Saturday, September 22, 2012

Time to call Congress. Again.

If you've been paying attention to little things like "reality" (as opposed to the partisan propaganda that seems to have overtaken much on the American thoughtscape), you've probably noticed that Obama is something of a centrist. He prefers to work with both sides to come to a conclusion that both can live with.

Of course, if you listen to Fox "News," he's a dangerous radical and the most far-left socialist of our time. And if you just hang out on the extreme right fringes, he's a (pick any two... or four) dangerous radical leftist Muslim socialist Satanic communist Kenyan fascist extremist arrogant totalitarian dictator terrorist. (Some of them try to avoid saying "black" or any variation of it, although Rush Limbaugh did try to coin the phrase "halfrican" at one point. But let's move on.)

The Right applied a similar fun-house mirror effect to the presidency while Clinton was in office, labeling him a hippie and a "radical leftist," despite the fact that Clinton implemented a dramatic deficit reduction plan while lowering the taxes of working family; he developed a crime bill which hired 100,000 police officers and drastically expanded the use of the death penalty; he instituted the Defense of Marriage Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (despite their recent love of it, right wingers thought DADT would destroy the military at the time); and despite the myth of "liberals loving Big Government", Clinton reduced the size of government more than any president in three decades.

A lot of this anti-Clinton propaganda, of course, can be laid at the feet of Newt Gingrich, the nascent Fox "News" Channel, and their efforts to radicalize the right. In their ongoing efforts to rewrite history, the Right really, really wants to ignore what they were doing at the time. Some of us lived through it, though.

But I digress.

Despite the propaganda, Obama tries to work with Republicans. They're just too polarized to respond. And the fear is, he might be willing to consider cutting Social Security in his upcoming budgets. (After all, it wouldn't be the first time he's offered it.)

Which is why Senate Democrats have been forced to make a stand.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and 28 other members of the 53-member Senate Democratic caucus have signed a letter opposing any cuts to Social Security as part of a deficit reduction package.

The letter forms a significant marker as Congress looks toward a possible deficit bargain in the lame-duck session after the election. It says Social Security has problems down the road, but that they should be dealt with separately from any budget deal.
And this seemed like an appropriate approach to me. So, looking down the list, I noted that one of my two Senators, Tom Udall, had already signed on. I sent him a little note
Senator Udall,

I appreciate your efforts to help the most vulnerable American citizens. Specifically, in this case, I'd like to thank you for signing onto the letter that Senators Sanders, Franken and others put together, opposing any cuts to Social Security.

Full disclosure: I do not use Social Security, nor does any member of my immediate family, as far as I know. (My father, who retired from the Army as a full Colonel, does collect Social Security, but his retirement check could still support him even without it.)

However, I understand, unlike our Republican friends, that Social Security is an earned benefit, that far too often helps those who would otherwise be unable to support themselves. Even Paul Ryan, who only managed to go to college after his father died because of the Survivor's Benefits, wants to destroy any trace of a safety net in America (mostly because he's a hypocritical gasbag who follows Ayn Rand - not that he's willing to admit that while he's running for Vice President, but he has in the past).

Again, thank you, Senator. As long as you keep doing the right thing for the American people, you can always count on my my support.
But that's only one Senator. Like most states, New Mexico has two.

I was, perhaps, somewhat less supportive in my email to the other one.
Senator Bingaman,

I realize that you aren’t running for reelection, but I would appreciate it, as your constituent, if you could walk your butt down to Senator Reid’s office and sign on to the letter put together by Senators Sanders, Franken and company, saying that you oppose any cuts to Social Security as part of a deficit reduction package.

It would be nice if you could show that you cared about the most vulnerable citizens and in some small way, were opposed to allowing Americans to starve.

I realize that Social Security will need to be fixed sometime in the next twenty years or so, but eliminating the cap on any income over $107 thousand dollars might be enough to do that all by itself.

Please do the right thing as long as you’re still in office.

Thank you,
I realize that it's only a drop in the proverbial bucket; on the other hand, they say that one letter is counted as the opinion of a hundred people. I'm not sure how they count emails, but there it is.

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