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Reich writes: "Hands off Social Security. If the Republicans are willing to raise tax rates on high earners but demand more spending cuts in return, the President should offer larger cuts in defense spending and corporate welfare."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

The President's Unnecessary and Unwise Concessions

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

20 December 12


hy is the President back to making premature and unnecessary concessions to Republicans?

Two central issues in the 2012 presidential election were whether the Bush tax cuts should be ended for people earning over $250,000, and whether Social Security and Medicare should be protected from future budget cuts.

The President said yes to both. Republicans said no. Obama won.

But apparently the President is now offering to continue to Bush tax cuts for people earning between $250,000 and $400,000, and to cut Social Security by reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments.

These concessions aren't necessary. If the nation goes over the so-called "fiscal cliff" and tax rates return to what they were under Bill Clinton, Democrats can then introduce a tax cut for everyone earning under $250,000 and make it retroactive to the start of the year.

They can combine it with a spending bill that makes up for most of the cuts scheduled to go into effect in January. Republicans would be hard-pressed not to sign on.

Social Security should not be part of any such deal anyway. By law, it can't contribute to the budget deficit. It's only permitted to spend money from the Social Security trust fund.

Besides, the President's proposed reduction in annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments would save only $122 billion over ten years. Yet it would significantly harm the elderly.

It defies logic and fairness to give more tax cuts to the wealthy while cutting benefits for the near-poor.

The median income of Americans over 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Nearly 70 percent of them depend on Social Security for more than half of this. The average Social Security benefit is less than $15,000 a year.

Even Social Security's current cost-of-living adjustment understates the true impact of inflation on elderly recipients, who spend far more on health care than anyone else - including annual increases in Medicare premiums.

Hands off Social Security. If the Republicans are willing to raise tax rates on high earners but demand more spending cuts in return, the President should offer larger cuts in defense spending and corporate welfare.

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. your social media marketing partner


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+107 # BradFromSalem 2012-12-20 09:50
Here is the part I don't get. Why the H--l is anyone listening to what Republicans want to cut? They have zero credibility, zero. I understand that the President has to throw a bone (pun very intended) to Speaker Boner (sic). Raising the starting point for tax increases to 400K ONLY wioth no changes to Social Security Benefits should be a limited time offer, take it now, because after the cliff; the offer is off the table.

And here is another thing! How can Boner repeatedly say that the President isn't serious. President Obama should call him out on that crap BS directly.

There are plenty of ways to make up the difference. Capitals gains, Defense cuts, Corporate welfare, and on and on...

Why does the American leadership hate the majority of American people?
+26 # Jonathan Levy 2012-12-20 11:09
Get this, buddy, the election was theater and so is this economic debate between Obama and the republicans. They both work for the same team to screw you while light weights like Reich act as if Obama's just making a mistake (his mistakes just so happen to always result in screwing us and helping big finance). Neither are your friends
+11 # BradFromSalem 2012-12-20 15:27

I am not as naive as my post may have read. It was written out of frustration about the very items you listed.
+36 # Madmedic 2012-12-20 11:17
BradfromSalem ...I agree totally with what you say about Obama trying to give away the store ... again. What the Hell is wrong with that man? He just doesn't seem to get the fact that we elected him to preserve what's left of the social safety net, not tear huge holes in it!

B.O is a good, maybe great, President, but one thing he's not is a negotiator (a poker player he's NOT). There's a reason Boner (sic.) wanted to negotiate directly with him. That's because Obama gives concessions without being asked, much less having to. having to.

B.O. needs to recognize that he's not a good negotiator and delegate that job to others. There is absolutely no reason he needs to lower himself to negotiate directly with the Speaker of the House, particularly when that's something he's not good at. He needs to leave the negotiating to his staff and reserve final judgement on the overall package. Handling these negotiations by himself just makes him look like a weak fool to the Repukes.
+6 # Jonathan Levy 2012-12-20 15:02
You make no sense. You admit the president is "giving away the store" again and is not doing what you elected him to do and is basically consistently kicking you in the nads, yet you still say he is a good president. It's not that he is not a good negotiator. He has a team of people to negotiate that are complete masters and experts of such but what he is negotiating is a way to give multinational banks more power while stripping us of more power and making it look like he is still our friend and not the banks. He is playing for the same team as Boehner, all creating this theater that ends up in our enslavement.
+7 # BradFromSalem 2012-12-20 15:34

You hit the nail on the head as to my frustration. I know he gets it. But, I cannot help but believe that he is so headstrong determined to make a deal, that is usually marginally better than anything the Republicans would do, that he forgets that he can do better. The American public is not stupid. We know he is not telling the entire story as to why the Republicans are full of poop in their heads. He has nothing to lose, by just calling their bluff and holding out for the gold. As long as he uses the bully pulpit and tells it plain and straight.

