By Dave Lindorff
FDR signs Social Security Act, which has provided security for 77 years
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The all-out assault on Social Security has begun.
The set-up for the big battle was the Fiscal Cliff charade. That hyped drama in the last days of December was a moment of truth for the Democratic Party and for President Barack Obama to make it clear whether they were still defenders of the New Deal legacy, or whether they were ready to toss Social Security overboard on behalf of the party's new constituency: the Wall Street gang.
The president and the Democrats in House and Senate could have said there would be no deal on the artificial Fiscal Cliff that was created by Congress back in August 2011 unless Congressional Republicans agreed not to hold the nation hostage again this February over the issue of raising the national debt ceiling. Republicans were in a weak position, since if the "cliff" deadline were allowed to pass, the Bush tax cuts would have expired. They would have been put in the position of being unable to pass new legislation restoring tax cuts for the wealthy, while Democrats could have forced them to pass tax cuts for those in the middle and lower classes.
Instead of doing that, the president and his vice president, former Senator from the uber-corporate headquarters state of Delaware, Joe Biden, offered a "compromise" that give tax breaks to the 1% of Americans who earn between $250,000 and $400,000 a year, protected up to $5 million in estate value from inheritance taxes, gave corporations billions of dollars in new tax loopholes, and left the GOP free to hold Congress and the Country hostage in February and March when Congress has to pass a new increase in the debt ceiling.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already said that the Republicans in that house will not agree to any tax increases in a debt ceiling deal, and the Republicans who control the House have already made the same thing clear.
The Republicans have also said that they want significant cuts in "entitlements" (the term that has been successfully attached to both Social Security and Medicare, though actually both programs are earned benefits paid for by workers and their employers over a lifetime of employment). And with the government held hostage in February, and unable to borrow further without a rise in the debt ceiling, Democrats will have an excuse to go along with their demands, claiming that they had "no choice."...
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