Posted by | February 16, 2011 15:23 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

After watching President Obama’s press conference yesterday I walked away with that same sick feeling usually reserved for a Republican press conference.

When asked by a reporter who has clearly been reading Republican talking points, why Obama’s budget does not address “the long-term crushing costs of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — the real drivers of long-term debt,”  Obama responded to the reporter by accepting the false Republican talking point:

…The truth is Social Security is not the huge contributor to the deficit that the other two entitlements are. I’m confident we can get Social Security done in the same way that Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were able to get it done, by parties coming together, making some modest adjustments. I think we can avoid slashing benefits, and I think we can make it stable and stronger for not only this generation but for the next generation.

No Mr. President, the truth is that Social Security by law is NOT allowed to add to the deficit AT ALL. The program is funded separately from the general budget through payroll taxes. Either Barack Obama has never read the Social Security Act of 1935, and is totally unaware that federal law prohibits the program from borrowing from the general budget, or he is misleading to justify cutting (“modestly adjust”), but not “slashing,” Social Security benefits. Social Security has nothing to do with the fiscal issues plaguing the general federal budget.

As far as Social Security’s own fiscal health; the program has a $2.5 trillion surplus, and that surplus is expected to peak at $4.2 trillion in 2024. If left alone, it can pay full benefits for the next 26 years and then 75% of benefits for 50 years. Any attempts to claim Social Security is in “crisis” are simply lies and propaganda.

Barack Obama and his Republican friends just gave away over $800 billion in tax cuts to shower money on their criminal friends on Wall Street, despite facing a $1.3 trillion budget deficit. Now they have to get the money from somewhere to pay for it, so they are coming for your Social Security money.

Speaking of the Obama-McConnell tax cut deal, it turns out it actually raised taxes on 66% of workers in the bottom 20%, those making less then $15,000 a year, and raised taxes on 40% of workers making less than $35,000 a year. Oh but the good news is only 1.8% of the top 1% (those making over $564,600) saw their taxes increase! If a Republican president had signed a deal like this, what would we be saying?

During the Bush years the Democrats in Congress were largely rolled over on just about every major issue and provided little resistance, except for two: Bush’s massive 2003 tax cuts for the rich, and his attempt to cut Social Security benefits through privatization. While the 2003 tax cuts did pass, the Republicans had to both use reconciliation, and drag Dick Cheney out of his bunker to be the deciding vote to break a 50-50 tie. Meanwhile, Democrats succeeded in preventing Social Security cuts. Bush went so far as to call it his greatest failure.

But now we have a Democratic president who not only passed the same Bush tax cuts, but also included tax increases on the working-poor, and just plain poor, and calls it a successful “compromise.” And that same “Democratic president” thinks it is “progress” that Republicans want to work together to cut Social Security. Not only is he endorsing loathsome Republican policy ideas, his status as a “Democrat” disarms many of the politicians, organizations, and activists that would normally be fighting back.

There is no way 60 Democratic Senators and an overwhelming Democratic House majority would have made that tax cut deal for a Republican president last year, and the Democrats at similar Congressional strength already prevented Social Security cuts under a Republican president.

So this is why I ask: is Barack Obama worse than a Republican?

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