Alan Grayson: Social Security cuts will prompt civil disobedience

I don’t think the Bigs (and the congressional faces who do their bidding) understand the amount of rejection in the country for benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Benefit cuts to any of these programs is hugely unpopular. In fact, huge majorities support increasing benefits, not lowering them, even if it means that everyone pays higher FICA taxes (click to see the stunning data on that).

And yet Mr. Hope-and-Change Obama, his Robert Rubin–friends, and his billionaire partner-in-crime Pete Peterson persist in trying to ram some kind of benefits cuts bill through Congress — confusingly and misleadingly tying to the deficit, or the budget, or lost kittens, or something.

I’ve been warning for weeks that if they succeed in passing a bipartisan benefits bill, most of the Congress types who vote for it will lose … their … jobs. My message to them has been consistent:

I’m doing you a favor, folks. Think before you act. Thinking after you act will be too late.

There aren’t enough K Street lobbying positions for all of you, if all of you hit the resale market on the same day. I don’t want to say “I told you so.” I want to tell you now — this will not end the way Barack Obama (who will never face election again) and Steny Hoyer are telling you it will end. It will end ugly, for you.

Now here’s Alan Grayson to say it will get uglier than that. Benefits cuts will lead to real “civil disobedience.” And it won’t be just hippies with student loans and pup tents out there this time. It will be you and me — and also our parents, carrying walkers and two-by-fours, looking for congressional faces to talk seriously to.

Listen as Alan Grayson talks with David Shuster and Daniel Marans on WeActRadio:

Grayson (at 2:42 in the clip): “If they come through with cuts, people will come pouring into the streets … And what’s the point? Under current law, benefits will be paid out for the next 25 years. Minor tweaks would make that forever.”

Yep. And the most effective of those minor tweaks? Removing the salary cap — not raising it, removing it — so Pete Peterson’s salary is FISA-taxed at the same rate as his janitor’s. How simple is that?


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

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

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56 Responses to “Alan Grayson: Social Security cuts will prompt civil disobedience”

  1. Floyd Young says:

    Obama’s offer to cut SS was a bluff just to prove that the GOP would not cooperate with him no matter what he offered.

  2. YPetrinov says:

    The government OWES me EVERY nickel that I have ever paid into the system in the past 35 years, with interest, COMPOUNDED. So, if you want to cut it or end it….no problem. Better pay me back first.

  3. archiebird says:

    Grayson will fall in line with the cuts as did the Progressive Caucus during the Healthcare debate, UNLESS (and this is a big’ UNLESS’) the GOP and their constituents get on board with fighting its implementation in a very vocal way. Bush 43 thought about restructuring SS with ‘individual 401k’s” or some dumb thing and he got shot down immediately. He didn’t even pursue it after one or two speaking appearances.

  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    It won’t be if Obama, Son of Reagan, gets his way.

  5. salsolomon says:

    Proof Please.

  6. karmanot says:

    This rug worn argument does not account for the reality that while people are living longer, they are not living healthier. But Obama’s cuts in health security will kill off the weakest, so your precious future generations can enjoy SS. Feel better now?

  7. karmanot says:

    Remember the term anarchy?

  8. karmanot says:

    Yep I remember Berkeley and Oakland and the Santa Rita prison camp. That was only a few decades ago. Pain weapons are more advanced now.

  9. karmanot says:

    In god we ‘trust.’ It only costs a few hundred bucks—-protect yourself

  10. GarySFBCN says:

    Ha ha – I just noticed your photos. I marched with CCOO (4th photo) in Barcelona.

  11. mirth says:

    I wasn’t suggesting that protests cover all complaints. Instead, I was giving examples of how one might protest individually and privately from the safety of their home. However, I see nothing wrong with showing we are “dissatisfied about stuff.”

  12. GarySFBCN says:

    Young people have been brainwashed by the financial services industry into thinking that Social Security will not be there for them.

