I was happy to see The Teamster's come out forcefully against cuts to Social Security yesterday:
The Teamsters oppose the chained CPI for Social Security because it would most hurt the oldest and poorest retirees."Social Security does not contribute to the budget deficit and should remain off the table in these year-end budget negotiations," Hoffa said. "Americans work all their lives to earn the Social Security benefits they were promised. It would be a terrible mistake to go back on that promise."Chained CPI is not an accurate measurement of inflation for the elderly, whose primary costs are housing and health care. Those expenses are rising faster than other costs. Using the chained CPI would result in a cut to Social Security benefits by $112 billion over 10 years."We are making sure our members are aware of this issue," Hoffa said. "We strongly oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and we will not waver from that position."Hoffa said the Teamsters also oppose any proposal that would increase the Medicare eligibility age.
So like a good union steward I got up a little early and was out the door by 3am so I could talk to members this morning before the shift. Get our little political action committee gears a churning at my workplace and get members calling the White House/member of Congress to tell them--No Cuts.
People were floored Obama would support cuts to Social Security. I mean dumb struck. Even the Republican's were mad!.
Between the before work pow-wow's, break time, catching a few folks on the way out the door and in the parking lot after the shift--we had an angry bunch of Teamster's in Forrest Park, Georgia.
If you want to cut Social Security. Just be up front and cut it. Why go through the backdoor and erode it? Only reason I can come up with is if you want to manipulate the fact that everyday working people don't have the time to keep up with the nuanced details of policy and are entrusting you to do the right thing. As economist Dean Baker noted:
The honest way to cut benefits is for Congress to explicitly vote to cut benefits, not to try to hide a cut behind a statistical manipulation. This is the sort of behavior that encourages public contempt for politicians and the political process.
A number of members said they'd be making calls and getting their friends to do the same. We are working to put the pressure on and kill this deal and we've got a plan of action for raising awareness in our community. So members are working to spread the word and I'm helping them get the resources/information they need to make that happen.
Fact is, its up to us now.
Robert Kuttner was dead on:
This budget agreement is very dubious politics for Obama and the Democrats on several grounds. For starters, Social Security cuts, disguised or otherwise, should not be in this package at all. Politically, such a deal erases the bright line that is the Democrats’ single strongest distinction from Republicans: We defend Social Security; they are willing to sacrifice it. Further, the politics of allowing the struggling, not-quite-poor elderly to be played off against the very poor are just appalling.One other set of enablers are those liberals who say that at least a disguised cut in Social Security is not quite as bad as raising the Medicare eligibility age, a Republican demand that Obama has rejected. This chorus includes the sainted Paul Krugman, another resolute liberal who ordinarily earns nothing but our thanks and appreciation.But saying that cutting Social Security is not quite as bad as cutting Medicare sets a pretty low bar. Neither should be cut.What happens now? Progressives in and outside Congress need to shoot down this trial balloon. They need to keep the heat on Obama to consent to nothing of the sort.
I noted yesterday that people just don't know about the proposed cuts and when they find out they are mad--as they should be.
Especially union members. Those dollars we chip in to the political action committee, the time we put in talking to members, hitting the streets knocking on doors---we built that mandate.
Its not even inauguration day and Obama is going to cave to the GOP? Not on our watch.
Its time to make some noise.