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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Government & Elections
First Time in History; Democrat Cuts Social Security with Chained CPI
The upcoming cuts to Social Security are being done by a Democrat President who is supposedly the party of the elderly, the disabled, veterans and the poor. The cuts to Social Security under President Obama include the "chained CPI" that would reduce the regular cost of living increases to the checks each year depending upon the rate of inflation. There is a bipartisan effort to block the latest Social Security cuts being led by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont who has a petition on his website telling Pres. Obama "NO CUTS to Social Security!"
This time the word "NO" may be the wisest comment to come from Speaker Boehner's mouth, he is rejecting Pres. Obama's cuts on Social Security albeit for other reasons than compassion. How ironic that both GW Bush AND Obama used taxpayer dollars to bail out billionaire "too big to fail" bankers that were clearly engaging in criminal activity yet the elderly, disabled and veterans who depend on Social Security are seen as "too small to live?"
What we have in the U.S. is not a democracy as our corporate media leads us to believe, instead we are residing in an oligarchy, a government run for the wealthy by the wealthy.
"Social Security: For the First Time in History...
...a Democratic president has proposed to cut Social Security benefits. That's not rumor, that's official. It is an item in the budget plan Barack Obama will send to Congress on Wednesday.
The cut is, as we have discussed in these pages many times, a different way of calculating cost-of-living increases called “chained CPI.” It measures inflation in a different way from currrent calculations so that COLAs would be reduced by .3 percent per year.
That doesn't sound like much but it is cumulative year to year and cuts so much money from beneficiaries who have earned it through a lifetime of work (estimates range from $100 billion to $208 billion over 10 years), that chained CPI is popular among deficit hawks (I now assume Mr. Obama to be among them).
Plus, those hawks have wanted to kill Social Security since the day President Roosevelt signed the legislation for it in 1935 and this looks to them like a terrific beginning.
Remember, the money comes out of the hides of Social Security recipients and it is not just old people Obama is selling out. It would negatively affect pretty much everyone in the U.S. except rich people for whom the change is so small in comparison to their wealth as to be unnoticeable.
In addition to elders who receive the Social Security old age benefit, others whose income would be reduced include:
•Disabled veterans and family survivors
•Disabled who rely on SSDI
•Everyone who pays federal income taxes due to adjustments to tax brackets by chained CPI too
Elders, veterans, children, widows and widowers, the working class, the poor along with all future beneficiaries of every type whose benefits under chained CPI would start out lower than without chained CPI.
Obama's proposal for chained CPI includes “protections for the vulnerable” but contains no details about who that is or how that determination would be made. This would create an additional layer of Social Security bureaucracy to gather forms, documents, tax returns and who knows what else to prove someone is "vulnerable."
The New York Times, in reporting on the president's budget proposal, had this to say about chained CPI [emphasis is mine]:
”As Mr. Obama has said before, his budget documents will emphasize that he would support the cost-of-living change, as well as other reductions that Republicans have called for in the popular programs for older Americans, only if Republicans agree to additional taxes on the wealthy and infrastructure investments...”
And that brings us to the politics of Obama's chained CPI offer.
Some pundits and commentators say that Congressional Republicans will never agree to additional taxes so don't worry about chained CPI. In fact, on Friday House Speaker John Boehner rejected the president's proposal.
Some other observers suggest that offering up chained CPI is a savvy president's political ploy. As Jason Easley explains it:
”What the White House is doing is a clever bit of political strategy. They are using something that Republicans really want (Social Security cuts) to force Republicans into making a choice on whether or not to defend raising taxes on the wealthy. The president knows that his budget is DOA, so he is using it to push his broad overall goal of raising taxes.”
Oh yeah? And what if that idea backfires and the Republicans go for it? Do we really want to rely on Boehner's tax intransigence to protect Social Security?
Once upon a time, back in September 2008, then-candidate Obama made this campaign promise:
(Link to video)
Apparently that was then and this is now because the president has been offering to cut Social Security via chained CPI since last summer. So there is no point in hammering the White House with objections.
Here is Robert Naiman at Truthout explaining, ”The only thing that can stop President Obama from cutting Social Security now is Congress.”
”...public pressure on Congress to stand up to Obama and say no. The pressure that has been exerted so far was not sufficient to stop President Obama from doing this. Therefore, public pressure against Social Security cuts must significantly escalate.”
That would be you, me, our friends and neighbors and relatives and everyone else you can think of – young and old because it affects all of us - must fight this ourselves.
There are a number of web petitions against chained CPI and on Wednesday, several progressive organizations are holding call-ins to Congress. You don't need to wait until then to tell your representatives “no to chained CPI” but I will have a bunch of links on Wednesday for you to use.
If you don't do this, if you don't help all the rest of us fight as hard as we can with as many phone calls, petitions and emails as it takes to preserve Social Security for ourselves, our children and beyond, you deserve to have your benefits cut.
If we lose this battle, let's at least be able to say we tried.
"Send a Message to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Boehner: No Budget Deal on Backs of the Elderly, the Children, the Sick and the Poor.