And, as you say, delegate the negotiations.
+34 # WestWinds 2012-12-20 11:39
Why does the American leadership hate the majority?
1) Because the best interests (graft) of the leadership is in conflict with the best interests of Americans;
2) Because you must objectify people before you abuse them (in this case, turn the American people into cheap labor slaves for global industry);
3) The leadership has a guilty conscience about all the looting of Americans that they have been and are systematically doing;
4) They also have guilty consciences over how the looted money is being spent (no-bid government contracts, war, imperialism, etc.), and
5) The American leadership doesn't work for the American people, they work for the global industrialists (but just lie about who they work for in order to get into office);
6) The American leadership is comprised mostly of sociopaths (with a few exceptions like Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, Elizabeth Warren...).

This is why we should all Occupy the Green Party (have you ever even bothered to look at their party platform?) Just think what the next couple of elections would look like with crooks and criminals out and a Green New Deal in! It's long past due to dump the Corporate Party (Rethuglicons and Demorats Incorporated). When is it going to become clear to people that these thugs are NEVER going to do anything positive for us and stop living on wishes and prayers?
+5 # BradFromSalem 2012-12-20 15:36
I voted Green. My statement was hyperbole out of frustration.
+2 # Sweet Pea 2012-12-21 20:53
This is what comes from elections that are bought and paid for by the wealthy. Did anyone really think that Obama's election was funded by the poor working class? It takes mega bucks to get elected, and unfortunately pay-back time
is upon us.Our government has wished for control of our Social Security and Medicare funds for a long time. The good fairy must have answered the wish through Obama.
-76 # Robt Eagle 2012-12-20 11:43
Brad, you are so on target...get more out of the evil corporations and the wealthy, yeah, yeah, that will show them!!! Unfortunately, then there won't be any money to hire the people out of work. Great thinking! Maybe Boehner (not Boner, Brad, that is very low class on your part) knows that hurting those at the top would make the poor and lower middle class hurt worse than they already are. There is only so much more time that those receiving benefits will be able to continue receiving. At some point there won't be any more freebies, then what? Seems to me that you feel you deserve what ever free crap you get, however the wealthy don't deserve what they fact the wealthy should give up their wealth and spread it to all the poor. That will bankrupt the country. Oops, that is already going on because you want more free stuff than you already are getting.
+41 # SundownLF 2012-12-20 12:40
'Free stuff'? Really? For those of us who have paid into social safety net programs for our entire working lives, this 'free stuff' idea is a nasty lie!

Social Security has been looted from the get-go, by politicians, and now they are trying to make further cuts rather than paying anything back to the programs they have tried to gut.

Stop buying into the right wing's lies about free stuff; we have earned the right to our Social Security while many of the poorest among us have little recourse but to make use of programs protested by the uber-rich.

Free stuff, indeed!
-48 # Robt Eagle 2012-12-20 13:07
Sundown, times are a changing, and the proposals were to change the Soc Sec for those NOT in retirement, nor about to retire, but those ten years from retirement, at the earliest. So, who of the so called "47%', wait...let's go to the lowest 25% have paid in anything to any system in the US??? It's the lowest that are getting freebies that are draggin the rest of the economy down with them. My opinion, yes OPINION, is to slowly over the next 25 years get rid of ALL entitlements. In that way, the takers will feel it a little each year, but the economy will know that here won't be any more spending on those that produce nothing. Families will become dependent on themselves once again and gov't spending will be only for important reasons like our defense and infrastructure. We should no longer be taking care of those who choose not to do anything to help society. Those who wish to be taken care of should leave the US and go to Europe for that Socialistic cultures. Here in America we bust our asses to get ahead, and the opportunity is here, but we shouldn't be dragged down by those who just wish to do nothing and take from the rest of us.
+21 # BradFromSalem 2012-12-20 15:46
Robt Eagle,

So tell me how increasing the excess wealth of the rich that is sitting idle in some offshore account is going to provide a living wage to the newly hired, factory worker? You know the one that has been forced to work for minimum wage? These rich people are getting paid way more than they are worth to society. And its no wonder, because they control the market. Opportunity to do well is being sucked away by greed, blind greed.

