By James Ridgeway
President Obama’s Deficit Commission is all smoke and mirrors. Its members are making a big show of laboring over ”painful” choices and considering all options in their quest to bring down the deficit. But inside the Beltway everyone knows what’s going to happen: The commission will reduce the deficit on the backs of the old and the poor, through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Some opponents have taken to calling it the Cat Food Commission, since that’s what it’s victims will be forced to eat once the commission gets done slashing away at their modest entitlements.
In fact, the true intent of the Deficit Commission was evident before it was even formed. That intent was only driven home when Obama appointed as its co-chair Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming who is well known for voicing, in the most colorful terms, what Paul Krugman calls the “zombie lie” that old-age entitlements will soon bankrupt the country.
So why the big show? Because neither Obama nor the Congress wants to get caught cutting Social Security and Medicare in public, certainly not before the November elections. (Medicaid will be cut as well, but politicians tend not to worry so much about poor people, since they don’t go to the polls in the numbers we middle-class geezers do.) So instead, they are foisting off this unpleasant task onto the Deficit Commission, showing what the lawyers call “due diligence,” sucking their thumbs and pretending to study how to cut the deficit. They’ve got $1 billion in walk-around money to pay for propaganda so the PR industry ought to be plenty happy. So too, should billionaire Pete Peterson, as he and his foundation lackeys push forward towards a victory in their longstanding attack on so-called “entitlements.”
Quite frankly, if the Republican Right could get itself together and shove the Tea Party nuts back into their cave–as Reagan did with the crackpots hanging around him–they too could reap the benefits of the Cat Food Commission’s work. Ever since the New Deal, the Right has been kicking and screaming about Social Security. Things just got worse in the 1960s with Medicare and Medicaid. And now, thanks to our supposedly “socialist” president, they are within a few inches of cutting a nice hefty hunk out of the largest social programs this nation.
But just when it looks like the right wingers have collected themselves, the nutcases throw spanners into the works. This time it’s not the TeaParty, but economists from the Federal Reserve and intellectuals from NYU and Harvard. Four of these people have united to publish an 8-page paper via Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research last month entitled ``What is the Age of Reason?’’...
For the rest of this article by JAMES RIDGEWAY in ThisCantBeHappening, the new independent online newspaper, please go to: ThisCantBeHappening!