Playing to Lose? Obama’s Just Another Chicago Player Throwing the Game
If President Obama had been the commander of Allied forces during the invasion of Normandy 1944, he would have cut a deal with the Nazis when they launched the counter-offensive called the Battle of the Bulge, and WWII would have ended in Europe with a divided France and a still-extant Third Reich into the 1950s. If he had been president in 1965, we wouldn’t have Medicare today. If he had been Rosa Parks, black people might still be riding at the back of the bus.
The current president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, commander in chief of the most awesome military the world has ever known, is the most pathetic negotiator in the history of modern politics. Either that or he wants to lose.
During his first term, we watched him inexplicably water down his health reform program before it even got started, removing the option of a Canadian-style state-run insurance program known as “single-payer” from consideration, and then cutting deals with the insurance industry, the hospital industry and the pharmaceutical industry, before going to Congress with a plan that ended up being a gift to all three.
We watched him cave early on in negotiations over a crisis economic stimulus plan in 2009, giving Republicans a $425-billion tax cut that did nothing to boost jobs in return for getting a measly $425-billion in stimulus funding approved. He caved quickly too on the plan to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the newly created Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. The list of Obama premature cave-ins is long and ugly.
Now, when he is almost by accident in an unassailable position to have the hugely unfair and damaging Bush tax cuts for the rich finally expire on December 31, leaving Republicans stuck in January with having to pass Democratic legislation restoring tax cuts for just the middle class, he is giving it away, offering gratis an undermining of Social Security benefits for all Americans by way of a subtle change in the way inflation adjustments are made in future benefits.
For years, Social Security payments have been adjusted on an annual basis in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ Consumer Price Index. Now Obama is proposing, in an offer to Republicans, that this adjustment be made not based on the CPI, which looks at a typical market basket of goods and services commonly purchased by ordinary people, but on something called a “chained CPI.” In the chained CPI methodology, assumptions are made that when prices rise, ordinary people switch to alternative, cheaper goods and services, so the chained CPI switches what’s in its basket to substitute those. For example, if car prices rise, it is assumed people will buy Fit instead of Civic sedans. If the price of hamburger rises, it is assumed people will switch to chicken or turkey burgers (or if they get too expensive, to beans or dog food). If the cost of beer goes up, is is assumed people will switch from Heineken to Bud.