  13. GarySFBCN says:

    What you wrote: “Wages have been cut and driven down by union busting and forcing unions to accept 2 and 3 tier wage systems as they were when Obama broke the UAW”

    Anyway, never mind. It is pointless to engage you. Feel free to continue to consider me the enemy of everything good because I don’t march 100% in lockstep with your opinions.

  14. condew says:

    It’s also very clever to cut benefits for those more than 10 years from retirement, or cut them by a wonky change to the inflation adjustment. Both methods make the cuts not be an immediate threat in most people’s lives. So all those trivial current problems like car trouble, shoes for the kids, visit to the dentist, all crowd out the response to “in 10 years retirement may be hell”.

  15. Bill_Perdue says:

    It’s a two tier system if new hires don’t start out with the same wages and benefits as other workers. You described a two tier system. Then you denied it was a two tiered system.

    Unions and the union left like the idea of 30 hours work for 40 hours because many older workers don’t want to retire and live on a fixed income with poor COLAs or even worse COLAs when Obama’s cuts in social security take effect. My, and their problem with that is that most working people can’t live on SS even if it’s supplemented by a pension. Union busting by scabs like Obama and his Teabag, Democrat and Republican allies saw to that.

    I’ll pick fights with anyone who supports the Scab in Chief or who thinks that paying new hires a lesser amount is a good thing. Someone who votes for and supports the Scab in Chief, the Bigot in Chief and the Mad Dog Warmonger in Chief is diametrically opposed to the fight for living wages and for equality and against mass murder. Period. Full Stop.

  16. GarySFBCN says:

    It isn’t a two-tier wage system. Most of us who enter Civil Service start with a salary at the ‘bottom step.’ At pre-determined intervals, usually 3-months, 6-months or 1 year, our work is evaluated and if we are doing OK, we given a raise, to the next salary step (usually a 5% increase), until we reach the ‘top step.’ The salary steps are adjusted up when cost of living adjustments are given, regardless if a position if filled or not. So if the bottom step is $3,000 a month and there is a 4% cola, the new bottom step salary is $3,120 for those working in that position at that step as well as all future hires into that position.

    There is a two-tier pension system but that’s not what we’re discussing. And in my former union, there have been no cuts at all.

    You advocate for a 30-hour workweek as a means employ more people. I think that’s great. I advocate for everyone getting a decent pension at 60 as a means to employ more people. What’s your problem with that?

    If for a moment you can stop picking fights with me and stop calling me names (something that I regretfully hurl back at you) maybe you can see that we are not that far apart in our opinions.

  17. Bill_Perdue says:

    Again, non-responsive.

    The question doesn’t concern you. It concerns the needs of the working class.

    Wages have been cut and driven down by union busting and forcing unions to accept 2 and 3 tier wage systems as they were when Obama broke the UAW. In spite of your opinion lower wages for new hires is not a good thing. They tend to stay lower and as older workers retire to become the norm. Saying it’s ‘win-win’ is a betrayal of working people and unions.

    The ways to cut unemployment are to campaign for a 30 hour work week for forty hours pay with full benefits, Secondly we can end unemployment and underemployment with a vast multi-trillion dollar program to green the economy using union hiring halls and by demanding that Obama and his Teabag, Democrat and Republican allies implement that instead of giving trillions for predatory banks.

    There are no excuses for supporting a two tier wage and benefit system. New hires need equal wages because many of them are beginning families and that’s expensive. They need the same medical and vacation benefits as older workers and they need a year off at full pay (irrespective of gender) if they have or adopt a child.

  18. Bill_Perdue says:

    That’s non-responsive.

    It’s a topic in every union hall across the country and among retired workers all across the country. They fear. There are few specifics until the extent of the Obama austerity program is nailed down by Obama and his Teabag, Democrat and Republican allies work out the specifics.

    Why do you attempt to denigrate genuine fear among workers, especially retired workers, on this question? Why do you play Devils Advocate for Son of Reagan? Why do you assume that cuts won’t get as bad here as they have in Europe and the Middle East?