And, by the way, when I called the Speaker, "Boner", I noted that it was sarcastic. It may be rude, but it is not low class.
+6 # Michael_K 2012-12-21 01:19
Actually, I live in Ohio (for my sins) and I have to constantly correct the natives who insist on pronouncing Boehner as "bay-nurr". Everyone knows this is incorrect in the original German, in any form of English, and it is basically an effort to avoid the correct pronunciation, which is indeed "boner", and this only serves in underlining and emphasizing the rather funny avoidance of the correct pronunciation.
-14 # Robt Eagle 2012-12-21 12:06
Brad, you state that "the one forced to work for minimum wage"; how can anyone be "FORCED" to work for minimum wage? Seems to me that there are those who for what ever reasons produce more than others. By "produce" I mean that in a very broad sense...create, earn, deserve, deliver, manufacture, etc. There are people out there who truly deserve to receive MORE than others. For instance Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, they created so much for the world in technology and have given multi-millions back in charity, don't they deserve a higher pay than those who , say can only pick fruits in the field? Or does a dish washer deserve a higher pay than Eli Manning? Or maybe the intern learning plumbing, should he be paid the same as the licensed plumber? Maybe a struggling night club singer should get paid the same as say, Barbara Steisand? You wish the same for all, but the fact is that there are those with more talent, be it in a corporation at the top, or as a top sports figure, or entertainer. Should those of great talent be torn down in earnings to cover the mediocre, or feeble? That is not what America is all about. We have the OPPORTUNITY to reach great levels of success and equalizing would eliminate the incentive to do amazing things.
+13 # propsguy 2012-12-21 17:50
no one is asking for everyone to be paid the same, just that some should not have unimaginable luxury and power while others live in pain and squalor. should an apprentice plumber earn less than a highly skilled licensed plumber? absolutely! who would argue with that?
but tell me what jamie dinon has contributed to the world that he should get a multi million $ bonus while almost destroying the economy.
tell me why the CEO of enron who basically looted his employees retirement DESERVED his fantastic salary.
how can you talk about opportunity when so many are so poor? people don't necessarily fail because they are lazy or because they have no incentive for failure. sometimes they get sick and they live in a country with the worst health insurance system in the world and they go bankrupt! should they be punished further for it?
when you are old and of no more use, shall we put you out on the street?
+18 # Mannstein 2012-12-20 15:47
Why not come right out an say it Robt Eagle. Let them eat cake.
+1 # NanFan 2012-12-22 11:13
Quoting Mannstein:
Why not come right out an say it Robt Eagle. Let them eat cake.

Indeed! And I might say that if you do not take care of those less capable, then, you have NO country! Why, for example, are teachers, who often get people such as Jobs and Gates to the point that they come up with ideas that are huge life-changers, paid SO little??@#$$%^^&*&

You sound like such a thoughtless person when you refer to those who are struggling as "mediocre, or feeble." How dare you? It's overt Goebbels propaganda: The Big Lie.

+15 # dkonstruction 2012-12-20 15:57
Thank you for your honesty in saying you want to do away with all "entitlements" and return us to pre-progressive era america in which roughly 95% of the population lived on income that did not allow them to purchase anything beyond the necessities of food and shelter (and for many they did not even have enough for those). You may want to return to such days and live in such a country but thankfully the majority of Americans do not. but, again, thank you for your honesty. If only more of your ilk were this honest far fewer Americans would be decieved by those conservatives that continue to deny that their real aim is to do away with all so-called entitlements (except for those that go to the to 1-2% as well as the largest corporations).
+3 # Michael_K 2012-12-21 01:25
They use the word "entitlement" as if it were a terrible negative, an usurpation of a benefit. It shouldn't surprise anyone that they don't understand that one is entitled to what one has already purchased at an imposed dear price, therefore one is entitled to the purchased benefit. In fact, taking it away or unilaterally modifying it, is fraud. But those teathuglicans can hardly muster sufficient intellectual capacity to absorb such facts.
+3 # Firefox11 2012-12-20 16:05
Here in America we bust our asses to get ahead, and the opportunity is here, but we shouldn't be dragged down by those who just wish to do nothing and take from the rest of us.

Okay, so how would you handle capital gains which often would apply to "those who just wish to do nothing and take from the rest of us".
+6 # propsguy 2012-12-21 17:38
you're so right- let's get rid of ALL entitlements. let's allow a macdonald's hamburger to cost $8.00 because the tax payers aren't subsidizing corn. let's make walmart pay their employers a live wage so that the tax payers don't have to kick in for food stamps while the waltons sit on $80 billion
do you really believe that the Waltons worked hard and earned $80 billion- NO, that was an entitlement, a subsidy
have you ever been to europe where people aren't obese and sick and tense and fighting over ever diminishing resources? where they are educated and cultured and speak their own language and ours better than we do and can discuss art and politics over fine food?
where they realize that they are a nation, a whole- and not a collection of motley very man out for himself antagonists
my god, how can you live with yourself
+13 # dkonstruction 2012-12-20 15:52
If your analysis is correct Mr. Eagle then why during the Eisenhower years when millionaires were taxed at more than 90% were we in the midst of one of the biggist economic boom periods this country has ever seen with far lower unemployment and generally much higher wages for the vast majority? If you are going to claim that raising taxes on the rich will "bankrupt the country" or that employers won't higher then at the very least you need to explain why this was not the case during periods in our history when tax rates were much higher, economic growth rates were much higher and unemployment and underemployment was much lower.
+10 # Anarchist 23 2012-12-20 16:01
"Unfortunately, then there won't be any money to hire the people who are out of work."Hire the people that are out of work? With corporate profits in the stratosphere, CEO's still getting million dollar bonus, don't you think job numbers should be a bit higher? Or maybe big corporations aren't job creators here in USA-just abroad.
+11 # Firefox11 2012-12-20 16:03
Earned income is what the so-called entitlements are for working Americans who had to pay part of their wages for Medicare and Social Security. The free stuff is what the corporations are getting: free no bid contracts, free profits with little taxation, free insider trading. The problem in this country is that the wealthy, especially the corporate wealthy, are not paying their way. As with Mitt Romney, they are making their money in this country; but spending it outside the country.
+5 # propsguy 2012-12-21 17:32
hey guess what? the wealthy have tons of money and they aren't hiring anybody, except may be illegals to drive their cars and raise their children and they pay their slave wages in cash.

