Obama, Hillary and Social Security

As long as we're criticizing Barack Obama today, check out the Daily Howler which takes him to task for his "new" strategy of being more aggressive in his campaign against Hillary.

First off, he's attacking her character, not just her position on issues. Bad move.

Worse, he's pretending she has not taken a stand on social security. That's false. She has taken her stand and her stand is, as it should be, There Is No Crisis.

It’s astounding to see a Major Dem pimping Social Security as a big, troubling issue. It’s astounding to see one Dem attacking another because she won’t go along with that plutocrat claim—especially when he’s been reciting the old chestnut about college kids. This claim has been the tool of plutocrats over the course of the past twenty-five years. Now, we see a Major Dem pimping this line—and criticizing Clinton’s troubling “character” because she won’t go there with him.

By the way, tell us again: Which of these two is the “liberal?”

Update: Obama and Hillary are now in an ad war over social security. Here's Hillary latest salvo, to run in Iowa and New Hampshire, detailing what she has done on behalf of seniors.


"When George Bush threatened to privatize social security, Hillary was there fighting every step of the way to stop him," says the announcer. "These days, it seems like every candidate on earth is coming here for you. But which candidate has been there for you all along?"
< Dodd Opposes Mukasey | Tom Tancredo Retiring From Congress >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Well when Hillary or Dodd (none / 0) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 04:29:09 PM EST
    for that matter, deserve it, I do not think we spare them.

    Your criticism of him is merited. I believe my criticism of him, which, as you recall began in the summer of 2006, has also been merited.

    Any criticism of Hillary is unfair - by definition (none / 0) (#2)
    by fiver5 on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 05:03:32 PM EST
    First off, he's attacking her character, not just her position on issues. Bad move.

    The Daily Howler:

    Increasingly, Obama is talking about Clinton's "character." Granted, that's an assessment by Bacon, not a quote from Obama. But when you say that someone is ducking, hedging, dodging and spinning a serious issue, you are, of course, critiquing her character. (emphasis added)

    So talking about Clinton's "ducking, hedging, dodging and spinning a serious issue" is inherently unfair.  That is amazingly convenient.  It gets her out of her Iraq War vote, Kyl/Lieberman, telecom amnesty, and virtually every other criticism from the left - including a weak "stand" on social security.

    Obama takes the side of the plutocrats against Hillary?  Why? It's not as if he was a director of WalMart, based his entire career on nepotism, or collected more corporate cash than any other candidate in history.  It's only because he had the gall to criticize St. Hillary, and all criticism of HRC must, by definition, come from the right, and is therefore, by definition, unfair.

    I don't want to be the language police, but (none / 0) (#3)
    by jerry on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 05:34:22 PM EST

    That Howler Bit Hit it Out of the Park on This One (none / 0) (#4)
    by Alegre on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 07:59:03 PM EST
    Obama's going after Hillary with attacks on her character.  The Howler's right in pointing out the similarities between Obama today and Bradley of 2000.

    I'm not sure where Obama's getting his advice, but he needs to find a new direction.  Everyone I know are shaking their head over his choice of issues here.

    I mean really... Social Security????

    Obama Self Destructs (none / 0) (#5)
    by john horse on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 08:06:34 PM EST
    Well Obama has finally done it.  He has found the one issue that unites most Democrats, be they conservative or liberal.  Unfortunately he finds himself on the wrong side of the issue.

    I know this for a fact because my district is represented by the only Democrat that supported Bush's attempt at privatization.  The reaction in his district was so negative that not only did he back down but he also doesn't even mention the social security "crisis" at his website anymore.  If Obama was the candidate and I was advising his Republican opponent, I would tell him to run to the left of Obama on social security and be the biggest supporter of social security as it now is since FDR.

    Up until this point most Democrats liked Senator Obama.  Up until this point they had no reason to vote against him.

    I suppose I would agree, except... (none / 0) (#6)
    by fiver5 on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 08:12:01 PM EST
    Obama said nothing at all about privatizing Social Security.  He only said he believed the cap on SS taxation should be raised above its current level (I think about 97K).  This more fully funds Social Security and helps eliminate a very regressive tax structure.  Unfortunately, Obama is being attacked not for what he said, but for what the HRC campaign says he said.