  19. Bill_Perdue says:

    He’ll just sue your estate or your relatives.

  20. GarySFBCN says:

    “Why would you describe the anger and fear about the cuts as ‘hyperbole and hysteria’?”

    Because it is a recurring topic here and elsewhere where there are no specifics. While I am against the ‘chained CPI’ method, it is hardly ‘the end of Social Security’ as it has been characterized.

  21. GarySFBCN says:

    “I take it then that you agree with the various methods – union busting, extremely high levels of artificially maintained unemployment and underemployment, and the export of union jobs eased by NAFTA like laws – used by the looter class and their competing gangs of paid political prostitutes to drive down wages, ignore unemployment and cut the rug out from under unions.”

    No, not at all. First, about me: I have worked in ‘private industry’ and government. I’ve been working in government for the last 24 years, in an interesting job that supports social justice as being critical for health. I have been a member of a union, although currently I am not because the idiotic union can’t get their act together to include the position I was promoted into, even though I have written several times for them to do so.

    What I wrote is from my experience here in California. While I reject the notion that pensions are bad, and the myth that most people with government pensions are living high (I think the truth is that the average pension in California is $24,000 annually), there are obvious cases of abuse in the pension system, especially among law enforcement, fire and executives, who are able to game the system.

    When Jerry Brown implemented his ‘pension reform’, much of this gaming (mostly people inflating their salaries, some by more than 400% by various techniques), we saw a huge exodus of people retiring before the end of the last calendar year, 9% of the staff where I work.

    We are hiring into those most of those newly vacant positions (about 1,000 vacant). We are hiring at the ‘1st step’ because that it is the way it is done in Civil Service.

    People will be collecting their pensions. Young people will be hired. It is a win-win in my ‘industry.’

  22. Bill_Perdue says:

    Younger workers are also terrified of what they face from the cuts.

    In general, very large numbers of American workers are becoming much more radicalized. When the Obama cuts take effect the resulting damage to the lives of workers will begin producing profoundly revolutionary thinking among workers, youths. people of color and other groups kicked around by the rule of the rich. People are losing hope.

    A major upsurge in the US is just a matter of time, and closer that anyone thinks. OWS, militant and bitterly fought strikes and the rise of the labor left are just precursors. Greece, Spain, South Africa, Tunisia, Libya and Portugal were all quiet countries whose working classes were quiescent until one day – Boom! – they weren’t quiet.

    We’ll be going Boom! ourselves, and sooner rather than later.

  23. Bill_Perdue says:

    “… young people can be hired into those jobs, usually at a lower, ‘entry’ wage. So it is good for business and good for unemployment”

    What an outrageous perspective. What’s good for business is bad for workers and consumers.

    I take it then that you agree with the various methods – union busting, extremely high levels of artificially maintained unemployment and underemployment, and the export of union jobs eased by NAFTA like laws – used by the looter class and their competing gangs of paid political prostitutes to drive down wages, ignore unemployment and cut the rug out from under unions.

    Instead of that we need constitutional amendments guaranteeing socialized medicine, quality housing, nutrition and trade union levels of pay and benefits for workers, students, retirees, job trainees and the unemployed.

    Expropriate banks, financial institutions and manufacturing and transportation companies that accepted or applied for federal bailouts, to be run by councils of workers and consumers. We need laws to criminalize hoarding large amounts of money here or overseas.

    We need a 100% tax on personal income over $200,000.00 a year and a 100% tax on estates over that amount.

    We can end the horrors of unemployment by adopting a 30 hour work week, with full benefits, for 40 hours pay and by supporting demands for trillions to be invested in publicly owned and democratically Manhattan Project style efforts to green industry, agriculture and the infrastructure.

    We need to end handouts and bailouts for the looter class and to eliminate their profits and use those monies to make life better for the workers who generated them and for retired workers.