i run a business. when it does well, everyone gets a raise. when it does poorly, i take the hit. that's the good old fashioned way.

i earn every penny i make. please don't compare me to hedge fund managers who make tax free interest in their sleep
+2 # MichaelStrong 2012-12-22 10:12
Now, there is some magical thinking. Rich people will give us jobs (more like jabs). Just ask yourself for a second: If you get money from tax breaks what is your first thought (?) "Wow, tax-break money. I'm going right out and hire some folks to create jobs for them." Really? The only reason to create jobs is because there is money coming in the door which will go bye-bye if help is not employed to "harvest" that money.

And that money comes from the working stiffs otherwise known as the need-to spend-it-to-liv e economy, not the rich who make up the main hoarder economy. Simply put, the only real money to hire us peasants comes from other peasants spending their money for life's daily needs and small pleasures.

And where is evidence of this great peasant-money source? Wal-Mart of course, they get all their money from us peasants which makes them the richest company in the world (or close to it, I think). The day Wal-Mart puts up Wal-Mart yacht stores to make money from rich folks is the day I will know that the rich are part of the spending economy in the same percentages as us in the peasant economy.
+1 # jmac9 2012-12-22 11:29
The Republicans - during Bush-Cheney - give tax breaks and taxpayer funds so that companies went to China and India where they could pay Chinese employees 1/5 of American wages -
the economy crashes, 11 million Americans thrown out of work thanks to Republican - send the jobs overseas - agenda -
And now, the Republicans blame the people they made unemployed.

The Rich are useless - they live off of debt payments, they store their cash in offshore accounts hiding their cash from paying taxes due on it.-

2/3s of the economy is driven by people buying things. When people are unemployed - no buying happens.

The way to fire up the economy is to put the "bailout" money into the hands of the people made unemployed - through job creation programs, job training, expanding new technologies which hire more people -

the Republican fraud way to do nothing is to give more tax breaks to the idle rich and pay excessive attention to the criminal bankers who made the mess.
+8 # in deo veritas 2012-12-20 11:54
Because the plutocrats pay them more than we do.
-1 # warrior woman 2012-12-21 06:41
He promised the IMF in 2011! U.S. needs to make progress on deficit, IMF warns
"The U.S. has a lot of credibility. This does not imply their credibility can last forever," IMF fiscal affairs director Carlo Cottarelli said as he released the IMF study. It concluded that the United States is falling behind on a promise it made to other top economic countries to halve its budget deficit by 2013.
"This is a problem many years in the making and will take a concerted effort by Democrats and Republicans working together to find a solution," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in answer to a question about the IMF report.
He noted that President Obama called for a freeze on discretionary spending during this week's State of the Union address. IMF officials have welcomed the step but said that spending cuts in pension and health entitlement programs are also needed."
+1 # Regina 2012-12-21 11:10
The Republican definition of "serious" is "throwing in the towel" -- they have no concept of, or room for, negotiation. They will never accept "half a loaf" -- they demand it all.
+57 # guyachs 2012-12-20 10:01
Both sides are controlled by the financial industry which is eyeing the social security trust fund. They want to privatize the system so they can reap huge profits at the expense of the people who put it n there.
+2 # Firefox11 2012-12-20 16:06
Yes, the vultures are in the wings.
+63 # burnchris 2012-12-20 10:09
Well said, Mr. Reich. I don't see why this compromise is necessary. Follow through on what you campaigned on, Mr. President. Just wait two weeks and you will have won.
-20 # 2012-12-20 10:14
I woke up this morning & read a cnn headline that read, "Obama and Boehner still at odds".
I think the president knew Boehner wouldn't take any deal, but offered social security just to make Boehner look bad.
+12 # AndreM5 2012-12-20 11:21
Are you sure you woke up? Boner could not look "badder" than he already looked, BO offer or not.
+12 # in deo veritas 2012-12-20 11:55
We have been sold out by Obama. Period.
+16 # in deo veritas 2012-12-20 11:56
I see no way Boner could look worse than he does already. He is nothing more than damned Kochpuppet and betrayed his oath of office.
-3 # Jonathan Levy 2012-12-20 15:05
As well as Barry O.
+8 # RHytonen 2012-12-20 11:57
I woke up this morning & read a cnn headline that read, "Obama and Boehner still at odds".
I think the president knew Boehner wouldn't take any deal, but offered social security just to make Boehner look bad.

