The new White House budget proposal is getting a lot of attention because it explicitly connects the Obama administration to an agenda that includes cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. As the New York Times (4/5/13) put it, Obama “will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare.” Apparently the most important risk is to the one to him, and not to millions of people whose benefits will be cut.
On NPR‘s Morning Edition (4/8/13), Cokie Roberts and David Greene laughed a bit over what “chained CPI” is all about. Roberts explained that this “tracks more accurately, apparently, actual buying habits”–which, according to a recent paper (12/13/12) from the Center for Economic & Policy Research, is not correct. (“The Chained CPI is not a more accurate measure of inflation for retirees, as is often claimed by proponents of switching indexes.”)
To Roberts, Obama has been shoring up liberal support on other issues–immigration, guns, marriage equality. But these budget moves have a different purpose:
This is a move towards the middle, to getting those independent voters who he lost in the last election…. by emphasizing deficits, which is something they say they care about.
But who exactly wants to cut Social Security and Medicare? Not many people, according to this recent Washington Post poll: Just 17 percent supported cutting Medicare benefits, and 21 percent said the same for Social Security. These are policy ideas that never poll very well. But for elite media the “middle” is where brave politicians go in order to slash benefits for everyone else.
Look at how Washington Post reporter Dan Balz (4/7/13) phrased it:
The president’s latest tactical move came Friday, with reports–first in the New York Times–that Obama will offer Congress a fiscal blueprint that includes cuts in future spending on Medicare and Social Security. It is a budget designed to satisfy neither congressional Republicans nor his party’s left flank.
The implication is that both “extremes” will be unhappy, and maybe that means the “middle” is happy? But that’s a middle that exists only in the corporate media’s mind.