And now there's the trumped-up angst over Barack Obama keeping his own female Democratic minority leader in such a bind. For it is now Nancy Pelosi's onerous task to become loyal marionette to the martinet in the Oval Office. She has accepted the challenge to lead the Party of FDR over a right-wing cliff.
Her current job description: getting her caucus to cut Social Security earned benefits and still get away with pretending they're on the side of the same people that they will condemn to pain and an earlier death. Will Democrats win votes by reasonableness? Does compromise with nihilist Republicans trump the well-being of Grandma? Is anybody questioning why such a question is even being asked?
Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or, in multimillionaire Nancy's case, a diamond and a continuing seat at the Obamian Wall Street Roundtable.
The Grand Bargain for the Grandees puts her in such a difficult situation, commiserates Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who very centristically balances loyalty for his fabulously wealthy friend with his concern for his own struggling constituents. Instead of outright condemning a Grand Betrayal, he is in ruminating mode: "The question is, are you going to balance the budget on the backs of seniors who have already paid into the system?" he mused. From The Hill,
Cummings also noted a political advantage in the openness of Obama and Pelosi on the chained CPI: “They're trying to show that they are being reasonable,” he said. “It shows the public that if a deal is not struck, it's not our fault.”
Cummings said, despite liberals' reservations about the chained CPI, there's near-unanimous faith in Pelosi to protect the Democrats' ideals.
"She finds a way to bring her party to some type of consensus," he said. "It may not be 100 percent, but consensus."These clowns are still operating under the false impression that the public gives a crap about whether an elite group of One Percenters can strike a deal among themselves. More than 90% of Americans, according to polls, do not want Social Security benefits decreased, tweaked, protected or improved -- unless it is to raise or scrap the cap on currently regressive FICA contributions. But you wouldn't know it from the corporate coverage, framing the issue around the professional juggling act of an obscenely rich politician who has already and very truthfully allowed that she, personally, can "live with" chained CPI.
Of course, making the story about personalities rather than the real issues makes it easier for the plutocracy-funded media functionaries to function. The fact that Social Security has added not one penny to the deficit, and should not even be included in budget talks, is a secondary sidebar in typical coverage of the political theater.
To further illustrate how far right the Democrats have gone in the Age of Obama is today's New York Times editorial praising Senate Democrats for their own deficit-hawkish, conservative milquetoast of a budget and totally ignoring the more liberal document released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Readers' comments rightly castigated the Times for this glaring oversight.
And while Paul Krugman, the lone token liberal voice at the newspaper, did mention the jobs-promoting progressive budget in his last column, he failed utterly to mention the president's role in steering his party into Republicanville. I corrected this obviously inadvertent oversight in my own comment:
President Obama is not impressed with any plan, whether by moderate Democrats or progressive Democrats, that does not include gratuitous cuts to the social safety net.
As Dean Baker points out, Obama's deficit-cultish "balanced approach" does, in fact. favor the wealthy. His chained CPI plan would slash Social Security benefits by 6% after 20 years. For the average retiree, whose benefits amount to two-thirds of her total income, this amounts to a 2% total net reduction in cash flow. But for a couple earning over $450,000, the hit will only be .07% of total income, based on the fiscal cliff tax plan enacted at the beginning of the year. The poor, in effect, will be sacrificing at triple the rate of the rich.
Paul Ryan's plan may be a pathological joke, but he is simply playing his extremist part of court jester in the class war. Obama, on the other hand, is deadly serious as he pressures his own party to join him in what can only be described as a narcissistic exercise in presidential legacy-burnishing.
He seems to be maligning our great social insurance programs as addictive candy that the Democratic children simply must give up for Lent. This, despite the fact that chronic and unaddressed joblessness means that more minor dependents and their surviving parents, veterans, and retirees are falling into poverty.
(this is the part where I say Obama is full of shit, in censorproof Times-speak) Politicians who persist in calling Social Security a "sacred cow" in this time of economic trouble are not only insulting and cruel. They're full of bull.Meanwhile, about that progressive Back to Work Budget: I tend to agree with John Stauber, the (retired) founder of the Center for Media and Democracy, that this is just the latest going-nowhere-fast manifesto which, along with the new Organizing for Action Obama astroturf slush fund, is just one more empty, slippery aspirational straw for the veal pen inmates to suck on, just a convenient cover for the real corporate movers and shakers of the Democratic establishment to rake in cash and pursue their Wall Street-enabling agenda. Stauber's recent piece in CounterPunch is well worth a read.
Real change only comes from the outside. Rights are not going to be bestowed upon us by any group of politicians, no matter how progressive the message. Rights are something to be grabbed, something that we must bestow upon ourselves.