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'If Obama Opposes Ryan’s Social Security Plan, Why Did He Appoint Him to the Catfood Commission?' [View All]

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-16-10 10:51 PM
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'If Obama Opposes Ryan’s Social Security Plan, Why Did He Appoint Him to the Catfood Commission?'
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Jane Hamsher analyzes the White House's public response concerning Republicans who are again pushing to privatize Social Security (video of President Obama's statements at the link).

She also scrutinizes the members of the president's Debt Commission, tasked to examine Social Security.



August 14, 2010


The Democrats have decided to once again go on the attack against Republicans for wanting to privatize Social Security. Even Steny Hoyer is banging that gong. They’ve apparently remembered that they kicked the GOP’s ass in 2006 on the same issue, and thought it might be a good idea to revive it on the eve of the election.

President Obama devoted his weekly radio address today to Social Security, saying the Republicans were “pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall.”

Per the AP:


Democrats have been able to seize on the issue because of a proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, that would allow younger people to put Social Security money into personal accounts.

Ryan’s idea is similar to a proposal pushed unsuccessfully by former President George W. Bush. It’s not been endorsed by party leaders and has attracted only a small number of GOP co-sponsors.



If Obama thinks Ryan’s privatization plan is such a bad idea, why did he appoint Ryan to the 18 member Catfood Commission tasked with dealing with Social Security? In fact, why did he stack the commission with privatizers and budget hawks in the first place?

Obama’s campaign/transition team advisers on Social Security, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, have called the commission “a Social Security death panel.” As they have pointed out, raising the retirement age to 70 (which Hoyer supports) is a 20% benefit cut. So if you “add” private accounts on top of that, it is in fact privatization. These “trims” to “save” Social Security are nothing more than a sneaky sleight-of-hand to trick the public into accepting something they very much oppose, giving the “unprofessional left” (i.e., the Jon Chait JournoList set) some nonsense to shove down their throats to pacify them.

If the President truly is interested in protecting Social Security from the privatizers, and not just demagoguing the issue for political advantage, he sure assembled a strange crew for the job. Extra points for appointing defense contractor CEO David M. Cote of Honeywell to the commission. It was recently reported that Cote opposed cutting defense contracting to reduce the deficit, and instead wanted military personnel to pay for their own healthcare.

No wonder the commission doesn’t want their deliberations open to the public:

.....




(See link for extensive, detailed table of commission members and their positions on 1) whether they are open to cutting benefits, 2) whether they have expressed support for privatization, 3) whether they have conflicts of interest)




Update, 3pm ET: DDay points out that in the Executive Order establishing the Catfood Commission, Obama granted the right to the Minority Leader of the House to appoint three members, and that’s how Ryan made it on to the commission.

However, here’s Clinton’s Presidential Order establishing the Danforth Commission. As it shows, the precedent is for “30 members to be appointed by the President.” Granting that authority to the Republican leadership for the catfood commission was, yes, something the Obama was responsible for. You say technically he didn’t appoint Ryan himself, but if you choose to set the parameters like that, of course that means Ryan will be on. Privatizing Social Security is his baliwick.

You can’t tie your own hands and then say “they made me do it.”


(emphases added)


From the Executive Order:

(a) six members appointed by the President, not more than four of whom shall be from the same political party;
(b) three members selected by the Majority Leader of the Senate, all of whom shall be current Members of the Senate;
(c) three members selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, all of whom shall be current Members of the House of Representatives;
(d) three members selected by the Minority Leader of the Senate, all of whom shall be current Members of the Senate; and
(e) three members selected by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, all of whom shall be current Members of the House of Representatives.




It's most interesting that the president continues to give Republicans as much power to choose commission members as that given to his own party in majority power. This, after the voters repudiated Republicans and threw them out of control of the Senate, House and White House in November of 2008.


It's not only "The Professional Left" who are being slapped in the face.




And it is quite lovely that two of the most damaging choices sitting on this commission now examining Social Security are Max Baucus (D-MT) and Kent Conrad (D-ND). I suppose it's because they managed such a stellar job for the industry on health insurance reform.




What is ultimately most distressing about all of this is that while Obama and many Democrats are correctly pointing out the Republican overt threats to privatize/cut Social Security benefits, it seems it is being done in a way to exploit it as a political weapon in the upcoming election. So, what's the problem, you might ask?


The problem is that the very commission Obama has empowered and stacked with Social Security enemies, will likely bring to us the same outcome after the election.





The pain of betrayal is now a constant companion.



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