A friend who has been on this particular case for a long time writes:
Yet another NOW they tell us moment:
President Obama had Senate Republicans nodding in agreement during a recent ice-breaking dinner as he described a basic problem for the nation’s fiscal future: For each dollar that Americans pay for Medicare, they ultimately draw about $3 in benefits. What’s more, he added, most people do not understand that. By his point that evening, the president was referring to the widespread and incorrect view, especially among older Americans, that Medicare recipients get only what they have paid for through taxes, premiums and medical co-payments.
And why would that be?
Perhaps it is because for 80 years, since the start of the New Deal, Americans have been systematically and intentionally lied to about the Ponzi nature of unfunded, ever growing non-means-tested middle class entitlements. It is not a bug or an accident: it’s feature. The Dems have entrenched themselves into political power by their constant and disingenuous attacks on any attempt even to characterize the programs correctly, let alone to reform them. The demagoguery and deceit, the shameful distortions, the direct attempts to frighten the elderly are longstanding and ongoing.
The idea among Americans that they get back what they paid for, with some rate of return, dates to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s legislative marketing of Social Security nearly 80 years ago. … “That was sort of a foundation argument that F.D.R. popularized when the Social Security Act was passed — that this was a fiscally responsible program because people were going to pay in and, as a result of their payments, be entitled to benefits,” said Mr. Reischauer, the public trustee. Yet Social Security has always been a pay-as-you-go system, with workers’ taxes going not to some actual trust fund for them but directly toward benefits for retirees. Initial beneficiaries paid little or nothing into the system, but “all of the first generations got windfalls,” Mr. Steuerle [of the Urban Institute] said.
A more or less open admission that the foundation of the welfare state is a lie. And has the author noticed that the New York Times is up to its eyeballs in the ongoing deception? That their reports and op-eds over decades have contributed mightily to the “misperception”? Not bloody likely!
What’s laughable is this comment:
“I suggested it would be immensely helpful to reaching solutions to these problems if he would utilize that bully pulpit and start conveying to the American public the full extent, the full depth, of our problems,” [Senator Ron] Johnson (R-WI) said. He added, “I’ll know President Obama is serious about working with us when I start hearing him tell the American people what he told us in private.”
The unfunded non-means tested middle class entitlement state is the foundation of progressive Dem power. Without it they have nothing but naked crony capitalism, outright bureaucratic empires like the educational-industrial complex and the racial grievance industry.
It is an intentional feature of the ever expanding non-means tested unfunded entitlements regime that people believe that they have “earned” their entitlements and are “owed” them lock, stock and barrel. It locks the regime in politically because people won’t cravenly agitate for free stuff (though they won’t look a gift horse in the mouth either), but they will defend to the bitter end what they think is theirs by right. Our entitlement state problem arises from the widespread belief that they have “earned” their entitlements, most obviously by having paid payroll taxes.
Obama is trapped…the Dems can’t be for tax reform, they can’t be for entitlement reform, and they can’t tax the middle class without destroying the left/New Class ruling coalition. There aren’t enough “rich” to tax sufficiently…AND there will soon be a borrowing constraint. The people have been systematically lied to for over 70 years–lies they have wanted to hear, though. If they ever figure out that it is THEY who have to pay for the welfare state and that–systematically–younger cohorts will pay a lot more and get a lot less, there will be hell to pay.
If the Repubs can’t figure out a way to heighten these contradictions they deserve obscurity and defeat.
Meanwhile, the Left is up in arms about Obama’s suggestion that Social Security cost of living increases might be slowed to a more realistic level. Today MoveOn.org sent out this email:
From: Anna Galland, MoveOn.org Civic Action [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, April 05, 2013 12:33 PM
To: Hinderaker, John H.
Subject: Terrible news
We’ve just gotten some really bad news—and need your help to respond.
According to multiple reports, President Obama is planning to propose Social Security cuts of $112 billion over the next decade when he unveils his budget next week.
Politically, this is a terrible idea. Social Security is such a popular and successful program that even Republicans didn’t touch it in their budget.
And as a policy matter it’s even worse. Social Security doesn’t add one dime to the debt, and according to the AARP, a typical 80-year-old woman will lose the equivalent of three months worth of food annually under this plan.
There’s still time for President Obama to reverse course and stop supporting these cuts, but that’s unlikely to happen unless progressives push back in a big way. We’re aiming to raise $200,000 to launch a rapid-response campaign to convince President Obama not to support cutting Social Security. Can you chip in $5?
President Obama knows he can’t move forward on his second-term agenda without strong support from the progressive base. So if MoveOn members are vocal in opposing this plan, we have a real chance to change his thinking.
And because House Republicans didn’t propose cutting Social Security in their budget, it would likely take cuts off the table for the year if President Obama didn’t propose them.
If we have to fight the president on this, we will. But it’s going to be a battle. Here’s what we have in mind:
We’ll make a major public media announcement to draw attention to the fact that progressives are prepared to split with the president over Social Security cuts.
We’ll help elevate a video ad campaign from Clinton economic adviser Robert Reich.
We’ll run a massive online advertising blast in Washington, D.C., that’ll get noticed by members of Congress and the administration itself.
We’ll launch a campaign to flood the White House with phone calls.
We’ll make sure that champions of Social Security in Congress know we have their backs by publicly thanking them and organizing thank-you events in their districts.
MoveOn members overwhelmingly oppose cutting Social Security benefits, but it’s never easy to go up against a president we all worked so hard to elect. So please chip in today so we’ll know we have the resources to go big.
That’s what the Left has come to: a reactionary force, determined to uphold an unjust status quo against even the slightest reform. Champions of the wealthiest segment of American society, out to screw the young. But it is hard to see a successful endgame: the entitlements simply cannot be sustained in anything like their present form. That is a mathematical proposition, not a political one. And I think our reader is correct that intractable conflicts of interest will inevitably fragment the ruling liberal coalition.