Tuesday, November 13, 2012

White House listens to "both sides" in the debate over cutting benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

The AFL-CIO has done a pro-Social Security video to oppose efforts by President Obama and the Republicans to enact the Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Tell Congress: No Benefit Cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid 11/08/2012:

From Sam Stein, Obama, Progressives Renew Wary Embrace Huffington Post 11/12/2012

Attendees at the Tuesday and Wednesday White House meetings, according to a White House official:


  • Mary Kay Henry, SEIU
  • Lee Saunders, AFSCME
  • Dennis Van Roekel, NEA
  • Rich Trumka, AFL-CIO
  • Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress
  • John Podesta, Center for American Progress
  • Bob Greenstein, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Laura Burton Capps, Common Purpose Project
  • Max Richtman, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
  • Justin Ruben, MoveOn
  • Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change


  • Mark Bertolini, president, Chairman and CEO, Aetna
  • Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO, Xerox
  • Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO, American Express Co.
  • David Cote, chairman and CEO, Honeywell
  • Mike Duke, president and CEO, Walmart
  • Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric
  • Andrew Liveris, president, chairman and CEO, Dow
  • Robert McDonald, president and CEO, Proctor & Gamble
  • Alan Mulally, president and CEO, Ford
  • Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo.
  • Ginni Rometty, president, chairman and CEO, IBM
  • John Watson, chairman and CEO, Chevron

Presumably both meetings will focus on the phony "fiscal cliff", or fiscal curb, or fiscal slope, as supporters of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have also termed it.

Stein reports:

The early outlines [of budget negotiations] came to focus in the last week, when top congressional Democrats announced (in a not-so-subtle bit of line-drawing for the White House) what they won't stomach in a debt-reduction negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) started the cascade when he told reporters that Social Security reform should not be included in any deal that solves the expiring Bush tax cuts and the spending reductions included in the end-year sequester. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) quickly followed by saying Social Security must be considered apart from Medicare and Medicaid.

Union leadership was even more direct. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told The Huffington Post last week that his group would oppose any deal that cuts the three big entitlement programs.

"Yes. Yes. Yes. The voters yesterday rejected that notion soundly," Trumka said at a briefing on Nov. 7. "The answer is, if it includes benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, we'll oppose it."

Van Jones, co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, went further, noting that none of the progressive political institutions have "demobilized" since the election.

"We are still on a complete fighting posture because we knew we had to win the politics in November and then on the economy in December," Jones said. "For the progressives who threw ourselves on hand grenades for the president over the past 24 months and especially the past six months, we are not going to be happy at all if he turns around and takes a chainsaw to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in pursuit of some misguided so-called grand bargain."
I would say that the first week of all out Grand Bargain dealing, which I date from the day after the election, has generally been a good one for opponents of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Obama and the Republicans were successful in getting the mainstream media, MSNBC included, to focus on the issue of tax increases and largely bury the most problematic aspect of the negotiations, the drive to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Stein cites the group Third Way, which he inaccurately calls a "centrist-Democratic think tank." It's neither centrist nor a think tank, and whether it can be accurately said to be "Democratic" is questionable. William Black explains why in Wall Street uses the Third Way to lead its assault on Social Security New Economic Perspectives 11/13/2012. Check the list of its governing board he includes. One of them is Bill Daley, a certified One Percenter and Obama's onetime chief of staff, so that's kinda-sorta Democratic. It also includes Jonathan Cowan, who Black describes this way brackets in original):

Prior to co-founding Third Way, Mr. Cowan founded and ran Americans for Gun Safety…. In 1992, he co-founded Lead…or Leave, which became the nation's leading Generation X advocacy group. [He lobbied to protect "second amendment rights" to bear arms and led a Pete Peterson inspired group urging "Gen X" members to unravel the safety net.]
David Dayen reports sceptically on the Wednesday meeting in Obama Meets With Labor, Progressive Groups Today FDL News 11/13/2012. He notes there that one of the supposedly progressive participant groups, the Common Purpose Project, is "the ultimate veal pen coalition," i.e., effective a kept group of the President's.

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