Both the New York Times and The Washington Post have stories today on The Unthinkable. Social Security is very much on the table, the once-sacred cow of all self-interested politicians is about to be butchered into chunks. It's Big! It's Sweeping! It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to really do something huge to tackle the deficit!
The whole thing seems to be tied to something called the "chained Consumer Price Index" -- which would change the way, for instance, Social Security cost of living increases are determined. Here and here are some explanations. In a nutshell, chained CPI would result in any beneficiaries making it to age 95 receiving such reduced benefits that they'll either starve to death or wish for death. Judging from the controlled leaks coming from the semi-permeable budget negotiations, this proposed chained CPI would also have the effect of stealthily changing the tax code and raising billions more in revenue -- but apparently Republicans are having none of it, even if it means giving up the twisted David Brooks fantasy of getting rid of Granny so the grandkids can get theirs.
This whole story may, after all, be nothing but a hot air balloon powered by the White House propaganda engine to make us all breathe a huge sigh of relief when it comes to pass that President Obama was only bluffing the Republicans, to be able show a grateful nation how craven and intransigent they truly are.... that they are such fools that they turned down his brave machete to save their precious corporate jet loophole. He is trying to out-Tea Party the Tea Party, and still they aren't buying what he is selling. Even David Brooks has been reduced to a quivering mass of fear.
Still, the very fact that Social Security "improvement" is being bandied about at all, when it has nothing to do with the almighty deficit and the totally contrived debt crisis, should have us worried. The rumor I really want to be hearing is how the cap on FICA taxes is going to be raised above the current first $105,000 of income. But I'll wait awhile before hitting the panic button and launching a full-scale attack on Obama for being the worst of all possible evils. Right now he is merely equivalently evil with None of the Above, Generic Republican, or Blank.
** Update: From Bold Progressives, here is a petition to be delivered to Obama Campaign HQ in Chicago, with a handy box to write your own personal message, should you be so inclined. I was, I did.
And thanks to James T. and Jay for the Glenn Greenwald heads-up. Read it and weep. And realize that signing the petition above will make you feel better but will probably just cause gales of derisive laughter in Chi-town.