Monday, April 08, 2013

Blue America Is Looking For A Few Good Women And Men To Help Save Social Security From The Cluthes Of The DC Conservative Elites


Don't let the ruling elites get away with it. Fight back!

Unless I'm getting bad information, there really are some excellent things in Obama's budget, like universal pre-K paid for with a cigarette tax, a decent and long-overdue increase in the minimum wage and expanded Medicaid. It doesn't matter. Obama doesn't get to make it easier to eliminate Social Security by making it less deadly for politicians to tamper with it. Anyone-- from Nancy Pelosi to John Boehner-- to vote for Obama's Chained CPI scheme should be driven out of office. Social Security should remain the third rail of American politics.

In an OpEd at Truthout over the weekend, Robert Naiman is clear about what grassroots voters have to do to resist the DC elites: primaries. He even pledged to help recruit a candidate to run against Dick Durbin, his own senator, if-- as expected-- Durbin sells out on this.
The only thing that can stop President Obama from cutting Social Security now is Congress. Therefore, the only thing that can stop President Obama from cutting Social Security now is public pressure on Congress to stand up to Obama and say no. The pressure that has been exerted so far was not sufficient to stop President Obama from doing this. Therefore, public pressure against Social Security cuts must significantly escalate.

Let's be clear about what's not true. From the point of view of the interests of the 99%, there was no legitimate reason for President Obama to do this. The President's marketing strategy will be to say that Obama had to do this because it was necessary to get a deal with Congressional Republicans to raise taxes.

But from the point of view of the interests of the 99%, there is no urgency or benefit to getting a deal to raise taxes if Social Security cuts are the price of doing so. Raising taxes, even raising taxes on the 1%, isn't an intrinsic good. Raising taxes on the 1% is a good thing if it enables the government to do good things and avoid doing bad things. Raising taxes on the 1% is a bad thing if it enables the government to do bad things and avoid doing good things.

If there is no "grand bargain," then under the sequester, the Pentagon budget will be cut and Social Security benefits will be protected. If there is a "grand bargain"-- a "Grand Betrayal"-- Social Security benefits will be cut and the Pentagon budget will be protected. Thus, to be only a little bit crude, the "grand bargain" is about cutting Social Security to protect the Pentagon budget. Raising taxes on the 1% as part of a deal to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits and protect the Pentagon budget for wars and useless military junk is a bad deal for the 99%.

In general, liberals who follow budget issues know this. We are at a fork in the road: one branch of the fork leads to cutting Social Security to protect the Pentagon budget and the other branch of the fork leads to cutting the Pentagon budget while protecting Social Security.

The fact that cutting Social Security is even on the table, even though cutting Social Security is overwhelmingly unpopular among both Democrats and Republicans, and both Democrats and Republicans would rather cut the Pentagon budget and end the war in Afghanistan instead, is a barometer of 1% control of the political system. If not for the domination of the political system by the 1%, we wouldn't even be talking about cutting Social Security.

And therefore, if the chained CPI cut goes through, it's going to do more than unjustly cut the earned benefits of seniors and disabled veterans. It's going to be a body blow to the idea that we live in a democracy where the majority rules. If the #ChainedCPI attack on the 99% is successful, it's going to be even harder to engage the 99% in politics in the future than it is today.

How can we stop this? How can we escalate?

Of course everyone should sign every petition, send every letter, make every phone call, contact every newspaper, attend every demonstration. But so far these efforts have not been enough to turn back the 1%'s assault. How can we escalate?

What if we all looked each other in the eye and made a pact: every Senator and Representative, Democrat or Republican, who supports cutting Social Security and veterans' benefits by imposing the "ChainedCPI" cut is going to face a primary challenge. We'll do everything we can to recruit the richest and famous and most popular people to do it. But if we can't recruit the rich and the famous and the popular to do it, we'll do it ourselves. We'll pledge to do whatever we can to support the challengers: get them on the ballot, turn out the vote. It is a fact that it's extremely difficult to defeat incumbents in primaries, but it is not impossible. Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman. Carol Mosely Braun defeated Alan Dixon. But beyond that, to compel an incumbent to face a primary challenge is to impose a real cost on them, regardless of whether they are defeated. And therefore, a primary challenge answers a key question: how can we impose a cost on incumbents for backing the agenda of the 1%, instead of the agenda of the 99%?

Primary challenges are definitely not the only answer to the question of how to impose a political cost on incumbents for doing the bidding of the 1%. There are definitely other answers. We could #occupy Congressional offices, for example. But it is certainly one answer, an obvious answer, and if we are going to ignore this obvious answer, we certainly should have a good explanation and justification. Why do Republicans take the Tea Party more seriously than Democrats take progressives? Because Republicans are afraid of the Tea Party-- afraid the Tea Party will primary them. Why are progressives less competent in our political engagement than the Tea Party?
Blue America has never shied away from tough primary battles. We went head to head with party leaders like Pelosi and Hoyer when we helped Donna Edwards end the miserable and corrupt political career of their despicable crony Al Wynn. And we helped Matt Cartwright vanquish the dean of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation last year, Tim Holden, who had Hoyer in the district campaigning for him... as though anyone but a bunch of criminal lobbyists cares about that kind of Beltway bullshit. We don't always win; but we do always fight. Any Democrat who votes for this Chained CPI piece of the Austerity Agenda that is destroying Europe's middle class makes himself or herself eligible for a primary as far as we're concerned. And right now we're recruiting House candidates all across the country.

We have a special page-- still in its infancy-- highlighting one thing, a single issue: opposition to cutting the earned benefits of seniors with tricks like the Chained CPI. This particular page is just for challengers, not for the heroic incumbents who are standing up to Obama and Boehner. Take a look at what the candidates who want to save Social Security have to say and please consider contributing to their campaigns.

Recall the message of the Grayson-Takano No Cuts letter they sent to Obama: "We will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits-- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need." I think they have around 40 co-signers-- out of over 200 Democrats in the House. We need more Democrats in Congress willing to stand up for working families, not to cater to special interests who finance their careers. Less Mike McIntyres, Jim Mathesons, Ann Kirpatricks, Patrick Murphys-- and more people like Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison and Jerry Nadler. We found some-- and we're just getting started.

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At 6:29 AM, Blogger Ghostly Wisconsin said...

This generation already "blew it" when it embraced the elitist "working middle class only" theme. Every time the banner is waved for "working Americans," it shuts out those who most clearly see (from their own experience) what's wrong -- those millions who were pushed out of the job market, desperately scraping up any temp jobs that can find, and those who are far worse off. The president looked embarrassed by his own foolishness when he uttered that rubbish about "building the economy from the middle out." Democrat Bill Clinton drove a deep, deep wedge between those still in the middle class and the rest of us. Every time you wave the "workers only" banner, you more deeply divide the "masses." History shows that there can be no movement of the better-off alone. This isn't the first time in our history when the richest few gained a dangerous degree of power over the US. Each time, the poor and middle classes united to successfully push back, to the benefit of both. This time, the middle class threw the poor off the cliff, and they are failing miserably at pushing back, themselves. It's time to reconsider what we've been doing. Learn from history.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Kay Dennison said...

I can't add anything to what GH said except that I have been living the nightmare for quite some time. We need to organize with the the same dedication that our parent/grandparents showed when the Union movement began.


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