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Barack Obama keeps pushing a Republican agenda.
Since day one, he’s been exaggerating the problem of the debt and the deficit. As the terrific economist James Galbraith noted more than a year ago, “So long as the economy is placed on a path to recovery, even a massive increase in public debt poses no risk.”
And today, with massive unemployment and undercapacity, focusing on reducing the debt is precisely the wrong strategy, as Dean Baker at the Center for Economic Policy Research notes.
But Obama has chosen to go where no Republican President has dared to tread: to prepare the public for the slashing of Social Security.
Since day one, he’s been fueling irrational fears about the bankruptcy of Social Security. These fears are unfounded, as Dean Baker has been pointing out for years, most recently in this paper.
No one made Obama empanel this commission on deficit reduction in the first place.
No one made him appoint Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to head it up. Simpson has a long record of hostility toward the social safety net, and Bowles, yet another Clinton retread, is a triangulator from way back.
It’s not a surprise, then, that Simpson and Bowles have come up with some drastic proposals to slash that social safety net.
If those proposals, or anything like them, become law, and you’re on Social Security today, you’ll end up getting less. And if you’re not yet at retirement age, you’ll be working longer before you can get Social Security, and if you manage to live long enough to qualify for Social Security, you’ll be receiving punier benefits than your parents did.
Meantime, the income tax rate on the richest Americans would go down by one-third, and corporate income taxes by a quarter.
We didn’t need a Democratic President to flatten the progressive income tax in America.
We didn’t need a Democratic President to go after domestic spending.
And we didn’t need a Democratic President to go after Social Security.
But we sure got one.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story " Rand Paul’s Lack of Class."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter