Some may not have thought I had it in me, but I always planned to critique Barack’s performance when necessary. It’s become necessary. Riding home on the Metro tonight, I read a four-page article on the mobile New York Times latest news section. After a fairly standard opening paragraph, I got to this beauty of a quote:
“We expect that discussion around entitlements will be a part, a
central part” of efforts to curb federal spending, Mr. Obama said at a
news conference. By February, he said, “we will have more to say about
how we’re going to approach entitlement spending.”
There is so much wrong with this sentence I hardly know where to start, so I will start with the obvious response that found its way into the title of this blog. Social Security and Medicare are promises, not entitlements. They are part and parcel of the societal compact we have crafted over 230 years of contest and compromise.
If anything, they are woefully underfunded. They need to be bigger. They need to be a Pension and Health Care System that lets all of us plan for and live a decent life. Properly managed, a pension and heath insurance system for 300 million can pretty much pay for itself. Lift the cap on Social Security contributions, set taxes back to what they were when Reagan left office and we can have both of those programs as far as the eye can dream.
Beyond the offending quote was the story itself.
Barack appointed a new Chief Performance Officer to implement his pledge to go through the budget line-by-line. I don’t know anything about the woman he selected, but I assume she is perfectly qualified. However, in all four pages of this ridiculous story, there was not a single mention of the defense budget and agricultural subsidies and trade agreements and unaccountable government contractors or any one of a dozen ways to heal our economy before looking at Social Security and Medicare.
How can we honestly address the economic challenges we face if the solutions being offered don’t seem to address the problem at hand?
I have been
pleased with his Barak Karate so far, so I am willing to take a wait
(for now) and see attitude. The key is to never stop seeing, I
suppose, so, I’ll be keeping an eye on this one as the details come out with regards to how Barack plans on handling the three core components of the progressive agenda he ran on – health care, energy and the economy. I don’t totally disagree with the framing he offered for what we see coming in the years ahead, but I am not too happy about the missing context of the asses he’ll need to kick once he takes office.
Perhaps he is playing this one close to the vest as many things before, though I really see no upside in using neocon framing for core progressive programs.