(Not that The Drunken Orange Boner needs any help looking bad, but...)

I'm also sure The President knows the Senate would never approve ANY SS benefits cut.

It astonishes me that anyone, especially in this comments group, would "thumbs down" this obvious analyis.
-2 # Jonathan Levy 2012-12-20 15:04
So you think Obama is willing to screw over the population just to make Boehner look bad? That makes him worse than if he sided with Boehner because of the truth that he is working for the same multinational financial masters as Boehner. What is your point?
+5 # Firefox11 2012-12-20 16:09
Offering social security as bait is never a good idea, and if it was a bluff on the part of the President, as in a poker game, a bluff can always be called. I am not convinced that Obama is really committed to staying the course that he was elected for.
+42 # brux 2012-12-20 10:22
How can "We The People" make enough noise and get enough attention to affect this ... any changes to Social Security will be signaling to all Americans that the government means to not honor their legal and moral commitments to Americans.

I am ready to march, call politicians, email, confront, yell, rant ... how much longer are we all going to sit by and watch the country slide out of our grips and into the hands to those who have stolen most of it already and clearly mean to steal the rest in the name of a phony interpretation of the Constitution, or in the name of BS economics, or in the false name of God.

I have written the President 3 times in the last week alone .... it takes more than just me folks!

Maybe I need new ideas, or to hook up with other people or groups, but this is the coup de gras of the Republicans 40 year plan to turn back and the clock and by God I want to do whatever it takes to help it fail and tio help Americans succeed.
+17 # WestWinds 2012-12-20 11:43
[quote name="brux"]

How can "We The People" make enough noise and get enough attention to affect this ...

---We already did. It was called an "election".
+6 # brux 2012-12-20 15:50
Except the guy we elected is sounding like he is going to support the Republicans when he said otherwise.
+3 # Firefox11 2012-12-20 16:11
Yes, so is Obama just a pretty face.
+16 # reiverpacific 2012-12-20 11:43
Quoting brux:
How can "We The People" make enough noise and get enough attention to affect this ... any changes to Social Security will be signaling to all Americans that the government means to not honor their legal and moral commitments to Americans.

I am ready to march, call politicians, email, confront, yell, rant ... how much longer are we all going to sit by and watch the country slide out of our grips and into the hands to those who have stolen most of it already and clearly mean to steal the rest in the name of a phony interpretation of the Constitution, or in the name of BS economics, or in the false name of God.

I have written the President 3 times in the last week alone .... it takes more than just me folks!

Maybe I need new ideas, or to hook up with other people or groups, but this is the coup de gras of the Republicans 40 year plan to turn back and the clock and by God I want to do whatever it takes to help it fail and tio help Americans succeed.

I'm with ya bro'!
I'd get my "back to the streets" gear out. I've been writing the President on a couple of other issues for a while but would be happy to add my voice on this too. Batter them at the barricades folks!
This is politicin' at it's worst: shame on those who will NEVER have to struggle for work or have to try and live on S.S. especially as they get older and feel increasingly discarded. In other words, those who know how to play the Beltway game.
+2 # Jonathan Levy 2012-12-20 15:07
Don't waste your time petitioning Barry. he knows what we want and has obviously chosen to side with multi-national banks. Are you completely clueless? Do you think he has no idea what the people want? He is strategizing to give our lives away and still look like he is fighting for us.
+2 # brux 2012-12-20 15:52
This is it or me, I have not been that politically active, but I do keep up with things ... and things are just lies and BS lately, they mean to finesse this through while making a big ruckus about gun control and I am so against it - we need to not let this happen.
+4 # WestWinds 2012-12-20 11:48
I think the reason no one can believe that BHO is going to do this is because this country is still in complete and utter denial about who and what this man (and the rest of the government) is all about. When we as a nation finally crack out of our denial and start dealing with the truth, is when things will begin to change for the better. Personally, I think people want to believe their fairy tale around this president so badly that it's going to take another four more (long and miserable) years to precipitate this.
+4 # brux 2012-12-20 15:53
Hes not perfect but I do think he will react to pressure from the people, that's why we need to get out and make noise.

