Six Degrees of Social Security: The President, the Senator and the Billionaire

By:  Richard Eskow

President Obama and Vice President Biden both gave powerful speeches this evening, summoning the ideal of an inclusive nation and effectively distinguishing their mainstream American views from their opponents' radical right-wing vision. The only real false notes were the passages in which they both embraced a right-wing set of proposals known as "Simpson Bowles."

That means they were embracing a plan which would cut Social Security benefits and raise its retirement age. It also means they were embracing the ideology of a small network of well-funded individuals who are determined to take our country down the austerity path that is destroying Europe - and who may be personally antagonistic toward the President as well.

"Now," said the President, "I'm still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission." Vice President Biden said of their opponents, "they rejected every plan put forward by us, by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission they referenced or by any other respected group."

But that commission offered neither "principles" nor a "plan" -- in part because Republicans like Paul Ryan wouldn't raise taxes of any kind, but also because some liberals on the commission refused to go along with its proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare. As a result, it never agreed on any recommendations.

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