This week one of the prime movers in late 20th Century geopolitics died. Margaret Thatcher’s deeply conservative, pro-corporation, anti-business, slash the safety net and cut the taxes approach to governance helped set the stage for the fiscal gambling and international financial meltdown from which we are still struggling to recover. Remember her effort to secure a poll tax–oh she was a madcap, our Maggie. With a legacy like that, you might think that smart politicians would steer clear of her policies. The English Punk group, The Jam gave the world an all too accurate portrait of Thatcher with their song, Town Called Malice, which basically addresses the death of the middle class and economic oppression. The architects of this oppression were Thatcher and Reagan.
Sadly, the President of the United States — a DEMOCRAT elected by a coalition of the poor, people of color, women, and other marginalized and oppressed people — seems intent on taking an unprecedented and disastrous budgetary step. In the latest mind-numbingly awful round of budget “negotiations” with Congress, the White House has made it clear that cutting Social Security is part of the package.
This makes no sense. Even St. Ronnie the Addled, Thatcher’s partner in crime in the 80s, famously noted that cutting Social Security did NOTHING to reduce the deficit. Worse, the proposed plan, tying benefits to a particular Consumer Price Index, is viciously regressive. Those who depend on Social Security — the elderly disproportionately from marginalized populations — have expenses that don’t fit with chained CPI. The bulk of their expenses are health care, which increases much faster, and non-discretionary spending. You know, like food. The White House proposal effectively shoves retirees into poverty even faster.
The President’s stated goal seems admirable: compromise. Like all his fiscal wrangling with the GOP, however, he seems to think that compromise starts with capitulation and goes downhill from there. By taking the first ever major blow to Social Security, a Democratic President is easing the country into the Teahadist dream world where the New Deal and Great Society are erased forever. Looks like most Americans will need to get used to eating cat food.
It isn’t too late. Many Democrats in Congress oppose the President’s plan and have proposed much more sensible starting points for budget negotiations. Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support these smarter plans. Then contact the White House and make it clear that putting Social Security on the chopping block is unacceptable. If that doesn’t work, we should start raising some money to hold an exorcism.