If that does not do it, then we need to shout louder until it does.
0 # in deo veritas 2012-12-20 11:57
Too bad we don't have enough REAL Americans left in Congress to initiate the impeachment process if he goes through with this sellout.
+13 # jky1291 2012-12-20 12:13
Equitable and Logical Program Reform

The majority of working taxpayers in this nation pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on 100% of their income their entire lives to earn the modest benefits of these programs that sustain them when they are no longer able to work. The 2% vigorously resisting paying less than 7 cents per dollar above $250,000.00 pay these taxes on less than 45% of their income, while those receiving $1,000,000.00 pay on barely more than 11%, and those collecting 10,000,000.00 are taxed on only 1.1% of their income for Social Security and Medicare. To address entitlement reform, eliminating the 99%+ tax break received by the wealthiest 1%er's would essentially eliminate the unfunded liabilities in Social Security and reduce the federal deficit and national debt substantially by equitably funding Medicare. (Social Security and Medicare taxes applied to approximately 1/2 of 1% of Mitt Romney's income.)

The petition below might suggest the solution to many of these problems by providing the greatest detriment to the Republican obstructionists talking points: TRUTH!!!

Add your support to the petition if you agree this is the appropriate means to frame the debate and redirect the discussion.
+11 # jky1291 2012-12-20 12:47
Equitable and Logical Program Reform

To President Barack Obama, House Representatives , and Senators,

Whereas there is great concern for the sustainability of Social Security and Medicare due to unfunded liabilities, and in consideration of demands for reform to strengthen those programs for future generations, and in consideration of the burden on our budget deficit and national debt due to persistent high unemployment:

Be it proposed that all exemptions of income subject to Social Security and Medicare taxation be immediately eliminated and the $110,100.00 cap on income subject to such taxes be permanently removed, thus equalizing the percentage of income upon which all income brackets are fairly paying to support these programs that benefit all the citizens of our nation.

Furthermore, be it proposed that the Social Security retirement age be returned to 65 years for 2 years in order to simultaneously reduce both the deficit and unemployment through eligibility of more than 2% of the workforce to voluntarily relinquish their jobs to be filled by the unemployed, while massively increasing the economic impact of their Social Security benefits spending from the increased funding resulting from taxing all income brackets equally.
+3 # BradFromSalem 2012-12-20 15:49

Another simple solution.
+1 # stoher9 2012-12-20 20:04
Hey Just Sayin, Maybe it's time for those 2nd Amendment remedies that the Tea party Wingnuts are always blathering about. Why is it that the gun nuts always go after the innocents instead of the GUILTY!!
+21 # vilstef 2012-12-20 10:43
Having social security which is not part of the deficit problem on the table is just stupid. I could give the President a Master's class on negotiation. In fact, why isn't his wife working on his nearly non-existing horse-trading skills. Step one should have been: "I won, you lost. I have the veto and the Senate. Can we discuss this rationally now?"

With the Boner, probably not.
+5 # Firefox11 2012-12-20 16:23
Thank you. Totally agree with step one; but this guy seems to be The Great Conciliator. Similar to snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.
+1 # Jonathan Levy 2012-12-20 10:43
Yeah reich and RSN, campaigned like tools for Obama but still not saying that Obama is working for the same team as the republicans. Reich, you are so stupid it hurts. Do you think Obama, with a team of economists at his service doesn't realize your observations on his economic moves? Of course he does bit is choosing to side with the same forces as the republicans. The election was theater and Obama is not our friend, reich. Get it through your sycophantic skull.
+9 # brux 2012-12-20 15:55
We need more leadership from people like Reich, Bernie Sanders, and others ... we need to do something, because I have trusted in social security my entire life and that is money they promised me and I paid for, and others need the same commitment.
+2 # PGreen 2012-12-20 10:55
Assuming that Reich is correct about the President's lack of concessions, this is what makes me distrust Obama.  

The line was drawn in the last election but it remains to be seen what side of it the President will take.  The middle ground has been revealed as an illusion, simply a form of public appeasement, an offering of as little as possible to shut us up.  This is true because Democratic power exists to force unilateral concessions-- unless opponents are willing to openly topple the country. (Then we're talking conspiracy theories.)

