Obama Backs Off Social Security, Medicare Reform
by William Greider
The Nation
September 15, 2011

The word is out in Washington. When the president announces his deficit-reduction proposals next week, he will definitely not suggest any hit on Social Security nor any increase in the eligibility age for Medicare. That’s a small victory for reason and social equity. We can thank the voters of Brooklyn’s 9th Congressional District who this week elected a Republican representative for the first time in nearly ninety years.

The White House spin claims this (off-year) defeat has nothing to do with Barack Obama, but that’s tripe. Working politicians know better. The Brooklyn special election was an ominous rebuke to the president, suggesting he may be heading into Jimmy Carter territory. Despite official denials, Obama may be getting the message. At least the White House leakers were busy spreading the word to major media that Obama has dropped any intention of of whacking Social Security or Medicare eligibility in order to entice Republicans into some sort of grand compromise.

Congressional Democrats have felt a stabbing pain in the back whenever the president talked about “entitlement reform.” The Dems hope to run against the Republicans next year on those very issues—defending the great liberal social programs against cut-throat Republicans. Obama was threatening to throw away their best cards. They don’t have many others, given the stalled economy, flirting with recession. The president’s new job-creating plan is thin gruel. Even if Republicans allowed the legislation to pass (which they won’t), it won’t do much to stop the bleeding. Most Democrats pretend to be thrilled anyway. Privately, they have a scary, sinking feeling.

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