Obama’s benefit-cuts budget takes more from seniors than from wealthy

Social Security benefit cuts are in Obama’s budget. It’s official. Barack Obama, he of the Hope and the Change, is putting benefit cuts in his next budget proposal, due for release next Wednesday, April 10. (If you were hoping he’d change, he won’t; he’s always been this guy.)

Here are a couple of things to know about this amazing Democratic budget proposal.

The benefit cuts news — the bad and the good

Washington Post (this is the bad news; my emphasis):

Obama budget would cut entitlements in exchange for tax increases

President Obama will release a budget next week that proposes significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security and fewer tax hikes than in the past, a conciliatory approach that he hopes will convince Republicans to sign onto a grand bargain that would curb government borrowing and replace deep spending cuts that took effect March 1.

Obama will break with the tradition of providing a sweeping vision of his ideal spending priorities, untethered from political realities. Instead, the document will incorporate the compromise offer Obama made to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last December in the discussions over the “fiscal cliff” – which included $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases.

And Boehner’s reaction (this is the good news):

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, on Friday waved aside reports that President Obama would seek a new budget compromise next week, accusing the president of again demanding tax increases in exchange for “modest entitlement savings.”

If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there’s no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes,” Mr. Boehner said.

So far, so good. Statement stalemate.

The plan — how Obama wins

According to Sam Seder on the Majority Report (start listening at 24:45 in the clip), the path for Obama’s latest Grand Bargain is through the Senate using budget reconciliation, which takes the filibuster off the table. Then it goes to the House, where only a small number of Republicans are needed to pass if most Democrats vote for it.

This is Obama’s best shot this round. Get Reid to get it through the Senate (assuming he wants to) with 51 votes. Get 50 Republicans (out of more than 200) to pass it along with a majority of Dems (out of exactly 200). Needed to pass: 218 votes. I hear the motors starting — tickets on Dennis Kucinich’s Plane Ride will be available soon.

You know what to do. Senate phone numbers here. House phone numbers here. Tell them they will lose their jobs if they vote against Social Security and Medicare. Tell them Obama will get Clinton money for life while they’re scuffing K Street carpet and cashing think-shop checks. Bad trade for them.

Everyone in the House is up every two years. These are the Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2014:

Senate Democratic class of 2014

Last Name First Name State Party Phone Class
Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651 2
Begich Mark AK D (202) 224-3004 2
Coons Chris DE D (202) 224-5042 2
Durbin Richard IL D (202) 224-2152 2
Franken Al MN D (202) 224-5641 2
Hagan Kay NC D (202) 224-6342 2
Harkin Tom IA D (202) 224-3254 2
Johnson Tim SD D (202) 224-5842 2
Landrieu Mary LA D (202) 224-5824 2
Lautenberg Frank NJ D (202) 224-3224 2
Levin Carl MI D (202) 224-6221 2
Merkley Jeff OR D (202) 224-3753 2
Pryor Mark AR D (202) 224-2353 2
Reed Jack RI D (202) 224-4642 2
Rockefeller John WV D (202) 224-6472 2
Shaheen Jeanne NH D (202) 224-2841 2
Udall Tom NM D (202) 224-6621 2
Udall Mark CO D (202) 224-5941 2
Warner Mark VA D (202) 224-2023 2

The Senate class of 2016 should be looking over its shoulder as well, as should any 2014 Republican facing a tight race (I haven’t checked to see who’s vulnerable, if anyone).

The Rich vs the Rest — Obama edition

This is the Democratic Party and its neoliberal owners playing their version of the Rich vs. the Rest. How does that apply to Obama’s budget proposal? Credit Dean Baker with the telling detail (my emphasis):

Social Security is about 70 percent of the income of a typical retiree. Since President Obama’s proposal would lead to a 3 percent cut in Social Security benefits, it would reduce the income of the typical retiree by more than 2.0 percent, more than three times the size of the hit from the tax increase to the wealthy.

And he offers a nice chart:


The taller the bar, the bigger the hit. The first bar is the Social Security hit to seniors. The second is the tax hit to a $500,000/year family. Obama’s priorities in one handy graph.

