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Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:41 AM

Can We Please Stop Pretending Obama is “Capitulating” on Social Security? [View all]






FireDogLake

Jane Hamsher:


Everywhere you look, the media narrative is that President Obama is “capitulating” to Republicans by agreeing to cuts in Social Security benefits. And I have to ask, where is this collective political amnesia coming from? Obama has made a deliberate and concerted effort to cut Social Security benefits since the time he took office. FDL reported on February 12, 2009 that the White House was meeting behind closed doors to consider ways to cut Social Security benefits, and that the framework they were using was the Diamond-Orszag plan, which was co-authored by OMB Director Peter Orszag when he was at the Brookings Institute.




The birth of the now-ubiquitous “catfood” meme came on February 18, 2009 with this FDL headline:


Hedge Fund Billionaire Pete Peterson Key Speaker At Obama “Fiscal Responsibility Summit,” Will Tell Us All Why Little Old Ladies Must Eat Cat Food
http://firedoglake.com/2009/02/18/hedge-fund-billionaire-pete-peterson-key-speaker-at-obama-fiscal-responsibility-summit-will-tell-us-all-why-little-old-ladies-must-eat-cat-food-so-social-security-can-be-saved/




As I wrote in August of 2010, Peterson’s keynote spot was the worst kept secret in town; I knew about it because I had been on a conference call with about 40 representatives of various DC interest groups, many of whom had received written notice from the White House that Peterson was scheduled to headline the event. But nobody wanted to go on the record for fear of jeopardizing their relationship with the administration in its early days. After FDL broke the news, Peterson was “disinvited” from the summit. Both he and the White House denied everything, but Robert Kuttner subsequently confirmed in the Washington Post that Peterson had, in fact, been scheduled as the keynote speaker that day.



The administration backed off its immediate plans for reforming Social Security. The New York Times reported that they were “running into opposition from his party’s left” who are “vehement in opposing any reductions in scheduled benefits for future retirees.” But NYT columnist David Brooks reported that shortly after the summit, “four senior members of the administration” called him to say that Obama “is extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security.” Undeterred, the White House began telling journalists off the record http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1881223,00.html that they were interested in “establishing an independent commission (outside the congressional committee structure) to look at creating a specific reform plan.”



In January of 2010, a bill sponsored by committed Social Security slashers Judd Gregg and Kent Conrad which would have created an official commission to make recommendations about the nation’s deficit was defeated by the Senate on a bipartisan vote — 22 Democrats and 24 Republicans voted no. After the Senate defeat, on February 18, President Obama issued an executive order creating what subsequently became known as the “Catfood Commission” anyway. Unlike Bill Clinton’s Danforth Commission, which ended in deadlock, Obama set this commission up in such a way that it was stacked with deficit hawks who largely agreed on what needed to be done: 12 of the 18 members were to be appointed by Senate and House leaders in each party, and 6 would be appointed by the President. This virtually guaranteed that Social Security privatization fetishist Paul Ryan would be on the commission, as would Gregg and Conrad.










cont'

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2012/12/19/can-we-please-stop-pretending-obama-is-capitulating-on-social-security/
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