They call it the Obama Derangement Syndrome. It’s the irrational way Republicans in Congress refuse to agree with anything President Obama proposes even when he tries to give them exactly what they want. The most recent example is the President offering to cut entitlements as part of the ‘Grand Bargain’ he insists on trying to get.
A couple of points first. Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit and acting like it does, even from those on the left side of the aisle give the Republicans cover when they do “give-in” and “allow” the President to cut Social Security.
That’s right: The White House has been trying to impose this benefit cut on Social Security’s elderly and disabled recipients for years, and Republicans don’t even know. Neither do most Democrats, for that matter. They think they voted for a President who will defend those benefits, not work relentlessly to cut them.
But Democrats like Maddow, Klein, and Chait know better. They know exactly what Obama’s been trying to do. And their only complaint seems to be that he’s not doing it effectively enough. We’re not hearing much from the ‘left’ side of the debate about the profound flaws, biases, and inherent cynicism behind both the President’s policy and his rhetoric.
Here are the facts:
Research suggests that Social Security cost-of-living increases are already inadequate. (See studies on “CPI-E” for more details on the best ways to increase them.) Obama’s proposed chained-CPI cut would typically reduce benefits for 3 percent, and by as much as 6 percent for some recipients. The White House’s decision to label this cut the “superlative CPI” is grotesque. It suggests that elderly women who receive an average of $950 or so per month are receiving “superlative” benefit increases each year. The Administration’s insistence on speaking of “entitlement reform,” mixing Medicare (which has a real cost problem because of our for-profit health system) with Social Security, is a cheap trick first devised by Republican consultants.
Progressive commentators – or neutral but well-informed observers – should be emphasizing these points. Instead we’re hearing that the President’s opponents are foolish for not knowing the President agrees with them! Each of MSNBC’s major personalities has developed his or her own personal brand of eye-rolling at Republicans. In this case we’re told that Republicans are stupid for not knowing the details of Obama’s budget proposal – especially his planned cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Cutting Social Security and/or Medicare is bad policy and I really disagree with the President on this issue. So far the Obama Derangement Syndrome is keeping the Republicans from taking the deal but that won’t last forever. I can see the 2014 political ads now – “Obama cut Grandma’s Social Security…” *sigh*