  24. Bill_Perdue says:

    Things are much. much worse in Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Egypt. Give it time.

  25. Bill_Perdue says:

    The question is not about the specifics of the cuts proposed by Obama, although the chained CPI seems most likely.

    That’s secondary to the central questions about how deep the cuts will be and how much easier it will be to increase the cuts in SS and Medicare/Medicaid entitlements after the precedent is set. (Retired workers are entitled to them because they already paid for them.)

    Why would you describe the anger and fear about the cuts as ‘hyperbole and hysteria’? The words you use are an attempt to deflect legitimate fear and anger regarding Obama’s Judas act. Nobody owes Obama the the benefit of the doubt after his record of mass murders around and his growing list of murders of US citizens, his betrayal of the ‘public option’ and his benign neglect of tens of millions of people who are unemployed, underemployed, in poverty or homeless.

    Given his record any level of support for Obama is treason against working people and every one fighting for equality.

    Medicare/Medicaid can be easily turned into what we really need – socialized medicine for all – by taxes on the rich and on corporations and by eliminating health care companies and transferring their work and workers to federal and state employment covered by unions.

  26. Drew2u says:

    Not to detract from the point, but I refrained from commenting for a while to see if anyone else noticed this, but wasn’t Daniel Marans leading Grayson? Mr. Marans spends a good deal of time talking about how this could lead to civil disobedience before Mr. Grayson says anything about “rioting in the streets”. It seems that Mr. Grayson’s comment isn’t a stand-alone idea or phrase, but just a statement of reinforcement to Mr. Marans commentary. So while, yes, Mr. Grayson said those words, it was coaxed from him as a response and not a spontaneous idea.

  27. condew says:

    Obama sure stacked the “Deficit Commission”. Obama put a bunch of rich old men who are already on the record as favoring cuts to Social Security into a room and told them to look at Social Security within the context of deficit reduction. I think it is very clear that Obama was looking for a license to cut Social Security.

    A real Democrat would have appointed a commission of Progressives and people who depend on Social Security and asked them to consider what changes would be socially responsible. He’d probably get back a report that the difference between inflation and inflation on the things old people need has been reducing the buying power of Social Security checks and recommendations for some kind of increase. But that is not what Obama did.

    Social Security is not very generous. The average check is now about $1100. In my area, that would not pay the rent on a one room apartment. How anyone can talk of cutting it, or changing the inflation adjustment so that every year the buying power of those Social Security checks is less? I think Obama, Pelosi, and Hoyer favor chained CPI because it is technical enough to slip under people’s radar now, and it won’t really start to hurt until Obama and the rest are long gone.

  28. condew says:

    Social Security is already extremely generous at the low end compared to the high end. At the low end your Social Security benefit is 90% of your monthly income in your best 30 years, adjusted for the rise in wages. For average income above about $50K, you get 15%. The net result is that the guy earning close to the cap pays about 5 times the taxes of the guy earning $25K, but he only gets about 2 times the benefit. That doesn’t count SSI, which is basically welfare for old folks that will bring your Social Security check up to the poverty line if it is below it. (The thresholds adjust for inflation and I haven’t been back to the Social Security website for a while for current thresholds and to refresh my memory.)

    How close to a flat benefit do you think you can get before the upper middle class, which is carrying the weight of the program,stops supporting Social Security?

  29. condew says:

    I think your idea of civil disobedience lacks all focus. If you are protesting everything, how is the target to identify what to fix? One way to make protest useless is to make it a coalition of so many disparate complaints that all the press or the pols can get out of it is “they are dissatisfied about stuff”.

  30. condew says:

    I swear that if i am homeless or dieing of a treatable disease in my old age, I will find out where Steny Hoyer lives and die on his doorstep.

