Writing at Naked Capitalism, Marshall Auerback puts forth a devastating critiques of how Democrats are creating the conditions which put Social Security at risk. A key part of this analysis is that the Deficit Commission was put together and appointed by President Obama (after the Democratic Congress refused to do so). There are a lot of different ideas leaking out of the commission, from austerity to cuts to Social Security and Medicare. But Auerback writes, “No mention of Republicans getting on board. This is self-immolation, plain and simple.”
Auerback goes on to question the basic validity of the Democratic Party continuing to identify with FDR, given the close relationship so many Democrats have with Wall Street. I don’t think this is a fair analysis, simply because as we saw yesterday there is a multitude within the Democratic Party. But I do think it’s fair to place blame on the corporatists with close ties to Wall Street, as well as the conservative Blue Dogs and New Dems who have continually pushed for cutting taxes on the wealthy and reducing benefits for working class Americans. Of course, Auerback notes the culpability of the present administration in driving both the conversation and putting people in charge who are known opponents of Social Security.
I also think Auerback’s description of the President’s Saturday radio address attacking Republicans for wanting to privatize Social Security (which is something of a non sequitor from the current conversation) as “cynical” is accurate. Obama could be leading on this and really strengthening Social Security, framing it around providing a promise for a safe and secure retirement to countless Americans who worked hard throughout their lives. Simply framing the debate around protecting from privatization is, as Auerback says, politics as usual.