If Obama is at heart an oligarch, the more charitable explanation says he is imprisoned in an ivory tower of delusion (the isolation of power) that blinds him to not only the consequences of what he does, but also the viability of alternatives.  
0 # Kathymoi 2012-12-20 11:03
What kind of a president is Obama?
+18 # sharsand 2012-12-20 11:17
We have been double-crossed by this President. Why is there no mention of outlawed tax loopholes in the fiscal cliff, or raising the level at which you pay into Social Security or increasing the amount you pay as your income rises. Why is Social Security on the table at all. What happened to the supply side of Medicare, the gouging, overbilling, the duplicate testing, the bloated military budget. Obama could well be a Republican, not the right-wing crazies, but certainly I see no signs of a Democrat in him: private charter schools, Wall Streeters who caused the problems running the hen house, no fight for a public option, executives on his jobs committee who shipped everything overseas and broke the unions, unending detention of prisoners without trial--tell me I'm wrong--tell me he's not even worse than a Blue Dog Democrat like his friend Emanuel (or they're just two peas in a pds). They show no signs of being Democrats.
-18 # Robt Eagle 2012-12-20 13:13
[quote name="sharsand" ] Why is there no mention of outlawed tax loopholes in the fiscal cliff, or raising the level at which you pay into Social Security or increasing the amount you pay as your income rises. quote]
Sharsand, I guess you don't pay into Social Security...the more you make the more you pay until a certain very high threshhold. I guess you mean that no matter how much you earn you should pay more, even if you will never get that benefit back. You mean that the ultra high earners should continue to pay for something that nothing will come back so the poor can get more, eh? Those that work hard to earn a high salary should take care of those who don't earn anything, or less by a large that what you want??? OK, go head to Europe and maybe live in Spain, Portugal, or Greece...PLEASE head on over there.
+10 # BradFromSalem 2012-12-20 15:52
The rich, the wealthy, and the disgustingly overpaid have already benefited disproportionat ely than everyone else by getting lucky in America.
+2 # PGreen 2012-12-21 09:54
Extremely important point, to which I will only a minor (possible) correction: Most of their success is not luck, but simply doing well in a system crafted for their benefit. Laissez-faire supporters like to think (or pretend) that their prosperity is fairly won by successful competition within some natural arena, which enables them to prosper. But the only "natural" competition is law of the jungle, which is what human society exists to supplement. The wealthy do well because their talents, background and ideology are favorable to the purveyors of the economic system. Changing the rules to benefit more people will result in many of those who are currently prospering to struggle (often only slightly) harder-- which will cause them to scream about government over-regulation . What they really want is the system of patronage that supports them-- which they never acknowledge exists.
+5 # Firefox11 2012-12-20 16:26
The very high threshold is $110,00.
0 # tpmco 2012-12-20 23:30
Yeah, 25% of being wealthy.
0 # pietheyn07 2015-08-07 03:31
Eagle: America, love it or leave it is a pretty weak and wirn response.
+13 # coberly 2012-12-20 11:26
In case anyone is paying attention

That 122 Billion over ten years works out to a hundred dollars a year per payroll tax payer. It is insane to "save" a hundred dollars a year while you are working and then have to live on a thousand a year when you are old and not working.

Moreover.. the 122 Billion has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DEFICIT. Social Security is paid for by the people who will get the benefits.

This "deal" is not only cruel is is stupid beyond belief.
+7 # coberly 2012-12-20 11:34
and for those who think a hundred bucks a year is real money:

it's two dollars a week.

and because it would be phased in.. the same as the effect of the effect of the CPI cut... it would be more like thirteen CENTS per week each year, while wages would be going up 8 dollars per week each year.

so congratulations folks. your President is so smart he wants to save you thirteen cents per week every year, even if it means you have to eat cat food when you get old.


"we the people" no longer count. pay attention to what they do. they don't give a damn about we the people. elections are just something like the super bowl. every four years they pretend to care and get us all worked up believing what we think matters. then they go back to what they were going to do anyway... both parties.
+12 # politicfix 2012-12-20 11:42
I had a feeling the President would buckle to the flack about Social Security because he's so beholding to the Goldman Sachs of the world and is still flooding positions with them. He deliberately was on the road promising (once again) people he'd stand up for Social Security and Medicare and raise taxes on people making over 250 thousand. Those two things shouldn't even be on the table with everything else there is to bargain with. I say write the White House and flood them with objections to making any changes to Social Security and Medicare. I just wrote to my Senators as well. Maybe the only thing left to do is to show up in Washington at the Capital as actions speak louder than words.
+7 # tbcrawford 2012-12-20 12:04
Traigically, most people don't appreciate compounding...A t first the new COLA calculations reducing "inflation" will not hurt badly...but in 10 or more years it will start to make a difference, wspecially since medical costs rise with age. Who typically will suffer? Women who earn less over a lifetime and who live longer. Let's throw Grandma under the bus again! SHAME on Obama et al!
+12 # guodr 2012-12-20 12:26
social Security needs an increase. The cost of living computation needs an increase. The 65/67 age needs to be decreased to allow younger workers into the work force. Medicare needs to start at birth like it does everywhere else. Tax rates should be progressive like they were in 1970 where the rate for the 1% was 90% . NAFTA needs closer examination along with anything that sends jobs overseas. The military budget that is higher than the budgets of next 13 countries combined needs to be reduced by maintaining personnel and stopping incredibilty wasteful, unneeded programs like the F-35. The middle class, the real "job creator" needs to be rebuilt by making jobs at any cost. Unfortunately as long as the Tea Party controls congress this won't happen.
+3 # Carrol 2012-12-20 12:58
Obama is not making concessions. His whole presidency has revolved around his reaching his _own_ goals but disguising them as "concessions."