Need more? Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

Now It’s Official: Obama Sells Catfood Futures, Um, Social Security and Medicare Cuts

There is no more pretense possible. As we’ve warned for some time, Obama is eager to put a notch on his belt by being the President that rolled back the New Deal programs that helped create broad-based middle-class prosperity and dignity.

He’s cast himself as an adult inflicting discipline on profligate Americans. But in reality, the profligacy was most concentrated among elite financiers who used leverage on leverage vehicles to stoke liquidity that led to worldwide underpricing of risk. They paid themselves record bonuses in the years immediately preceding the crisis, and then in a grotesque display of ingratitude, did so again in 2009, able to do so only thanks to massive taxpayer support, alphabet-soup special borrowing programs, and the tax on savers known as ZIRP.

And the direct result of their looting exercise that produced the crisis was the explosion in government deficits, due to a collapse in tax revenues and a rise in payments under countercyclical programs such as unemployment insurance and food stamps.

That’s smart-person-speak for:

Obama gave it to the bankers and he’s taking it back from you.

This will kill people. Dave Johnson, who writes at Campaign for America’s Future, notes via email (also here; emphasis added):

The Obama budget is going to offer “Grand Bargain” cuts in Social Security and Medicare, hoping to get Republicans to offer tax increases.

We are heading into a retirement crisis. The 401K experiment didn’t work. Companies have pulled back on pensions. And the squeeze that has been on regular people for decades means that people also do not have the savings they need to get them through old age.

And all the money went to the top. The last thing the country needs is cuts in essential services for the elderly.

I disagree with the framing; Obama’s doing it because he wants to, all on the merits. But everything else Johnson says is right. When we need it the most, he’s taking it away.

I’ll say again, this will kill people.

Even Class War Kitteh agrees

Class War Kitteh is one of my favorite furry friends. Class War Kitteh takes no prisoners. And “someone” just made Class War Kitteh’s enemies list.


Class War Kitteh sez:

“If seniors shop the catfood aisle, what aisle can I shop?”


Your bottom line

This feels like one of the big ones. He’s as nakedly anti–Hope & Change as he’s ever been. (Let me clarify; he’s always been anti–Hope & Change on economic issues; he’s  never been this naked about it.)

Obama seems absolutely determined to sort Democrats and progressives into Neolib Enablers and Neolib Enemies, with nothing in between. Let’s see how that goes. It could be a plan that works for him, or not. Either way, there will a lot fewer mugs on one side of the progressive fence, and equally fewer wumps on the other side, when all this shakes out.

And that may not be bad.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves … a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”  —Frederic Bastiat

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

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51 Responses to “Obama’s benefit-cuts budget takes more from seniors than from wealthy”

  1. Butch1 says:

    The democratic party has changed from one that used to have a backbone and fought for our causes and protected us from these rich republicans to the present back-stabbers who have become so many traitors to the party that it isn’t recognizable anymore. I do not belong to it and stopped voting on a national level after many years of supporting it. One cannot continue to enable them to do the same things if we allow them to continue to stay in office. The ones who support us need to stay in and fight but these back-stabbers need to be primaried whenever they are up for re-election. They need to feel what happens when they betray the core beliefs of the original party and we have to mean it.

  2. samizdat says:

    Really, a downvote for a Star Wars reference? LOL!

  3. FunMe says:

    It’s all a dog and pony show. Obama is more republiCON than Democrat, because no real Democrat will ever try to stab a knife behind seniors like Obama is trying to do by stealing from Social Security to give to the rich.

  4. FunMe says:

    Don’t blame me. I didn’t vote or the 2 republiCONs running for President (Obama & Romney). ;-)

  5. FunMe says:


  6. FunMe says:


  7. FunMe says:

    I’ve always said the republiCONs have infiltrated the Democrat Party. And boy was I right! Sorry to say.

