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Reading the road signs along the highway that leads to cutting or privatizing Social Security:

In December Blue Dog Jim Cooper, said a report which showed “that the governments unfunded liabilities are roughly $56 trillion” was “shocking.”  He called for a commission to address it.”

In January the White House signed on:

“[President] Obama said that he has made clear to his advisers that some of the difficult choices–particularly in regards to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare – should be made on his watch. “We’ve kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road,” he said.”

In February, Jane Hamsher at Firedog lake reported that:

“…people who have been briefed on the administration’s plans indicate that things like raising the retirement age and cutting benefits are under consideration.”

The president then packed the Debt Commission “with members who have an overwhelming history of support for both benefit cuts and privatization of Social Security.”

Among those are the chairman of the commission, Erskine Bowles, who sits on the board at Morgan Stanley, and whose wife sits on the board at JPMorgan Chase. Can you say conflict of interest? Seems to me both those firms stand to benefit handsomely if Wall Street gets its grubby fingers in the Social Security trust fund.

The rules are that the commission recommendation must be approves by 14 of the 18 members:

“There are certainly enough votes on the right to block any significant tax increase proposals. There certainly aren’t enough votes anywhere to propose deep spending cuts in the bloated military budget. The only real question is whether there are five votes — enough to block passage — against cutting social programs, particularly Social Security.

And in what’s becoming a pattern in this administration, much of the commission’s work is behind closed doors. Openness and transparency, anyone?

Then last Thursday Speaker Pelosi, under the cover of funding for Afghanistan, sneaked in language calling for an up or down vote on the commission’s recommendation, by a lame duck Congress in December.

Now comes this from Crooks and Liars:

“It’s a cynical political strategy almost beyond belief, but it’s becoming obvious that President Obama and the Democratic leaders plan to let the Republicans do what they’ve tried to do since the days of FDR: Cut Social Security.

[…]

When I wrote about this last week, some readers insisted it would “never” happen, and questioned whether there was any logical reason Obama would support benefit cuts. So I talked to a couple of D.C. Social Security activists this week and posed that very question. I was told that Obama’s reelection strategy was based on allowing Social Security cuts to win over independent voters. (Apparently it polls well with the Tea Party crowd.)”

[…]

Now, seriously. How can any intelligent person convince themselves that the Obama administration isn’t backing this? The commission is stacked with deficit hawks; the national deficit is on track to be more fiscally sound if they let the Bush tax cuts expire; and Social Security, which is a tax-transfer program, doesn’t have a damned thing to do with the deficit.”

One solution I don’t see from the Debt Commission—lifting the Social Security earnings cap. According to John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute, “eliminating the cap on taxable earnings would be sufficient to fully close the projected shortfall.”

And it would only affect about 6% of the population. But then again, those are the 6% who sit on these useless (for everyone but the elites) bi-partisan commissions and who write large checks to those in Congress who vote on their recommendations.

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