Like Nixon to China: Obama and Social Security

Just like it takes a Republican to open Communist* China, it takes a Democrat to kill Social Security. Get ready, folks. If you thought the corporate gifts in the so-called Health Care bill were bad, just wait till Obama’s so-called Deficit Commission gets its claws into Social Security.

Jane Hamsher put up a must-read article earlier this week that serves as a intro to her online salon with Steven Gillon, author of The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation.

In her intro, Hamsher discusses how Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich to pass pass a “fix” to Social Security. There were secret meetings and everything. (It almost looks like a club, doesn’t it.) The plan included the usual witches’ brew — cutting benefits, raising the retirement age, and fiddling with the cost of living increase. Even privatization was on the table, according to Gillon.

That effort failed, thanks to Clinton’s wandering mind . . . and Monica Lewinski. According to Gillon, the Monica scandal forced Gingrich back into the loving arms of his base, and killed the deal they were cooking up.

In addition to telling that story, Hamsher neatly ties Clinton’s attempt with Obama’s:

Clinton had been trying to deal with Social Security for some time. In 1994, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala had appointed the 13-member Danforth Commission to advise on Social Security. She appointed three members from labor (including Richard Trumka), Republican Alan Simpson (appointed by Obama to co-chair his Deficit Commission with Bowles) and Pete Peterson (the hedge-fund billionaire funding much of the current economic work being used to justify dismantling Social Security). The Danforth Commission was always deeply divided and was never able to reach a consensus, largely due to the fact that the appointees had different perspectives, but Obama apparently learned that lesson: His 18-member commission already is packed with 14 members who support cutting benefits, and many who support some form of privatization. It takes 14 votes to pass any recommendation. [emphasis mine]

Hmm. Pete Peterson. That Pete Peterson. And that one too. Him. Yep, the one with the grandson, the offspring Digby called — let me check, I want to get the quote just right — a “living argument against aristocracy.” Nice debut, kid.

All I’m saying is, I think it’s coming for real. It takes a Republican to neuter the Right; it takes a Dem to neuter the Left. Don’t be confused. Looks like Obama hearts him some Pete Peterson. Welcome to the club, Mr. President.

If you want to stay updated, here’s a good place to start. The first couple of paragraphs are especially helpful, and the coverage is ongoing.

(By the way, the theme of this post rather neatly ties to John’s earlier post about the brilliant Dear Dems letter. Seems we’re all having those thoughts.)


* “Communist” China, like “Communist” Russia is a massive misnomer, the product of a weirdly synchronized east-west PR campaign. No “communist” government in our lifetime could touch the hem of Karl Marx’s coat, much less represent his thought. These governments are actually various flavors of State Capitalism, the dirty old system we’re used to, but with a different owner. Just sayin’.

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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