From a blog posting by Jonathan Chait at The New Republic:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Sperling’s deputy, Jason Furman — leading figures in the president’s economic team — are pressing Obama to cut Social Security benefits if necessary, say sources familiar with their positions.It is bad enough that the US has one Republican party. It is a tragedy that Obama appears determined to create a second Republican party to cater to the whims of the ultra-rich, especially their desire to gut the middle class and turn the bottom 90% of the population into paupers ready and willing to bow and scape and serve as "New Age" servants to their overlords, the ultra-rich.
But Obama’s political team, led by David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Jim Messina, are urging the president to understand that backing benefit cuts could prove disastrous to his 2012 reelection hopes, sources say.
Here's Paul Krugman's take on this issue:
I hope this is wrong, although I have no reason to believe otherwise.I think Krugman will live to see Obama immolate himself. Despite Obama's soaring oratory about the poor and the working people of America, it is pretty clear that Obama knows which side of his bread is buttered. He is tone deaf the the working people, but on tiptoe anxious to please his overlords. Tragic.
As some of us have tried to point out again and again, cutting Social Security would
(a) make only a minor contribution to reducing our long-run fiscal problems
(b) offer no useful template for dealing with the real problem, health care costs
Let’s assume that we’re not talking about expropriating the money people have paid in, that we’re only talking about restoring actuarial balance. Well, on the conservative estimates of the Social Security trustees, we’re talking about 0.6 percent of GDP over the next 75 years. That’s not enough to make a major difference –certainly not enough to make any difference whatsoever to market confidence in US solvency.
All you would do is undermine a key part of the US social safety net — and, of course, offer Republicans a big fat target.
So what on earth is going on here?
All I can think is that Obama advisers are still trapped in the Beltway mindset in which doomsaying about Social Security is regarded as a badge of seriousness, when in fact it’s just a sign of being caught up in the wrong game.
I wish I trusted the president not to give in to the reported desire of some of his advisers that he immolate himself and his party for no good reason.