  31. condew says:

    I hope he is right. Too many of my younger coworkers say they will never collect Social Security. I point out to them that such a statement practically begs their reps to cut their Social Security, and how many different ways I’ve had the money I’ve tried to save for retirement stolen from me — a 401K that as often as not lost everything I contributed in the year, the Bush market crash that took a third of my 401K and lead to interest rates under 1% on my IRAs, then there’s inflation, particularly the inflation in the cost of medical care, and I point out that Social Security is the only part of their retirement income that will be increased to account for inflation.

    I estimate the value of Medicare over private insurance in my old age at about $500,000.00 and I ask them if they think they can save an extra half-mil for health care.

    All these reasons why Social Security and Medicare are essential to a secure retirement, and they still don’t get it. But they whined when the FICA tax went back up.

  32. Clevelandchick says:

    I don’t know what part you think is vague, it’s pretty much common knowledge that’s what he wants his legacy to be.

  33. Clevelandchick says:

    No. Gandhi didn’t need it. Women didn’t need it. African Americans didn’t need it. We’re talking long-ass, yes some activists will be hurt by the fascists, peaceful, shame these motherfuckers back into their slimy dark caves civil disobedience.

  34. Sweetie says:

    There are so many defense companies just dying for some disobedience. There are LRADs to be made, prison labor to be gotten, and an entire array of security services and equipment in desperate need of Americans with pulses. And, there is a huge pile of paperwork waiting in the wings to take away whatever crumbs of liberty the citizenry is allegedly in possession of.

  35. mirth says:

    Which is why tactics from the 60s & 70s are no longer effective. But what could replace them, I do not know… except what can be done individually, such as stay-at-home boycotts and withholding our $s and services, yet done on a coordinated nationwide scale. Then there is our refusal to buy products that we know are made in slavery conditions, are privacy robbing and hugely overpriced, or services that are dehumanizing and little more than theater such as takes place in our airports. But we have become a nation that refuses to sacrifice individually for the common good and as long as that remains true, nothing effective will take place. We citizens have power; we simply refuse to use it.

  36. Naja pallida says:

    Whether any disobedience is civil or uncivil, you can be sure any response will be uncivil. We’ve seen that first hand very recently with the Occupy movement.

  37. cole3244 says:

    i don’t know if graysons prediction is accurate but whatever it takes to stop putting up candidates like obama and clinton as the opposition to the right is worth the gamble, until we get real left wing opposition this nation will never be the beacon that the father of conservatism and bigotry said it was on his way to creating this redistribution of wealth to the takers and elites aka the 1% at the expense of americas promise to all its citizens regardless of status.

  38. mirth says:

    Not necessarily, although non-violent techniques are usually employed. More accurate is civilian uprising, as opposed to those elected or in the military.

    What we sorely need is some uncivil disobedience.

  39. UncleBucky says:

    Hah, you beat my post on bread and circuses, Liz! Good for you!

  40. UncleBucky says:

    Bread and Circuses, Gary, until the power and cable go out. And then, like that episode in the Simpsons, when Itchy and Scratchy cartoons are canceled, the kids come out and play and rainbows appear in the sky, the peasants will march out onto the high street with their shovels and pitchforks. Any 1% not looking will get his/her lunch or their “just desserts” as it were. It’ll make Zombieland look like a picnic. Kill your TVs and live, boys and girls!

  41. caphillprof says:

    or what most people spend on a given day at Starbucks or their local bar

  42. karmanot says:

    Revolutions happen when there is no other survival options. There is absolutely no doubt slashing Social Security, tampering with Medicare/Medicaid will cause great suffering among tens of millions of elderly and impoverished Americans. The Obama Mandarins made it quite clear that a statistic of over 50,000 deaths a year without health care was acceptable until the 2014 details of his monstrosity of a law took effect. Many of us are too aged or sick to do much other than die. Many will commit suicide, others of my generation will form underground units to sabotage property—-the greatest crime of all in America —most of it will be cyber. After all why not spend time in a warm 3srquares Fed prison rather than die of pneumonia on a flattened paper box under a freeway overpass.

  43. “Civil” means non-violent, I believe.

