A Bit More On Obama & Entitlement "Reform"
By David Sirota
January 8, 2009 - 6:57pm ET
Per my earlier post on Obama's economic speeches of late, let me add one note about his declarations about Social Security and Medicare reform. Dean Baker doesn't think Obama's declaration on Social Security and Medicare automatically means he's looking to cut those programs. I agree that it doesn't automatically mean that - but I disagree with Dean that Obama's statement explicitly "does not indicate any intention to cut Social Security." Obama explicitly tied his goal of reducing the deficit to entitlement reform (not to tax increases, etc.) - which logically at least suggests the consideration of Social Security cuts to reducing the deficit. That is, unless someone can produce a magic pony and explain how alleviating the deficit mostly through Social Security "reform" (rather than tax increases) means not using money from Social Security to pay down the deficit (ie. a cut in Social Security).
A pure, unadulterated optimist (which I sometimes can be) might say that it is possible Obama's reference to entitlement reform was a veiled reference to him fulfilling his campaign promise to raise the payroll tax cap so that it applies to income over $100,000. I don't think he was referring to that, considering his current focus on talking about tax cuts rather than tax increases (which is what the elimination of the payroll tax cap would be). But I'll concede that it is certainly possible, considering he promised to lift the cap when he ran for president.
The key here is making the progressive possibility (ie. Obama-led entitlement reform equaling the elimination of the payroll tax cap, not a benefit cut) into a reality. And as I said in the original post, that's going to require sustained movement pressure.
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