"If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg." (Source: http://www.1-famous-quotes.com/quote/1608) ) If only the Democratic Leadership Council and Senator Dick Durbin could learn that lesson. But, I digress....
Apparently presidential buddy, Dick Durbin (Illinois)-- never learned the lesson of this quote. Earlier this year Durbin forged a 'Faustian bargain' with senate conservatives--Mike Crapo (Idaho), Sen. Kent Conrad, and Tom Coburn (Oklahoma)--in a stealth plan which would kill Social Security and Medicare in a 'death by a thousand cuts' procedure. You see, Durbin was on the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission-- unofficially dubbed 'the Catfood Commission' based on the savage cuts to Social Security and Medicare the commission pushed. After Simpson-Bowles--many seniors would be trading meatloaf Mondays for Catfood Sundays.
Undeterred, Durbin has been attempting to resurrect the commission's previous plan which was defeated in both House and Senate committees and subsequently, denied a vote on the floor. Now--in the heat of a DC July, he is back in the news, poised as a fiscal 'messiah' ready to push this compromise budget which is nothing ,more the old 'Catfood Commission' plan screamed down by a majority of Americans, back in January. Here is where the 'gang of six' looks suspiciously like 'Catfood' revisited as four of the six gang members were previous members of the Simpson-Bowles 'Catfood Commission'--namely Sen. Coburn, Sen. Conrad, Sen. Crapo and guess who--presidential buddy Sen. Dick Durbin.
(Source : click here)
Originally in January--amidst the austerity measures proposed by Obama's fiscal commission co-chairs, were plans to weaken both Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. As a result of stories running in the alternative press--'outing' Chairs Erskine and Bowles as the Social Security/Medicare anti-Christs--enough democrats were sufficiently threatened that they actually did their job, namely fighting for the 'little guy.' Brooks Brothers-Wall Street suits were temporarily out of vogue and plaid flannel working class voices were heard--for a nanosecond.
The fact that the 'Catfood Commission's plan was voted down as a reaction to public pressure has not fazed Durbin. Nor have allegations accusing Durbin functioning as the President's proxy kept him from pushing Daley-style--a undefined plan minus any accountability or transparency. Durbin merely claims that his involvement insures a 'progressive' seat at the negotiations table, and like a 'used car salesman' keeps drawing our attention to the shiny parts, while dismissing any serious discussion of details. It would be lovely to discuss the 'gang of six' deal--if it existed beyond vague slogans.
Do you notice how Durbin and fellow 'dems' in the Senate have forgotten that THEY are still in the majority?! In fact, these 'back-door' negotiations don't even resemble a shakedown or robbery--senate democrats (especially Blue Dogs like my Senator, Claire McCaskill--are frantically panting, 'bending over' and begging for it. Unfortunately, 'back-door' activities usually result in 'morning after' regret and a by-product which smells NOTHING like perfume.
Why Tag-Teaming Social Security/Medicare Funds to 'Debt Ceiling' Issues Is a Big Lie...
Most Americans don't understand how Social Security and Medicare are funded, and as a result have been bamboozled by a curious assortment of corporate network 'talking heads,' (yes this includes CNN), and astroturf organizations whose sole purpose is to muddy intellectual waters--allowing corporate interests to reign supreme. They con us by crafting and massaging several myths regarding public programs.
Lie#1: Social Security is Broke....
This national myth is my all time favorite. Not only is Social Security NOT BROKE--IT IS THE ONLY FEDERAL PROGRAM WHICH IS FULLY FUNDED. I repeat--SOCIAL SECURITY IS FULLY FUNDED, ALWAYS HAS BEEN. The problem lies in the fact that the government has continually raided the monies all of us have paid into the system, to subsidize corporate tax breaks, unbridled military spending and what have become routine Wall Street bankster raids on the public dime. In fact, this raiding was discussed during the alleged 'surplus' years of the Clinton administration. In a heated congressional testimony by then Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and US Senator Ernest F. Hollings--the ongoing use of Social Security monies for general revenue projects was exposed. (Source: click here) If anything, the Fed Reserve 'owes' monies to the Social Security Fund.
Lie#2 : Social Security and Medicare Contribute to the National Debt...
Even a fiscal conservative like Sen. Max Baucus has testified that Social Security does not belong in deficit reduction talks. Baucus, as the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, held a hearing entitled "Perspectives on Deficit Reduction: Social Security" just this May. Baucus explained that:
"Social Security benefits are financed only through payroll taxes and the Trust Fund." Baucus further explained that Social Security, ..."is not responsible for the deficits we face in the general fund today. Therefore, I believe Social Security should not be part of our efforts to reduce these deficits." (Source : http://www.advisorone.com/node/20983) In fact the federal law FORBIDS any mingling of Social Security monies with general revenues. Baucus himself clearly stated that, ..."Social Security must remain separated from the rest of the Federal budget and the program cannot borrow money from the general Federal budget." (Source : http://www.advisorone.com/node/20983)
So, how can any Congress or any President LEGALLY sponsor any bill which would MANDATE across the board spending cuts including to Social Security? Well, both democrats and republicans came up with a few very sneaky plans. The two most prominent plans are the Corker-McCaskill CAP Act (S. 245), and the Cut, Cap and Balance Act (H.R. 2560).
First I'll describe the Corker-McCaskill bipartisan compromise. Another presidential 'buddy', Sen. Claire McCaskill co-sponsored a bill benignly dubbed the 'Corker-McCaskill CAP Act or S. 245. It has a 'companion' bill in the House of Representatives, which is now the 'flavor of the month,' namely the 'Cut, Cap and Balance Act or simply, H.R. 2560 in the House and S. 1340 in the Senate. (Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/2?c112:H.R.2562:)