  44. eahopp says:

    Are we talking Second Amendment civil disobedience?

  45. Max_1 says:

    Democrats voted for Obama to cut, cut, cut, cut…
    … Oh, they didn’t? Well, with such vapid protestations by Democrats, what else is there to think?

  46. GarySFBCN says:

    Depends. When people retire from their jobs, young people can be hired into those jobs, usually at a lower, ‘entry’ wage. So it is good for business and good for unemployment. And for those who know how to live after retirement, it is fantastic.

  47. John1838 says:

    Another challenge is the suggestion that we raise Social Security’s basic minimum benefit so that someone who paid into Social Security for 30 years can retire at 62 or later and not be poor. Why incent retirement at age 62, given that society is living longer? If anything, shouldn’t society encourage productivity longer per year at about the same pace as mortality ages rise, especially in a system where the paying-into generations carry much more of the funding burden per person than the currently retiring generation did?

  48. perljammer says:

    Raising the payroll tax rate shouldn’t be very controversial — I remember a period of time when either the rate or the cap was raised every year, for about 5 years or so. And getting rid of the cap makes a lot of sense in terms of making the system sustainable, even though it violates one of the original principles FDR put forth. But I don’t care much for a piece of misinformation in the linked article about support for increased payroll tax rates, Gaius. You said an increase from 6.2% to 7.2% would only increase the cost to a worker earning $50,000/year by 50 cents a week. I don’t know where you learned arithmetic, but 1% of $50,000 is $500, which would be nearly $10/week.

  49. GarySFBCN says:

    Proof please.

  50. wtf2 says:

    The chained CPI will be used to shore up tax cuts for the rich. And maybe Obama can get a few more drones he can use to kill Americans, Afghani kids, whoever he chooses.

  51. jomicur says:

    It doesn’t make any difference whether they lose their jobs or not. If they go, they’ll be replaced by more corporate-funded swine, eager to do the bidding of their 1% masters. The problem isn’t with the individual congresscreeps, it is with the system, which is growing more corrupt by the year. We’ve had a political system for years in which the government was for sale to the highest bidder and, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, that system has now been legitimized. When one bought-and-paid-for senator or representative gets voted out of office, there will be a long line of new ones waiting to fill the gap.

    In the 1st century a delegation of Jews petitioned Tiberius to remove Pontius Pilate from his post as governor of Judea on the ground that he was hopelessly corrupt. Tiberius declined, commenting that if you brush the flies away from an open wound, they’ll only be replaced by newer, even hungrier flies. I daresay Tiberius would be completely at home in our government today.

  52. TheOriginalLiz says:

    As long as we have our mindless tv programs and crappy, affordable fast food, there will be no civil disobedience. Bread and Circuses for a modern era.

  53. GarySFBCN says:

    I should add that I adore Grayson, but Americans are lazy when it comes to politics. I can’t see civil disobedience at levels that matter to anyone. It’s really kind of sad that in Europe and especially Spain, millions of people take to the streets over injustices but here, people shake their heads for a moment and then go back watching their favorite television programs.

  54. GarySFBCN says:

    Yeah, I read that post and had a different opinion.

  55. Clevelandchick says:

    Go back and read some of the other writings by this blog author on this subject – the meat missed by the media coverage over that Woodward kerfuffle w/Obama point man Sperling, who admitted in not vague at all terms, that SSI and Medicare cuts were part of Obama’s plan from the beginning.

  56. GarySFBCN says:

    I’m in 100% agreement that we should not move to chained CPI, we should raise or remove the salary cap, and otherwise, we should be strengthening Social Security. It’s very easy to do and benefits so many people.

    What I don’t understand is the hyperbole and hysteria on this blog about Obama over the chained CPI. Is that the only thing he’s proposed? Can anyone actually link to his proposal about Social Security?

    I’d actually consider the chained CPI approach if the ‘savings’ were to be used to shore-up and/or expand MediCare.

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