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Posted at 3:03 PM ET, 01/21/2011

House liberals urge Obama to draw hard line: "Hands off Social Security!"

By Greg Sargent

In a letter delivered to the White House moments ago, several dozen House liberals urged President Obama to use his State of the Union speech to draw a sharp line on the popular program for seniors that has helped define the Democratic Party for decades, by delivering Republicans a blunt message: "Hands off Social Security!"

The letter, which was sent over by a source, represents the clearest shot across the bow yet from House Dems on Social Security, and suggests that the left is gearing up for a big fight in the event that Obama signals openness to cuts to the program, as some expect him to do.

In the letter, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, along with 31 other Dems, argue that Obama has a unique opportunity to frame the issue by positioning himself as the keeper of the "promise of Social Security." They ask him to place himself in opposition to "radical" Republicans who are hell-bent on dismantling the program, and request a meeting to discuss how Obama and Dems will handle the issue in the 112th Congress:

You have a unique opportunity to set forth a framework of democratic values and to call for protecting Social Security for generations to come. Social Security is a promise to every American: If you pay into the system, you earn the right to guaranteed benefits during your retirement. As members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, we stand with you and urge you to reaffirm your support for guaranteed Social Security for America's seniors.

As you know, Congressional Republicans have long targeted Social Security for privatizatin. They have invented a Social Security "crisis" myth to promote their radical schemes to dismantle the cornerstone of retirement security for millions of Americans...

The promise of Social Security is one that we must keep. We urge you to send a clear message in your State of the Union Address: Hands off our Social Security!

This call from liberals, of course, carries echoes of the public option debate, where House progressives repeatedly urged Obama to draw a sharp line on the provision, only to ultimately be ignored. And House Dems are of course in the minority now, weakening them further. But the letter is a sign that the left is going to kick up a huge amount of noise if Obama flirts with any deal that would cut Social Security, which could set back efforts by the White House to repair the rift with House progressives over the tax deal, as the White House appears to want to do.

UPDATE, 7:39 a.m.: I should have made it clearer that 33 House liberals in total signed the letter. I've edited the above to clarify.

By Greg Sargent  | January 21, 2011; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  House Dems, Social Security  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

As of March 2010[update], legislators in 30 states have introduced legislation which would declare certain provisions of any proposed national health care bill to be null and void within the state; the legislation passed in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, and Virginia.[19] Such provisions include mandatory participation in such a system as well as preserving the right of a patient to pay a health care professional for treatment (and for the professional to accept it) outside of a single-payer system. Arizona's legislation passed as a proposed constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2010.[20] On February 1, 2010, the Virginia Senate took a stand against a key provision of a proposed federal health care overhaul, passing legislation declaring that Virginia residents cannot be forced to buy health insurance. On March 17, 2010, Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed a bill requiring the Attorney General to sue the Federal Government if Idaho residents are required to buy health insurance.[21]

Oklahoma passed a constitutional amendment which would also declare a national healthcare bill to be null and void.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama should stay away from Social Security

Obama has already cut $500 Billion from Medicare.

Obama wants to make everyone in this country EQUALLY POOR.

The way Obama is dragging down the economy is unbelievable.


Obama's job performance is the worst in history - at this point he has exceeded Hoover and Buchanan as the WORST IN AMERICAN HISTORY. Obama wanted to be unprecedented, and he did it.

.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Thomas Jefferson

Didnt Thomas Jefferson support the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions???

Greg, your thesis is historically incorrect.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Liberals better re-think their position is RainForestRising agrees with them ; )

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 21, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Greg

YOU ARE WRONG ON THOMAS JEFFERSON, REALLY WRONG


The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (or Resolves) were political statements drafted in 1798 and 1799, in which the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures resolved not to abide by Alien and Sedition Acts.

They argued that the Acts were unconstitutional and therefore void, and in doing so, they argued for states' rights and strict constructionism of the Constitution.

They were written secretly by Vice President Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, respectively.

So, there is NO WAY JEFFERSON WOULD HAVE SUPPORTED THE EXPANSION OF FEDERAL POWERS AS YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO LAMELY SAY.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"If you pay into the system, you earn the right to guaranteed benefits during your retirement."