    Now is the time to send the message to President Obama to STOP! It is immoral and WRONG what he is doing. The American people cannot and will not let this happen. Already, I have received so many emails from progressive/liberal organizations getting ready to fight back. And boy do they feel betrayed. It does not surprise me that President Obama is doing this, unfortunately. After all, he is part of the 1% and has helped turned our democracy to an oligarchy. So much for being “constitutional lawyer”.

    So time to fight back and let President Obama know that enough is enough. He CANNOT be playing with people’s lives and steal from the poor to give to the rich. Has he no shame? Obviously not.

    Wait til he sees what he is up against: the AMERICAN PEOPLE!

  8. BloggerDave says:

    I still think your rhetoric is still a little over the top, GP… It may be in Obama’s budget but it’s a budget that won’t pass (like the first one he propsed 3 years ago)… Given that the chained cpi is the one thing that people have heard about, it makes sense that Obama would propose it to appear like he’s “serious” about reforms. He knows that the gop will not go for it because they are waiting for him to go much further on SS (and do it first) to give them cover for the 2014 elections… He will not do that.

  9. Butch1 says:

    This is not new news. We have been saying that Obama is after our Social Security for quite awhile now but, it has taken the MSM a few years to catch up. Funny how that goes. We were considered the ones wearing “tin foil hats” and were the “Obama haters.” No, we just recognized that Obama was a liar and knew what he was up to after he lied to us the first time to get into office. “Once bitten; twice shy,” as the saying goes. He wasn’t about to change for his second term and when he started running for office again and turned back into a moderate democrat and promised to protect social security, I knew he was only putting on a show to win votes. Nancy Pelosi, Reid and the rest lied to get the democrats to work hard and vote him back into office again only to stab us all in the back again. It doesn’t surprise me to see him trying to gut Social Security again. He is not the friend of the Senior’s or the common man by a long shot and he hasn’t learned a damned thing in five years. He is back trying to kiss the arse of the republicans to “win” them over by compromise. I will be so glad to see him out of office if he continues this same act for the rest of his tenure. We need a real liberal who knows how to steer this ship and not one who wants to make it the “Good Ship Lolly-Pop” giving away all the treats over to the rich by bleeding the Seniors and common people dry in the process.

  10. Kim_Kaufman says:

    There should be protestors everywhere Obama goes to fundraise. Make it really uncomfortable for him to go out and do this. And make the Dems squirm, too, that they won’t be able to go to fundraisers without being faced with their constituents they’re throwing under the bus.

  11. condew says:

    There is a special place in Hell for Naderites and those like them. The most important election in their lifetime hanging in the balance, and they were off on an ego trip, trying to make their candidate lose by a little less than last time. Knowing Bush and knowing the margin, they chose to let Bush win because voting for Nader felt good.

    There are people more stupid and evil than Republicans.

  12. condew says:

    Wouldn’t that make Boehner VP, one old man’s heartbeat away from the Presidency?

  13. Papa Bear says:


  14. samizdat says:

    TK421, why aren’t you at your post?!

  15. Bill_Perdue says:

    He never was. Clinton was far and away the worst – DADT, NAFTA. DOMA, deregulation, gutting welfare, 200,000 new cops, the murder of half a million children and babies and the current depression.

    Bush and Obama were and are very evil, but the dishonor and contempt of the worst president in US history goes to Bill Clinton. Considering her credentials as a mad dog warmonger, someone who learned labor relations sitting on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart for six years and who’s a dues paid member of lunatic christer right, Hillary Clinton may be the all time worst.

    H Clinton the religious nut http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics

    H Clinton and Wal Mart – “Wal-Mart’s First Lady Twice in three days last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton basked in the adulation of cheering union members. Her record of supporting collective bargaining, however, is considerably worse than wobbly.” http://www.villagevoice.com/2000-05-23/news/wal-mart-s-first-lady/

    H Clinton the mad dog warmongerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkS9y5t0tR0

  16. Bill_Perdue says:

    I used to say that about Nixon, then stopped until Agnew got the boot. His lame duck successor slipped and fell a lot but did less harm than was expected, perhaps because he kept flashing back to Nixon taking his last ride on MarineOne.

