This is the proverbial “hill to die on,” my friends. And NOW is the time to act. All reports indicate that the establishment left, led by President Obama, is poised to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and let the .01% run roughshod over the American people. Obama and the Republicans (“Good Cop” and insanely “Bad,” respectively) are about to impose $3 trillion of deadly austerity on America and hack into the New Deal (starting with Medicare and Medicaid, and possibly Social Security) in order to close this raw deal — the alleged “Grand Bargain,” authored by the corporatists it so clearly benefits (to the detriment of the economy of the 99%).
While the president could allow the Bush tax cuts to expire and then proceed to bargain from a position of strength, there is no reason to hope that he will do so. President Obama has repeatedly signaled his willingness to needlessly slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security), as well as his willingness to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 (which will only increase the total amount of spending on healthcare — no “savings” there). In short, Obama has already strongly indicated that he’s anxious to sign any deal (however fiscally hopeless and grotesquely unfair) as long as it raises taxes slightly on the top two percent of earners — for that is the crumb he will toss Americans after he breaks our backs with austerity in order to placate the billionaires.
Negotiations supposedly begin in earnest on Friday, which means that the election results are just days away from being fundamentally reversed — UNLESS WE SPEAK UP. (Act now, or don’t look surprised when austerity does to America what it’s done to Greece, Ireland, Britain, Spain…)
H E R E ’ S H O W W E W I N :
Begin by making some phone calls (some suggestions below, re: how to go about that). Also, write e-mails/letters/faxes to your representatives in Congress and to President Obama. Sign one (or all!) of the many anti-austerity petitions currently in circulation. Urge your friends and family to act, and spread the word (Tweet, Facebook post, whatever). Contact AARP, big unions like SEIU and the AFL-CIO, and liberal groups like People for the American Way and MoveOn.org — tell them to mobilize further against this extraordinary betrayal of the electorate. Organize, if you can, but, however you can, SPEAK UP!
1. PHONE CALLS TO POLITICIANS: In addition to calling the President and your congressional representatives, it would be advisable to call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (775-686-5750) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (415-556-4862). And, though you’ll likely get a cooler reception, it wouldn’t hurt to call the offices of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (502-582-6304) and House Speaker John Boehner (513-779-5400). Clearly express your strong opposition to any “bargain” that restructures and slashes entitlements.
A. Call the White House (202-456-1111) — Sample script:
“Please tell the president that voters did not reelect him so he could needlessly slash entitlements while cutting corporate tax rates and leaving Pentagon waste and corporate welfare untouched. The ‘Grand Bargain’ is a raw deal for the middle class and working people. The politicians need to leave Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security 100% alone! If President Obama leads the fight to defend entitlements 100%, he will have my complete support.”
B. Call the congressional switchboard (202-224-3121) and get transferred first to your two Senators, and then to your Representative (though our best hope likely lies with the Senate). The following is my suggestion for a scripted call, but you should personalize your call as much as possible:
“I am a constituent, and I want Senator/Representative ____________ to oppose the ‘Grand Bargain.’ I want (him/her) to HEED THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION and leave Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security 100% alone! Raise taxes on corporations and the rich, reduce corporate welfare, and tax financial transactions before you further burden the middle class. Thank you.”
C. Other phone numbers — Here are some other Democratic Party and GOP phone numbers that we can resort to if the main congressional switchboard gets clogged up (as it often does):
* Democratic National Committee (202) 863-8000
* Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (202) 224-2447
* Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (202) 863-1500
* Republican National Committee (202) 863-8500
* National Republican Senatorial Committee (202) 675-6000
* National Republican Congressional Committee (202) 479-7000
2. E-MAILS, LETTERS, and FAXES: In addition to phone calling, make the time (if you can) to send a brief written message to the politicians — LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
A. Politicians’ websites (linked for e-mailing) and FAX numbers:
* President Obama: FAX# 202-456-2461
* Senate Majority Leader Reid: FAX# 202-224-7327 (DC) or 702-388-5030 (NV)
* House Minority Leader Pelosi: FAX# 202-225-8259 (DC) or 415-861-1670 (CA)
* Senate Minority Leader McConnell: FAX# 202-224-2499 (DC) or 502-582-5326 (KY)
* House Speaker Boehner: FAX # 202-225-0704 (DC) or 513-779-5315 (OH)
B. Bonus Rhetoric (oh boy!) — Here are some more facts, rhetorical arguments, and links to consider while crafting your message:
* I like Robert Reich’s approach to cutting $4 trillion over ten years without painful austerity measures and regressively restructured entitlement programs: Tax financial transactions, go back to taxing capital gains like income, restore America’s traditionally progressive taxation rates, and end the gravy train of corporate welfare.
* During the 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations, the Congressional Progressive Caucus authored a plan for eliminating the budget deficit entirely and returning America to surpluses — without slashing entitlements. Their plan supports my values and priorities far more than anything presently being contemplated in the so-called “Grand Bargain.”
* According to Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) a single-payer healthcare system would save America an estimated $350 billion per year, improving health outcomes and knocking out the single largest driver of deficits going forward: skyrocketing healthcare costs.
* Any “Grand Bargain” that remotely resembles the recommendations of Mr. Simpson and Mr. Bowles represents a GREAT BETRAYAL of the American people. On Election Day, Americans voted overwhelmingly against austerity and for the preservation of Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid — the politicians need to leave entitlements alone and tax the oligarchs!
* Social Security is not in crisis. If left alone entirely, the program will struggle for a while (with benefits down to 70% of today’s at the projected cycle’s nadir) until the last of the Baby Boomers have shuffled off their mortal coils, when the program is projected to return to 100% solvency. The program can weather the full impact of retiring Baby Boomers without reduced benefits if we’re willing to raise the salary cap and make a few other minor adjustments… a humane, sensible course, which the politicians (of course) aren’t even discussing. What they are reportedly considering — chaining Social Security’s annual cost of living increases to the Consumer Price Index — should be a non-starter, as it will eventually cut benefits enormously.