POLITICS

Mark Halperin Worries That Social Security Rhetoric May Affect Bipartisanship, America's Most Precious Commodity

As you know, everyone inside the Beltway has sized up America's economic problems and has decided to get hysterical about the debt. Not the debt that millions of Americans are experiencing as the massive unemployment crisis continues to impact households, mind you! No, we are talking about the Federal deficits, which didn't worry anyone for years as America committed itself to non-deficit neutral foreign wars and such. Behind the scenes, the President's Deficit Reduction Club is hard at work developing a plan to cut entitlements and never raise taxes ever. But it's an election year, and naturally, the future of Social Security is starting to emerge as part of the conversation.

Well, Time's Mark Halperin isn't having any of it, because the rhetoric could end up negatively impacting the lives of actual Americans "ending bipartisanship hopes!"

Amid a flurry of Democratic Party news releases and press conferences warning voters that Republicans are targeting Social Security for destruction, the President devoted his radio and Internet address last week to commemorating the 75th anniversary of the signing of the law that created the program. He cautioned that "some Republican leaders in Congress don't seem to have learned any lessons" from the past and are "pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress." This familiar refrain might indeed help the Democrats limit their midterm losses, but Obama's involvement shows that on this issue he is putting party before bipartisanship and that he sometimes can be tone-deaf to the human element required to change Washington's acid culture.

OH MY STARS AND GARTERS HOW DARE THEY? I mean, is there any literal truth to the idea that the GOP is "pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress?"

It is clear why Democrats are raising the specter of Republican efforts to alter Social Security. This tactic has worked in the past, as older voters -- who typically turn out at the polls in higher percentages, especially in midterm years -- tend to trust Democrats more than Republicans to protect the cherished retirement program. And given the weak economy, Obama's mushy poll numbers and the lack of traction on the White House's legislative achievements, it is no surprise that Democratic leaders would turn to the tried-and-true tactic. Also, with some prominent Republicans still calling for a fundamental change to the system by adding private accounts, the GOP has opened itself up to political attack.

Emphasis mine, because -- ha, ha! -- just as a sidenote, it turns out there is some literal truth to the notion, after all. Still, will nobody think of the "human element" that is needed to "change Washington's acid culture?"

When will Obama realize that we'll never be able to keep retirees from sliding into poverty unless they are able to invest heavily in synthetic derivatives based in bipartisanship-sauce futures?

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