Obama’s New Budget: Why He’s Cutting Social Security & Medicare

Dr. Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

Obama’s bargaining strategy and tactics with regard to deficit cutting over the past three years have proven to be an unmitigated disaster. From the idea of seeking a ‘grand bargain’ with Teapublicans in the House of Representatives in May 2011, to the debt ceiling and sequester deals of August 2011 that resulted in $2.2 trillion in spending-only cuts and no tax hikes whatsoever on the rich, to caving in on the so-called ‘Fiscal Cliff’ this past January 1 agreeing to a deal to tax only the richest 0.7%—Obama’s bargaining strategy and tactics have proven a case example of exactly what not to do in negotiations.

Obama’s first error was to believe that by offering hundreds of billions in entitlement cuts back in the summer of 2011 in exchange for revenue hikes that Republicans would agree to raise taxes a mere year before the 2012 elections. Obama and the Democrats subsequently further believed that by linking $1.2 trillion in sequestered spending-only cuts in August 2011, as part of the debt ceiling deal, that Republicans would not allow $500 billion in sequestered defense spending cuts to take effect and would agree to some tax hikes in exchange. Obama then made the error this past December thinking Republicans would continue to discuss tax revenue proposals after they agreed to the minimal $60 billion in Bush tax cut extensions (aka ‘Fiscal Cliff’) on January 1, 2013.

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Boehner’s Plan for Fiscal Showdown—Cut Social Security COLA to Pay for More Tax Cuts for the Rich

by Damon Silvers

Boehner-s-PlanOn Sunday night, House Speaker John Boehner made clear he would like to make a simple trade with President Obama. He asked the president to extend tax cuts on income between $250,000 and $1 million a year—a tax bonanza of nearly $400 billion over 10 years, about half of which would go to millionaires.

And how will we pay for this very expensive gift to the least needy among us? By cutting $122 billion in Social Security benefits from the neediest, including elderly seniors and people with disabilities who depend on the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (the COLA) to keep inflation from eating away their benefits as they age and incur health care expenses. Moreover, this COLA cut affects current as well as future beneficiaries. Yesterday, press accounts said that President Obama offered to accept this cut to Social Security as part of a larger deal, which Boehner then rejected on Tuesday evening, saying he was going to take his “Plan B,” more tax cuts for the rich, to the House floor.  The AFL-CIO is calling on members of Congress and the president to oppose Boehner’s cuts to Social Security and his Plan B.   Here’s why: Boehner wants to cut the COLA through a technical change to the way the COLA is calculated, called the Chained Consumer Price Index or “chained” CPI. This index underestimates inflation for seniors and people with disabilities, according to 250 economists.

Call the White House at 202-456-1111; tell President Obama you oppose the “chained” CPI.
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Richard Trumka: Americans Don’t Want That ‘Grand Bargain’

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid just so that millionaires and billionaires can continue to receive tax breaks and other giveaways? “We could not disagree more,” says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in an Op-Ed in today’s Politico, “Americans Don’t Want ‘Grand Bargain.'”

What is the grand bargain? It boils down to lower tax rates for rich people—paid for by benefit cuts for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These are precisely the issues that are being debated so vigorously in the campaign, and voters do not want anything to do with such a deal.

The pundits will tell you that Democrats have no choice but to accept Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts—because this is the only way Republicans will agree to more tax revenue. This is the grand bargain.

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U.S. Jobs, GDP, and the Eurozone

by Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

Friday, June 1, is a date that marks a shift in the public consciousness of the state of the US and global economy. What was touted for months over the past winter as a rebound taking hold in the US economy and the assertions that the US economy was ‘exceptional’ and would not suffer the slowdowns underway in Europe, China and the rest of the world – were all swept away on June 1 by the May US jobs report, a downward revised U.S. GDP numbers for the first quarter 2012, as well as by the rapidly deteriorating banking and general economic situation in the Eurozone.

Why Economists’ Jobs Forecasts Consistently Miss Their Mark

On the jobs front, Friday’s labor department data showed a growth of only 69,000 jobs, while the preceding month’s jobs numbers were revised downward for April from 115,000 to only 77,000. Both months were originally officially forecast by mainstream economists to show jobs growth of 150,000 and 180,000 respectively. A day earlier, the first quarter GDP numbers were also adjusted downward from 2.2% growth to only 1.9%, a decline that was totally unexpected by most economists, who had been forecasting that the current quarter, April-June, GDP would come in around the 2.5% to 3% range. But now will almost certainly end up in the 1.5% or even lower range, given a likely more rapid slowing in June.

One cannot miss jobs and GDP forecasts that badly without something being fundamentally wrong with forecast methodologies employed by most mainstream economists today, a point this writer has been making publicly repeatedly since last December.

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