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02.15.11

Obama's Head-in-the Sand Budget

The White House budget ducks the biggest issue of our time: Social Security. John Batchelor on Obama’s missed opportunity.

The White House budget ducks the biggest issue of our time: Social Security. John Batchelor on Obama’s missed opportunity. Plus, Eric Alterman on why the budget lets the right define the debate.

The Obama administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 does not provide any details about solving the most damaging threat to the future of the Republic: the unmanageable promises made by Social Security. When asked about the recommendations of the president’s own bipartisan commission report to confront the Social Security IED in the road ahead, the president’s remarks were both defensive and ambiguous. “The notion that’s it’s been shelved I think is incorrect. It [the commission report] still provides a framework for the conversation.”

My conversations with two different analysts of the Obama administration's budget suggest that the president has issued a document that does not even acknowledge there is a disaster ahead. Charles Blahous, author of Social Security: The Unfinished Work, told me that the White House ignored all three choices it was considering for starting a solution for Social Security first: raising the ceiling on wages subject to Social Security tax; second, altering the annual inflation calculator for benefits so that the check for the retired rises more slowly; and the slightest of patches, adding state and local municipal employees to the Social Security pool. Blahous also said that the White House did not recognize the known catastrophe that is built into the population, that the baby boomers in retirement will drain and beggar the nation’s treasury and make the younger workers into indentured servants.

My conversations with two different analysts of the Obama administration's budget suggest that the president has issued a document that does not even acknowledge there is a disaster ahead.

Jodi Schneider, a tax policy editor at Bloomberg News, told me that, with regard the entitlement dangers, it is fairest to call the president’s budget “timid.” I go a step farther. The president’s budget is more selfishness from the baby boomer generations, 1946 to 1964. The president is at the end of this pig in the python of the cohorts, while I am at the front. Yet the formula remains that this is the baby boomers' problem to solve and cannot be left to our children and grandchildren. President Obama know this, so does the Congress. At present, my generation shows cowardice. Someday all of us boomers will be gone into history, and I want the record for my children to include the observation, “Paid in full.”

John Batchelor is radio host of the John Batchelor Show in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Follow John on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.