Obama’s rhetoric biting him in the ass

Social Security This is the problem — now that he’s gaining ground, and leading in Iowa, he’s going to get whacked. Especially where he’s usurping right-wing, fear-mongering talking points. It’s not truthful, and not tactically useful. And I’d argue it’s a good part of why much of the left hasn’t come on board. It’s also kept him open to attacks from Clinton from the left, and with a month yet in front of Iowa, you can be sure she’ll exploit the opening.

Obama’s purported determination to go beyond factional and ideological differences can lead him into some ugly policy corners. As leading liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman observes in an opinion-editorial that exposes Obama’s recent Social Security panic-mongering, “inside the Beltway, doomsaying about Social Security – declaring that the program as we know it can’t survive the onslaught of retiring baby boomers – is regarded as a sort of badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are.” Unfortunately, Krugman notes, “the ‘everyone’ who knows that Social Security is doomed doesn’t include anyone who actually understands the numbers. In fact, the whole Beltway obsession with the fiscal burden of an aging population is misguided” (Krugman 2007a).

The notion that a major Social Security catastrophe looms in the foreseeable future is a corporate and Republican myth disseminated through a highly sophisticated propaganda effort that “compares well,” Chomsky notes, “with the government-media campaign to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat to their survival” (Chomsky 2006, p. 248; Baker and Weisbrot 2001).

1 thought on “Obama’s rhetoric biting him in the ass”

  1. I guess I wish I understood why our aging population isn’t, in fact, a problem. Maybe I just have my head full of right-wing noise on this issue, or maybe not, but my impressions were: a) that social security lacks much if any buffer and mostly subsists off of current tax revenue/debt and b) our population is indeed becoming topheavy. In fact, my barely-educated guess would be that even if B is somehow less than totally true, it probably has something to do with immigration — if generations X, Y, and Z aren’t going to carry the Baby Boomers through retirement and old age, then I bet you immigrants are, which is itself economically unjust to a large degree. Maybe it makes sense to make sure we harness some of the economic might now before the Boom retires and put that towards their later costs of survival rather than leaving it up to us to pay for as we go. But please, tell me which part of this I’m confused about, because this is an issue on which I’ve done little research.

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