Media reports have begun to circulate providing details about the federal budget plan President Barack Obama intends to propose next week. His proposal came under immediate criticism from the right, but this time Obama’s sharpest criticism can be found on the left.
Lets start with the far left. Conservatives chastise Obama as a socialist lefty, but Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the real deal. Sanders is the only politician in Congress who identifies, unapologetically, as a socialist.
“I am terribly disappointed and will do everything in my power to block President Obama’s proposal to cut benefits for Social Security recipients through a chained consumer price index,” Sanders said in a statement posted on his website. “As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I also am especially concerned about the impact this change would have on disabled veterans and their survivors.”
Sanders cites that in poll after poll, Americans are against cutting Social Security. It isn’t hard to imagine why.
“Yes, we must move forward on deficit reduction, but it must not be done on the backs of some of the most vulnerable people in this country,” Sanders said.
Sanders is far from alone in heaping the criticism on top of the president. Democrats in the House of Representatives are also up in arms.
“Republicans have been trying to dismantle Social Security ever since President Roosevelt proposed it during the Great Depression,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota said in a statement sent to the Progression Change Committee. “We should not try to bargain for their good will with policies that hurt our seniors, especially since they’ve been unwilling to reduce tax loopholes for millionaires and wealthy corporations by so much as a dime.”
And don’t forget the state senators.
“At a time when corporate profits, executive compensation, the stock market and wealth disparity are at near record highs, it is obscene to even consider balancing our budget on the backs of seniors and veterans,” Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, who is running for Congress, told blogger Howie Klein. I fully supported President Obama’s election, but I can’t support any drift towards corporatism to appease tea-party extremists.
Or the advocacy groups.
“President Obama’s plan to cut Social Security would harm seniors who worked hard all their lives,” Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn, said in a statement. “Under this plan, a typical 80-year-old woman would lose the equivalent of three months worth of food every year. That’s unconscionable.”
But wait, there’s more.
“It’s even more outrageous given that Republicans in Congress aren’t even asking for this Social Security cut,” Galland said. “This time, the drive to cut Social Security is being led by President Obama and Democrats.”
MoveOn isn’t alone.
“Evidently the president either does not understand or does not care how critically important Social Security and Medicare are, not just to seniors but to middle-aged and younger workers for whom these programs are likely to be even more crucial,” Eric Kingson, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, said in the New York Times.
And then there’s the politicians that have taken to Twitter.
#ChainedCPI is an attack on Social Security, a program that by law is unable to add to the deficit. It should be removed from the budget.
— Tom Harkin (@SenatorHarkin) April 5, 2013
Americans all over the country depend on every single dollar they have earned from Social Security. Chained CPI is a benefit cut.
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) April 5, 2013
And here’s Robert Reich on YouTube telling you why “chained CPI” is awful:
Over 100 Democrats pledged to vote against any entitlement cuts in a letter sent to the president in February. This could mean Obama would have to rely on Republicans to pass his budget, many of whom signed a pledge never to raise taxes. Oh yeah, and House Speaker has already said Obama’s budget does not cater to Republicans at all.
Where does that leave Obama? With a federal budget plan that no one wants to support.
[Image by Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]