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Can I state outright that means testing and raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare is a terrible idea? Stupid, backwards-thinking, anti-economic notion.
So it makes my heart sink to see Don Peebles, a member of President Obama's National Finance Committee, ape Republican talking points about means testing, "job creators at the top" and being skeptical about government purchasing power over the private sector. Thankfully, we have Sam Seder of the Majority Report there to strongly and forcefully speak for progressive solutions that make these social safety nets available for those who most need them and to front load the means testing by making the wealthy pay more by raising the income cap. But Peebles isn't having it. He's on the program (and the Finance Committee) to protect his and the rest of the 1 percent's tax rates
The fact that they're floating raising the eligibility age over eliminating the income cap shows the power the wealthy have to frame the debate. It's the "skin in the game" they demand of everyone other than themselves. It's the sacrifice that regular Americans have to make to get us out of the fiscal crisis created by their greed and selfishness. My buddy, Cliff Schecter:
It's in this atmosphere that we're now forced to confront a band of enormously wealthy people who've benefitted from - or bestowed upon others - large financial bailouts and ill-considered taxcuts who like lecturing Americans living on earned benefits about "shared sacrifice". As in, you give up a meal each day, and I'll give up a pair of yacht shoes! Deal?
It is this truth that often goes unreported during discussions of our so-called "fiscal cliff" (besmirching my good name, I might add), a supposed doomsday scenario where the economy will turn into some sort of a combination of the prom scene from Carrie and Fox News' "1/2 Hour News Hour", if we don't all sing kumbaya by year's end.
Or in the words of the great Peter Venkman "human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!"
Meanwhile, back in reality-land, we're reminded that how people talk about the economy often leads to this madness. As cognitive linguist Anat Shenker outlines in her enormously insightful book, Don't Buy It: The Trouble With Talking Nonsense About The Economy, the economy isn't a living, breathing thing. It can't be hurt. In fact, as Shenker says, the problem is that the debate is still often about "who loves the economy more, when it should be about people".
Because, you see, people are actually hurt by layoffs, lack of health insurance and the austerity-police, or those plutocrats who'd consider it unclean to fly coach. Consider former Senator Alan Simpson and Wall Street Democrat Erskine Bowles, the travelling clown show of austerity. They wander the land preaching cuts to Social Security and Medicare, netting $40,000 per speech to do it. Or, three years of Social Security benefits. Oh self-awareness - where art thou?
It's going to take all of our collective voices to be heard over the special interest money. It will require us fighting on many fronts--to our congress critters, to the tradmed outlets pushing these memes, even to boycotts of business owners who advocate and donate to such regressive politics. We do have the power of our numbers, and we can't let them forget that.