Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Robert Kuttner: Zero Hour for Social Security

by Robert Kuttner

As I have previously warned--and I hope I'm wrong--President Obama seems on the verge of needlessly cutting America's most valued social program and the one that best differentiates Republicans from Democrats. This is part of a vain effort to appease deficit hawks in his own party and on Wall Street, as well as Republicans who are utter hypocrites when it comes to deficits--increasing them as long as the purpose is tax cuts but then turning around and demanding program cuts in order to reduce the deficits they created.

All the choreography is in place for the president to embrace Social Security cuts in his upcoming State of the Union address.

Cutting Social Security is financially needless--the program is in sound shape for the next 27 years. It has nothing to do with the current deficit. It will be solvent indefinitely if we can get some wage growth going again. Failing that, we should raise the lid on income taxed, so that millionaires pay the same rate as regular people. For more detail, see

It's politically idiotic for democrats to join this parade. To have Republicans demand cuts in Social Security at a time when they are also demanding tax cuts for the rich is a cue for Democrats to make clear which side they're on. Obama got in big trouble with seniors in the health care bill because they were worried that it would mean Medicare cuts. In 2010, Democrats lost the senior vote, big time. Now, Obama has a splendid opportunity to point out that it's Republicans who want to cut Social Security.
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