    The only advantage with Biden is that those little lesions on his brain aren’t so little any more. The disadvantages is that there are few, if any, differences between him and Obscene. Hopefully the military wouldn’t let him near any live red buttons.

  17. Naja pallida says:

    Cramer is an idiot. Anyone taking financial advice from his show might as well just be drinking beer by the case and turning in the cans for the 5c refund, because that’s about the quality of investment knowledge you’re going to get. Then again… all these supposed market geniuses that get paid so well to be on TV didn’t predict the 2008 collapse at all. They didn’t see Enron. They didn’t see AIG. So It pretty much negates them as a qualified source for any advice. Their job is to dupe the gullible into thinking they can be savvy Wall Street insiders too, and encourage them to lose their shirts by gambling in a system so heavily weighted against them, they’d have better chances at the horse track.

  18. karmanot says:

    Impeach Obama

  19. karmanot says:

    So, bow and scrape and vote Democrat again? For what?

  20. jomicur says:

    So you think the Democrats would have supported it? I agree.

  21. condew says:

    Nah, Barry’s body count is not high enough, yet.

    But he may invade Iran in a gesture of “bipartisanship”; that would actually be less shocking than his Democratic knife in Social Security’s back.

  22. condew says:

    To replace them with what, greens? Not bloody likely

  23. condew says:

    Romney would not take his “privatize-medicare-social-security show on the road”, he would not care what the 47% think.

  24. condew says:

    If Romney was president, the Ryan budget would already be law.

  25. condew says:

    Wall Street sure loved the dumb money I put in my 401K; many a year my losses equaled my entire contribution for the year, until 2008 when they tried to take it all.

  26. condew says:

    Those who still don’t see Obama for what he is keep saying it’s strategy to make Republicans look bad, and Republicans won’t take him up on the offer because his budget has tax increases.

    Watch as the parts of the Obama budget that Republicans like becomes the new “middle ground”. Cuts to Social Security will be assumed as the natural thing to put in the budget from this point forward.

    Until every politician who supports cuts to Social Security gets his ass handed to him in 2014. I sure hope most Democrats are too smart to support Social Security cuts, but I’m ready to endure a Republican for 2 years if I can fire Steny Hoyer; he doesn’t represent me at all anyway. I’d rather Hoyer was fired in the Democratic primary, but now anybody who is running against Hoyer is my friend.

  27. karmanot says:

    War on Democrats coming up. If seniors are going to suffer, we have nothing to lose and should come out in the millions to wipe Obamaites off the electoral map.

  28. lynchie says:

    I got that hopey changey feeling in my left nut.

  29. lynchie says:

    Right! the dems and repubs don’t want to have to pay back the billions they took out of the fund. So to make things right they call this entitlements and claim its going bankrupt because of bad policy and over the top spending for the past 20 years. If they can pull this off the next is to privatize it. I have a friend working on wall street (not sure if friend qualifies him anymore) he has wet dreams about getting his hands on everyone’s SS. Going forward the 99% for the most part don’t know shit about the markets. They listen to the idiot’s on tv and say if they can do so can i. But ass holes like Kramer are often fuck up but the difference is you can lose the whole SS balance and then have nothing to retire on. You will be eating rats and grubs and dream of the one day a month you can buy a can of cat chow.

  30. Outspoken1 says:

    I guess I should just die before I get old!! Think of the savings!!!

  31. ZaMan says:

    In this case. It’s right to say the following…

    Obama is a Traitor…never though I would type these words!

  32. timncguy says:

    When will someone explain that cuts in Social Security have absolutely no effect on the budget, the deficit or the debt? Social Security is a self-contained system. The money to fund it doesn’t come from the general fund. It comes from FICA taxes. The ONLY way anyone can claim savings in SS will save money in the budget is because we currently are cashing in some of the government bonds held by the SS surplus to meet SS payments. So, if they make big enough cuts, current FICA revenue will be enough to meet current payments w/o cashing in any SS bonds thus avoiding the government having to pay back any of the surplus they borrowed. But, the debt is still there and will still be counted as debt.

