiling rancor that provoked a Standard & Poor’s downgrade and make a meaningful dent in deficits.
Fitch Ratings has said the U.S. credit outlook hinges on the super committee’s action and Moody’s Investors Service has warned it may downgrade the U.S. rating if Washington’s plan to reduce the budget deficit turned out not to be credible.
If Congress fails to accept the congressional panel’s plan, across-the-board spending cuts would be imposed that could further slow U.S. growth and drag on the fledgling global economy.
House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, called on Thursday for the super committee to keep Social Security, the federal pension plan, Medicare and Medicaid on their radar for reforms.
He also signaled a willingness to close some tax loopholes as part of a deficit-cutting plan, a move that was welcomed by Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi who said it was important not to “put too much of a burden on the cut side.”
In addition to Social Security, Obama had been open in the summer debt talks with Boehner to raise the eligibility age for Medicare health benefits to 67 from 65. He is also considering changes to save hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid through streamlining and negotiated lower drug prices, as well as higher premiums for wealthier Medicare recipients.
The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday the White House was now looking instead at cuts to providers and increased premiums for wealthier recipients of Medicare, the healthcare program for the elderly.
Cuts to providers is absolutely the wrong way to go. Allowing the Federal Government to negotiate drug prices IS the way to go. Means-testing Medicare certainly won’t be popular with the Klanbagger set, many of who will find themselves facing higher premiums, but… I can live with that.
What the President must do now, to quote a famous monkey, is stay the course overall. Let Boehner and McConnell talk about slashing Social Security and Medicare. This isn’t a conversation that ANY Democrat should even be willing to have.
If, from this day forward, Obama sticks to his metamorphosis into the guy who wants to make the rich pay their fair share and to protect vulnerable seniors from the greed-driven attacks on Social Security and Medicare, he might actually have a roadmap that leads back to the White House in 2012. But he’s got to stick to it. As we all know, the President is in the trouble he’s in now because he hasn’t ever stood down the Rushpubliscums-or even his “Blue Dick” Democrat detractors.
It will be interesting to see whether or not he has the stomach for the attacks that are yet to hit him.