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PORTSIDE  December 2010, Week 3

PORTSIDE December 2010, Week 3

Subject:

Stand Up to the Hostage-Takers! Defend Social Security And Medicare

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 17 Dec 2010 22:19:57 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (178 lines)

Tell The President: Stand Up to the Hostage-Takers!
Defend Social Security And Medicare.

By Roger Hickey
December 17, 2010

Republican hostage-takers got President Obama to go
along with their tax cuts for the wealthy by
threatening to raise taxes on the middle class and
blocking even modest stimulus funds for our struggling
economy.

Now the Republicans have identified their next hostage:
They're going to threaten to destroy the international
financial stability of the United States by refusing to
raise the debt ceiling. What are they demanding for
ransom? They want President Obama to slash Social
Security and Medicare before this next hostage crisis
comes to a head in March or April.

Who can stop this next hostage crisis? We can. We is
everyone who cares about our country. We have to start
by sending a message to the President here: No more
surrendering to hostage takers' demands. Pledge to
defend Social Security and Medicare. Click here to take
action.

Here are two scenarios. Which one will you work to make
happen?

   Scenario One: In his State of the Union speech
   (around January 27), Obama declares that he is
   willing to "meet the Republicans half way". In fact,
   he will preempt the hostage-taking crisis
   altogether, by accepting some of the harshest
   recommendations of his deficit commission. He
   announces his support for legislation to cut Social
   Security benefits for today's retirees, by changing
   the cost of living index. He pledges to cut Social
   Security benefits for future middle-class retirees
   even more and declares his intention to raise the
   retirement age. What's more, he says he will cap
   Medicare benefits for each retiree, and they will
   either have to pay for the rest of their medical
   care out of pocket or do without the care they need.

   This is looking like an increasing likely scenario.
   What would happen then? Let's play it out a little
   further:

   In response to the President's statements, several
   senior Democrats announce their plans to quit public
   service, Republicans, flush with their latest
   victory, start issuing their NEWEST set of demands.
   If these new demands aren't met, they say, they'll
   refuse to pass the debt ceiling - which would crash
   the US economy. Soon the Democrats and Obama are
   attacked by Newt Gingrich and other Republican
   presidential candidates as the party and the
   President who cut Social Security. Republican
   prospects for 2012 improve greatly as the public
   recoils at this attack on a popular program,
   Democratic activists erupt in fury, and the true
   Democratic base of working families and independents
   becomes even more disillusioned.

   Scenario Two: The White House and the Democrats in
   Congress are flooded with emails, faxes and phone
   calls that say: "We elected you to protect Social
   Security and Medicare." "Stand up and Fight against
   hostage takers." Over 200 Members of Congress join
   together to declare: "Social Security and Medicare
   are our 'line in the sand." In his State of the
   Union, the President reminds the country that Social
   Security doesn't contribute a single dime to the
   deficit, and says unequivocally that he will defend
   it against any attempt to cut benefits or raid its
   trust fund to pay down the Federal Deficit. He might
   even announce a new commission charged with
   strengthening and improving Social Security,
   composed of well-informed people who care about the
   program. He vows additional reforms to cut health
   care costs and improve the quality of care, and
   pledges not to harm or cut Medicare. And, channeling
   Bill Clinton from 1994, he declares he will refuse
   to give in to extortionists who would harm the US
   economic system in an attempt to force him to
   dismantle America's social contract. In response,
   nervous Wall Street financiers denounce the
   extremist politicians who would crash the world
   financial system in order to win their political
   goals. Chastened, the Republicans back down and
   agree to support extension of the debt limit.

   Working Americans rally to the President, filled
   with newfound respect for his willingness to stand
   up and fight for them. 2012 starts looking much
   better for Obama - and for Democrats in the
   Congress.

Which scenario will become reality? That's up to you.
Progressive activists - the kind of people who are
reading these words - need to become even more active
if we want to make Scenario Two our future.

Many people are disappointed and disillusioned by the
outcome of the first hostage confrontation with
Republicans in the new post-majority era - a
confrontation that ended before it began. As a result,
too many are succumbing to cynicism, assuming that all
is hopeless and that the first Scenario is inevitable.
We all know that if Scenario One happens, it will
trigger a firestorm of protest and we will be part of
that firestorm. Why not channel that energy into
changing history instead, by using it to get President
Obama on the road toward revival and real economic
change?

If we get off our asses before a tragic mistake is
made, we'll discover the American people are with us in
this next fight. Poll after poll shows that, despite
the coordinated conservative deficit scare campaign,
strong majorities reject cuts to Social Security
benefits or messing with Medicare. And people hate the
idea of raising the retirement age - that includes
already-retired people and baby-boomers, and younger
workers who would have to work two more years - no
matter how bad the economy is or how badly their bodies
have been battered. Americans are strongly supportive
of our modest but fair social insurance system - and,
especially in these bad economic times, they'll fight
any politician who tries to damage it. Let's fight a
fight that unites all Americans - even the majority of
Tea Partiers.

In the few weeks before the President's late January
State of the Union speech, we need to clearly and
forcefully tell him and the Democratic party what we
think: Capitulating to hostage takers on Social
Security and Medicare would be a disaster and
politically and the wrong thing to do morally.

You can take your first action right here.

And then, if we succeed at getting the President to
hold off, we can mount a massive campaign that would
bring unions, citizens' organizations, grass roots
groups of all kinds together. It would speak directly
to the voters - blue collar and white collar,
independents and partisans, middle class and working
class - attacking those Republicans who would threaten
to crash the US economy in order to cut popular
programs. We can flood conservatives in Congress with
angry protests and end this next hostage crisis with
the first defeat of the new right wing Congress - and
the first victory of America's progressive majority.

We can suffer through the first scenario, or make a
better reality. It's up to you.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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