  33. karmanot says:

    Obama will go down in history as the first black President!——-who instituted a policy that killed off thousands of elderly black citizens by slashing social security, Medicare and Medicaid. What a profile in courage, hope and change.

  34. pappyvet says:

    Whats that old saying,”Follow the money.” You bet ! 10% of the population controls 90% of the wealth. Money flowing overseas to places like the Cayman Islands to the tune of at least a trillion.The big corporations, particularly the banks, have massive resources and the incentives to buy and control whatever they want. In simple English, they are buying their way into the situation we are in , which is: “We will pretend to be regretful. You will pretend to be protecting the public. You will make regulations that we help you write so that we can get around them.” Example;

    Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.

    Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

    Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction
    And the list is much longer as the painful comedy continues. Where did all the money go? Not to disabled vets,not to the elderly not to wages of working people. But that is where the majority of cuts are apparently going to come from. On our way to austerity? On our way to plutocracy? That ship’s anchor is dropping fast .

  35. dula says:

    Don’t look at me; I didn’t vote for the fraud.

  36. GaiusPublius says:

    Two armies in the field against us in 2012. One is gone. This is the next opponent.


  37. karmanot says:

    “Obama gave it to the bankers and he’s taking it back from you.” Is anybody still laughing at death panels?

  38. TK421 says:

    That’s for sure EZPZ. Who cares if Republicans take office when we have despicable Democrats who are willing to enact their policies?

  39. TK421 says:

    A senior citizen who dies when they can’t afford enough food or medicine because of Mitt Romney is more dead than one who dies when they can’t afford enough food or medicine because of Barack Obama, I suppose.

  40. BeccaM says:

    This is the Lesser Evil many of us voted for. Let’s nobody act surprised that a neo-liberal corporatist agenda is what we get.

  41. Drew2u says:

    it depends on which way you want the states to swing, but after the massive tell in 2009 and the trouncing of 2010 that led to the gerrymandered redistricting, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

  42. Indigo says:

    Shame on Barry!

  43. samizdat says:

    “Romney-Ryan Cat Food” From Drone-bama Corp, LLC!

  44. ezpz says:

    “…To get elected president, one has to sell one’s soul…”

    That would presume that one actually HAS a soul.

  45. I want to start a movement “Save The Middle Class” I already own the name and would like to build this out to keep people informed of these decisions so they can fight back. What is needed for SS is to lower the rate of payroll contributions 1% but remove the cap entirely. I believe this would make SS solvent for at least the next 50 years. We need to open Medicare to all and we need to cut defense by 20% and we need to pass America’s Jobs Act. These things together would get us back on good financial footing. The 401(k) experiment was no experiment at all. they knew it would force nearly all Americans to care about what happens on Wall St. That has allowed them to run amok and having worked in the financial industry for the past 22 years I have seen it up close. WE need to start fighting back or once again the elderly will mainly live in poverty and thats not acceptable.

  46. ezpz says:

    So? Except for a title and the duplicitous rhetoric that occasionally SOUNDS like liberal-speak, that’s pretty much what we have now. Maybe worse. I don’t think Romney would have been able to pull this off any more than Bush could. He (bush) had to fold up his tent pretty quickly when he took his privatize-medicare-social-security show on the road.

  47. jomicur says:

    But Romney would have been worse! I have no idea how, but the die-hard Democrats keep saying that, so it must be true, mustn’t it?

  48. TheOriginalLiz says:

    No surprise. To get elected president, one has to sell one’s soul, and not to the “little people” like you and me.

  49. cambridgemac says:

    Orszag went on to a million dollar a year job on Wall Street – and Clinton has made $80 million since leaving the White House. Obama is going to be rewarded with many, many millions for this.

  50. Drew2u says:

    Republicans 2014!
    Because that’s what’s going to happen.

  51. nicho says:

    May I be the first to say Fuck Barry Obama. On the bright side, George W. Bush is no longer the worst president in US history.

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