By Clarence Lusane
President Obama is betraying his own promises and his Democratic base by agreeing to cut Social Security.
In 2007 and 2008, while running for president, candidate Barack Obama said, “I believe that cutting benefits is not the right answer.”
In his 2012 race, Obama called Social Security an unshakable bedrock commitment.
These were unambiguous statements that reflected an empathy with the challenging economic circumstances that many seniors face. This sensitivity appears to have vanished. In the budget he submitted to Congress, Obama proposed an accounting technique aimed at Social Security and Medicare known as “chained CPI.” This would reduce the cost-of-living-increases to the Social Security program over time, cutting the income of seniors and people with disabilities.
Even some Republicans are tagging Obama for attacking seniors.
And his most faithful constituents are bailing on this one.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote a strongly worded letter to the president to keep his “campaign promises to strengthen Social Security.” Members of the fiercely loyal Congressional Black Caucus, who rarely air their disagreements with the administration in public, have not hesitated to make their hostility to the proposal known.
Leaders of the AFL-CIO, National Organization for Women, MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America’s Future and other liberal groups protested in front of the White House.
If Obama hopes to achieve a fraction of his second-term agenda, he will need to mobilize that base to fight Republican hard-liners in Congress.
Clarence Lusane is the program director and a professor of comparative and regional studies at the School of International Service at American University. He is also the author of “The Black History of the White House.” He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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