At a time when the middle class is disappearing, poverty is increasing and the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing wider, we demand that the federal budget not be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our country.
A federal budget that reduces the deficit by cutting cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security and disabled veterans, raising the Medicare eligibility age and lowering tax rates for the most profitable corporations in this country is not a grand bargain. It is a bad bargain.
We oppose the chained-CPI, a new way to measure inflation and consumer prices designed to cut benefits for Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and their survivors.
We are strongly opposed to benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the needs of our veterans.
We demand a budget that puts millions of Americans back to work in decent paying jobs.
We demand a budget that makes sure that the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations pay their fair share."
please sign petition here;
Want to save taxpayers some money? How about scrapping the drone strikes that only serve to increase the ranks of terrorists by killing civilians in the process and angering people who otherwise would have remained civilians. We taxpayers of the U.S. are supporting the drones with our money and in turn these drones make more enemies than they can kill. the balance then comes out in favor of the terrorists who are recruiting the angry civilians who witnessed their family being killed by a drone strike. Then the recently recruited terrorists attack U.S. targets and the public here is duped into thinking that building even more expensive drones will finally solve the problem. So the cycle goes and the only beneficiaries are the military-industrial complex weapons manufacturers.
Further evidence of illogical behavior by U.S. government;
"It's easy to see why they might want to avoid the subject. The use of drone strikes have increased exponentially under the Obama administration, becoming a signature aspect of his incredibly aggressive and reckless foreign policy. And while the president and his advisers defend both their supposed legality and precision while simultaneously bragging when convenient and denying when pressured that the drone program even exists, a closer look at the use of Predator drones tells a very different story.
Despite claims from the administration that drone strikes have killed very few civilians, multiple independent reports confirm that Obama is severely downplaying the wreckage that these drone strikes inflict. It is ultimately impossible to get exact numbers, but a new study from Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute finds that the number of Pakistani civilians killed in drone strikes are “significantly and consistently underestimated” by tracking organizations which are trying to take the place of government estimates on casualties.
There are estimates as high as 98% of drone strike casualties being civilians (50 for every one "suspected terrorist"). The Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued a report detailing how the CIA is deliberately targeting those who show up after the sight of an attack, rescuers, and mourners at funerals as a part of a "double-tap" strategy eerily reminiscient of methods used by terrorist groups like Hamas.
These numbers and reports alone should cast much doubt on the effectiveness at protecting the U.S. and combating terrorism that the Obama admnistration uses as justification for drone strikes. If a drone kills an actual terrorist but leaves multiple, sometimes dozens, of innocent civilians vaporized as well, this creates a brand new set of enemies and blowback. According to Jeremy Scahill’s reporting at The Nation, U.S. drone strikes in Yemen are the primary source for Al-Qaeda’s presence in the Arabian Peninsula. Obama’s “signature strikes” — where targets are hit for displaying “suspicious behavior” and which Petraeus also wants to expand — are backfiring and can only boomerang back to us.
While the CIA claims that the drone program operates "under a framework of legal and close government oversight," multiple legal experts are challenging the legality of the drone program under both American and international law. But much like how the Obama administration is blocking any challenges to the provisions in the NDAA that essentially nullify habeus corpus and Posse Comitatus, any lawsuit or inquiry into the drone program has been met with staunch opposition — especially concerning the targeted assassinations by drones of Anwar Al-Awlaki and his 16-year old son, both U.S. citizens.
The Obama-CIA drone program is the perfect example of government secrecy, lawlessness, and the inevitable next step in the U.S. government's long tradition of claiming the right to intervene military anywhere and everywhere it pleases. Government programs, whether they be welfare transfer payments or weapons contracts, like cancer, grow for growth's sake.
Many Americans may display indifference to the use of drones and the CIA's desire to expand the program. After all, these strikes are done thousands of miles away, and our noble public servants would never mislead us or fearmonger about a supposed foreign threat. Besides, it is far better to have CIA agents in Virginia or Nevada flying weaponized robots by remote control than to send in thousands of Marines, right?
The problem with this, of course, is twofold. First, the basic justification for the use of drones is the threat of terrorism. But terrorism is simply a predictable consequence of an interventionist foreign policy, the propping up of puppet dictators, and the embrace of empire that began after World War II (at least). The use of drones simply compounds this problem, creating more potential terrorists for every one that is killed.
Secondly, foreign and domestic policy are incredibly intertwined, and empires always eventually turn inward. During the occupation of the Philippines, the U.S. government experimented with drug prohibition and torture, programs that eventually became standard domestically. Police are now increasingly resembling, in both attire, attitude, and tactics, their overseas counterparts in Baghdad and Kandahar. Given that in just a few years, drones are set to police American skies, how long will they remained unarmed?
This is why the the drone program, and the CIA's desire to expand it, are so troubling. More than anything, the issue of whether the President, in a supposedly free society and a constitutional republic, should have this type of power at his fingertips should be front and center.
If the balance of the government shifts from beneficial to negative than we the people are obligated to throw off the deceptive oligarchy of the military-industrial complex and restore true democracy.