That's simply not true. There is no contractual right to benefits. SSA is very clear about this on its website. It's a political promise. I think it's awful that politicians play this game and tell people there's a guarantee when the law, as well as the Supreme Court, say the exact opposite.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 21, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Greg

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolutions

Here is a portion:


That the Constitution of the United States, having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations, and no other crimes, whatsoever;

and it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,"

therefore the act of Congress, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, and intituled "An Act in addition to the act intituled An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States," as also the act passed by them on the -- day of June, 1798, intituled "An Act to punish frauds committed on the bank of the United States," (and all their other acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution,) are altogether void, and of no force; and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own territory.

_________________


Greg

QB suggested that perhaps you should not venture in law, because you really don't have an understanding of the principles.


I would suggest that you also not venture into history, because you really don't have a basic understand of what happened.


IN ADDITION, your journalistic skills have to be called into question if you truly believe that your deceptions and twisting of the truth has any place in this democracy.


NOT exactly sure how to help you other than to say CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.

.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

NoVAHockey | January 21, 2011 3:18 PM


so you are saying that the liberals want to cut social security and keep all the expensive union contracts?

Is that Obama's position?


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Greg, the difference between this and the public option debate is that public opinion is very solidly against any cuts in benefits, regardless of party affiliation. Obama can choose to ignore House Democrats, but he ignores voters at his peril.

He should be smart enough to know it's a setup, anyway. The Republicans want to frame him as the President who killed Social Security. If he touches the third rail, they will make it an issue in 2012.

Posted by: fishellb | January 21, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

OT but related:

"Congressional Republicans announced today that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the party's official response to President Obama's State of the Union address next week. Given Ryan's often-ridiculous, far-right worldview, he's a pretty awful choice.

But as it turns out, he's not the only House Republican delivering a SOTU response.

We thought the speaking lineup for next Tuesday had been finalized, but there's been a late addition. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will deliver her own response to President Obama's State of the Union address, to be webcast by the group Tea Party Express next Tuesday.

The group announced Bachmann's upcoming remarks in an e-mail to supporters Friday afternoon. [...]

Bachmann, meanwhile, has been a tea party star for the past couple years. She recently hinted that she might run for president ... and a SOTU response has historically been one way to catapult one's status to the level of legitimate presidential or vice-presidential aspirant (when it hasn't destroyed it, that is)."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_01/027643.php


LOL

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 21, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree. Michelle Bachmann should get all the publicity she can get. I can't wait to see how the Conservatives on here flock to her defense after her certainly racist diatribe.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 21, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Knowing that SS OABennies are not going to remain prepaid in the near future, if they remain so now,

There are options - these have been bandied.

1] Raise the payroll tax.
If it is to remain an insurance model, probably raising the rate and slightly increasing the wage base makes sense. Raising the wage base to, say, an unlimited extent, converts from an insurance to a welfare model. The insurance model works so long as all potentially receive at least their contributions plus interest over their actuarial retirement lives.

2] Pay the benefits at a later age.
This takes into account increasing life expectancy. Perhaps find a way to build in early options for persons who are medically handicapped before attaining the raised age.

3] Change the CPI model, if that would prove more realistic than the current one.

4] Lower the benefit yearly payout model. This is what the public rejects, I think.

5] Means test and dock benefits in years when retired folks make more than a certain amount of taxable income. Again, to avoid the welfare model and continue to be modeled on insurance, the docking would not lower the benefit below what the annualized actuarial benefit for that person's contributions would produce.

I should point out that I who am getting bennies [I am 67] am getting well more than my actuarial annualized account benefits would be from my lifetime of contribs.

6] Throw out the insurance model and make it a welfare model. Bad idea, in my view.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 21, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

@Mark-

Thanks for the rundown.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 21, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolutions

Here is a portion:


That the Constitution of the United States, having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations, and no other crimes, whatsoever;

and it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,"

therefore the act of Congress, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, and intituled "An Act in addition to the act intituled An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States," as also the act passed by them on the -- day of June, 1798, intituled "An Act to punish frauds committed on the bank of the United States," (and all their other acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution,) are altogether void, and of no force; and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own territory.


_________________


Greg

QB suggested that perhaps you should not venture in law, because you really don't have an understanding of the principles.


I would suggest that you also not venture into history, because you really don't have a basic understand of what happened.


IN ADDITION, your journalistic skills have to be called into question if you truly believe that your deceptions and twisting of the truth has any place in this democracy.


NOT exactly sure how to help you other than to say CLEAN UP YOUR ACT.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

You know, I'm still trying to figure out if this is Greg Sargent's blog or RainForestRising's blog, considering RFR's repeated copy & paste jobs probably take up more data on this site than Greg's own posts by at least a factor of 2.

