by Daniel T. Zanoza, Executive Director
With one swipe of his pen, President Barack Obama signed into law a health care reform bill that will cut Medicare's budget by $500 billion over the next ten years. In addition, late in the first year of his presidency, Social Security recipients received a letter notifying them that they would not be receiving a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) starting January 2010. Since this announcement, there are reports seniors and the disabled will not receive a COLA for two years or more beyond the current year.
Yes, the Dept. of Labor's statistics, gleamed from the Consumer Price Index (CPI), reflected seniors and the disabled were not entitled to a COLA to their Social Security checks because there was no inflation. Yes, you read that correctly…there is NO inflation, according to CPI. But the truth of the matter is the Dept. of Labor, whose Secretary is appointed by the President, helped Mr. Obama find another way to take the sting out of the massive spending which has plunged the U.S. economy into historical levels of debt.
It has become apparent, Social Security recipients, including seniors, the disabled and those receiving survivor's benefits, etc. were seen as being politically expendable--at least at the time when Obama was ramming the health care reform legislation through Congress. You see, $500 billion more would have put the price tag for the health care reform legislative package over $1 trillion and many so-called conservative Democrats found political cover by keeping the bill we, our children and our children’s children will have to pay under a mere trillion bucks.
Remarkably, $500 billion sounds like a mere pittance compared to the massive debt Obama has compiled during his presidency. However, Medicare's budget for one year alone is $500 billion. Subsequently, these numbers do have meaning, if they are put into perspective. Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed the half-trillion dollar cuts in Medicare would be saved through the elimination of fraud and waste in the program. But, by now, even the Democratic leadership in Congress admits the massive chunk taken out of the Medicare budget will result in the rationing of health care services, not only for seniors and the disabled, but for anyone who qualifies for Medicare benefits.
Also, many states are cutting programs which were designed to benefit seniors and the disabled...middle-class and poor alike. For example, in Illinois, the Circuit Breaker program--which provides property tax relief for the elderly and disabled who qualify--was cut in half for Fiscal Year 2010, as it was in Texas and other states across America.
DEMAGOGUERY AT ITS FINEST OR …
After decimating programs which benefited seniors and the disabled, during his weekly radio address to the nation (which was broadcast on Saturday, August 14, 2010), Obama seemed to catch wind of the fact a group of Americans who had voted Democratic for decades was in an uproar regarding many of the issues related above. Subsequently, in his radio address, Obama started down the long political comeback trail with senior citizens by asserting if Republicans achieved control of Congress after the upcoming midterm election, the GOP-controlled House and Senate would privatize the Social Security system. In essence, the message from Obama to seniors was that a vote for a Republican in November would be a vote for the end of Social Security as we now know it.
Of course, there is no major Republican political agenda that would lead to the privatization of Social Security, but Obama needed a straw man to frighten Social Security recipients. Therefore, he yanked this prediction of pending doom and gloom out of mid-air.
However, there is a way the President can use politics to try to buy back the senior voting bloc. In 2009, Obama suggested a one-time payment of $250 would be provided to Social Security recipients to offset the COLA freeze. Republicans said this was a good idea--as long as the money came out of Obama’s $862 billion stimulus political war chest. But Obama balked at that idea and the $250 buy-off of seniors and disabled was taken off the table.
But the political season running up to one of the most important mid-term elections in American history has just begun. Some predict Obama will suddenly put the $250 one-time payment to Social Security recipients back on the political table before November. It will be a blatant attempt to make Republicans look like the bad guys and paint Democrats as the Party that cares about those who are entitled to Social Security.
My prediction is Obama will again refuse to take the funds out of the roughly $400 billion that's left in stimulus money. If Republicans don't buy into a Democratic ploy that would increase the deficit and the national debt that is strangling our nation’s economy, Obama will achieve his goal--one way or the other. I think senior citizens are smarter than that and buying them off won't be that easy.
But this administration won't defend America's borders, it wants to give amnesty to the estimated 12 to 20 million individuals who are in America illegally, it favors a Mosque being built near Ground Zero and it passed a health care reform bill that a vast majority of U.S. citizens opposed. Therefore, it is possible the Obama administration thinks it can pull a rabbit out of its political hat. But the last information I had is "the rabbit done died."
Social Security COLA: Congress Gets Pay Raise, Seniors & Others Did Not by Daniel T. Zanoza posted January 22, 2010 at: http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2010/01/social-security-cola-congress-gets-pay-raise-seniors-others-did-not.html
Obama Promised Social Security Recipients $250 To Offset COLA Freeze: Where Is It? by Daniel T. Zanoza posted June 4, 2010 at: http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2010/06/obama-promised-social-security-recipients-250-to-offset-cola-freeze-where-is-it.html
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