By Reginald Johnson
President Obama’s comments on Social Security in the presidential debate last week underscore how far right the Democratic Party has drifted, and belie the claim that there is a sharp difference between Obama and his opponent, Mitt Romney.
After debate moderator Jim Lehrer asked each candidate to give their views on Social Security, Obama proceeded to say that there wasn’t much difference between his position on the retirement program and Gov. Romney’s. He added that while the program was “structurally sound” there was some need for “tweaking.”
Oh boy. In the world of Washington, “tweaking” is a euphemism for “cutting.”
In saying this, Obama has restated his support for the call by the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, which advocated cost of living adjustment reductions and raising the retirement age in Social Security.
Romney has also asked that the retirement be raised to 69. Since a lot of folks don’t make it to 69, this is a heartless and effective way of reducing payouts. He’s also called for “means testing,” a system by which so-called higher-income people (this hasn’t been defined; will higher income mean $100,000, or $60,000?) will have their benefits reduced..
The point here is, both the Democratic and Republican candidates want to cut Social Security payments, although workers paid into this system all their adult life. The candidates’ proposals may differ on how the cuts take place, but the result is the same.
Obama and Romney also speak the same nonsense about some phantom problem with the financial viability of the program, when there is ample proof that Social Security is in solid shape for years to come.
So there you have it. Once proposed by a Democratic president (Franklin Roosevelt) as a central part of the New Deal, and fervently backed by a string of Democratic presidents for decades after, a Democratic president today wants to cut Social Security, even there’s no need for doing so.
The president’s view on Social Security is just one example how the two main parties agree on a number of key issues today. This is not the 1930s of Franklin Roosevelt or the 1960s of Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, or even the 1970s of Jimmy Carter.
This is 2012 and we have a corporate Democrat in the White House, who takes his cues, like the Republicans do, from Wall Street. The corporate elite want to eliminate all safety net programs, because it guarantees business taxes will be kept low. It also makes for a more desperate workforce: take the job we offer sucker, because you got nothin’ else.
On that happy note, I end this blog, urging everyone to consider two third party candidates, Jill Stein of the Green Party or Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. Both of them are progressive and excellent on a raft of issues. Don’t say a vote for them is pointless, because they have no chance at victory. At least you believe in what you’re voting for.
A vote for Obama is pointless, because on too many vital issues, he’s no different than Romney.