Posted by: kryptik1 | January 21, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Chuck, what do you do in Denton? Are you associated with UNT?

My late friend's son, now nearly 40, programs or writes software in Denton.

Ross Perot favored #5, btw.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 21, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The very fact that House liberals sent the letter in the first place and that liberals in general are against SS cuts all but ensures that Obama will propose and there will indeed be cuts to SS.

Punching DFH's is the closeted Republican Obamas favorite pastime after all.

There WILL be SS cuts. Take that to the bank...

Posted by: unymark | January 21, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

OT - liberals arguing with liberals.

On the one hand, Benen, Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow and some others.

On the second hand, myself and Digby.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/big-lie-lie.html

Posted by: bernielatham | January 21, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I am curious what evidence you have to support your statement that the White House is trying to repair relations with progressives?

Posted by: PEHodges | January 21, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

@Sue - on your post above re Bachmann, here's one who we ought not to be too over-confident regarding. She has strengths which Palin lacks yet can probably muster up the full Palin base (same base) in support. And with King, she likely has some institutional support that Palin would have to work to organize. And Palin would be front and center in support for her. I'd presume her chances better than Palins so she'd also have more support from the establishment elements who want, primarily, power and the WH.

She's a lunatic, yes, but in this present movement, that's probably a plus.

Her primary difficulty, it seems to me, would be to somehow turn around the growing negatives associated with the Tea Party in voters' minds. Being who she is, having said what she's said, and undoubtedly what else she'll say in the future, it seems more likely than not that she'll further alienate the majority of voters and motivate activism on the left and voter turn-out on the left. Her stridency and extremism will provide a good foil for Obama's calm and reasoned persona. And that might achieve what I'd like to see - a clear choice between the traditional aspects of political rhetoric and social contract versus the nutty extremism of this present party.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 21, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/01/happy_hour_roundup_170.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 21, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

The custodial generation must get their arms around the social Security issue; the sooner the better.

When Social Security reform legislation was signed in 1983, the contract between the people and their government changed forever. The 1983 plan that was suppose to save Social Security for 75 years, has put Social Security on its death bed again in less than 3 decades, and once again politicians are having the wrong conversation. It shouldn’t be about increasing the retirement age or lowering retirement benefits on those who’ve already sacrificed once by over-paying their Social Security taxes. It should be about the people’s 2.54 trillion dollars of potential Social Security retire-ment fund assets that have been spent on funding tax cuts, wars, and earmarks, leaving behind 2.54 trillion dollars of new Social Security debt. That’s a 5 trillion dollar plus net loss, and that’s what this conversation must be about. Mil-lions of average hard working middle class Americans have lived up to our end of the deal. Now those politicians who've violated our trust, by spending our retirement dollars, must restore our trust, by “MANNING UP and LIVING UP” to their end of the deal.

Posted by: pappyg | January 21, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Numerous financial opportunities have been enjoyed by the current custodial generation thanks to the stewardship of previous generations. The stock market went from under 500, to over 14,000 during their lifetime. A new 3 bedroom two bath house went from around $10,000 to 200,000 over their lifetime. Conversely they’ve been unwitting partners as politicians used their SS tax over payments to fund wars, tax cuts, earmarks, and subsidize income and corporate tax rates. Under their stewardship 2.54 trillion dollars of potential SS trust fund assets have been turned into 2.54 trillion dollars of new SS trust fund IOU debt their children and grandchildren will have to pay again; a 5 trillion dollar plus net loss. Additionally when today’s retirees took their first breath the national debt was less than 100 billion dollars, and before they take their last breath they will have put 14 trillion dollars of new debt on their children and grand children’s credit cards. Some, like me have seen their monthly health insurance premiums go from over $500 a month to no cost per month, thanks to the Medicare advantage program subsidized by current workers.

Yet there showing up in droves at the local diner wanting their senior discounts - When is enough enough?

Posted by: pappyg | January 21, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

RainForestRising -

Ignorant comments like yours based totally on falsehoods and distorted rhetoric makes you the base of the Republican Party. Why do you hate America?

Posted by: Duke69 | January 21, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Duke 69

Before you make an "ad hominem" attack - you should be more specific.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 21, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Duke69, what do you object to from his 4:06 PM post? Certainly, you are aware that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolutions? Was the quote not accurate? Do you contend that Greg Sargent is a lawyer, historian or legitimate journalist?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 12:31 AM | Report abuse

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