    Social Security and liberals (none / 0) (#8)
    by diogenes on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 09:39:07 PM EST
    How exactly is raising the $97,000 limit not liberal?  It makes a regressive tax less regressive.  And given the class warfare approach, how is it not liberal?
    Unless an uncomfortable number of people make $97,000, and when liberals talk about taxing the rich they really mean looting a small minority of the superrich, thus creating no political risk at all to themselves.

    Raising the limit is probably a good thing (none / 0) (#9)
    by jerry on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 09:47:38 PM EST
    The bad thing is making social security an issue when it is not.

    As Krugman just said on Stephanopolis, there is no evidence social security is even in trouble.  When you rank gov't programs by the problems of their funding, ssi isn't even on the list (my paraphrase.)

    So all Obama has done is justify a Mitt or Giuliani or Thompson to say the SSI is in trouble and that they will be there to reform it.

    If it's not in trouble, but it is under attack, it seems dumb to legitimize the Republican claim.


    that someone who clearly hasn't a clue (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 10:38:19 PM EST
    makes unsubstantiated claims, doesn't, in and of itself, justify anyone else making those same unsubstantiated claims. what kind of bizarro world do you live in jerry?

    So all Obama has done is justify a Mitt or Giuliani or Thompson to say the SSI is in trouble and that they will be there to reform it.

    while it isn't reasonable to expect all the candidates to possess the analytical skills of an actuary, it is fair to expect that they have someone in their campaign staff who does possess such knowledge, or at least knows who to get the information from. sen. obama's team is singularly lacking in this basic of requirements.

    sen. obama, and his republican counterparts, are demonstrating the wisdom of a longer campaign period; we're seeing the lack of substance behind the flash, before we buy the ticket. had campaign 2000 lasted this long, i think gore would be finishing his second term right now.

    it's certainly fair to criticise sen. clinton on the merits. however, it would probably be helpful if those doing it actually had clue one about the issue itself. sen. obama (and his republican counterparts) has shown, repeatedly, that he doesn't.

    it's nice to be liked, it's better to know what you're doing.

    It's lat e at night, but I think we actually agree (none / 0) (#11)
    by jerry on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:24:37 PM EST
    I think we are both saying that Obama made a mistake by critiquing SSI, and his arguments were flawed.

    What I am saying is that this will allow a Republican to hide behind Obama by saying, "Even Sen Obama agrees SSI is in trouble."

    (I'm actually pretty sure we all live in the same bizarro world.)


    Social security not a problem? (none / 0) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 08:06:38 AM EST
    I trust all you folks under 40 aren't planning on getting a check.

    No matter who is elected, it is going to have to be addressed unless you know someway to cancel the effects of demographics.

    It would be wise to hear how the candidates plan on trying to fix it.

    Did Obama kill someone's cat? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 08:16:37 AM EST
      I am not particualrly enthralled by the man, but the visceral dislike for the guy and incessant mischaracterizing of everything he does here is baffling.

      Social Security is and always will be an important issue and we do need to address funding now or we will leave a large legacy of unfuded liability for ourselves and our children.

      Obama's "solution" is pretty much what I have advocated  written here several times. He actually does not go as far as i would because I would eliminate the income ceiling not merely just raise it, but beyond question his is the "progressive" redistributive solution.

       Denying that Social security needs to be addressed is bizarre. Disagreeing that Social Security should be addressed by "privatization" would alienate me but that is not at all what he has said.

      Do we really have  have an irrational fear that addressing Social Security will inevitably lead to privatization?   "Oh, be quiet, there are the votes for privatization and if we remind the people who want it that Social Security still exists they will start up again and win."

      The Republicans couldn't get it done when they had the Presidency and both houses. It sure as heck isn't going to happen now. However, it still needs to be funded to deal with the increasing numbers an lifespans of the next generations of recipients.


    True (none / 0) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 11:03:37 AM EST
    The Republicans couldn't get it done when they had the Presidency and both houses.

    But unless you can solve the demographic problem, someone is going to have to, and at some point the tax payer will revolt.

