The Wingnuts have begun talking as if control of the lower House of Congress is tantamount to controlling all of Congress as well as the Presidency. Liberals better be prepared for a rough January as Obama & Co. put together and write his State of the Union Address which is his report to the nation with probably some proposed legislative gems thrown in. Already CNN is clapping its hands and urging him to move to the center--as if he isn’t there already.
Michael Gerson, the conservative Op-Ed columnist for the Washington Post, started his campaign on Tuesday with this unhelpful article, “Social Security reform is the answer to Obama’s problems--and the nation’s.” [Here] Please note that Gerson did not put the word reform in quotation marks. He simply asserted that Social Security needs reform and frankly he never went much beyond that simple idea in his column.
Gerson started his column reminding us that Obama’s achievements in the lame duck session of Congress were accomplished because he gave up something to get something else. Gerson gave us just a few examples of what he meant: [Here]
To secure a second stimulus, he [Obama] accepted Republican economic methods. To pass the New START treaty, Obama offered assurances to Republican senators on nuclear modernization and missile defense. Contrast this with health-care reform, imposed in party-line maneuvers that left an aftertaste of ideological radicalism.
I am not going to try to figure what Gerson meant by “Republican economic methods” except perhaps to guess that he meant the continuation of the huge Bush tax break to the rich. Gerson went on to review what Obama might propose in his State of the Union Address. He wrote that it is likely that the President will propose freezing some discretionary spending and the banning of earmarks, but quickly dismissed the notion that Obama would outshine Republicans when it comes to initiating spending cuts. I guess Gerson figures that Republicans are the champions of government cutbacks--except to the military.
Then Gerson got to the heart of the matter. He first mentioned possible tax reform but knocked that down because it is such a complicated matter to tackle. (?) The other option is “entitlement reform.” (He finally got to it...) Gerson called it the most politically dangerous, but “the most promising.” He claimed that Medicare is the main entitlement problem but is a “political nonstarter.”
He went on to argue that Social Security is the place for Obama to start to cut the deficit even though it doesn’t contribute to the deficit: [Here]
While Social Security is a relatively small contributor to future deficits, reforming it would be a large symbol and a logical place to begin.
(I am not making this up!) Can you believe this? Gerson admits that tinkering with Social Security will rile liberals who “... have threatened a serious political revolt if Obama pursues serious reform...” However, Social Security tinkering would be an “achievable” goal.
His column blows itself out at the end because he has already written himself into a corner. He cannot really come out and say where his line of reasoning is leading him, viz. if Obama tries this, he will have Republicans dancing in the streets and liberal Democrats marching in the streets. We must remember that Michael Gerson was a Bush speechwriter for six years and claims [Here] that he invented the term “axis of evil.” (No one takes credit for “Mission Accomplished.”)
We also must remember that Peter G. Peterson is probably the éminence grise of any Social Security “reform” commentary in the Washington Post. Peterson’s conservative, neoliberal Fiscal Times has a current partnership with the Post and shares economic commentary and its anti-Social Security point of view with some of the paper’s writers. [Here]
Tighten your seat belts, folks. We’re in for a rough January...