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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 20, 2015

 
Christie and Huckabee Social Security cage match

by digby

I wrote a piece for Salon this morning about Big Chris Christie's working his way back into the hearts of the Villagers with strident calls to cut Social Security:
There is nothing like a big, macho Republican demanding that the government cut the meager benefits of the old and sick to get the Washington press corps stimulated, as Chris Christie proved again last week. The political media couldn’t find enough superlatives to describe him. They excitedly said his plan was “provocative, and risky“, that he was smartly positioning himself as “one guy willing to talk straight about the government’s unsustainable finances” — which was all part of the narrative of him being a hero who is “authentic and brave and tells it like it is.” What a man.

This classic beltway assumption — that cutting the safety net is the very essence of political courage and ideological integrity — goes all the way back to the early days of Ronald Reagan, when he was making stuff up about Social Security going broke in 1964. The trend continued well into the ’90s and ’00s, culminating with the press’s cheerleading for George W. Bush’s ambitious attempt to slash the program in 2005. But it took on even more of a febrile quality when, early in his term, Barack Obama mused about hopes for a Grand Bargain which included cuts to “entitlements.” There had always been Democrats who backed the idea, but it came as a happy surprise to the political establishment that one who was portrayed as being very liberal would join the chorus.

But something's stirring on the right. Big Man Mike Huckabee isn't having it:

So what to make of Mike Huckabee coming out swinging on this issue on Friday and taking Christie and the others to task in no uncertain terms?
“I don’t know why Republicans want to insult Americans by pretending they don’t understand what their Social Security program and Medicare program is,” Huckabee said in response to a question about Christie’s proposal to gradually raise the retirement age and implement a means test.

Huckabee said his response to such proposals is “not just no, it’s you-know-what no.”

“I’m not being just specifically critical of Christie but that’s not a reform,” he said. “That’s not some kind of proposal that Republicans need to embrace because what we are really embracing at that point is we are embracing a government that lied to its people–that took money from its people under one pretense and then took it away at the time when they started wanting to actually get what they have paid for all these years.”
He added that he had no intention of endorsing Paul Ryan’s plan either. This is very unusual for a Republican. They may not want to take that vote for cutting the program, especially since their base is very much among those who benefit from it, but they are never this unequivocal about it. It’s extremely rare for them not to issue any disclaimer about The Deficit and The Government Spending Too Much, etc, etc. To come right out and take the retirement age and means testing off the table — that actually is the “bold” and “authentic” breaking-with-conventional-wisdom for which the beltway media had already Christie all the credit.
Have the progressives finally made some headway on this issue? Lindsey Graham came out against cutting SS too. It's hard to imagine, but if there's actually some open discord on this issue among the right wingers, we may finally turned the tide. They'll never quit, of course. And Wall Street wants that money. But what this does is put a lot more pressure on Democrats to keep their grubby hands off the program. And that's a big relief.


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