    Hillary doesn't want to address it because it is a hot button issue.


    oh puhleaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeee! (none / 0) (#15)
    by cpinva on Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 11:42:29 AM EST
    social security is in trouble like i'm the king of siam. it isn't, won't be, and whatever minor issues it does have can be readily fixed with the swipe of a pen on paper by congress.

    unless unemployment reaches 100%, or congress torches the program entirely, people will always get social security checks. we just had this same discussion, and blew all the nonsense pushed by the president and his minions ("it's going bankrupt", "young people won't collect") out of the water already. where were you two, jim and decon?

    pay attention, i'm only going to explain this once:

    social security can be changed or eliminated by congress, at their whim. this means they can change, reduce or eliminate cost of living increases.

    the SS trust fund is a long way from empty. even when it is, people will still receive payments, though possibly reduced, from the funds coming in from current revenues. no one will go without.

    in order to privatize the program, huge amounts would have to be diverted from current payments, and be replaced, resulting in additional millions of dollars added to the budget deficit.

    now, repeat after me: there is no social security "crisis", it's pretty much a republican fiction.

    i am not going to do this again, for those of you on drugs!

    I can't speak for Jim (none / 0) (#16)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 02:10:21 PM EST
     but I was ruefully watching people make absurdly false claims that make no sense whatsoever. Social Security will require very significant increases into the trust fund simply in order to pay benefits at current levels (meaning no increses to reflect COL) to provide benefits at the same level in current dollars will obviously require even more. To ever actually increase the purchasing power will, of course require even more than that.

       None of that is remotely debatable. Increased revenues (other than GR appropriations which will not happen) can only come from more  workers and more employers paying FICA or by increasing the required contributions per worker.

       We can fairly adequately predict the increase in the number of workers thhat is possible and we know that alone will not be enough. So, we have to provide more money in other ways. There are several ways of doing that-- greater contributions from all employers, greater employer contributions for all employees, both of those-- or, the most progressive solution eliminating  raising the income ceiling to make it more progressive by requiring contributions from highly paid employees  on greater amounts of their incomes.

        It's that simple. Because those are the only "real" solutions, some Republicans have called for privatization (meaning essentially phased  elimination) of SS and requiring people to privately manage funds and bear the entire  risk.


    CP? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 06:54:51 AM EST
      I told you where i was. where are you?

    not sure exactly what you mean decon, by (none / 0) (#18)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:25:52 AM EST
    you told me where you are.

    where you are, relative to SS, is confused. you, and the rest of the confused, have made assumptions containing no valid basis.

    frankly, congress could do nothing at all, and people will still receive SS benefits. both the SS trust fund and the CBO have published projections for the next 100 years, neither indicate anyone's going to be left behind.

    you assume salaries will remain static, projections show they won't. since most people don't currently reach the max on SS income, this will result in significant increases in revenues all by itself, with no action required of congress.

    as well, you further assume SS is supposed to be a primary source of retirement income, it isn't, and never was. it was meant to insure (hence, the insurance part of FICA) that retirees got at least a minimum income, to add to their own savings.

    yes, the program could probably use some tweaking, assuming we want it to remain exactly as it is. to suggest it is in "crisis" mode is a massive distortion of reality.

    what is in crisis mode is medicare/medicaid. i note sen. obama neglected to address that issue. probably because he knows even less about it, than he does about SS.

    i don't dislike sen. obama. he's obviously smart, well educated, articulate and looks good on tv. he also suffers from the gertrude stein syndrome; "there's no there, there". this is becoming more apparent daily. he started to actually believe his own PR, instead of using his very intelligent brain.


    No I don't (none / 0) (#19)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:49:06 AM EST
     assume wages and salaries "will remain static." What I do is NOT make the very dangerous assumption that the growth in wages and salaries will exceed the increase in the cost of living (which also will not remain static) by a significant amount.

      I also do not assume that SS is the primary source of retiremrnt income for everyone. But, I do acknowledge the fact that it is the primary source for a huge number of people and the ONLY source for a large number as well. I also know that if funding is not available to allow the amount of benefits to grow concomitant with the assumed rise in the cost of living many people will live deprived lives.

      I think that is important.

    Scare tactics, anyone? (none / 0) (#20)
    by BlueLakeMichigan on Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 10:09:13 AM EST
    Saying Social Security can't even be addressed because that'd get the Right going is little more than a scare tactic, much like how a certain administration likes to tell people we can't address withdrawal from Iraq because that'd "embolden the enemy". We need to have less fear on this subject, not more.