President Obama's election as president came with a giddiness that most of us still can't explain and a happiness that finally, finally things would change in this country for the working man.
After all, he was a Black man, a working man who had pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He was not born to the manner, so to speak. In other words, his daddy didn't hand it to him on a silver platter.
One would imagine that thinking outside the box would come natural. In fact, most people thought that outside the box solutions would become the norm when Barack Obama took over.
However, the election of Barack Obama proves two things. First, that white people in America are not inherently racist and are more than willing to elect a Black man who seems to have a plan to lead them. Second, that Black people can be just as comfortably conservative as most whites who make their home inside the right wing of the Republican party.
From jump, I have been concerned about President Obama's choices to help him right the economy and bring down the deficit. He has repeatedly chosen clueless academics more comfortable addressing theory rather than dealing in the reality of living with those theories. I didn't doubt their abilities. What I doubted was their empathy and understanding of what is happening on main street to the middle class, rather than on wall street and in Manhattan or the upper East Side.
Today, I'm not a happy camper. In fact, I suffering major “buyer's remorse,” after reading this preliminary report, because to sum it up in popular terminology, this plan simply says "Fuck you, America."
The President put together a think tank to address the deficit. It is called his Deficit/Fiscal Commission. Right off the bat, he puts two right winged Republicans in charge. There is not a democratic bone in the body of either Erskine Bowles or Alan Simpson. They don't understand the term “middle class.” If Erskine Bowles changed his name to Glen Beck, nobody would know the difference. He is that far right of center. From jump street, all republicans and most spineless blue dog Democrats were happy at Obama's selection of Bowles and Simpson, and I'm sure they're absolutlely ecstatic after this first preliminary report release.
Caveat....this plan is preliminary. It is not the final plan. Honestly, if this is the blueprint, middle America is about to be deep sixed permanantly, because this plan has declared war on medicare, on social security and every other social service safety net for helping those who can't help themselves, while allowing the true culprits, guilty of tanking this country to get off scott free.
Cutting Social Security-While the GOP has promised not to cut the benefits of those who are retired or those who are close to retirement, the deficit commission wants to immediately increase retirement age, limit yearly cost of living increases, tying it to inflation rather than wage growth. This would drop benefits right now, by 3% for those who have been retired for 10 years or more and 6% after they've been retired for 20 years. For those who don't know, retirement age is already going up to 67 by the year 2027. By 2050 retirement age will be 68 and by 2075, it will be 69.
Cuts Taxes for the Rich-Cutting taxes increases the deficit, so why is it part of a plan to lower the deficit, huh? This deficit commission wants to drop the tax rates on the highest tax brackets to 23%, down from 35%. Corporate rate would decrease to 26%.
Bend over Middle Class-The biggest cut in this plan is to change the benefit formula to start at the 50th percentile which is the real middle and hurts the most people. The biggest amount of decrease would happen here, dramatically reducing what few benefits exist for the Middle Class.
Using “Caps” to cut medicare and other social programs designed to keep people from falling into poverty-Items in this part of the plan involve increasing fees and asking doctors, lawyers, insurance companies and health care providers to “play nice” and voluntarily go easy on raising costs of a procedure or treating pre existing conditions or kicking grandma and grandpa to the curb or in front of a death panel. Just no more nasty restrictions on big pharma or health care providers such as Wellpoint. This plan caps expenditures at no more than 1% of the GDP. Can you say “Rationed Health Care.”
Cut the Defense Budget- This is a good thing. However it does not go nearly far enough. The plan calls for a reduction of 20% of the Pentagon's budget, mainly by freezing salaries and cutting the manufacture of useless and weapons and equipment. But it is just a drop in the bucket and needs to go further. Doesn't address ending the wars or shuttering useless military bases around the world.
Hurts Veterans-It's not enough Vets and servicemembers get shot up and wounded in illegal wars, when they come home, the deficit commission wants them to pay for their treatment by adding co-pays to TRICARE, freeze noncombat pay for 3 years, and shut down all schools on military bases, making the kids go to public school.
Federal Workers- The plan calls for freezing federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation for 3 years. The deficit commission wants to cut the federal workforce by 10% as well as eliminate 250,000 non defense service and staff contractors.
What this plan does not do: It does not address spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, those two illegal wars that pushed us over the brink.
It does not address the low tax rates paid by the rich-after all the Bush tax cuts are at the root of the problem and due to add even more money to the deficit if extended, as apparently President Obama is on the verge of allowing, if current reports are true.
This plan does not address the excess of Wall Street and the Banking Industry, or the Medicare prescription drug bill written by Big Pharma.
It was not Medicare, Social Security, the Middle Class, the Poor, Veterans or Federal workers who screwed this country. Yet it is us who will be forced to pay the price, if Obama allows any parts of this plan to see the light of day.