His "liberalism" exists only in the minds of wishful-thinkin g Democrats.
+6 # wrodwell 2012-12-20 13:02
I was wondering just how long it would take for Mr. Obama to go back on his word. We've just found out. As Mr. Reich explains, cuts to Social Security by way of annulling cost of living adjustments are still a form of cuts. As the cost of living continues to rise the political class wants to prevent SocSec beneficiaries from the ability to keep up with inflationary reality. Mr. Obama said repeatedly, as did many Democrats, that Social Security would NOT be on the table as a bargaining chip. Looks like Obama has forgotten that promise. If our politicians had any integrity at all they'd do whatever they could to make sure that ALL the money borrowed by the Federal Government since the Johnson Administration was repaid. Since such "borrowing" has made the Social Security Fund into a de facto bank, let's think like bankers and prosecute the Government for its failure to repay its loans. It's bad enough that a string of borrowing addicts has gotten away with taking money out of the pockets of working people who've contributed to the SocSec Fund during their working lives, they now want to further deprive those safety net investors by taking even more money out of their pockets either through Mr. Obama's machinations or the Republican's proposals to raise the eligibility age and/or reduce benefits. Let's call it what it is: a Heist, larceny on a national scale. If paramount issues like this don't convince people we need to clean out the Viper's Nest known as Congress, what will?
+5 # lamancha 2012-12-20 13:30
These are great ideas - increase social security benefits - not decrease it. Think of the consumer spending that will boost the economy exponentially. We have a military presence in so many countries that will save us billions if reversed; higher tax rates should begin at the 250K level to have credible effect and the rates accelerating more towards the levels when Eisenhower, a Republican Pres., had them at a top rate of 90%.
+3 # fredboy 2012-12-20 13:43
Amazing that a guy from Ohio who looks like a hotel bar patron and his Virginia sidekick, Igor, could shame a president like this. Somebody ship a backbone to the White House, quick!
+14 # Virginia 2012-12-20 13:55
The bottomline to all of this - President Obama needs to keep his promises. He vowed to the American public, in order to garner their vote, that he would not touch social security and that he would hold to the $250,000 tax threshold. Why does he think he can change his mind now - after he won the vote on those issues?
+1 # Jonathan Levy 2012-12-20 15:09
Because tools like you continue to believe he is somehow better than the republicans who work for the same multinational bankers.
+2 # Virginia 2012-12-22 00:07
Yeah, that why I wrote Obama Grinch a while ago:

Give me a break - I know who he is... I know who Geithner is... Their parents worked together in Indonesia - long time connections. We're screwed either way - but I'd rather have the Dems in the Senate than Romney's crew.
+2 # Phillybuster 2012-12-20 15:00
If Obama had been President during the Civil War, we'd still have slavery.
+6 # JSRaleigh 2012-12-20 16:46
Will Congress use the chained-CPI to calculate their own pay raises & retirement benefits?
0 # davidmichael 2012-12-20 17:27
I assume that all government employees as well as Congress will also give up their annual cost of living adjustments. As a person on Social Security the CPI does not in any way, shape, or form represent the real costs of increased inflation. Housing and energy went up nearly 50% and our CPI barely ticked upward. It's a cruel slap in the face to hard working seniors to see the President play around with the SS/CPI. I thought maybe he had some real backbone to protect and even improve our benefits and CPI. What a disappointment.
+2 # rjz7 2012-12-20 18:53
It would be helpful if you included in your article (as well as future articles) some suggestions about actions readers could take to support the viewpoint that you espouse.
+1 # grouchy 2012-12-21 00:33
+2 # David Starr 2012-12-21 14:08
I did have a residue of hope that Obama would maintain his political spine. But, here we go again - the Art of Compromise. I'm getting the same sickly feeling when Democrats cave in.

True, Obama is facing a tough challenge from the GOP NOs, But, as pointed out in earler posts, these cuts to beneficial programs aren't necessary. There is that over-bloated military budget, which is "ripe" for significant cuts; it's gone way beyond self-defense.

But the Right, given their political nature, prefers an ass-backwards agenda. All the more to oppose them relentlessly.
+1 # MichaelStrong 2012-12-22 09:57
The answer to Robert's question (1st graph) is that the president is not making concessions of any kind, early or late. This is just formal theater. Just a show for us peasants.

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